Sherlock Season 4 (2017): How a Modern Detective Classic Becomes an Illogical Family Drama

Note that you should only read my review after you have watched the entire season.


“Five minutes… It took her just five minutes to do all of this to us”, Sherlock Holmes mumbles these words in misery, pointing his gun towards his brother Mycroft Holmes. Holmes is about to kill Holmes. The identity of this evil lady is Sherlock’s secret sister, Eurus Holmes, who has been locked in a dungeon for the past three seasons of the show. Of course, Eurus, season 4’s Jim Moriarty, cannot take five minutes to plot everything in reality; it was the writer who just took five minutes to finish the whole season. After waiting for three years for three episodes, I find it hard to accept such poor quality of writing. 

Why was Eurus locked in a dungeon and treated as one of the most dangerous British alive? Because she killed her brother’s best friend and burned her house, and she was too clever, if intellect really threatened national security in any way. How could Eurus know Jim Moriarty and his special employment? I guess it was because Eurus was some kind of mutant who could receive electronic signals from the world outside the dungeon. How could Moriarty make so many awkward short videos and send them to Eurus? Again, via her internal wifi, or perhaps he recorded during the five-minute meeting with Eurus, making use of the time dilation suggested by the theory of relativity (did they laugh when making these funny videos?). Why would Eurus plotted everything just to make Sherlock Holmes suffer? Because she felt lonely as a child, and Sherlock only played pirates with his best friend. Such sophisticated criminal motive really shows how smart Eurus is. Let us not forget that Mary Watson died saving Sherlock after doing what is still considered as a physical impossibility for human. The writers create surprises for the sake of surprises, even at the expense of logic. For that, Sherlock does not return for more adventures or detective brilliance, but for more melodrama and case-solving that only suggests divine interventions. The show distances main characters from audience and assiduously incorporates unconvincing elements that define self-indulgence.

Sherlock is consistently inconsistent. He can be the rational problem-solving machine, the high-functioning sociopath, the delusional drug-addict and the sentimental brother, or all four at the same time. Perhaps Sherlock Holmes should be distant from the public, but I find none of the qualities in this season at least likeable. The characterisation of Sherlock used to be the strength of the series, especially in its third instalment. It was once intriguing to witness his occasionally relatable moments and rare sentiments. Yet, the strength is now the reason why the series is losing its charm. Even Cumberbatch’s commendable portrayal cannot save its obvious pitfalls. The writers keep adding unnecessary new elements into an already complex personality and holding back the motives behind personality shifts from their audience. They probably want to strengthen certain aspects of Sherlock’s characterisation, but what they did have really changed Sherlock Holmes into a messy combination.

I assign the season a 5/10, suggesting it to be average among all the work I have watched so far, be it on a television or a screen. I sense that the producers are relying on past successes and the loyal viewership for future profits, and I find that strategy problematic and very likely unsustainable. If there is another season for Sherlock, I do wish to see more elements of detection, logical reasoning and coherent stories, in other words, a true return of Sherlock Holmes.

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