Now I love Sherlock just as much as the next person, and I would consider myself a Sherlockian without any shame, but after that abominable Christmas special last year there is no doubt that the Sherlock team needed to make season four start on a stronger note. It certainly managed to do that. Whilst we had to put up with some over-the-top watery foreshadowing throughout the episode we could at least understand and follow the plot without any issues. Although, many may struggle to understand the motivations of some of their favourite characters…

Typically, Sherlock’s season openers have always had a brighter and more comedic tone, but whilst in The Six Thatchers we certainly start on a brighter note with the swift arrival of John and Mary’s baby, the episode quickly takes a darker tone than what we are used to. Each season of Sherlock has become progressively darker and more serious, and it looks as if this season is set to be the darkest yet, with the trailers ominously proclaiming that ‘It’s not a game anymore’. Devout Sherlockians should not have any issues with this series which the cast and crew claim to be the best yet, although be warned that series creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are not shy about bringing in more shock twists and changes than before.

For the rest of this run, I would be wary about making any predictions after the events of episode one, but in The Lying Detective we will be introduced to Culverton Smith (Toby Jones) – purportedly the main villain of this series and a monster of a man. What his intentions are for the detective duo are unknown, but meanwhile we have Moriarty’s ‘posthumous game’ looming over Sherlock and John, and the teasing of the mysterious ‘other brother’ who Mycroft continues to mention. With the season finale entitled The Final Problem, which is the title taken from the short story that inspired the plot of season two’s finale The Reichenbach Fall, it is fair to say that fans of the series may be worried that this is Cumberbatch’s last outing as the socially-awkward genius detective.

Again, we face the fear that this series of Sherlock may well be the last, even before season four had begun filming, Moffat said he would be surprised if the BBC could secure Cumberbatch and Freeman for more series due to their Hollywood fame. The phenomenal success of the show and the popularity of its lead actors may well be its own undoing as the two actors are increasingly in demand in the film industry. In an article for The Telegraph, Cumberbatch himself has also hinted that this may be his last time playing Sherlock Holmes as he wants to prioritise on his personal life and young family. However this series plays out, fans should brace themselves for more shock twists and be prepared for any outcome.