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.
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?