Sherlock series 4 trailer breakdown

We're clueing for looks in the Sherlock season 4 teaser trailer. What did we find?

We got our very first look at Sherlock season 4 courtesy of Comic Con with the release of a teaser trailer for the upcoming season, and it is full of clues just waiting to be analysed. 

All in all, the trailer was surprisingly ensemble-y, with two of the most intriguing moments going to Mrs. Hudson and Molly, rather than Sherlock and John. It also seemed to emphasize action much more than previous Sherlock trailers, though this could be a marketing choice more than something indicative of the season as a whole. 

But enough with the larger picture analysis. Here are 15 things we noticed in the first trailer for Sherlock season 4…

Moriarty gets top billing

The teaser begins with Jim’s handsome mug, which is to say that it begins where both the season 3 finale and the Christmas special left off: with the potential return of Sherlock’s arch enemy — or, at the very least, a viral video of the criminal mastermind.

Ad – content continues below

Moffat and Gatiss have said again and again that Moriarty is definitely dead, but they have also said again and again that they straight-up lie to keep fans from being spoiled on upcoming episodes. Either way, the fact that Moriarty is threaded throughout this entire trailer is a big deal. While we wait for series 4, we’re left with this vague musing from Sherlock himself, delivered via voiceover in the trailer: “Something’s coming. Maybe it’s Moriarty. Maybe it’s not.”

John in front of hospital bed

The trailer teases that “everyone they know is under threat,” which seems particularly ominous paired with the above shot of John standing in front of a hospital bed and the news that season 4 will be the darkest season yet. The bed looks like it could be empty, but perhaps not… If it is John simply remembering that time his wife shot his best friend? Or perhaps he is reminiscing on the birth of his child? Or, perhaps John himself is ill and is contemplating his own mortality.

This could also possibly hint at the episode involving Culverton Smith, played by Toby Jones. In Sherlock Holmes canon, Smith first appears in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure Of The Dying Detective. In the story, Sherlock pretends to become gravely ill to draw out a confession, convincing everyone (including John) that he is dying. Could this be a sneak peek at that storyline, come to the BBC programme?

Sherlock returns to the pool

Obviously, a pool plays a pretty major role in the first and second series of Sherlock,as the spot where Sherlock and Moriarty have their first true showdown (with John as collateral, of course). But the significance goes back even further than that. Moriarty killed a young schoolboy, Carl Powers back in 1989. It was the very first case Sherlock took on, and one of the cases Moriarty used to torment Sherlock in The Great Game.

Could this pool shot be another reference to Moriarty and his deeply-entwined history with Sherlock? Might Sherlock be lured out into another Moriarty-planned poolside meeting, or does he just look good silhouetted against that flickering blue light? Time will tell.

Lady Smallwood is back

We first met Lady Elizabeth Smallwood in series 3, as a member of British parliament who asked Sherlock for help escaping from under the blackmailing thumb of Charles Magnussen. She was also instrumental in helping Mycroft retrieve Sherlock from exile. In the teaser, we hear her tell Sherlock: “We brought you back to deal with this. What are you going to do?”

Ad – content continues below

The hostililty in her voice could imply that Sherlock’s return is contingent upon his getting results in the Moriarty case — i.e. solve this problem for us or return to Serbia — which could put some pressure on Sherlock in the first episode or, perhaps, even over the course of the entire run.

Our first real look at Culverton Smith

Toby Jones is so creepily sinister in his role as Culverton Smith. We get some good looks at Smith in the teaser trailer. In one, he leans into John and Sherlock’s car to tell the consulting detective: “We’re going to have endless fun, Mr. Holmes. Aren’t we?” Sherlock’s response? “No. No, not endless.” Later, we get a cackling voiceover from the series 4 villain. We doubt Culverton is the man behind the Moriarty vid, but you never know. If anyone could meet the high Sherlockvillain bar set by Andrew Scott, it’s Toby Jones.

