A Study in Sherlock Season 3
By Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)
Another season of Sherlock has come and gone and with it emerged not only lovers of the show, but detractors as well. There is no doubt season three was different than the previous two, with it diving deeper into its characters than ever before. Not only that, but during the season, the writers gave little hints and nods to the fandom through actions and dialogue. Because of this, many overly critical viewers thought the season to be bad and that it had “jumped the shark.”
The Internet is full of critics – they are unavoidable. Heck, I’m even one of them. But I’m of the school of thought that going further into a character’s psyche can only be a good thing. When viewers are given the chance to learn more about someone’s thoughts and motivations, they learn what makes them tick, which an essential element for a show like Sherlock.
This is not to say that if you didn’t enjoy the season, you are wrong for doing so. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just because the show was different, doesn’t mean it spells the end for it. In most circumstances, change is a good thing!
For example, when it was announced Mary Morstan would be a character in season three, the Internet was up in arms. People thought she would change the dynamic of the show, but even more so change the dynamic between Sherlock and John. However, within ten minutes of her introduction, Tumblr was singing her praises and praying to every deity for Steven Moffat not to kill her off by season’s end.
Because there were two years between seasons two and three in real life and on the show, the characters had the chance to evolve, as normal human beings would do, and this season sought out to explore that change.
Said change came about from the writer’s apparent assumption that fans have stuck with the show this long, so why not reward them with more background information? In between seasons, John got a girlfriend, Molly became a badass, and Sherlock became ever so slightly more human. These changes were great for fans who wanted to learn more about why these people are the way they are, but not necessarily great for those who watched just for the mysteries.
But why watch just for the mysteries? Sherlock has never been a show for the casual viewer. It has also never been one for throwaway lines, and because of that, it requires concentration while watching.
If the viewer wasn’t paying attention, they would miss what the show was really about, which is so much more than the mysteries. At its core, Sherlock is about relationships.
One such relationship explored was the one between Sherlock and his brother Mycroft. When Sherlock is in danger, we learn Mycroft still sees Sherlock as his little brother – a little kid, even – that he must protect. In the past, they haven’t been shown to have the most mutually respectful relationship, but this season was really revealing of Mycroft feelings toward Sherlock. As much as they may fight and bicker, they really do care about each other.
Molly also became a new person between seasons two and three. After helping Sherlock fake his death, she learned she didn’t have to put up with his attitude anymore. He valued her opinion, even temporarily replacing John with her. She no longer meekly stood by while Sherlock said awful things about her (season two’s Christmas party, anyone?). Instead, their friendship became more of a partnership in which she kept him in line, even slapping the crap out of him after his drug relapse.
John was more assertive this season, too. After getting over the initial shock of Sherlock’s return, the two of them jumped right back into their cases. John was key in solving several of them and even saved Sherlock from the drug den he was in, essentially saving him from himself.
However, my one gripe with the writers is they made John the victim in his own relationships. They blamed him for always choosing psychopaths, including not only Sherlock but his wife Mary as well. She commented that he’s attracted to danger and that he married her despite her past. How could he have known about it if she didn’t tell him? He’s not Sherlock Holmes after all!
But even Sherlock himself was not immune to growth. He displayed human emotion for the first time and went so far as to kill a man to protect those he loves with Mary, John, and Mycroft topping that list.
Learning more about a character’s backstory always enhances a show and this season of Sherlock proved that. People evolve in real life and that evolution played out on the show, just as it should have. Whether you thought this season of Sherlock was the best yet or if you hated it, you have to admit it was nice to learn more about these characters that we have come to know and love.
What did you think of Sherlock season 3?