A Five Item Wishlist for 'Sherlock' Season 4

Season 4 Sherlock looks very dramatic, huh? (Photo: Courtesy of Hartswood Films and MASTERPIECE)

Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock Season 4

(Photo: Courtesy of Hartswood Films & MASTERPIECE)

It’s almost time. A new season of Sherlock is almost upon us. We haven’t had a proper one since 2014. (The one-off Victorian-set special episode “The Abominable Bride” doesn’t count. Mostly because it was a dream sequence that didn’t actually move the series’ plot forward in any way.)

Despite the fact that I had some problems with the Season 3 finale, I’ve really missed Sherlock. I’m super psyched it’s (finally) back. I can’t wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman together again. But I have a lot of questions. And a lot of things I want to see in Season 4.

Here are a few of them. 

This is a Season 1 promo shot of Moriarty, but who knows if hell be back?  (Photo: BBC)
This is a Season 1 promo shot of Moriarty, but who knows if hell be back?  (Photo: BBC)

Answer The Moriarty Mystery Early. The Moriarty question, as it were, has hung over Sherlock since the closing moments of Season 3 finale “His Last Vow”. So it’d probably be great if it wasn’t dragged out any further than it has to be in Season 4. While it seems highly unlikely that Sherlock’s great nemesis is still alive, the show would definitely benefit from resolving this particular mystery as quickly as possible. Was the Moriarty “Did You Miss Me?” video created by his evil twin? An ambitious business partner who wants to become a king of crime? An extremely creepy internet fan trying to get Sherlock’s attention? Who knows. But give us something, and do it quickly. Don’t drag it out all season. Don’t even drag it out all episode.

And if, for some insane reason, Moriarty is still alive, please actually explain how he survived when we watched him shoot himself in the head. We’re still irritated enough that you never really told us how Sherlock managed to fake his own death in “The Reichenbach Fall”. Please don’t add another unsolved mystery to the pile. (Though, honestly: Just let Moriarty stay dead.)

Sherlock, John, Mary and the latest addition to the Waston family. This is a Season 1 promo shot of Moriarty, but who knows if hell be back?  (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)
Sherlock, John, Mary and the latest addition to the Waston family. (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

There Should Be as Little of the Baby as Possible. Let’s be real: Every single cast member of Sherlock will be utterly adorable interacting with a baby. They totally will. And Sherlock being anywhere near a newborn is pretty inevitably going to be comedy gold. So let’s make sure we get to see both of those things. But quickly, and briefly, and then never again.

Perhaps this is a rude take, but it’s doubtful that anyone is tuning into Sherlock to see Fuller House but with some mysteries on top. John Watson is probably going to be an A+ father, but it’s something we can hear about in passing while he and Sherlock are chasing some murderer around. The addition of domestic drama – whether it involves late nights with no sleep or generally John-Mary marital discord – just isn’t that interesting. And it’s probably not what most people are tuning into the show for. So let’s make everyone happy by keeping everything baby-related to a minimum. (Oh and it probably goes without saying, but still: Please don’t have a storyline where the baby gets kidnapped.).

The "Sherlock" Season 4 keyart is so dark... Sherlock, John, Mary and the latest addition to the Waston family. This is a Season 1 promo shot of Moriarty, but who knows if hell be back?  (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)
The "Sherlock" Season 4 keyart is so dark...  (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

Time for Some Consequences, Please. A lot of things happened in Sherlock Season 3. We learned Mary was actually not who she said she was. We learned she has a dark past as an ex-killer for hire. She shot Sherlock and nearly killed him. John forgave her with surprising quickness. Sherlock shot a guy and killed him in cold blood. And prior to Moriarty magically appearing on televisions around the country, Sherlock was about to be shipped off on a secret government mission that probably would have ended with his death. (And this was to keep him from being shipped off to prison for the aforementioned murder thing.) And all of that happened in one episode

There are a lot of leftover pieces hanging around from the events in “His Last Vow”. And Sherlock should really deal with those things. We should see how John and Mary’s relationship has changed in the wake of her secret. (They can’t just be happy parents after all that, right?) We should probably learn some of those dark things about her past for ourselves. (After all, we don’t know her any better than John does now.) We should maybe get a little more fallout from that whole Sherlock nearly dying thing. (Shouldn’t it bother John, like, a little bit?) There should definitely be more fallout from Sherlock shooting a man. And probably there should be some kind of fallout for poor John, who spent Season 3 having the two most important people in his life tell massive, honking, life-changing lies to him and never explaining the truth afterward. How does he square that every day? That’s the kind of story I want to see.

And mostly, what I want is to feel like the events in the show matter. That there are real-world consequences for everyone from all these larger than life, high stakes twists. That the characters we love are legitimately impacted by them, and learn and change in some way as a result. Consequences, for good or bad. 

More Lestrade in 2017, please! (Photo: Courtesy of Laurence Cendrowicz/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE_
More Lestrade in 2017, please! (Photo: Courtesy of Laurence Cendrowicz/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE_ 

Give Us More Lestrade. There was not nearly enough Lestrade in Sherlock Season 3. This is a problem that Season 4 definitely needs to correct. Depending on how the new mysteries play out, it's a problem that may solve itself over time - after all, Season 3 was much lighter on cases and investigating than the previous two. Therefore, it was probably harder to find natural ways to include Lestrade in the story. But 

Rupert Graves is a charming, interesting actor, and he certainly deserves more to do this year than he had last time around. Sure, the scene where he yells at a hungover Sherlock and John in the drunk tank was hilarious. The hug after he found out Sherlock was still alive was incredibly sweet. And he looked very dishy at John and Mary’s wedding. But it's hard to remember any other real impactful moment that Lestrade's character had last season. If you watch Elementary, you’ll know that they manage to integrate their version of Lestrade into their ongoing stories quite substantially, and it’d be super nice to see something like that here. Plus, if we don’t get to see Lestrade and Molly actually become a thing, romantically speaking, I’m going to send the BBC a sternly worded letter. I know, I know, Sherlock isn't the kind of show that's going to focus on a romance plot for two secondary characters, but just...give us something. Lestrade and Molly are adorable together. (And let's be real, they both deserve something good happening to them. Especially Molly.)

Sherlock and his latest crime solving companion in Season 4. (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE)
Sherlock and his latest crime solving companion in Season 4. (Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE)

Let's Also Remember This is a Show About Mysteries. Unlike some folks, I didn't mind that much that Season 3 focused so much on character arcs and development, or that those stories largely came at the expense of individual cases. I loved the all the sappy, relationship-focused scenes in "The Sign of Three", for example. But, it's a criticism that deserves some thought, since we all heard it repeatedly from Sherlock fans over the course of last season. Did the show forget that it's supposed to be about detective stories, too? Probably not. But could it do a better job balancing all its elements? Probably so. This is a detective series, to be certain, but it's not Law & Order.  The characters, their relationships, and how they grow and change as people are just as important as the mysteries. But not every case needs to be a season-long arc, either. 

Personally, I'd like to see smaller stories in this regard. The "Bloody Guardsman" story that Sherlock sort of offhandedly told as part of his Best Man speech in "The Sign of Three" was perfect. It was a simpler sort of mystery - and a more straightforward kind of story. Something bad happened. Sherlock and John had to figure out how. They solve the mystery; boom, the end. It wasn't an international incident. It wasn't a personal betrayal. It didn't have a shocking twist half way through. It was just a clever story, well told. Do more of that in Season 4, please. 

How about you all? What are you most looking forward to in Season 4? Do you have any items to add to this list, or things you think the show needs to work on in the new season? 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB