After a three year drought, we’ve finally been graced with an episode: The Six Thatchers. Spurting since 2014 when I was 12 years old, my own adoration of BBC Sherlock has been pretty long in my short life. For some time, I was a little girl who talked bizarrely fast but soon ran out of clever things to say. Plus, I got a nice British accent and bemused all my Indian friends.
Undoubtedly by now, I’m sure 10 million people, the whole sappy internet, and men on the moon have watched this episode.
So I won’t bore you a lot. With a bit of luck, I might even entertain and crack you up.
What I’m going to try to do instead — is point out some coincidences, fangirl a bit, and analyze the storyline. (You get that’s a compulsion as a writer. Plus, Sherlock is Disneyland, the fluffy pastry with six fricking cherries on top.)
So sit tight: Exhaustive Review Ahead. (And take off that silly deerstalker while you’re at it. It has flaps.)
A Quick Crash Course on Plot
(Warning: NOT that quick)
We begin the story in a dark little room full of officials. Mycroft clears any doubts of Magnusson’s death charge falling on his brother’s head and official records are altered. Sherlock smiles, giggles and munches donuts all the while, even asks Ms. Smallwood’s secretary if she likes lollies. High and flighty.
Our detective then strolls back into his usual 221B life, dabbling with oddball cases here; there, Skype calls and text messages fly everywhere. (Somebody’s gone high class by the way — Sherlock has an IPhone now?)
John is our comic relief. He plants a red balloon on his armchair as John and Sherlock even doesn’t notice for a while. Both fool around — until the day they receive 57 missed calls and we jump right to Mary’s hilarious birthing scene.
A camera flash — baby’s here! Molly and Mrs. Hudson are warm and happy, taking pictures.
(You know what I mean if you’ve seen it. The cinematographers have gone to town with Season 4. I can’t even do justice to the description in here, the visuals are so stunning. I can just breathe, stand back & admire the work of all these invisible, talented people. Their work shines through every carefully edited shot.)
We’re now treated to a montage of all the deliciously awkward scenes you could wish for our trio. Aside from Molly Hooper, the baby’s been only the second person ticked off enough at Sherlock to hit his face with a rattler.
But if still you have to top it off, here’s one.
Sherlock is still texting at Rosamund’s baptism. When they ask for his consent as godparent, only Siri fills the awkward silence at church:
‘I’m sorry — I didn’t process that request.’
We cut to the beginnings of our real plot line. When politician’s college going son is found a week dead beneath vinyl recliners in a car, Sherlock’s certain Lestrade is spoiling him. While they go over to the mansion, Mary drops a sweet Skype call, giving her own theories and making sure Rosie doesn’t burp all over her.
(Quick Writer’s Epiphany: It’s full bloody loaded, Sherlock is — that’s what I remember thinking. This call embellishes Mary’s character as the quick thinking assassin, adds a nice distraction.
Speaking plot wise, the show swirls it’s orchestra up, working all its characters, twisting every single amusing angle.
You forget to notice, because you’re drowning in all that emotion, witty dialogue. You have no idea where the heck the next move is coming from.)
Sherlock solves the case: The boy died of a medical condition a week earlier.
What he’s more interested in though, is a cement head bust of Margaret Thatcher that’s been broken in the same house. He anticipates a case, because he feels ‘a pricking on his thumbs.’
There’s news that a priceless ‘Black Pearl’ from the East has recently been stolen. Meanwhile, these Thatcher busts are breaking all over London apparently.
Someone is hunting them, smashing them, desperate to find something. (Did I give it away?)
So Sherlock visits a young hacker friend, who reveals that there are six busts in all. He cracks the records to uncover the owners’ addresses. Four houses down. At the same moment, Lestrade calls to report another bust down.
There’s one target left, and one place for Sherlock to be tonight.
(Fangirl OMG moment: This pearl is a big case Mycroft’s worried about. This takes me back to the memory stick of Andrew West; another boring international case which Sherlock doesn’t want to solve — but ends up solving.)
A showdown full of gasps and punches — and our masked robber nearly pummels Sherlock by a glittering poolside. (Moriarty? Moriarty? Heh no.)
Sherlock shakes him off and reaches the bust first to smash it but — surprise! — it’s the A.G.R.A memory stick. Well, there had to be a twist somewhere.
Giving you some background here. The A.G.R.A were a top secret group of highly trained assassins, not all Mary’s initials.
Hers are just Rosamund.
All four friends were close as family, and all had four memory sticks with backgrounds. They had everything they needed to destroy each other, which ensured total trust.
Six years ago on a big mission to free government officials, the A.G.R.A raid a foreign embassy. But somebody tips the terrorists off, and A.G.R.A are sold out. All members are dead, caught, or killed — that’s what Mary believes at least — and she’s escapes.
But Ajay remains. He’s bled and tortured for six years, hearing the chuckling rumors of the ‘English woman who betrayed them’. He thus escapes for revenge, and as he flees from the spot, he asks Sherlock to tell Mary —
“Is that what she’s calling herself now? Tell her she’s a dead woman walking.”
After a private meeting with Mary in the dungeons, Sherlock reasons with her. ‘I made a vow to protect you.’ But Mary drugs him and leaves apologetically.
By now, I can’t even see her as the cold blooded assassin. She has the wispy, motherly haircut, the tender protective voice — brave and true.
I realize it.
