Sherlock: 5 things I’d like to see in season 4

The third season of Sherlock ended on Sunday, so it’s time to start looking ahead to season four. Here are five things I’d like to see when the show returns.

John’s marriage to Mary changed the dynamic of the series (Image: BBC)

1. A speedier return

Steven Moffat has promised to start filming the next series as soon as possible.

While we will certainly have to wait longer than Sherlock’s four-minute exile at the end of His Last Vow, it should be less than the two-year hiatus between seasons two and three. Will we see Moriarty and Sherlock cross swords again on New Year’s Day 2015?

2. Explain how Moriarty survived

Sherlock fandom is already speculating as to how Moriarty survived – note that even a shot from a gun filled with blanks has a high probability of being fatal – and the timing of his return.

The ambiguous, multiple options presented for how Sherlock survived his fall were a nod to many of the most popular fan theories and was executed stylishly. I loved it – many didn’t. To then sidestep how Moriarty remained alive would be pushing things too far. We await your explanation with bated breath, Messrs Moffat and Gatiss.

3. Resolve the Sherlock-John-Mary triangle on-screen

In the books, Mary Watson dies between The Final Problem and The Empty House. Consequently many fans were surprised that she survived the finale.

Having made the character integral to season three, if the writers do decide to restore the traditional Sherlock/John axis, they must surely enact Mary’s exit on-screen. Let’s hope they make it a good one.

4. More Conan Doyle adaptations

This season represented more of a departure from the Holmes canon. Although all three episodes drew on various stories, only His Last Vow can be considered a true adaptation of an original tale, The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.

Sherlock has already tackled several of the best-known stories, such as A Study in Scarlet, A Scandal in Bohemia and The Hound of the Baskervilles, but there remain many well-loved tales to choose from. Could we perhaps see a 21st century version of The Red-Headed League, Silver Blaze, The Musgrave Ritual or The Dancing Men?

Perhaps, though, the most likely candidate for series four is The Valley of Fear, the only other Holmes story in which Moriarty physically appears.

5. Keep changing

The changes in the series’ format and tone – less detective work, more humour and relationships, other characters growing in prominence – upset some fans. But most remained supportive, a view upheld by season three’s huge viewing numbers and high audience retention.

While some story elements veered too much towards the whimsical for me, I enjoyed the change in the series’ character dynamics. It recognised that Sherlock’s two-year absence – and his concealment of the ruse – hit John hard after he had finally moved on. And Mary’s presence in many ways enhanced the pair’s relationship rather than detracting from it.

Change – both in terms of the characters and the tone of the series – is part of life. It’s time to stop harking back to the past and let the characters and the series grow and move forwards.

So that’s me. But what would you like to see in season four?

Sherlock season 3 reviews

3.1 The Empty Hearse

The Empty Hearse – 11 references you may have missed

3.2 The Sign of Three

The Sign of Three – 10 references you may have missed

3.3 His Last Vow

His Last Vow – 10 references you may have missed

Other articles

Sherlock returns on New Year’s Day: What can we expect?

Are you ready for the return of Sherlock?

What has John Watson been up to since Sherlock’s ‘death’?

8 Comments on Sherlock: 5 things I’d like to see in season 4

  1. I’d like a new scriptwriter added to the roster to add a bit of freshness. Thompson is fine but a new writer (Neil Cross? Russell T Davies?) could bring something new. Like you, I would also like to see the stories use more of Conan Doyle for inspiration for the plots. I acknowledge that all shows must change but, for me, it should remains a detective show, not a increasingly unbelievable comedy.

    • I understand that the increase in humour has upset a lot of people, but equally I think some people have forgotten that Sherlock has always been a funny show. A new writer would add an interesting new dynamic. Thompson has been responsible for both one very good effort (The Reicehnbach Fall) and one poor one (The Blind Banker). It’s odd that his only credit in this season is to have co-written The Sign of Three with Moffat and Gatiss. Having said that, I rather suspect Moffat and Gatiss have a significant input in every script, regardless of who is billed as the writer.

