To Be or Not To Be?: A Fifth Season of the BBC’s Sherlock

By McKinley Brock, Opinion Writer

“Did you miss me?”

Three years ago, those words ended the third series of Masterpiece Classic’s Sherlock, the 21st century take on the detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion John Watson, who were originally created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1886. Now in 2017, with the completion of series four, the answer to that question is still unclear. While the new series may have explained the cryptic cliffhanger, it also radically altered both the character and the mythology of the show.

Sherlock began in 2010 with A Study in Pink and potentially culminated this January with The Final Problem. Fueled by the ingenious writing of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock reimagines the 19th century Holmes and Watson as men of the modern era, with episodes of movie length.

The main characters are introduced to us as Sherlock, a brilliant drug addict whose favorite game is deduction, and John, a war veteran struggling to adjust back to civilian life. Together, they make an iconic duo, solving crime from their flat at 221 B Baker Street. Brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, The Imitation Game) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), this series began as a jaunty crime-drama that flattered Doyle’s original stories with worshipful irreverence.

The newest season of Sherlock is easily the darkest in the show’s run. While at times still humorous, it has no episodes providing comic relief. This is in stark contrast to earlier seasons, which each contained at least one episode attempting to provide levity.

Season four of Sherlock also contained several of the most brutal plot twists since the infamous season two finale that left the fanbase in tears for a two year long hiatus. The new season of Sherlock also ended without any major cliffhangers, potentially signaling the end of the show’s reign.

The question on every Sherlock fan’s mind now is “Will there be a fifth season of Sherlock?” Perhaps, though, fans should also be asking whether they really want another season.

With each passing season the show grows more and more focused on singling out John and Sherlock at the expense of other characters, especially female ones. While Sherlock has had several strong and integral female characters (Mrs. Hudson, Irene Adler, etc.), season four has depended largely on turning its females into either damsels in distress or psychopaths.

The new season also showed an eagerness to fill previous season’s plot holes, but at times seemed to do so sloppily. Sloppily enough that the viewer is forced to wonder whether each episode received the full attention of the writers.

With a conclusion that rang of finality, and only a few elements of the show left unexplained, it is obvious that the show is prepared to end should the writers and actors be unable to return. This is a very real possibility, especially with the acting careers of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman soaring.

Perhaps it is best to let Sherlock end with season four, rather than ask the show to provide the same plot and excitement that viewers have come to expect. With thirteen movie length episodes, Sherlock has more than cemented its place in pop culture.         


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.

Contact McKinley at


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