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Sherlock - The Six Thatchers - Review: "New Beginnings"

© BBC Pictures
Episode: 4.01 "The Six Thatchers"
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
Written by: Mark Gatiss
Air dates: 1 January 2017

It seems like we've waited forever for this episode. And it was certainly a good one, but honestly, I didn't think it was as great as it could be. Here's hoping that all the things that didn't quite work in the premiere will get significantly better in the next two episodes. As for this one...

One fake footage and a meeting with Mycroft and the British government officials later and Sherlock is once again a free man after killing Charles Augustus Magnussen in the season three finale. While it obviously undercuts the events of that episode, it works to return the show back to normal, with Sherlock back to solving cases, while waiting for whatever mystery Moriarty left behind. Holmes investigates a couple of cases brought to him by the clients and the police but it's the strange occurrence of broken busts of Margaret Thatcher that truly catches his attention. That's when the main plot of the episode, Mary's past and its consequences, actually starts. We find out that Mary was a member of the team of mercenaries working for British government (among others) which fell apart after a siege on an embassy in Tbilis went wrong. While Mary thought she was the only one who survived the incident, it turns out the rest of the team was captured, tortured and led to believe that she betrayed them and left them for dead. One of them survives and escapes, only to retrieve his memory stick with their past missions and personal data (same as Mary once shared with Watson), hidden in the bust of Margaret Thatcher, and go after his old friend. All three, Sherlock, Watson and Mary get in trouble when he catches up with them, but once the person truly responsible for the failed rescue mission in the embassy is revealed, all of it ends tragically for Mary, who saves Sherlock's life and dies in John's arms...

Mary's death itself isn't a surprise, I honestly didn't expect her to survive this long, but I was hoping it would be done differently. I've grown to really like the interactions and dynamics between John, Mary and Sherlock, and I wish we could have spent more time with them and the baby, with bigger focus on these characters instead of the spy story from the past coming back to haunt them. Speaking of, I can't wait to get back to the complex mysteries that Sherlock usually works on. This time we only got a fun montage and 5-minute case about the impossible death in the car when the owner was supposed to be miles away. It could have been a great episode if we were to spend more time on such riddles. Otherwise, the Game doesn't really seem to be On. Moving to the next point, Watson flirting with a random (?) woman met on the bus. I didn't see a point in adding such a plot, we knew he loved Mary, so cheating on her (emotionally or physically) made no sense for me. It only adds to his sense of guilt and broken spirit after her death. One more thing on the negative side before I'll get to the best parts of the premiere - Moriarty. We waited for years to see what's his parting "gift" for Holmes but we haven't got any clues yet. I was thinking of how could he possibly be connected to Mary's case and despite a few ideas and theories (which are always fun to play around with) I wish we could at least get a hint regarding this story at the end of the hour.

Now, to all the things I could watch for hours. I continue to love all the references and little jokes between characters and the writers. They often make me want to re-watch some old episodes or read one of the books, this time "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" or "The Sign of the Four". Also, the acting, as always, is absolutely wonderful. While I wasn't quite happy with Mary's ending, it seemed fitting that she would die to save Sherlock, evening the score after shooting him in the past. And even though it was to be expected, I'm glad she got a moment to say goodbye to John. Her one last chance to say how important Watson was for her and what she thought about Sherlock before her last breath was a powerful scene. But what really made it the most memorable one, other than the significant impact on the story, has to be John's reaction. His anger, pain and that sound of despair he made have been haunting me for a week. Martin Freeman's performance in that scene was simply outstanding. John's been through so many terrible things, including those that Sherlock did to him directly, and he managed to survive and forgive them all. But this... This was the final straw that broke the friendship at the heart of the show. Sherlock not only failed to protect Mary, like he promised to do, but he was partially to blame for what happened. Not because the bullet was meant for him, but because his arrogance and impulsiveness made him provoke the shooter in the first place. The harsh truth is, this could have been avoided and that burden will weigh on Sherlock's shoulders in the days to come.

With all that said, Mary's recording, her last request for Sherlock, his most difficult and important case - to save John Watson - is a great starting point for the season. Trying to rebuild their friendship, after everything they've had to face in past, might just bring back that feeling of season one or two that I've been missing. The two of them on the case, chasing after the impossible, solving the cases that can't be solved, looking for the truth and fighting with dangerous enemies but finding strength and support in each other. It's quite a new beginning, brand new chapter in their story and while I'll miss Mary's character, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about returning to the dynamic that made me love the show from the start. And without a doubt, it's one of my favorite series out there. Kudos to the cast & crew for their work on the episode. Can't wait to see what's next.

Memorable Quotes:
1. Mycroft Holmes: "Looks very fully functioning."
Sherlock Holmes: "Is that the best you can do?"
Mycroft Holmes: "Sorry, I've never been very good with them."
Sherlock Holmes: "Babies?"
Mycroft Holmes: "Humans..."
2. Sherlock: "You two, take a bus."
Lestrade: "Why?"
Sherlock: "Because I need to concentrate and I don't want to hit you."
3. Molly: "Didn’t you get John’s text?"
Sherlock: "No. I delete his texts. I delete any text that begins, ‘Hi.’"
Molly: "No idea why people think you’re incapable of human emotion."
4. John: "Give the people what they want."
Sherlock: "No, never do that. People are stupid."
Mary: "Uh, some people."
Sherlock: "All people are stupid... Most people."

What did you think about "The Six Thatchers"? Any favorite scenes and/or quotes? Don't miss all new Sherlock airing tonight at 9pm on BBC One and at 9pm ET on PBS. Thanks for reading!

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