Now that the “top secret beyond classified” D-Notice has expired on The Six Thatchers, we can easily drop the coyness: Mary Watson isn't any more. That’s the biggie the BBC didn’t want leaked and around which episode previews were forced to dance. Mary’s dead, John’s a widow and baby Rosamund is left a motherless child.
It would have been a glum end with an episode that started off as jolly as Christmas with Sherlock on ebullient, ginger nut-crunching form. The fast-paced frivolity of The Six Thatchers’ first half-hour was drowned out by grief prior to the finish. Amanda Abbington injected some characteristic Mary-ish levity into her death scene, but as soon as she’d blinked her last, we had been left with Martin Freeman lowing such as a cow in labour and tears complete.
(This, after upright John’s role as Sherlock’s "loyal" outsourced human conscience have been tarnished by that extra-marital texting?) Perhaps Sherlock’s creators felt we’d all just been having too good annually.
More likely they desired to pull off a surprise, tug on the heartstrings and take away a superfluous piece in the board. As Sherlock cavalierly told John earlier inside the episode, Mary created a better sidekick than her husband. She was cleverer, more knowledgeable, together with the whole ex-international agent thing taking place. Not known for his sentimentality, why would Sherlock pick John over her? Killing off Mary alleviated the requirement to contrive explanations why, later on, John shouldn’t are the one left holding the newborn.
With her gone, all that’s stopping the previous duo from winding back the hands of time and getting to crime-solving basics will be the small a few one of them refusing to speak with the other. (That and the newborn, but television, immeasurably preferring little ones’ debuts inside the world with their continued existence, does find ways around that.)
Mary's labour was among the many light-hearted skits that made The Six Thatchers more comedy than anything in its first third. For 30 minutes, Sherlock squabbled entertainingly with Mycroft and John and talked as a result of everyone else, Rosie included. There were tired-parents gags, case-solving gags, digs-at-Lestrade gags… It was brisk, funny, cleverly performed and recognisably Sherlock.
What it lacked was the a sense building menace that made The Reichenbach Fall or His Last Vow such strong episodes. Instead of one cohesive feature-length story, it was obviously a succession of three somewhat disjointed half hours: a comedy intro, a Bourne-style globe-trotting action thriller, plus an emotional relationship drama. Laugh, get a pulse racing, cry, there we were instructed. At pointless did it feel were we invited to fix a central mystery alongside our heroes. The episode trusted our passion for these characters being higher than our love of a genuine villain as well as a tightly wound problem to unravel. As entertaining mainly because it all was, deficiency of both was felt.
The mysteries which are there didn’t quite sing. The corpse inside car got off and away to a promisingly macabre start but fizzled out once we learned that the young victim arbitrarily expired coming from a seizure as opposed to being tied up with the primary story. The ‘ammo’ code was closest we located being able to interact with the clues. Hiding the true reason for Mary’s downfall in plain sight by introducing Vivian Norbury and her Mivvi as sprightly, comedic opening would have been a good trick, but a familiar one.
After the many “Miss me?” teasing, Vivian Norbury and Sacha Dhawan's AJ didn’t quite make the grade as baddies. With two episodes still to visit, Moffat and Gatiss have enough time to convince us they had a plan to adhere to up the series three Moriarty cliff-hanger, but time’s ticking. How many months have passed since Sherlock was on that plane? If the spider hasn’t made his posthumous move now, proper? Roll on, Toby Jones.
Looks-wise, the locations were excellent as it ever was. Mary's jaunt had global scope, and then there seems to be a good number of slick, ultra-rich mansions to stage Sherlock's fights. The screen though, hasn't been busier. Hashtags, video calls, elemental symbols, rolling dice, dotted lines rattling along world maps… The show's existing visual flourishes are already upped as well as the editing style accelerated. What was already a classy, inventively filmed series is zhuzhed up.
Ultimately, the episode was less considering setting up detective mysteries when compared to telling a Jason Bourne-like story about Mary. The peace she’d found with John was built on borrowed time. Whatever vows was made, her past was likely to catch up with her and yes it did, yet not before she’d a final moment of heroism and repaid the debt she owed Sherlock for His Last Vow’s bullet.
The inability of avoiding your fate was the episode’s thematic spine, illustrated by ancient Mesopotamian tale The Appointment In Samarra. Mary’s was the fate showcased, however the story was recited by Sherlock, who disliked it much as a child he rewrote the ending. It makes sense for predestination to irk this kind of rational mind as his, though the obsession suggested something more. Is the show hinting that Sherlock too comes with a inescapable date with death? Those lines about him not the ability to outrun his future, having a great time while he still can and lastly having a noose to get his neck into could be something to talk about with his therapist…
That’s right, Sherlock Holmes is at therapy. He’s learned to find help and, as revealed by that final scene with Mrs Hudson, found out that his arrogance may have catastrophic consequences. Aside from Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick Of The Mind perhaps, this adaptation has been doing more to produce the psychology on the character than maybe another. This Sherlock Holmes is not any longer an excellent machine for solving mysteries, he’s someone and he’s in pain. How that pain can come to bear for the next two episodes is intriguing.
The Six Thatchers was an entertaining, polished instalment, good yet not great (judging only at this show’s own high standards). It would be a transitional episode that fulfilled the function of taking Sherlock’s major players down again from three to two, re-establishing the show’s status-quo, give or take John's incandescent rage at his former flatmate.