After what seems like years without a proper episode, Sherlock came back with a bang! Not only did this episode contain some great twists and turns but I think it is an indicator as to how the rest of Sherlock season 4 will be.

Last season ended with Sherlock killing Charles Augustus Magnussen and getting exiled for a matter of minutes before being called back due to Moriarty broadcasting a message on all the screens in Britain. This episode picks up just after that event occurring. The episode begins with a meeting between Sherlock, Mycroft and some other government figures re-framing Magnussen’s murder as though some eager squaddie shot him instead of Sherlock. Then the topic of Moriarty’s message came up and whilst Sherlock is certain he is dead, he says in the exchange that Moriarty has planned some sort of posthumous game and whilst this episode had an interesting case at the heart of it, I am certain that this case wasn’t part of the game. I think the Six Thatchers was an episode which cleared up Mary’s character, instead of clearing up Moriarty’s appearance at the end of season 3. I think we will have to wait until the end of this season to get answers to Moriarty’s reappearance.

The next few scenes were to do with Mary’s baby and various small cases Sherlock worked on. Nothing really notable happened apart from the appearance of the red haired woman on the bus. Towards the end of the episode we find out that she gives John her number and they begin a slight relationship. I have a weird feeling that she may be connected to Moriarty or another villain we haven’t seen yet, and I think she may become a more prominent feature of this season. However I don’t know this for sure and my only reason for thinking this is because she reminds me of Mary a little bit. She seems sweet and nice, but I can’t help but not trust her for some reason.

Then the case begins! The case starts with the remnants of a exploded car with a guy who should have been in Tibet. The father of the dead man received a pre-recorded call a week previously from the person who should have been in Tibet and the guy asked his father to take a picture of his car. We later find out that the son had come back from Tibet early and planned to surprise his father however he died from a seizure. An easy case. However the father had a shrine to Margaret Thatcher and a bust of Thatcher had been smashed in a break in. This becomes the backbone of the episode as Sherlock has a feeling the break in may be Moriarty related (this is a strange case and Moriarty loved a strange case). This leads to Sherlock to ask Mycroft if Moriarty had any connection to Thatcher. Mycroft basically says no, and mentions that Moriarty had an interest in tracking down a pearl called ‘The Black Pearl of Borgais’. This pearl is mentioned a few times in the episode and it must be important if Moriarty and Mycroft are both interested in it. I think this may be more than a pearl, and maybe will have a larger importance this season.

The next major scene is a Sherlock deduction scene where Sherlock is with a client and is deducing him. I loved this scene especially when he lied to the client about his wife being a spy and it was very entertaining. I also thought it was a great, classic Sherlock moment as these little monologues where he is deducing a client and telling them stuff they wouldn’t really want to hear, bringing out how much of an ass Sherlock can be and this scene shows how good the writing on this show is and how great Benedict Cumberbatch is in the role.

The next part is a continuation of the smashed Thatcher busts. Basically there have been more break ins and there is a break in the case. Sherlock figures it’s from the criminal and John,Mary and him go on a hunt with a bloodhound. Then there’s a moment with Mary and John talking in bed about their daughter. It was an alright character moment but there isn’t really too much to mention about it. The next interesting moment is a lead Sherlock gains in which he finds out that the busts were limited edition and only six were made. This leads to Sherlock breaking in to the final house and waiting for the break in to occur. This sequence was a highlight of the episode. The pool fight was a really cool action scene and I loved the underwater sequence. I was almost on the edge of my seat during the scene. It was some of the best TV action I’ve seen recently and it really shows how much money the BBC spends on this show. The final part of this scene we find out Moriarty isn’t involved and the culprit is involved with Mary somehow due to a flash drive which is identical to the one Mary gave John last season after she shot Sherlock. The culprit tells Sherlock that Mary betrayed them and that she’s a dead woman.This moment made me question a lot about who Mary had worked for in the past, and whether she had been working for Moriarty because I didn’t trust her character and I also thought if anyone was going to be working for Moriarty, she would be the girl. After seeing the whole episode, I think I was wrong.

Another highlight of the episode was finding out what AGRA was. It was an elite death squad Mary was involved with and I thought the break in scene where they were tasked with rescuing the ambassador was really cool, and felt like something that could have been part of a Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne movie. It was pretty intense and interesting. I think Sherlock is very movie like and this scene seemed like it would be at home in a Hollywood blockbuster.

