Three years. Not counting “The Abominable Bride,” that’s how long we’ve had to wait for a brand new series of Sherlock, arguably the only TV show around today that loves making all its fans slobber at the word of a new episode (because you can count on everything else coming back after three or four months).
After catching “The Six Thatchers,” though, I’ve unfortunately realized that I no longer have that same excitement for the second and third episodes of this particular series. It’s a matter of the wait being too damn long—literal years in between—that I eventually managed to get over the must-watch trait of the show. That, and this new episode felt like a cheaper than usual episode of what used to be a tightly-compelling and larger-than-life TV show.
A quick summary of the plot: after the events of the last season’s finale and “The Abominable Bride,” Sherlock’s convinced that while Moriarty’s dead, he’s planned stuff to mess with him posthumously and recruited other people to carry on his work. Why else, after all, would he send out the “Miss Me?” video teaser?
But the first thing he gets into, however, is a side plot that sees John’s wife Mary’s secret agent past catch up with her, and there’s a lot of around-the-world spy hijinks that go on. Without getting into too much detail, the end of the episode shakes up a lot of the established status quo this early into the new season. (Make of that what you will.)
The most obvious problem of this episode is the big change that happens. Perhaps it’s too soon to tell because we still need to see what happens in the next two episodes, but it seems like the most bummer way to begin a series we haven’t seen in three years. That may be a significant part of why it isn’t all that.
But the bigger problem is that the rest of the episode dilly-dallies in masturbatory Sherlock shenanigans and convoluted plot threads that don’t really go in one major direction. Yes, there may be a need to reestablish Sherlock Holmes after a while, but in the bigger picture, by the fourth season everyone already knows that Sherlock can solve mundane cases in a matter of minutes. There’s really no need to remind people when everyone is far more concerned with Moriarty’s next move; while watching Sherlock be Sherlock is cute, that’s not why we’re here now.
The good thing about this episode is we finally get some sort of character development from Sherlock, and that after messing around in the first two acts of “The Six Thatchers,” the third act tightens everything up and the rest of the season should now be more focused in getting all of us to the endgame, whatever that is. Whether it’s a Moriarty successor or an entirely new villain, he or she needs to be established (and not disposed of as quickly as Charles Augustus Magnussen) immediately. Sherlock and Watson trying to get along together are fun to watch, but at the end of the day, we’re still watching a detective show. At least, that’s what I’m still trying to watch.