We’ve gotten a few hints over the last several months of Sherlock Season 4 being (to quote star Benedict Cumberbatch) “myopically dark.” He went on to say at the time, “You’re talking about the end of the universe darkness. You can’t see in front of you and would walk into everything dark.” I’m a Sherlock fan who happens to like the series best when it balances its mystery with some wit and whimsy — episodes like “The Empty Hearse,” “The Sign of Three,” or even something a little seductive like “A Scandal in Belgravia.” And while Sherlock has always been tinged with darkness (we are talking about murders, after all), it can struggle when it feels overwhelmed by it.
So I approach Season 4’s dark tone with some trepidation, especially after the off-putting Christmas episode last year (which started out with such promise and later went off the rails a little too far). But I also know that Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman wouldn’t keep coming back if they didn’t believe in the material, and ultimately I’m always happy to get more of this series.
A new teaser, though, really hones in on bleakness, with Sherlock and Watson sitting across from one another silently, surrounded by flood waters. It reminds me of the Mad Men promo from Season 3 where Don Draper is sitting (looking pensive, as always) in his office casually holding a cigarette and sitting in a club chair while being surrounded by water. Typically this denotes some kind of inevitable riding tide, and some have suggested it could be tied to the return or rise of Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Check out the teaser below:
While some have suggested that the water looks like blood, I would counter that it’s just a reflection of the red carpet. However, some eagle-eyed viewers think they’ve spotted Moriarty’s umbrella in the teaser, so is that a sign? The foreboding soundtrack certainly seems to hint at something big and bad.
Though we don’t know much about the new season, we do know the names of the episode titles (except the final one). It’s not the end of the story though, regardless, as Cumberbatch recently revealed that he has signed on for a fifth series. But while we explore the darkness this season — including some of Sherlock’s greatest foes from the page emerging, like Toby Jones as Culverton Smith — Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat assured us at Comic-Con, that “It’s the same show. Hopefully, there are lots of laughs and lots of great personal stuff.” He added, “but it is explicitly a darker season.”
Sherlock will premiere in the US and the UK on January 1st (you can catch a longer trailer here), and also stars Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, and Louise Brealey. The official synopsis and more Season 4 images are below:
Season four begins with the mercurial Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), back once more on British soil as Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman) and his wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) prepare for their biggest challenge yet: becoming parents.