We find out the mission to save the ambassador went wrong and the criminal Sherlock had been tracing had been captured and tortured. In fact all of AGRA had been apart from Mary, and the reason the criminal is so mad at Mary was because he had been told the British woman betrayed him. Later in the episode we find out that British woman wasn’t Mary but that is an interesting reveal at the end of the episode. Before knowing this, however, I was skeptical of Mary. She only added to my skepticism when she drugged Sherlock and took the flash drive. It looked dodgy and I think her character, ever since she shot Sherlock last season, has been untrustworthy. I’m not a big fan of Mary as a character but I do think she was very interesting in this episode. I was worried going into the season that Mary would become ‘John lite’ because I felt that they were going to push her in a big way after watching the Abominable Bride and how that episode was very feminocentric. I also thought that since she was the strongest female character Sherlock had, they would make her become very Mary Sue like and I was worried that she’d take over from John and Sherlock and Mary (as a pairing) would be forced on the audience. I was happy that didn’t really happen but I think that if she had been in any more of this season, they would have been tempted to increase Mary’s role to the detriment of John’s.

My favorite Mary moment (apart from the action sequences) was the part where she was on the plane as an American tourist. I’m not from the US, but I thought her accent was pretty good and I found her act very entertaining to watch. It was a great way to see her differently and it was a different way to see a spy interacting in my opinion. Usually spies are mysterious and don’t draw attention to herself, but ,in this scene, Mary drew attention to herself. I liked her whole sequence where she was on the run and I really liked this version of Mary where she was a spy on the run with various different identities. I wished we had seen more of that before her end in this episode.

Then there was a showdown between Mary and the criminal (her friend from AGRA, Ajay) in the Middle East. I thought this was the weakest action sequence in this episode but it was a good confrontation between Mary and Ajay. It was great to hear what had happened to both of them because of the failed mission. He had gone through a lot and I could understand where his character was coming from and why he thought that Mary deserved to die. This was really well written and the actor who played Ajay was really good in this part.

Continuing on, Mycroft arrests Lady Smallwood (the woman who was blackmailed by Magnussen and was a high up employee of the government) after Sherlock tells him about the British woman. We find out she was in charge of calling in AGRA on missions. I love her character because she is such a powerful woman and has a very interesting presence on screen. I really hope she has a larger presence in season 4 because I like her a lot and I think the actress who plays her is really good.

The final major scene takes place in the London Aquarium. This scene was great. We found out who betrayed AGRA (Lady Smallwood’s receptionist, Ms Norbury) and the reason she betrayed them. I didn’t expect her to be the person who betrayed AGRA as Ms Norbury seemed to have a small screen presence when she was on screen and she seemed quite weak. I liked Sherlock’s deduction of her and whilst he was vile to her, I love seeing scenes like that. As I stated above, Sherlock is Benedict Cumberbatch’s best role because he just seems to fit the character so well. The one thing that surprised me in the scene was Mary’s death at the hand of Ms Norbury. Even though I expected her to die this season (because in the books Mary dies), I didn’t expect her to be killed off in the first episode. It shocked me! I found it slightly funny that she died because of a bullet that was supposed to hit Sherlock, because of last season. Apart from that, the scene was pretty heartbreaking because of her final conversation with John. I think the death of his wife may be a real pivotal moment in his character’s development, as we see by the end of the episode that John blames Sherlock for Mary’s death and won’t talk to him. I think this will be really interesting going forward as the relationship between the pair may never be the same again.

The final thing I want to mention before wrapping up my episode review is the final scene with Mycroft where we hear him ask to talk to Sherrinford. I think this may have a huge importance next episode because I think Toby Jones’ character (that we have seen in promos for next week’s episode) may be/may have some ties to Sherrinford. Also I’ve heard theories that Sherrinford is the third Holmes brother that we heard Mycroft mention at the end of last season. I’m not sure how valid these theories are, but I think it would be interesting.

Overall I really liked this episode. It was a great season opener for Sherlock and I think it indicates that season four will be a great season as a lot of things are mentioned and usually the first episode of a season indicates the quality for a season of Sherlock (I personally think season one had the worst opening episode and was the worst season overall, and I thought season 2 and 3 had good season openers and were good seasons of Sherlock). I have been waiting years for season 4 of Sherlock and this episode exceeded my expectations. It was well written, well acted, and was a great send off for Mary. The action was also incredible and shows how much the BBC is invested in Sherlock. I hope season 4 continues to exceed my expectations (although that may be very difficult since this episode has set such a high bar for the rest of the season). I loved this episode!

9.5/10

Chelsea Baines covers Entertainment for MFST, you can follow her on Twitter @ChelseaBaines

 

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