  2. Great article Tim. I’m with you on leaning more on the original source material – they are great stories to work from, and half the fun is spotting the nods and references to Conan Doyle’s work.

    Re: Moriarty – I guess one swerve would be he is dead, but prior to his suicide set up his “return” in some way. However it pans out, it seems a good opportunity to explain everything that really happened on that roof. I’d also like some sort of explanation of how he has returned after Sherlock spent all that time dismantling his network.

    While this series had a few things happening in episodes one and two that made sense by the last episode (especially concerning Mary) I’d like more of an arc across the three episodes. Standalone episodes are fine when a series is longer, but when there are just three episodes I’d like them all to hang together a bit more.

    • Thanks Steve. I think there’s a balance to be struck between adaptations and completely new stories – ideally I’d like to see a little bit of both. Certainly I can think of half a dozen adventures I’d really like to see, although some (The Dancing Men in particular) are perhaps a bit too simplistic for our modern Sherlock – he’d solve that in 34 seconds (if that).

      I did wonder about whether Moriarty really is alive or simply a recording of some sort from beyond the grave – ironically, the first thing I was reminded of was an episode of the 1980s show Airwolf called “Moffett’s Ghost” – but decided this would probably be too cheap and inflexible a gimmick. We’ll see!

  3. Great list!

    Seeing more adaptations would be great — they have already shown that they can combine and twist things so well that it’s not in danger of becoming a nostalgic rehash.

    I’m not sure they will return to just Sherlock and John, actually. Mary has made such a great addition, I don’t think they could willingly and believably get her out of the picture again. In any case, I’d find it a pity of they did. Sherlock has fought so hard for her, and she makes them both better. I hope she stays — but I’m with you, if they do decide to take her out, it had better be one damn good reason. Especially now that the baby girl is on the way and Mary’s cool with her husband doing the detecting thing and all.

    • Thanks Andrea. I really can’t decide what needs to be done with Mary. Kill her before childbirth (perhaps saving John and/or Sherlock from Moriarty?) to play the tragedy card? Have her lose the baby and become a full-time addition to create a detecting trio? (A bit soapy?) Or let her give birth and quietly ‘retire’ into the background of the show? (A waste of a well-developed character.)

      One way or another, I rather suspect Moffat and Gatiss have plans for Mary that involve some kind of big twist. Whether that happens in episode 1 or episode 3 of next season, well, we’ll see …

  4. I’d like to see more Sherlock deductions, like deducing John had been in Iraq/Afghanistan, about his drunken sister, or about the fisherman and his mother in Hounds.

    Come to think of it, did he actually solve any cases by detective work? In ep 1 he pressed an off switch and in ep 3 he shot the bad guy. Moreover, he had to resort to murder having been outwitted at every turn by Magnussen, who proved himself Sherlock’s intellectual superior.

    On the subject of the baby, there’s obvious comedic potential in having Sherlock as a babysitter, but I’d prefer the show didn’t go down that route. At least don’t make it the focus of an entire episode…

    And I’d still like to know how Sherlock survived. It would seem ridiculous to know how Moriaty managed it (if he did, my initial reaction was that Sherlock set it up to avoid exile, but after some thought it would seem lame to raise the fans hopes only to dash them) but not how Sherlock did.

    • Sherlock only really deduced some minor cases in passing in episode 1 (with Molly in tow). In reality this season was all about Mary and then Magnussen in the finale.

      I don’t know about CAM being Sherlock’s intellectual superior. His equal in terms of memory, certainly. It was good to be reminded, though, that Sherlock is not infallible in his deduction – as Mycroft would say, ‘balance of probabilities’ would imply that you’re going to be wrong sometimes. And while murder was his final alternative, it showed how much he cared about John and Mary and his determination to fulfil his vow to them.

      As for Moriarty’s survival, I suspect the explanation will be relatively low-key, although the ‘gun loaded with blanks’ theory simply doesn’t wash. Perhaps we might even get the whole sequence of events that shows how both survived?

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