John Is Not A Doctor Anymore
To me, one of the things that give S4 this weird feeling is the fact that John does not seem to be a doctor anymore. Looking back on the other series, we have always seen him taking care of people as a doctor, at work in his surgery, saving lives on cases with Sherlock. Sherlock has sung John’s praise in his best man speech. In every single series John has been two things - a doctor and a soldier. (Someone please write a meta about John being a soldier or not in S4). It is an essential part of his personality. So where did it go?
John, the doctor and future dad, is driving the car, leaving Sherlock who has no idea of obstetrics and is neither very acquainted with female bodies to take care of Mary. The reasonable choice - and the one we have seen during setlock - would have been for Sherlock to drive the car and for John to assist Mary.
Surely seeing your wife having been shot in the chest is a severe shock. But John, the doctor, does not even try to take measures like adding pressure on the wound, calling an ambulance, doing anything. I cannot tell if a shot like this would have been fatal in such a short time but John’s reaction seems strangely lacking.
This is even worse. Granted, John is grieving and overwhelmed by Mary’s death, having become a single father of a little child. But once he has seen Sherlock’s condition, there is no excuse for his behaviour. The fact that he accuses Sherlock once again of faking his death shows that there are issues that still have not been solved. Molly tells John that Sherlock is dying. This is her professional opinion, the one John expressly wanted to hear. And what does he do? He lets Sherlock shoot up in the hospital loo. He kicks and beats a man who is half-dead and his best friend. He leaves him helpless in the same building with a man who might or might not be a killer but whose behaviour in the morgue has proved that he is at least despicable. He only goes to 221b (where he learns by chance that Sherlock is in deadly danger) because Mycroft sends a car for him. There is no universe where John Watson would do all this to Sherlock Holmes.
Again, nothing. John does not even get the chance to act (or fail) as a doctor due to the overall weirdness of the episode.
To me, the fact that John Watson MD seems to have disappeared contributes to the feeling of irreality and him being OOC. So when did it start?
Let’s have a look at TAB. If we assume - as a surface reading of TAB and S4 wants to make us believe - that the last plane scene is real, we have John doing nothing about the fact that Sherlock just OD’d or that he has been using during his imprisonment.
And if we go back even further - to HLV - we see that the last time John has acted liked a responsible doctor was when he attended to Sherlock in Magnussen’s office, called the ambulance, and cared for Sherlock in the ambulance. After that, we never again see John as a doctor. During the domestic in 221b he is completely focussed on Mary, realising the seriousness of Sherlock’s condition only when his friend collapses.
To me, this has always been a turning point - John Watson not caring for Sherlock Holmes and staying with the woman who shot his friend. And it also seems to be the moment he stopped really being a doctor.