There’s a thing about tears, they make vision blurry. Everything seems secondary to that feeling of loss that you were just consumed by. If something had the power to move you to tears, it surely must have been really good.
But not always. An example could be Sherlock’s season four’s first episode, The Six Thatchers. After making fans wait for three years, the makers thought the best way to reward the fans’ patience would be to mercilessly murder one of the best characters on the show, Mary. What’s the problem with that? You see, unlike Sia, I don’t love cheap thrills.
More on that later because while it may be my biggest problem with Sherlock’s return, it is far from the only one.
So, we begin at the beginning because frankly, we should’ve seen the disappointment coming from here itself. Ignoring the Christmas special completely, the last time we saw Sherlock, he had shot that evil Charles Augustus Magnussen in the face.
The cliffhanger was brutal. How could he actually kill? Isn’t that kind of an unwritten rule or something? We looked forward to the explanation for three years and the effect killing someone had on Sherlock and were rewarded at last, with an answer that almost seemed disrespectful. Sherlock is sitting there, nonchalantly texting away, almost unperturbed by the fact that he just took a life while Mycroft sells a shoddy lie to the officials. I had hoped some time would be given to show the consequences of his action on Sherlock’s way of life but no such luck.
So what did they do with the time that they managed to save? Make Mary travel across continents in a long montage only to later reveal it was all for nothing? Take a weird, extremely off-character digression for Watson and having him cheat on his wife? Or have a long 007-style fight scene between Sherlock and a burglar? Anything and everything as long as it doesn’t involve actual detective work. The only case that Sherlock takes up in the episode, he solves it in just a few minutes.
Coming back to what I call my biggest problem with the episode, creating and retaining good female characters had never been Sherlock’s strong suit but we thought things were finally changing with Mary. She was given a depth, a personality like nothing we had ever seen in any of the several adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work. She was the perfect third addition to the team of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson, a worthy member of a potentially great trio but was killed for God knows what reason. Did the actors refuse to work together following their recent real-life break up? Or was it the same old Sherlock-style disregard for anything female and good?
This long rant does make it seem like I actually did not appreciate anything at all in the episode but I remember wiping a tear off my face, the one I talked about at the beginning of this rant. What was that? If I genuinely hated it, how did it manage to wring such emotion out of me? I believe that my grief over Mary’s death could not be credited to this episode. Over time, my appreciation for her as a character swelled into affection and it hurt to watch her go. It was the good work of earlier episodes that her departure hurt the way it did. All this episode did was rob her of a fitting death. Died from a misdirected bullet from an elderly secretary’s gun? You deserved better Mary. We deserve better.
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