Spoilers ahead for the season premiere of Sherlock.
Despite his high-functioning sleuthing capabilities, Sherlock Holmes himself still couldn’t have anticipated the destruction that befell the Watson family in the season-four premiere of Sherlock — the episode culminated with Mary Watson taking a bullet for Sherlock and dying in the arms of her husband, John. While the death might appear as a surprise and shock to viewers, showrunner Steven Moffat explained that it was always the plan to kill Mary off the series ever since she was introduced as a character. “The truth is it’s never established that she died in the stories,” Moffat told Entertainment Weekly in an interview. “We just assume she died because Watson refers to his ‘sad loss’ which is probably a death but not necessarily. The reality of this, of course, is that Sherlock Holmes is about Sherlock and Dr. Watson and it’s always going to come back to that — always always always. They had fun making it a trio but it doesn’t work long term. Mary was always going to go and we were always going to get back to the two blokes. That’s the format.”
Moffat also confirmed that, unlike Sherlock ably faking his death in the season-two finale, this time they’re “not playing games” and Mary is definitely dead. “Mark Gatiss and I do not have the delusion that we know better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” he said. “That’s how the show works and always will. We reset to the most traditional and famous version of the format.” Get ready for a darker and grittier end of the season, then.