Warning: contains spoilers for The Six Thatchers.
Speaking at a post-screening Q&A at the swanky December launch of the new Sherlock series, Benedict Cumberbatch shared some insights into his character’s evolution. After some joshing about co-creator Steven Moffat’s description of Sherlock in series four as “less of a dick” than previously, Cumberbatch got serious.
“He takes himself off to therapy at the end of the episode, what does that tell you?” he began. “I think he’s very much now becoming more of a human being.”
“He’s let care in” the actor continued. “Mycroft’s not so wrong when he talks about ‘beware of sentiment’, [Sherlock’s] blindsided himself with his own humanity.” Sherlock’s friendship with John Watson, as Cumberbatch sees it, has been “a humanising element through all three series”. Watson is “the missing part of the jigsaw” for Sherlock’s character.
On the subject of the episode’s events at London Aquarium, Cumberbatch explained that Sherlock “actually is doing something to protect [Mary] but he becomes so impassioned in his destruction of this woman in that moment that she becomes weaponised by his cruelty and what happens… happened.”
The character’s heroism, as Cumberbatch explains, is “because of an evolving kindness and a supernatural… near-supernatural intelligence but actually natural, that’s very important to distinguish–he’s somebody who has honed his craft and there are sacrifices involved. Some of those may be made clearer in the future of this series—who knows?”
Someone who does know is co-creator and The Six Thatchers writer Mark Gatiss who confirmed that from this point onwards, series four “darkens considerably”.
The Lying Detective airs on BBC One on Sunday the 8th of January at 9pm.