Season 4 of Sherlock was dark, but had a bright ending.

My wife and I finally got around to finishing off Sherlock this past week. I’ve seen all the previous season at least twice, but somehow missed Series 4 when it came out. I’d heard mixed things about what seem like they are going to be the last three adventures of this show, and ended up walking away a bit disappointed, but also deeply satisfied.

Spoilers below.

For the most part I liked the first episode. It had cool action, an interesting mystery, and it was really great to learn more about Mary’s back story. I also felt like this episode hit a good balance of comedy, which the show really leaned in to in season three. The turn for me came with the super dark ending to this episode, with Mary throwing herself in front of a bullet to protect Sherlock. I’m not opposed to character death in shows, but after waiting so long to see more from these characters, losing one of them in episode 1 just felt unfair and needlessly dark.

In episode two, it became clear that this Series was sticking with that shift towards the darker side of things. There was a lot of nice humor with just how much of Watson’s life Sherlock was able to predict, but the storyline of a man so rich that he can get away with whatever he wants was extremely unsettling. From the moment Sherlock and Watson started to engage the serial killer on, I really did not like this episode, because it was just too dark and creepy. The introduction of the Holmes sister was a nice ending, though.

She takes center stage as a puppet master who “experiments” on Sherlock, Watson, and Mycroft in episode 3. There was a lot about this episode that was engaging to me, including the opening gambit in Mycroft’s home, Sherlock the pirate, and the team’s constant refrain that they were soldiers today, but the darkness of the villains actions again made it hard for me to enjoy what was happening on screen.

In general, I’m not much of a fan of crime stories. The idea of the darkness that can exist in humanity, and how that darkness can impose itself on normal people, is really uncomfortable for me. I’ve really liked Sherlock before, but it seemed like this season just went a little further into that darkness than before, and that made it hard to watch.

And then we got the last ten minutes. The montage were everything was put back together, and Sherlock and Watson went back to their adventures, and I absolutely loved it.

I want to watch this season again, to see if I can get more enjoyment out of the stories when I’m not as stressed about wondering how they will end. I don’t think I need more Sherlock, though. I think that those last few minutes were a fantastic way to show us that the adventure will always continue, while also tying things up well enough that the show can end.

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