Sherlock – Series Four

Sherlock – Series Four (Review)

“Who you really are doesn’t matter”. These are the true tag line words of the fourth and perhaps final series of Sherlock. Unfortunately, these words fit well with the finale.

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Extraordinary adventures behind the curtains of 221B Baker Street. It was unlike any other crime series to date, it was a love story. The relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson attracted an audience that could relate, an audience that wanted, and more than anything, to be represented. Three 90 minute episodes were released every few years. Even the subtlest of remarks were enough to keep fans struggling with identities that differed even slightly from society’s norms through a long hiatus. Series four was the most anticipated ever since the producers announced the next season.

The first episode of the series, “The Six Thatchers” premiered on New Years Day with a turbulent plot line and a lot of unanswered questions. Episode two, “The Lying Detective” was slightly better. More emotional but with a riveting case that managed to put all of the built up hostility between Sherlock and John that originated after season two’s finale “The Reichenback Fall” to rest. The series finale was most anticipated by the fans who wanted to know: Sherlock is in love but with who?

All signs pointed to John Watson. Stop yourself. Is it so crazy to believe that if Sherlock Holmes were in love with anyone it could be John Watson? Yes, there was Irene Adler, “The Woman”, Sherlock’s one and only true love, who explicitly stated she was a lesbian and appeared in just one episode, only to be mentioned off-hand years later in “The Lying Detective” with ultimately no purpose. Though it did seem to make John jealous. The only other option could be Molly Hooper, right? Molly Hooper, who appears in the series as a whole about the same amount, possibly even less, than Mrs. Hudson? Molly Hooper, who Sherlock dismisses romantically time and time again?

No, as Sherlock says, it’s “always” John Watson.

The writers and producers of BBC Sherlock promised an intense rug-pull that would go down in entertainment history. There was going to be a reveal that the show had been building up to for seven years.

But “The Final Problem” was no more than a cruel joke. In fact the whole set-up seemed like an excuse to get Mark Gatiss, writer and actor of Sherlock’s clever brother, Mycroft Holmes, more screen time. The amount of questions that go unanswered are endless, the production and composition was hilarious, and there’s absolutely no connection to the plot that’s been building for seven years.

To have talented actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who fit the roles of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson so perfectly, be a part of something that erases their years of hard work of character development is horrifying.

To have just one television show promote a relationship between same sex people without revolving around their sexualities from the very beginning, would be groundbreaking. If John Watson or Sherlock Holmes were the opposite sex, they would already be together and the show would still be about the adventures.

Sure, the ending of “The Final Problem” could be just that. Two men raising a baby together in a two-bedroom flat. You do the math. But that representation just isn’t good enough. Not for 2017.

The show was not “groundbreaking”, there was no ground to break. And fans are going to be upset, they have the right to be. But I can’t help but think of a beautiful quote reiterated by Meryl Streep at the last Golden Globes in homage to the late Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

There is always room for more interpretation, for art to be made from something that was never said aloud. After all, that’s what the prospect of “Sherlock” was supposed to be.

For me, the series will always hold a special place in my heart but the reality of it wasn’t special enough. It could have been groundbreaking, it could have made history, just as they said. But it wasn’t and all there’s left to do is carry on and to create something even better.

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