Sherlock: 4.01 The Six Thatchers
The first episode of season four and one question overrules all: Is Moriarty back? And if he is, how? It's most likely a post-humous revenge. Or is it?
Mycroft’s Secret Council of the Illuminati, running the country away from prying eyes, is concerned with the return of Moriarty; and only Sherlock can help. They even doctor the footage to clear him of the clear murder he committed at the end of the last season.
However, Sherlock intends to handle this case... by ignoring it and working on others, culminating with the case of the six Thatchers, based on Doyle's
"Adventure Of The Six Napoleons". The first half of the show very closely follows the plot of this original story, even down to Sherlock’s assumption that the last bust contains the fabled Black Pearl of the Borgias, assumed to have been stolen by Moriarty. What unfolds is a different conclusion altogether. One centred around the bloody past of new mother, Mrs Mary Watson.
What follows after that is an entirely different story, a spy thriller revolving around betrayal, vendettas, assassins, secret agents and conspiracies. One in which Sherlock seems to be able to fight hand-to-hand, toe-to-toe with an elite assassin. The story takes us from country to country, non-sequitur to non-sequitur, all while Mary is spy-like, Sherlock is a nigh parody of himself and Watson sits at home being a put-upon, nigh-perfect dad. I say nigh-perfect, because for some reason they felt that Watson, only recently a new father and still very much in love with Mary, would engage in emotional adultery with a woman he met on a bus. This seemed utterly incongruous to the character of noble Watson, and was added entirely to add an extra veneer of guilt for him to deal with at the end.
And what an end it was, certainly not lacking in drama or pathos, and the paths to get there were certainly interesting, if meandering. The conclusion, and the hole in Watson’s life, were clearly necessary to set things up for the two subsequent episodes. This one wasn’t about Moriarty, Thatcher or her busts, about solving criminological mysteries: It was about ending the dangling plotline of Mary Morstan and doing so in a way that means half of the next episode will be about Sherlock finding a way to end Watson’s despair.
Hopefully it’ll be about more than that.