By Kayla Robbins
Fans of the show know that season 4 was a landmark season for Sherlock, and possibly its last. Some viewers felt that the show really jumped the shark in the most recent episodes (especially the one where the characters are surrounded by literal sharks for much of the episode). Still, others thoroughly enjoyed the roller coaster ride. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s the fact that these most recent episodes of Sherlock were a lot different from what we’re used to seeing on the show.
What made it so different?
Explosions, secrets, convoluted plot lines, and overly-long house of horror montages featured prominently in this season’s high-octane adventures. Where we once had quietly murderous cabbies, there are now ostentatious evil geniuses capable of taking over not just people’s minds, but entire islands just by being really, really clever.
Where in earlier seasons of Sherlock standalone mystery-solving episodes were the norm, this season introduces and resolves several overarching plot points at breakneck speeds. In the first episode, we confront the details of Mary’s troubled past head-on as it all finally catches up with her, tying up with finality a plot arc that some would say was already adequately resolved last season. In the second episode, the fan favorite of the set, we get a more traditional Sherlock episode, focusing on a single case and relying on the relationship between Holmes and Watson to solve it. Unfortunately, the episode takes a strange turn at the end when it’s revealed that the “big baddie” of the finale has been walking around inserting herself into Sherlock and John’s lives this whole time for no apparent reason. Then in the third episode, it all kicks off in an indulgent, Saw-esque fun house. Luckily though, the murderous inclinations of the too-smart-for-her-own-good Holmes sister can be put to rest with a simple hug.
Moffat and Gatiss tell but don’t show.
One of the biggest problems with the show is one that has always been there, but has become more and more glaring as the characters themselves grow more and more over the top. The writers have always relied too heavily on telling viewers things rather than taking the time to show them. For example, they tell us that Eurus is a super smart evil mastermind capable of controlling people with her mind, but they never show us a glimmer of how she does that. They even tell us that Mary is an incredibly skilled and capable super spy, despite the fact that what they show us is her being nothing more than a catalyst to force character development for the men in her life. For most of the show, the writers have considered “because he/she is very smart” to be an acceptable answer to almost any question. They’ve effectively turned IQ into a super power.
This is the problem with writers trying to write a character that’s smarter than they are (and in turn, a character that’s smarter than THAT character, and one more character that’s way smarter than that other character, just for good measure). While intelligent people have logical reasons for the things that they do, and can extrapolate information from their surroundings, Moffat and Gatiss’s Sherlock is essentially indistinguishable from a wizard. They think that being highly intelligent means being hyper observant, remembering everything you’ve ever read (and always having read something relevant), and being able to anticipate the plans of your arch nemesis based on the direction of the wind, so that’s exactly how they write Sherlock.