Sherlock: Season 4 Premiere “The Six Thatchers” Is Complicated and Revolutionary


After one year of planning and filming, BBC Sherlock’s co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss finally have Sherlock Holmes and John Watson return to London for another thrilling case concerning six smashed busts of Margaret Thatcher.


The episode concerns not only this case, but a transformation that changes the dynamic between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The Watsons’ baby, christened Rosamund Mary, is born. In his own way, Sherlock loves the baby and cares for her. The Watsons, of course, do the same. The baby actually shapes the dynamic between Sherlock, John, and Mary rather nicely.

“The Six Thatchers” is based on the original Conan Doyle story “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”, a story similar to the case in the episode. In this canon story, Detective Inspector Lestrade comes to Sherlock Holmes for a similar case where a man is shattering busts of Napoleon (not Margaret Thatcher).

The first three seasons and special of the critically acclaimed TV show were thought-provoking and compelling, and the premiere of the fourth season was no different. The action was exciting and well-executed, and the each occurrence flowed seamlessly into the next. However, the solemn mood was apparent. At the beginning of the episode, Sherlock Holmes narrated,

“There was once a merchant, in the famous market at Baghdad. One day he saw a stranger looking at him in surprise, and he knew that the stranger was Death. Pale and trembling, the merchant fled the marketplace and made his way many, many miles, to the city of Samarra. For there he was sure Death could not find him. But when, at last, he came to Samarra, the merchant saw, waiting for him, the grim figure of Death. ‘Very well,’ said the merchant. ‘I give in. I am yours. But tell me, why did you look surprised when you saw me this morning in Baghdad?’ ‘Because,’ said Death, ‘I had an appointment with you tonight…in Samarra.’”

In this episode, character development is apparent. Sherlock Holmes, played by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, shows that he is truly human. Many have considered Holmes as the epitome of logic and deduction, but he is portrayed as an emotional man. This was a beautiful and poignant decision (on the behalf of the creators). Sherlock’s capacity to love was evident throughout the episode, and it left some viewers heart warmed and others heartbroken.

On the other hand, John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, is shown as human, but in a different way. Watson is the heart to Holmes’ mind. Time and time again, John Watson would do anything for Sherlock Holmes, from protecting him from physical danger or accompanying him to every case. However, “The Six Thatchers” shows that John Watson is not perfect. He is a flawed man who makes wrong decisions, which impact his relationships with the people he loves.

The episode is also accompanied by humor, especially in the hilarious conversations between Sherlock and his older brother Mycroft. In another instance of humor, Sherlock lectures the Watsons’ baby, eventually telling her to not throw her rattle if she wants it. Sherlock is surprised when the baby throws the rattle yet again.

However, the humor and the lightness of the first half of the episode was balanced by the dark themes in the second half. Which segways us into…



Unlike some of the episodes of BBC Sherlock, this one felt surprising… human.


It defined humanity– emotions, love, family, protection, flaws. Every character was human in this episode, particularly Sherlock, John, and Mary. More than being the perfect superheroes, the trio of characters explored in “The Six Thatchers” proved themselves to be more flawed than ever.


John, the supposedly loyal and good hearted man, cheated on his wife, even with a baby daughter. Mary lied, not only to Sherlock, but to her husband John, but she showed her humanity and her compassion when she sacrificed herself for Sherlock. And Sherlock showed his capacity for emotion even more than he had in previous episodes. He tried to protect his little family, was on the verge of tears when Mary passed away, and even went to a therapist for emotional stability. Even Mycroft, Sherlock’s stern older brother, told him that he was always “sentimental”.




Ultimately, BBC Sherlock has presented an episode with dynamic events and characters- one that will make the audience cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time.
NOTE: The next episode of Sherlock, “The Lying Detective”, will air on PBS Masterpiece on January 8th.