Parton the Interruption: What’s gone wrong with Sherlock?

[Check other episodes of Parton the Interruption here]

By Drew Parton

Despite being hurt, I still love Sherlock. The first season is great, and the second season was even better. But after “The Reichenbach Fall,” the series quickly went downhill. The third season was just a let-down, and I’m not quite sure what to blame it on. It might be the loss of Moriarty- the best villain the show has had. Between the writing, and the acting of Andrew Scott, he’s definitely one of the more memorable TV characters in recent times. It also might be due to the addition of Mary, John Watson’s wife. It’s nothing to do with her character, per se, or the actress. She doesn’t have any memorable features in the books- so they had to flesh her out more, but the show didn’t quite know what to do with her. And so they make up this stupid plot where she’s secretly an assassin. It was a very desperate twist to try and make something of the character.

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BBC/PBS

The second season was really the climax of the series. Moriarty had been built up to since the first episode- a mastermind criminal who outplayed the great Sherlock Holmes- and so after that climax, the show sharply lost momentum and purpose. They tried to inject another Moriarty-type character, Magnussen, in the third season. But he was ultimately just such a flat and boring character that I honestly forgot he even existed. Season 3 also changed Sherlock from an eccentric (and possibly autistic) detective to a goddamn superspy. Throughout the series, he hated and despised what Mycroft did with the government and intelligence. He was this odd ball sleuth who solved crimes because they were fun puzzles- not bloody James Bond! In the third series, not only had he faked his death- but spent the time taking down secret organized crime syndicates. I recently re-watched the whole series in prep for the fourth season, and I forgot just how mediocre the whole third season was. Every moment in the first two seasons is unique and memorable. Even the weakest episode, “The Hounds of Baskerville,” still has its great moments. But season three is just so blasé, and “The Abominable Bride” even more so. The special really has no point, the ending is so baffling- and quite frankly, stupid- that I actually felt sort of cheated by it. After waiting so long and building it up so much, the episode really did nothing.

Which brings me to season 4. Despite my trepidations, I was still pretty excited. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have great chemistry onscreen, and they’re a joy to watch. But the plot just got weaker and weaker as it progressed, and Sherlock season 4 is the most disappointing thing in my life (until my future children), and mainly for the same reasons as the third season. The plot doesn’t go anywhere. They try to shoe-horn in another pseudo-Moriarty character, and don’t know what to do with the characters.

At this point, I’m going to issue a SPOILER WARNING from here on out because there are some major events in the season.

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Season 3 ends with Sherlock killing Magnussen in cold blood- it’s depicted as this big event, and Sherlock boards a plane with his brother Mycroft to flee the country, then all the TV’s in England are hijacked by a video of Moriarty. But Sherlock’s murder of Magnussen really doesn’t have many repercussions. True, Sherlock and Watson have killed a few people before in the series- but this one was treated with weight. Sherlock didn’t kill in self-defense, he executed someone. But that’s okay it didn’t really matter anyway, literally, that get’s cleaned up in the first few minutes of the episode and has no bearing at all for the rest of the season. But hey! Moriarty’s back. Sherlock faked his death, maybe Moriarty did too! Maybe this is going to get exciting again- NOPE. He’s not back. Furthermore it gets awfully stupid. Stupid enough that it undermines the entirety of season 2.

Firstly, John Watson has an affair with another woman at the start of the series. John Watson, the moral compass to Sherlock. It’s just so out of character that it bothered me. The first episode, “The Six Thatchers” involves the plot of Mary Watson trying to track down former members of her secret assassin squad, and ultimately dies at the end of the episode. Which I was partially glad for. This causes a massive rift between Sherlock and John that might have been promising. It meant that we could be done with John and Mary’s stagnant character development and her idiot subplots. However, this merely removed any of the positive chemistry between Sherlock and Watson (which is arguably the best part of the series). And, alas, the episodes continued to go downhill.

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BBC/PBS

In the second episode, John starts to have hallucinations of Mary, Sherlock becomes a complete drug addict, and there is a complicated plot involving a serial killer who works at a hospital. But the biggest, most stupid, and most irritating moment comes at the very end of the episode. It turns out that the John’s new therapist- and also the woman he had an affair with- is Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s secret sister, Eurus, who burned down their family house and was sent away to a maximum-security prison.

So, now to the third episode. Which is indescribably terrible. So let’s break down every plot twist and just how awful it is.

  • For starters, John eventually reconciles with Sherlock, saying that he no longer blames him for Mary’s death. But they never really have a moment for that. They don’t ever discuss it or really work through it. He just forgives him at the end of the episode.
  • Here is the biggest thing in the history of the series that ruins the first two seasons: Eurus can DO MIND CONTROL. And it’s also revealed that FOR SOME REASON, Mycroft let Moriarty in to visit Eurus WITHOUT SUPERVISION OF ANY SORT. And she mind-tricked him in to executing the whole plot. So Moriarty wasn’t a mastermind at all, he was just a brainwashed lackey. All the great moments of season 1 and 2? All that suspense, and tension, and mystery, and intrigue- nope. Fuck you.
  • Thirdly, remember Redbeard? Sherlock’s beloved dog? That dog that was in Sherlock’s memory palace that helped calm him down when he was going into shock after Mary shot him in season 3? Oh, yeah. It wasn’t a dog, it was Sherlock’s friend that he forgot was a human and thought was a dog.
  • So Eurus has been putting Sherlock through a series of taunting games where he has to solve puzzles to save lives- NO THIS ISN’T JUST A REPEAT OF “THE GREAT GAME” FROM SEASON 1 I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. But apparently, the whole plot has just been Eurus’ cry for help. A game that endangered Sherlock, John, Mycroft, and countless others. And what did she need help with? And why? It’s never really explained.

