Sherlock – Series 4, Episode 1 – “The Six Thatchers” – Of Secrets, Betrayal and a Needless Death

the-six-thatchers

     “Sherlock” is a show I greatly enjoy but have a complicated relationship with at this point, and this episode does a great job capturing everything I like and hate about this show. Oh it is still a favorite, I still like “Doctor Who” for all the crappy stories that have come out of that show (the good still carries) and the same rules apply to “Sherlock,” and as it both so happens both are current Moffat projects and his writing problems become more apparent the longer I’m in both enjoying and critiquing his worlds he is showrunning or involved in.

      “The Six Thatchers” was directed by Rachel Talalay, written by Mark Gatiss and produced by Sue Vertue.

   The story involves Sherlock being pulled from exile to solve the Moriarity hack. Issues soon become more complicated though as Sherlock gets back into being a detective expecting Moriarty’s game to be revealed in time as a destroyed Margaret Thatcher bust ties him into conspiracies tied to Mary, Mycroft and British intelligence as a whole.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world of “Sherlock” is a fascinating one. You have sociopaths, spies, geniuses, serial killers, governments and countless other players all with agendas and games that it is up for John and Sherlock to solve. It more often than not makes for a fascinating journey.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful as always and I enjoyed the use of blue to show drowning as that is a major theme of the episode. Our characters are isolated, each in their owns ways and it is in their isolation that the drama plays out.

The Characters – The characters are compelling and usually the best part of the show. All of them are flawed and it makes for good drama.

Greg Lestrade – Lestrade has become a bit of Sherlock fanboy at this point, though I like that he is still a member of the team, even if it just to bring cases and to remind Sherlock at least a little of his humanity. Rupert Graves is fantastic as always.

Vivian – Vivian is the one who is responsible for the death of Mary’s mercenary team and in the process of that one of them blaming Mary. She’s a secretary who is always listening and even outsmarts Mycroft. I have respect for her for that and even though I hate the writing choice, she does kill Mary which is more than any other villain has done up to this point. Marcia Warren does a good job.

Ajay – Ajay was a member of Mary’s mercenary team who blamed her for them all dying. He is a tragic figure as it was him keeping his mouth shut that lead to him being tortured into insanity. I felt bad for the guy as he wasn’t a bad person to begin with, just flawed like Mary.

Mycroft – Mark Gatiss is the best version of this character thus far and it is wonderful seeing him in over his head and his organization being compromised. This was an episode where we see brilliant Mycroft does not know anything and that he was played just as much as everyone else by Vivian’s manipulations.

Mary – Mary being a secret agent was made to finally work in this and it is dealt with in a respectful way, we also see that she is a great mom and a wonderful partner to Sherlock. I could have watched many more episodes of her team ups as even if her relationship with John is falling apart, she keeps Sherlock human in many ways. Her death by Vivian was a tragedy in more ways than one that I don’t know if the show could ever recover from fully. Amanda Abbington in the end made this show better.

John Watson – Martin Freeman is such a charming actor, even though this episode does a lot to show he can be just as awful as Sherlock. We see him cheating on Mary even as he’s doing a great job raising the kid and we see him feeling inadequate to her, which is stupid given he is good at what he does. In the end his arc returns to the stupid status quo it was at the end of last season. John hates Sherlock for not saving Mary. We’ve been here before and I hope Gatiss can write himself out of this hole. He never should have killed her character.

Sherlock – Sherlock is his usual sociopathic self with many more moments of humanity now though…from his conversations with Mary and Lestrade or his awareness when he’s being a jerk. Cumberbatch of course is wonderful in the role and that there isn’t much more I can say on that. The one thing that is different is how the episode was filmed makes Sherlock much more of an alien and isolated…and it works.

The Reveal – The real that Vivian had did everything to cover up her selling state secrets was beautiful. She was humanized even as a villain and in the end it is Sherlock’s stubbornness that helps lead to Mary’s death. The episode is a tragedy and the reveal works towards that.

Okay/Con: John and Sherlock Hating Again – We were here in Series 3 and we’ve been there before even before that. This is a tired trope and it loses power each time it happens. Unless we are doing their own individual stories, we know this isn’t going to last, so it cheapens the drama.

The Cons: The Death of Mary and an Overall Problem – “Sherlock” is not very good in how it handles it’s protagonists who are women. This article goes into a whole of a lot better.( https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/01/sherlocks-women/512141/ ) and in the end it serves no purpose but to bring us back to the needless drama of the two. Mary’s death was pointless and she didn’t even get to get her own justice against the one who had wronged her. Mary was a plot device for Sherlock and John’s drama just like Adler was and that is a problem with this show that could be easily fixed by simply writing these protagonists as players rather than pawns of the plot.

     I really like that “Sherlock” is back and I appreciate the fact that it was good rather than sucking like the beginning of Series 3. I don’t know if Moffat and Gatiss’s problem with writing women who can be part of the team or at least not objectified in some way will ever happen, but until it does I will critique it when I see it and enjoy it for the art that does come out of it. Moffat and Gatiss are extremely talented men and I know just how much they are capable of in this show and their other projects like “Doctor Who.”

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

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