Wednesday, January 04, 2017

My Review of Sherlock's 4x01: "The Six Thatchers"

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Mary (to Sherlock): "Save John Watson!"

After the somewhat disappointing Doctor Who Christmas special, The Return Of Doctor Mysterio, a week later saw the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's other big hit series, Sherlock and it came back with an opener that had some emotional heart, a telegraphed character death and a lot of confusion. Let's stick with the highlight of the episode - Mary Morstan.

I've not been shy in my like for this particular character and unlike some fans, I've actually quite enjoyed the spy/assassin backstory that Moffat and Gatiss have given the character. In this episode, it came to a head though as Mary's past well and truly caught up with her.

For those of you wanting to learn more about A.G.R.A. then this episode clearly that up nicely. It was acronym of four assassins for hire - Alex, Gabriel, Rosamund (aka Mary) and AJ. We got flashbacks to an event from six years ago when two out of the four were killed and the survivor, AJ (Sacha Dhawan) spent the rest of the time in captivity being tortured.

In the present day, AJ got back his freedom and a determination to kill Mary, so the latter upon realising that she couldn't reason with him decided to scarper. In scenes that could've been lifted from Alias, Mary donned a couple of wigs and dodgy accents while traipsing to different parts of the world to avoid detection from both her former comrade and Sherlock and Watson.

Of course that didn't work out so good as everyone caught up with Mary in the end but for those assuming that AJ would be the one to take her out, well the episode did succeed in tricking us all there. Nope, instead the rather 'harmless' looking Vivian Norbury (Marcia Warren), who was happy for both Mary and Lady Smallwood to take on fall guy roles was the one to do the deed. Although it was a result of Mary putting herself in front of a bullet to save Sherlock though.

Aside from the obvious criticism that Watson himself should've checked Mary's pulse before declaring her dead, I have to admit the death itself actually lacked punch. Even though Amanda Abbington was on fine form during the majority of the episode and the final posthumous scene via a recorded message packed a punch, the actual death should've been far better than it actually was.

Thematically I do think the episode mostly succeeded with Mary having to come to terms with her past just as things had been cracking a little with her, John and baby Rosamund. The episode even implied that John was considering having an affair on Mary at one point. Saying that though, I really liked the character and I kind of wish they had held off her death for another bit but those are the break though.

As for the main bulk of the story. We had AJ destroying busts of Margaret Thatcher to get back a flashdrive (same one Mary had in His Last Vow) but aside from his revenge agenda, I have to admit it didn't greatly interest. Then there's also the fact that Sherlock was more distracted by Moriarty that it took him a while to even figure out that everything was connecting back to Mary and now we have him and John at odds with one another.

- Dexter the dog was apparently a bit of a diva on the set too. Isn't there a saying about never working with children and animals on sets?
- For all the mentioning of Moriarty, Andrew Scott was surprising absent from this one. Don't worry though, he'll be back. Not a spoiler, just intuition.
- We're clearly being set up to meet the third Holmes brother this series, aren't we? Not to mention there was a nice little Easter Egg for next's episode antagonist during one moment.
- Chronology: Time jumped a bit in this episode. I think we were in 2016 though.

I have to admit despite some great moments and a nice look into Mary's past/further set up for more storylines, The Six Thatchers is by far one of the weaker episodes we've had. It's not quite on the levels of disappointment generated by a certain first series episode but it comes up shorter than it really should've, in spite of it's impressive ratings return. Hopefully the next two episodes are more on form.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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