Filming on Sherlock series four is coming to an end – but could that end be more final for some characters than others…?
“And that’s a Golden Wrap on Mary,” tweeted Amanda Abbington this week, along with a picture of an engagement ring laid on top of a call sheet for the show.
— amanda abbington (@CHIMPSINSOCKS) July 27, 2016
In her next tweet she was at pains to point out that this was “not Mary’s wedding ring. It’s her own ring. From her past”, so at least we’re not looking at a divorce from her on-screen husband John Watson (played by off-screen partner Martin Freeman).
And given that it’s accompanied by a photo of a gold ring, the phrase “golden wrap” could simply be a play on words. But if Abbington is using it literally, it means the special farewell from cast and crew when an actor bows out of a show for the final time. And if that’s the case it sounds like season four will be Abbington and Mary’s last – and that can’t be good news for John.
The question is, how could Mary leave? Is this the “tragedy” Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss hinted at when he spoke to RadioTimes.com about season four back in 2014?
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve wondered whether Mary’s death might be a feature of the new series. After all, Abbington’s character has already outlived her literary counterpart. In the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Mary Morstan dies some time during the period between Holmes’s apparent demise at the Reichenbach Falls and his return three years later, both of which have already taken place in Sherlock.
Even Freeman has admitted that he assumes Mary will be killed off “at some point”.
“While we play fast and loose with the original stories, we generally follow the trajectory of what Conan Doyle did,” Freeman told The Telegraph. “So [John] gets married, and then Mary dies – so at some point presumably she’ll die.”
Gatiss himself wouldn’t be drawn on the subject but said viewers should make no assumptions that what happens in the books will be recreated on the screen.
“Just because it’s in the stories doesn’t mean it’ll happen in the series because there’s an awful lot of changes and an awful lot of places to go and things to do,” he said.
“It should be clear by now that while, of course, Doyle is our absolute god, we have gone quite a long way away as well – we’ve introduced Sherlock and Mycroft’s parents [for instance], I don’t think they’ve ever been seen in any adaptation – so there are lots of surprises to come.”
Nevertheless, there are two things we can be pretty sure about.
One: that if Mary does die in the series, it’s unlikely to be of natural causes – Abbington’s kick-ass former assassin is a far cry from the rather demure Mrs Watson of the books, so is likely to meet her end in a far more spectacular way.
And two: whatever it is that leads to Mary’s departure, there’s one bright side for fans… just like in the original stories, we’re bound to see Sherlock and John back where they belong – living together in their Baker Street flat.