Mary Watson has completely rebirthed her image from the stark, mascara laden woman who stared back at John at 221B. She is a hero. A hero who is kind, warm, gentle, sweet courageous and intelligent.
Now Mary drops John a letter explaining her absence, she’s running from Ajay to put them out of harm’s way. Lots of showy offy camera technique and intense music here. She’s wearing wigs, going to Ireland, Iraq, God knows. Mary boards a plane with this obnoxious accent, a spew mouthed croaky lady a scarp. ‘Owww — you’re so sweet.’
By now, my brain was absolutely reeling at the acting prowess of Amanda Abbington.
Done With Plot? Now —
Those Coincidences You Never Noticed.
You would wonder how they’d handle the same characters after three years. It’s arresting — as if you’re really getting to know them for the first time, as if the previous episodes were just frill and dressing to their portraits.
Like the characters have been thrashed and made intact for the first time again.
Writing wise as well, we have symbolism. The legend placed at the helm of the story: ‘The Merchant of Sumarra.’
Just as death had caught up with the unfortunate merchant, it would with Ms. Norbury and Mary too. (‘Agents like that tend to be stopped in a pretty permanent sort of way.’ Mycroft nods.’) They seem to say that Sherlock too, who has long outrun Moriarty, will be facing his day of reckoning soon.
But whenever they referenced it, I imagined someone sloshing a giant blue aquarium over Mr. Benedict’s face, blue spots and eerie string music. Hehe.
(For Interested Radio Geeks: Check out the way Mr. Ben dictates the Summara story in the beginning in radio voice: warm, modulated, effecticve. Then for his monologue in the end, you’re sure it’s Sherlock speaking: Cold, calculated, evasive.
Writer Nerds? This is How You Do Dialogue
Jump to writing, and there’s just another something so brilliant about Sherlock’s. When Ms. Norbury first appears, she was a mousy haired cat lady. So most smart people aren’t physically noticeable, I see, only Sherlock decided to be a swag queen.
(Plus first episode ring any bells? Another non decrepit old person posing stupid. Another friend saving Sherlock from dying.)
Within five minutes, Ms. Norbury’s turned into a nauseating killer, by the sheer power of dialogue. They’re that good storytellers.
Every time a character opens her mouth, she must mean something, say something useful, something which irretrievably adds to her overall character. Her words have to clash & react with others.
That’s why their dialogue is eerily phenomenal. You get that, and you’re set making good characters for the rest of your life writers.
We Love The Coincidences!
One of the best things about Sherlock, is that the show seems to love itself juts as much as we do. Our creators aren’t endearingly polite and red faced over the mania the show has worldwide. They celebrate its genius with us.
In face — it indulges you by hardballing all these little coincidences at you; if you’re clever and a hardcore fan, who’s mayble wasted a bit too much time.
Want a relatively short list?
1. The burly man with the Chinese tattoo.
A reference to one of the first men (the book’s) Sherlock Holmes analyses to impress Dr. Watson. But there our man is a merchant sailor, not pining over a lost girlfriend.
2. Sherlock and His Fibs
‘A knowledge of human psychology and 56 probabilities helped me track you….’
Sherlock is trying to pull one up on Mary. She believes him this time. Remember when he sprouted doggerel about ‘unlikely skills required in the field of deduction?’ while making wedding paper swans?
‘Fine — I learnt it on Youtube, Mary.’
‘But all that was too hard — so I just inserted a GPS in your memory stick Mary.’
3. ‘Your face!’
‘You b*****d’ Mary says.
Sherlock, I swear, screws up his face in the exact expression he gave John on the train when the bombs were about to go off.
4. ‘Whisper Norbury to me, any time you think I’m getting a little too overconfident in my abilities, and I will be infinitely grateful to you Watson.’
This is about the exact sentence Sherlock Holmes says in Conan Doyle’s shortie ‘The Yellow Face’. But there’s only a minor blunder there, not Mary who has died. She does die in the books, but as she is a very proper, mild English lady who rarely comes to the fore.
So feminism now, people.
5. ‘How would you know?’
This isn’t in the Six Thatchers, but it’s clever all the same. In Irene Adler’s episode:
‘Intercourse doesn’t alarm me.’
Mycroft puts down his teacup, and gives Sherlock a pointed look.
‘How would you know?’
When Sherlock returns to London (2 YEARS later) & he plays a game with his brother:
‘I-’ Mycroft gives an awkward smile. ‘I’m not lonely Sherlock.’ ‘How would you know?’ Sherlock says quietly.
The episode comes to a satisfying climax. Mary’s attacker is murdered by another. It seems like there’s peace at last, only the missing thread remains. Who was it that sold out A.G.R.A then?
The answer is revealed in the secretary of a powerful woman. Mrs. Norbury.
Sherlock insults her enough that she picks up the gun and shoots him, surrounded by police and officials. Mary dives before the bullet.
She sparkles her already shining character as she bids Sherlock goodbye, and dies in John’s arms. A well earned adieu to a masterfully built character.
‘Being Mary Watson was the only life worth living.’
In the end, the Six Thatchers proves a lot, fulfills all of your fan’s little wishes, and pulls you back to the world you’ve missed for so long.
This little writeup is a result of the thrilled gushing in my diary, on the night of 7th January when the first premiere of Sherlock released in India.
And I have just one final word for it: Masterpiece.
Thank you for making it all the way through! I hope you enjoyed and I appreciate you taking out the time to read this.
(Also published on Medium. But with a lot more cool graphics, I swear.)