After a three year break from Sherlock, with only a Victorian one-shot that took place in a few seconds inside Sherlock's head, there was naturally much anticipation for the return of the show starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington and Mark Gatiss.
What was up with the return of Moriarty? How about that shot in the head? How would Britain react to the return of Sherlock?
Tonight's episode dove into all of that, throwing case after case at us, blurring us with the many details of many cases, some dismissed with a text, some that need a full blown explanation, but threads passing from one to the other that may lead to whatever Moriarty have left behind. Maybe. Oh and Borough Market. Now to be added to the Sherlock walking tours…
But for all that, the aspect that will be picked up and paraded online, especially when BBC America air the episode tonight, will be the death of Mary Watson.
That fits the pattern of the old Sherlock stories, John Watson marries, but his wife dies and he returns to lodging with Sherlock as 221B.
The decision to keep that aspect, it seems, was always the plan. But rather than an incidental detail to their lives, brushed aside with a British stiff upper moustachioed lip, this seems to be a rather motivational force to drive John Watson's life in a different direction. That is commonly known as "fridging", after the famous Women In Refrigerators essay by Gail Simone.
And it's this specific aspect that, I don't expect, will go down too well…
Showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss told the Radio Times,
"It's a strange thing but actually in the original stories it's not actually said that she has died," said Gatiss at a screening of episode one. "It's heavily inferred. But it could have been a messy break up. We have obviously been true to Doyle and also very untrue. So we didn't necessarily have to do this, it just felt actually the right place to do it.
"It was definitely going to be saving Sherlock. We did an early road map without any details."
Moffat said that since most Sherlock Holmes fans believe Mary did die in the books, they were expecting it to happen at some point but that it was seen as more likely to be a cliffhanger at end of series. So to do it early was he and Gatiss's best chance of surprising viewers.
"Mary's been dead for 100 years so it's hard to surprise people in those circumstances," said Moffat. "So the only thing we could do was do it earlier than people thought. So that it would happen as wrenchingly and as horrifically as such things happen in real life, so that's what we went for."
It also helped bring things full circle, he said, after Mary had threatened Sherlock's life by cold-bloodedly shooting him in the finale of the previous series.
"Obviously we had the thing hanging over us that Mary and Sherlock were very close but there was that moment of froideur when she shot him in His Last Vow so it was nice to reverse that and have her save his life."
There is probably the suspicion that the separation of Freeman and Abbington as a couple may have also contributed to the decision.
So this is how the internet is currently reacting – mostly the Brits and the Turks right now. The Americans are still to get to that bit… but they will.
They break up in the real world. Mary Watson killed off on screen. Probably more predictable than most people think #sherlock
— Clifford Kﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠ (@holte) January 1, 2017
John & Mary Watson are now not together both on and off screen and it just breaks my heart
— Dristi Manandhar (@dristilovesyou_) January 1, 2017
think she is dead. Actors who played John & Mary Watson were a real life couple & split up. Awkward so resurrection unlikely
— Shane Dempsey (@sdempsey) January 1, 2017
'Go to hell Sherlock' WHY DID I WAIT THREE YEARS FOR MARY WATSON TO DIE NOPE SORRY WHAT THE FUCK
— A Real Swell Guy 🌹 (@ladleyswaggott) January 2, 2017
Mary Watson is dead 😭😭 I am officially a mess rn I cannot cope with life! I've waited 2 years for this and you do this to me 😭😭#Sherlock
— Ameliα Rock (@meelsjx) January 2, 2017
I do not believe for one second that I just saw Mary Watson die on #Sherlock , I am 99% sure she is alive 🤔
— Jesse🙃 (@jessecarlywalkr) January 2, 2017
Go to hell, Sherlock -Mary Watson-
— Endâhte (@MustafaAytepe) January 2, 2017
— Michael Ryan (@MichaelRyan24_7) January 2, 2017
— Mumin (@DJMumin) January 1, 2017
RIP Mary Watson. 😕 Utan utan John bide gidip sherlock'a köpek çekiyorsun yürü git#Sherlock
— SerraOsmanoğlu (@SerraOsmanoglu) January 1, 2017
R.I.P Mary Watson. Fuck you John 🙄 #Sherlock
— Tuğba Durmaz (@todurmaz) January 1, 2017
— Danièle (@Daniele_Gill) January 1, 2017
— Uğur Muncuk (@ugurmuncuk) January 1, 2017
— bloody twittah 🏳️🌈 (@LOV3TINE) January 1, 2017
Thank god Mary Watson didn't die in 2016 as well
— Nicholas (@NicholasDurham) January 1, 2017
And from the actress herself,
It does say something that no one gets quite this hot and bothered over Elementary, right?