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The Most Entertaining Theories About 'Sherlock' Season 4

Daniel Hautzinger
The Holmes brothers - will there be a third?
The Holmes brothers - will there be a third? (Colin Hutton/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

Sherlock, which premiered on Masterpiece in January (Passport members can stream full episodes), is known for its unpredictable stories, ingenious plot reversals, and general atmosphere of deception. But even more brilliant (or nutty, take your pick) than the deductions of the title character are the theories  about the show that fans have come up with online. Co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, lovingly referred to as “Mofftiss” by loyal Sherlockians, have crafted such clever scripts that fans scour promo photos, soundtrack titles, media comments, episode stills, Conan Doyle canon stories, and much more to attempt to predict the upcoming narrative twists. Here are some of the most enjoyable:

Mary Watson - villain?Mary Watson - villain? (Laurence Cendrowicz/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)Mary is a villain-- Even though she now has a child with Sherlock’s best friend John Watson, some believe that Mary Morstan is in league with Sherlock’s seemingly dead nemesis Moriarty, or even that Moriarty was just a distraction and Mary is the true evil mastermind. After all, she has “taken” John from Sherlock by marrying him, and she also shot Sherlock. And her middle name is Elizabeth, giving her the first two initials of M.E.−Moriarty’s video heralding his apparent return features him saying “Did you miss ME?” Because last names don’t matter for initials, apparently.

Mycroft is orchestrating everything-- Speaking of Moriarty’s video, there is speculation that Mycroft is behind it, using the fear of Moriarty’s return as an excuse to prevent Sherlock from having to go in exile after murdering Magnussen in the finale of season three. There’s also a more extensive theory with Mycroft as mastermind in which Sherlock’s brother is planning everything that happens to Sherlock in order to occupy him and keep him from going insane. Mycroft is played by co-creator Gatiss, so I guess this has some meta-truth to it: Gatiss is directing Sherlock’s actions in his scripts.

Is Mycroft concocting cases for Sherlock to keep him sane?Is Mycroft concocting cases for Sherlock to keep him sane? (Hartswood Films and MASTERPIECE)Moriarty and Sherlock as conspirators-- Or, instead of Mycroft being behind everything, maybe Sherlock and Moriarty planned a fake death for Moriarty together. Moriarty could also have a twin, and the person who committed suicide on the roof was actually Richard Brook, the actor Moriarty claimed Sherlock hired to portray a nemesis. BUT maybe instead of there being two Moriartys, there are actually none, and Sherlock is a schizophrenic who has a split personality, one half of which is Moriarty.

Sherlock will be drugged with a hallucinogen-cum-truth serum-- Let’s dive deeper into psychological situations. One prediction posits that Sherlock will receive a drug called scopolamine, in the new season, based upon shots of him looking drugged out in trailers. Evidence for this includes that the Czech security forces supposedly used scopolamine and there was an exclusive trailer for Sherlock season 4 released in Czechoslovakia. Dig deeper and you find that scopolamine is similar to a drug called belladonna, which is also the name of a flower that symbolizes silence in Victorian “floriography,” and which looks like a flower seen on one of John’s pocket kerchiefs. What do these clues pointing towards silence and John mean? See the next, most beloved theory…

…Sherlock and John are in love-- But they have so far been silenced from expressing that love. Bestowed with the couple name “Johnlock,” there are way too many enumerations of this theory to go through. Some include a cell phone symbolizing a heart, i.e. love; tea versus coffee as symbolic of gay versus straight; and fake promotional photos used as a scam to get a huge audience for the first episode of season four because John and Sherlock will finally kiss.                                                                     

Sherlock and John - secret lovers?Sherlock and John - secret lovers? (Todd Antony/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)Tom Hiddleston will play the third Holmes brother-- After the remark by Mycroft that “I’m not given to outbursts of brotherly affection; you know what happened to the other one,” fans have begged for the third Holmes brother to appear, and be played by Tom Hiddleston. Gatiss tweeted a photo of himself and Amanda Abbington (Mary) at Comic-Con with Hiddleston. In one of the promo photos for season 4, you can discern Shakespeare’s Henry V in Sherlock’s apartment, and Hiddleston played Henry in a BBC adaptation of Shakespeare called The Hollow Crown (Benedict Cumberbatch also appears in that series as Richard III). So it must be true.

Sherlock will be struck blind-- Finally, the theory that even hardcore fans ridicule. There have been numerous references to this season being the “darkest” yet, and Gatiss has said people often miss the “blindingly obvious.” You can find more evidence if you’d like, but I think I’ll take the advice of his full statement and just watch the show instead of delving for clues: “But people also find things that aren’t there, which is my favorite. And then miss the blindingly obvious things that are there. People read an awful lot into it.”Sherlock returns on Masterpiece January 1 at 8:00 pm.Sherlock returns on Masterpiece January 1 at 8:00 pm. (MASTERPIECE)