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Being a fan of the series, I was really excited to sit down and watch Sherlock season 4. However I came away really disappointed. Sherlock season 4 is just not good. Compared to the earlier seasons, season 4 is very different in terms of the general mood, tone and writing.
Perhaps because this is meant to be the last season, the producers wanted to go with something dramatic, making the show even more complex and over the top than usual. However the end result is that it felt like something written by someone with ADHD and high on drugs.
More a thriller than a detective mystery
Sherlock Holmes has always been a detective mystery. Even when modern versions of the character and his cases gave it a more action-packed story, the mystery and the solving of it are the main focus.
In season 4, there were not many mysteries to solve.
- Episode 1 was a spy thriller with fights, secret missions, deaths by gunshots.
- Episode 2 did not have a mystery and the killer was announced right at the start.
- Episode 3 did not have a mystery, just puzzles set by mastermind (see season 1 episode 3).
Overall the season felt fast-paced where the characters rushed from place to place, the plot jumped from point to point, and the timelines were jumbled up.
Episode 1 was incredibly messy and difficult to follow. Episodes 2 and 3 were better although it was still somewhat chaotic and difficult to tell when it was a real flashback and when it was an hallucination.
It didn’t feel clever
In previous seasons, Sherlock always had clever writing. The cases may be a tad outrageous but they contained little details and twists that felt really clever when Sherlock revealed them.
In season 4, there was none of that. With Sherlock obsessing over Moriarty’s posthumous plans in episode 1 and being stoned out in episode 2, Sherlock’s thought processes was dulled and slower, which felt like a convenient excuse for not revealing revelations until Sherlock’s mind caught up near the end of the episode.
Because Sherlock was no longer at the top of his game, there were doubts if Sherlock’s deductions were correct. It felt strange that the viewers could no longer depend on Sherlock to make the right decision.
Solemn and sombre
Sherlock episodes often felt like an adventure as the audience followed the detective on his cases. The dialogue was infused with the typical British humour which was witty and so charming.
However, season 4’s tone was serious and depressing. Events in this season hit closer to home for the characters. There wasn’t many happy moments to speak of, which meant that the characters were usually angry or sad or battling their inner demons.
I missed the witty banter between the characters. Even at the ending, there was very little feel-good moments and what was there felt forced.
Anti-climatic showdown (or lack of)
In the last episode, the identity of the mastermind was revealed and now it’s a showdown between Sherlock and the mastermind. One by one Sherlock solved the timed puzzles, which was pretty exciting.
The mastermind was intelligent, emotionless and ruthless, clearly more than a match for Sherlock, so it felt like the show was building towards a big showdown when they finally came face to face with each other. I was eager to see how Sherlock managed to overcome an adversary that was clearly more intelligent than him.
Oh, but what a letdown when they finally came face to face. The mastermind had conveniently degenerated into a crying baby (the show did not give any reason for why this happened unless the mastermind is conveniently of an unstable mind). So not only Sherlock won, he won without having to prove himself against a stronger opponent.
I am so sick of Jim Moriarty. He is such an irritating little pest that every time he appeared onscreen, I had to take a deep breath to calm myself.
Yes, I know he is Sherlock’s greatest nemesis but enough is enough. Moriarty had appeared in all 4 seasons; the character is dead and his story is more than over. It’s time to move on, both for the show and Sherlock.