The fourth season of Sherlock ended this past Sunday, marking the 10th and potentially last episode of the series if they so choose not to make more (three seasons, three episodes each, plus one special). It was good to see Sherlock, Watson, and Mycroft again after a couple of years, and this season introduced a pretty interesting character. Still, the show continued to struggle to write sensible material that was actually smart and reasonable and instead gave plotlines that were borderline ridiculous and full of holes.
In many ways, this is an understandable struggle because the writers and creators have to try to portray super-geniuses with outlandish and unrealistic intellectual powers solving incredible problems and living life, while they are… well, not super-geniuses like that (who is?). Because of this, some amount of leeway should be given for “deductions” that really cannot be made. After all, we have to believe the premise that Sherlock, Mycroft, and maybe some others possess fantastic deductive abilities by observing things no other human can. However, there is a limit to this; when they start solving and predicting things that are positively absurd (while at the same time missing obvious things that they should easily see), it comes off as a lazy writing. Throw in massive plot holes and storylines that seemingly have nothing to do with solving cases, and you have some legitimate gripes that the show has lost its way a bit. Yes, I know Moffat and Gattis have repeatedly tried to say that it’s not a detective show but a drama about a detective, but that still kinda makes it a detective show, and it doesn’t excuse plot contrivances.
A good example of this failure is from last season. Charles Augustus Magnussen was far from a good villain; we were supposed to believe that he was just as smart as Sherlock and outwitted him at the end before Sherlock blew his brains out. However, he ended up giving the game away by telling Watson and Sherlock he had no hard proof for his blackmails (even bragging that he can just print stuff anyway in the news) but relied on his “mind palace” to recall incriminating facts, a concession that made his whole enterprise a joke and Sherlock’s struggle nonsensical. All Sherlock had to do was tell Mycroft or Magnussen’s enemies and someone else would have shot him. Not to mention the fact that it is somewhat deceptive to show Magnussen actually walking down to the Appledore vaults that turned out to not exist.
Similarly, in Season 4, the problems and the resolution of them just didn’t seem to work at the end. The reveal of Sherlock’s sister was fairly well done and made more sense of episode 1, which was a bit underwhelming on the first viewing (and continues the totally unconvincing notion that Mary is some super assassin). However, things really went off the rails in the last episode. Here are some complaints as they come to mind:
-So we are supposed to believe that, for Sherlock to discover the truth about his sister, he’d have to spend hours breaking Mycroft’s private security, splicing clips of his family into Mycroft’s movie that he knew he would watch that night, installing mechanisms into his doors so he could open and close them, install things that make Mycroft’s paintings bleed from the eyes and mouth, and so on without the super genius Mycroft noticing any of these changes in his own house. Uh huh.
-It’s one thing to make all of Sherlock’s family into unrealistic geniuses; we’ll grant that for the sake of the show. It’s quite another to have Euros take over a whole freaking secret government facility with her mind powers and without anyone noticing or having a problem with that. She apparently took the time to change up the place so she could have rooms open up to other rooms in a giant maze so she could run an experiment on her brothers. This was a massively stupid decision to write this. It would have been slightly better if Moriarty took over the prison for her, but they didn’t go there and he’s been long dead anyway.
-Yeah, all it takes is an hour on Twitter to predict terrorist attacks. Sigh.
-More deceptive storytelling: The little girl on the crashing airplane wasn’t real, but it was just the emo, child side of Euros. Yeah, lame.
-It is not believable that Sherlock would not only erase all memory of Euros but also of his childhood friend. He wasn’t THAT young, and that’s just not how things work. Redbeard actually being a boy who was Sherlock’s friend rather than a dog was a mistake and made any attempt to make Euros sympathetic at the end fail. Yeah, we’re supposed to think it’s sad that she killed a little boy because she felt lonely and wanted to play.
-Speaking of the boy, she clearly said later that she drowned him. So the smart Holmes family never thought to look in that dang well that was on or near their property? Did they somehow not know that this well did not exist?
-How on God’s green earth did she plan all this nonsense with Moriarty? Don’t even get me started with the silliness of Moriarty killing himself to begin with at the end of season 2, but considering that he’s dead, they had to resort to these crazy powers of Euros predicting all the moves of the Holmes boys in order to record all of his goofy lines. And when did he have time to do that? Certainly not in the five minutes he had with her to talk.
-The use of the grenade was dumb. Some might say that she used that grenade to let them know that she was serious, but she could have killed them. Geniuses or not, all it would have taken was slipping slightly to fail to get out of blast zone in time and get blown to bits. Also, I like how Sherlock and Watson flung themselves out of windows and apparently suffered no injuries.
-Yeah, she had someone build a fake room next to their old house, also somehow transporting all of them there from a secret government facility.
-No repercussions from that conversation with Molly? Everything’s just okay? Sure.
That’s enough for now. Clearly, the writers tried too hard to make this game in the prison without actually thinking through about how it would make sense. They also seemed to forget that Sherlock is supposed to, you know, solve cases. It would have been much more interesting if they had Euros escape from the prison and take over the remnants of Moriarty’s organization or something, but they had to give her mind controlling powers instead.
There were still entertaining parts of the show, and the character interactions remain some of the best parts of it. However, if there is ever a season 5, the writers need to do a much better job trying to stay grounded because these plotlines have gotten too ridiculous for their own good.