We’re going to get out of London

Who’s up for a jaunt in the country? We get a few shots outside of the traditional London setting, implying that John and Sherlock might venture out of the metropolis to solve a case sometime in series 4. In addition to the above beach shot, we also see some spooky shots in what looks like a stone church or catacomb at night.

Molly Hooper is not amused

Lousie Brealey is back as the wonderful Molly Hooper in series 4 and she is awesomely calling Sherlock out on his bullshit. “For Christ’s sake, Sherlock, it’s not a game,” she yells at him at one point in the trailer, implying that stakes are going to get high. Could this be part of the Moriarty storyline? (After all, Moriarty did first get to Sherlock by dating Molly, which means the two spent some time together.) Or is it something else altogether?

Sherlock may take a shot at Lestrade

Given that Lestrade looks like he is trying to talk down a wounded animal and he is in Sherlock’s apartment, it looks like Lestrade will, once again, be charged with keeping Sherlock from doing something stupid — like, I don’t know, shooting his friends. In a later shot in the trailer, we see a potentially strung-out Sherlock (or at least a very frazzled Sherlock) firing a gun in his bath robe. Is he aiming at Lestrade or is Lestrade trying to keep him from shooting someone else?

It looks like John is driven off the road

The teaser trailer certainly wants it to look like John is driven off the road, then has his car exploded, but this is probably just tricksy editing. Then again, this character did almost once get drugged and nearly burned alive in a Guy Fawkes Night bonfire, so…

Ad – content continues below

Mrs. Hudson v. Mycroft

Best moment of the trailer. There, I said it! It’s not often that we see any character that is brave enough to stand up to Mycroft, but Mrs. Hudson’s, “Get out of my house, you reptile,” certainly sends a chill down my spine.

What is going on here that makes the usually cordial Mrs. Hudson so disgusted with Mycroft? No doubt her hackles are raised in defence of Sherlock, who she sees as a son. Has Mycroft said or done something terrible to his younger brother? It wouldn’t be the first time…

Mary as assassin

It looks like Mary will be getting her assassin on again in series 4. Hopefully, this time, she shoots someone other than Sherlock? The big question is: is this a flashback or does it happen in present-day? Our money’s on the former (no wedding ring at least). Mary seems to be somewhere far away from England in this shoot, judging by her garb, and it doesn’t seem likely that she would take off right after having a baby, but, sometimes, assassins needs must.

There seems to be a lot more action (and guns)

Car chases! Explosions! Hand-to-hand combat! Sherlockseason 4 seems to have it all. At one point, we even see Sherlock trying to fight someone off in a random kitchen. The above shot also features assassin Mary (we think that’s her cowering and attempting to run away in the bottom left-hand side just underneath one of those lion statues.)

Moriarty goes to the beach

In the above shot, we see the profile of someone who looks very much like Moriarty taking a stroll along the beach. Earlier in the trailer, we saw the same be-hatted men Moriarty is walking towards running out of the stone building from elsewhere in the trailer. Does Sherlock’s ultimate showdown with Moriarty happen at the beach? Could this be a flashback to Moriarty’s pre-death machinations?

Sherlock’s addiction may be back

“The roads we walk have demons beneath, and yours have been waiting for a very long time,” Mycroft tells (presumably) Sherlock in voiceover as we see women in white coats move towards a visibly shaken Sherlock. Is this in Sherlock’s mind palace or is it happening in real life? Is it a reference to Sherlock’s continuing struggle with drug addiction? Is it all related to that shot of John standing over a hospital bed?

Ad – content continues below

Sherlock looks scared

Whatever’s going on in that hospital scene, it has Sherlock thoroughly freaked out. Given the tone of the trailer, it’s easy to immediately jump to something bad having happened, but it could be the birth of John and Mary’s child. If anything is going to frighten Sherlock, it might very well be a newborn. 

Another, less lovely and therefore probably more probable theory? Culverton Smith has sprung an infectious disease on Sherlock. The canon baddie is known for using rare diseases as a murder weapon…

What stood out for you in the trailer? Share your teaser-based Sherlock theories in the comments below…