So the dust has settled and that’s it then for another 2 years. No more Sherlock. Not easy to take for a Sherlock geek like myself but a pill I must take. I`m pretty certain i`ll handle it better than my daughter who will have to wait an inestimable time to find out how they intend to bring back Moriarty. If only they had made Andrew Scott the new Dr Who, my life would’ve been so much easier for the next few years (and much as I love Malcolm Tucker I think Andrew would’ve been a better DW.
Episode 1 The Empty Hearse
This was possibly the most anticipated explanation moment in a TV show since who shot JR. As a consequence of 2 years of speculation the producers decided to tease us a little further by playing on the internet community explanations whilst never giving us a guaranteed explanation. My explanation of using Molly to fake a body was indirectly correct, possibly but that was about where my success stopped.
Seemingly every theory was touched on bungee ropes, Sherlock masks, Moriarty’s body, Derren Brown, the nod to gay fan fiction, but to be fair the first explanation was designed to both release the tension and keep the game going longer, something it achieved with aplomb. This left the writers with the next problem, the Holmes/Dr Watson reunion. This was fulfilled with customary skill with just the right amount of buffoonery and anger. All of which allowed Mary to slip into the group almost unnoticed but leaving you with a feeling she had been there all along.
This left the writers with their final problem (did you see what I did there) the plot, this was always going to be the hardest part as it was always going to be the sideshow and to be fair it was, though it did allow us the opportunity to meet this series new villain, albeit rather fleetingly.
The production values were as high as ever, clever writing intermingled with clever cutting and sharp witty moments coupled with in jokes and nods to the originals. The series of Dr Watsons patients for example was full of such moments and allusions. That said it spared itself the danger of becoming too indulgent both with the in jokes for fans and the return of old friends, doing just about enough to satisfy the fans lust for knowledge whilst leaving it accessible enough for new fans. There were the occasional references to Conan Doyle but not too many the most obvious being the use of the word elementary by Holmes but in this case Mycroft.
Episode 2- The Sign of Three
If episode one managed to its job by focussing on the explanations of demise and return for Sherlock Holmes then episode two focussed on cementing the seamless introduction of the rather shady Mary (remember the liar deduction from episode 1). Again the second one focussed on other things than the plot which again was of a secondary nature, this time to romance and comedy. This was Sherlock does Four Weddings and a Funeral- the Baker Street Rom Com.
Most TV shows struggle to get weddings into a show without going too Schmaltzy or lovey dovey to a point of self-harm inducing nausea. There were no such troubles for the Sherlock team (who didn’t put in too much romance or to their credit too much bromance either) and in particular Benedict Cumberbatch who dominated the screen for most of the episode. The comedy may have been overplayed a bit but a drunk Sherlock was worth the admission fee alone but the rather subsidiary feel of the murder plot was a shame as for once I worked most of it out’ usually I’m miles out claiming a guitar playing badger did with a poisoned croquet hoop as a boomerang.
There was a further look into Sherlock’s mind and how the two dominant personalities within are still “The woman” and unsurprisingly brother Mycroft but there was also a tantalising glimpse into his past in the form of red beard. Disappointingly some strands were left dangling, the Waters gang at beginning being the main one.
The best man’s speech was a joy to behold, full of references to the self-indulgent vain fantasy that marriage is in a way only a high functioning sociopath could view or demonstrate. His disdain for marriage, its institutions and traditions are probably due to a burgeoning sense of jealousy s it has caused him loss, I this case Watson’s companionship. The episode highlights Sherlock’s growing realisation of his dependency upon a friend and in particular the positives a friendship can bring. Witness his response to Mycroft’s claim to not being lonely “How would you know?”
Perhaps this is the show’s greatest trick; we now have two Sherlock Holmes in the guise of both brothers. If they were amalgamated would they be a creation closer to the original character. Both Sherlock and Mycroft are the others alter-ego and this divergence in Holmes` personality is being represented in the two.
The episode tried to show Sherlock at his most human, drunk unable to deduct “wotsit/thingamabob/sitty thing” deductions were a joy to behold. Nervous over a best man’s speech, playing the Rizla game without knowing who the character was both funny and in a way pitiful. Gatiss and Moffat tried once again to let us know it was a show about a detective, not a detective show and they pulled it off once more.
Episode 3- His Last Vow
Before getting to the point of Mary Morstan (hands up I was miles out, I had plant by Mycroft to ensure Sherlocks safety not rogue assassin) the man who put Watson in the fire and the return of Moriarty (made my daughters day that one) this was the episode they saved all the plotting for from the previous two. There were more twists than a twisty turny thing
Mr and Mrs Watson/Psycho kinda split up whilst not doing so but still got it back on at the end. The revelation of her character in one scene physically and metaphorically brought John Watson out from Sherlock’s rather omnipotent shadow. The doubts in Sherlock’s mind about her character were confirmed only for her to twist the knife of doubt a little further by shooting him but in a way designed to save his.
Fair play to Gatiss and Moffat, with the villainometer hitting the bell at the first attempt with Moriarty they managed to pull an equally bad mad man out of the hat in the form of blackmailer Rupert Murdoch, no sorry my error, Charles Augustus Magnussen. He was played by Lars Mikkelson in a manner so seedy it seemed like a cross between part of the Happy Mondays back catalogue, Miley Cyrus twerking and the Robin Thicke video for Blurred Lines
Interestingly his mental faculties, in memory terms, weren’t the equal of Sherlock’s but the better including their respective mind places, the former being the more detailed and efficient. That was a sad point for me, I kinda liked the idea of glasses with more knowledge than Google (contrary to popular belief Google doesn’t know everything)
Again we delved into Sherlock’s psyche, in particular his mind palace, where we discovered the identity of red beard and in his allusion to the dog’s death perhaps the origin of his view of emotions as weaknesses. More interestingly we discovered that Moriarty was kept in there in a padded cell highlighting Sherlock’s fear of him even from beyond the grave. Yet another yay moment from my daughter and it did contain the fantastic little rhyme “it’s raining its pouring Sherlock is boring.” We saw all this during the post shooting moment where the production has rarely been higher.
Despite the darker overtones of the story there was still the odd moment of humour such as the initial bewilderment on Johns face as it was suggested that “Sher” was in a relationship with Janine whilst being oblivious to Sherlock’s attempts to discuss the ubiquitous criminal power of Murd (oops sorry) Magnusson. There were also again a few nods to the original books most notably the Sussex bee-keeper’s cottage retirement home for Janine, a possible romantic retirement home for “Sher” if the writers want to end the series?
Of course all this pales into insignificance with the final-I never saw that coming-twist (though I wouldn’t see anything coming if it was neon and 10 miles wide). Jim is back, I have a happy, well happyish, well less miserable than usual daughter whose initial excitement was tempered with the sudden realisation that she like the rest of us will have to wait over 700 days till we find out how he comes back.
Damn you Gatiss and Moffat, you’ve done it again!