This is actually the reason that I’m glad Firefly only lasted one season. We never had to see it decay. Watching Sherlock is like watching a loved one with a terminal disease: at some point you just want them to pass on peacefully with their dignity still intact. I can only hope that Sherlock can bring it back together, or at least let itself end.

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4 thoughts on “Parton the Interruption: What’s gone wrong with Sherlock?

  1. Completely agree! I gave season 3 a pass because I thought it was maybe a necessary transition season between 2 and 4, but the show unfortunately continued with the convoluted, random storylines. What bothered me the most was that the show was portraying Sherlock as some sort of magician who can inexplicably piece together evidence to solve the mystery. Umm, no. He uses logic and observation that us mortals overlook, but doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. Season 4 was pretty much insulting the intelligence of the audience. ANYWAYS, hopefully the show will be able to pull itself back together and bring back the magic of season 1 and 2?

  2. I’ve been rewatching series 1 and 2. Makes me sad and even mad that it took such a horrible turn in 3 and 4, when it was damn near perfect to begin with.

  3. As for Mary, I totally agreed. I think that she wasn’t pretty well constructed for the series. The actor was perfect but Mary wasn’t. She just took too much space for deduction part of the story. Before, the main focus was on Sherlock solving cases with John and becoming emotionally more developed man (or bringing back that side of him). And then, the story turned on relationship with Mary and John, family, etc. drifted more away from its core. And Magnussen, a fantastic villain, could have been pretty much more developed – he is a man who posses huge knowledge and he is pretty strong in deduction (he makes deduction on persons weaknesses, and then goes to his mind palace to find if he has some tool against other person). He outsmarted Sherlock and Mycroft. And for me, he wasn’t pretty well putted in the story. Moriarty was complex and this intelligent man, Magnussen – the plan was powerful blackmail and the answer was, just like that – shot in the head by Sherlock. Maybe Mycroft left his laptop on purpose. Maybe he knew what will Sherlock do. Why bring that laptop in your parents house? “Here be dragons”. The whole third episode was overflown with relationship between John and Mary. For me, we needed much more Magnussen in third season.
    To go back to the topic, I agreed with everything in the text except of the part that Eurus brain-washed Moriarty. Then, what was the whole purpose of The Abominable bride? The whole episode alluded that Moriarty was a virus for Sherlock – he wasn’t, let say, “emotionally developed enough” when he met Moriarty – and Moriarty was printed deep into Sherlock’s mind. He influenced him so much, that he became literally a virus for Sherlock. And that is one side of Moriarty we always forget – contrary to Sherlock, Moriarty was excellent with manipulating people. Remember Kitty who was manipulated (obviously emotionally, as he acted like her boyfriend at the moment) by Moriarty and convinced her and, later, almost everyone, that he was an actor hired by Sherlock. Just remember when Sherlock said that you cannot kill the idea and that’s precisely what Moriarty have done. He left a worm who started growing bigger and bigger. And now, let’s go back to the Eurus. She was vulnerable person – despite all of the intelligence, she was emotionally lost. Emotions drive people. Logic is a tool. And then, Moriarty payed the visit and she have “waken up” and started acting as Moriartys revenge against Sherlock (her own words). She was just a tool. Her mind palace was that airplane, probably allusion to our civilization which is heading to some disaster and it needs to safe land so more people needs to wake up – maybe Moriarty was woken up too, but instead of evading, he just concluded that his life and everyone else not matters so before he dies, he wants to have some fun in his own way (you can ignore this part, that’s how I understood that allusion, but the airplane mind palace holds still). Everyone is asleep, except her. And then, when Moriarty called her on phone and said “Hello, my name is Jim Moriarty and welcome to the final problem” – we see that he manipulated her, went like a virus in her hard-drive, not the other way around. And at last, it was very dubious. He said “Holmes killing Holmes”, not Sherlock killing Mycroft. It could mean two options (off course, nobody will kill Eurus and she won’t kill nobody – at that time): Sherlock killing Mycroft or the second option which Eurus didn’t predicted at all – Sherlock
    Holmes killing himself. The second scenario is most logical – Moriarty want’s to kill him, not Mycroft. Either him, or people he loves, dies – same as in The Reichenbach falls. And Eurus didn’t predicted that. She is manipulating people but the similar happened to her. Not real brain-wash but the same thing which could have happened to Sherlock in The Abominable bride. After that, she trapped John, but that wasn’t Moriarty’s plan. He expected that Sherlock will kill himself and that’s where Moriarty gets out of the train. That’s why Sherlock doesn’t say: “It took HER five minutes” but “It took IT five minutes to do all of this to us”. That other part is Eurus plan and only then we discover that she is emotionally lost person and afraid. Just read her song. It is the song for the person which is loosing herself.
    So, this scenario above includes everything – and The Abominable Bride which was, for unknown reason to me, totally let off the record by many reviews when it is in fact, one of the most important episodes, because it explains perfectly how is a conflict between Moriarty and Sherlock happens. Sherlock want’s to solve the case, Moriarty makes it harder. As Moriarty says: “It’s only you and me”.

  4. As for my comment deleting, I always screen-shot my comments so if someone tries to use my ideas (which I said in other websites), I have protection.

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