Below is an extensive review of the first episode of Sherlock Series 3, it is very, very spoiler-heavy for that episode.
First and foremost, I want to thank the fabulous people who came to my wee Sherlock party to watch The Empty Hearse – it was brilliant and the best night’s craic I’ve had in a long, long time. I bloody love you all!
Just watch the video of our reaction. Can’t add anything to that.
I was in absolute stitches at this. It was very funny and completely ridiculous. One point I do want to make here though. The Empty Hearse group was interesting, because it showed Anderson telling a woman her theory was rubbish because it had a bit of guys kissing – and she bloody stood up to him. Female Sherlockian being told her opinions don’t count because she happens to enjoy a little bit of slash – sounds a little familiar? YMMV.
Here Mark Gatiss hit the nail on the head – no matter what the explanation, someone was always going to be disappointed. It could never be clever enough, showy enough but the how was never the point. It’s the why, it’s the fact that Sherlock was in control the whole time and that he was back. I think that mentally, many of us were throwing our own theories out just as Anderson was pulling his own off the walls because they don’t matter anymore – Sherlock was home.
A note on Anderson – I always interpreted Anderson as a character as a bit of a knowing joke, a dig at your CSI-type dramas where the forensics teams are all knowing Gods. Anderson can catalogue the forensic evidence but he has no idea what it is actually telling him. He just ticks off procedures on his checklist.
And Sherlock Holmes walks in and can tell instantly what is relevant and what isn’t and what it all means – observing, cataloguing and theorising all at the same time. And when he does need the help of forensic chemistry, he not only has the skills to do it himself but he isn’t going to waste time on unnecessary tests and procedures.
Anderson is jealous of Sherlock, always has been. Tries to impress him – without much luck (“She’s German. Rache…”). Tries to belittle his deductions (“So we can read her e-mails. So what?”). And finally refuses to believe him at all – Donovan thought that Sherlock was involved in the kidnapping. It was Anderson who presents the theory that all of Sherlock’s solved cases were faked (and well and truly throws Lestrade under the bus in front of the DCI).
But it is Anderson who ends up losing his job, as Sherlock’s name was cleared, and he desperately believes that Sherlock is still alive because he can’t deal with the thought that he drove him to suicide. And even sets up a little scene for Sherlock, still trying to impress him.
Sherlock’s only link to his former life, come to fetch his little brother home. And God forbid, by doing fieldwork. The sniping and sarcastic remarks between the Holmes brothers was brilliant.
That hug, with the affectionate ‘You Bastard!’, was just beautiful and everything I could have wanted.
The scream was brilliant! (But I was urging her to brain him with frying pan.) I also loved that John doesn’t visit and gets a load of grief off her but Sherlock comes back from the dead, everything is forgiven and she’s gushing at him being back. That woman spoils Sherlock rotten and everyone knows it.
The initial reunion was hysterical. I could barely watch the French waiter routine for the giggles and the moustache was distracting me so I loved that Sherlock kept commenting on it. It was the stages that I thought was brilliant. Sherlock puts his foot in it, John goes for the throat, they get kicked out of the restaurant. Sherlock puts his foot in it again, John splits his lip, they get kicked out of the cafe. Sherlock, yet again, puts his foot in it, John nuts him, they get kicked out of the chippy. And all the while, Mary is watching with a big smile on her face. (On that note, the use of cut scenes though out the episode was genius!)
The whole episode was dedicated to Sherlock and John trying to get back to the closeness they once shared. And it wasn’t easy, and it’s not the same as it once was, but I think that they will both be stronger for it.
Introducing Mary Morstan:
Mary Morstan is pitch perfect. I love her character. I love how much she values John and Sherlock’s friendship. I love that she is sassy and intelligent and takes it all in her stride. I love that Sherlock instantly sees that and respects her (that moment outside the chippy is pure gold.) And I love that there is a hell of a lot more to her than meets the eye.
Basically I’m so, so happy they have got her right.
These were moments that seriously got to me. When John entered 221 Baker Street and could hear the violin, the ghosts of conversations past, my heart broke just a little bit. It just showed how much Sherlock and 221B were intertwined in John’s mind and how he just couldn’t bare to live there anymore.
When Sherlock hears John’s voice as he deduces, hears John insulting him, I think that this is a sign of how much the hiatus affected him, how broken he actually is. I thought that Sherlock has lost a lot of the confidence he had in his own abilities. He seemed to express self-doubt a lot more, and I hope that they continue to develop this as the series goes on.
The entire bonfire scene, my heart was in my throat. Seeing Mary and Sherlock racing through the streets to save John, the horror as the flames were lit, and John unable to do anything to help himself. Sherlock was stripped back emotionally, like he always is when John is in danger, and the fact that he quite literally dove into flames to drag him out. This was pure drama and suspense and I loved it. And I am so looking forward to the ‘Big Bad’ of the series.
Gunpowder, treason & plot:
The actual mechanics of the Bomb Plot meant a little suspension of belief on my part, but I loved that the Tube finally got a starring role in the series. The Underground is London in my mind and London is such a big character in the series. The idea of Sherlock having his ‘Rats’ that desert a sinking ship appealed greatly to the way I think but I also appreciated that the case this episode had to be fairly simplistic because of the heavy focus on John and Sherlock coming together again.
The scene in the bomb carriage, aka Sherlock being a dick again. Firstly I interpreted that it was classically Gatiss in the way he writes for Sherlock. It is in exactly the same vein as the lab scene in Hounds of Baskerville, or the arguments about Sherlock not caring in The Great Game. Gatiss tends to write a more prickly edge to John and Sherlock’s relationship and often uses arguments to get them to actually talk to each other. What was said in that train carriage needed to be said, even if it needed a bit of encouragement and John needed to realise that Sherlock can’t solve everything (back to Sherlock showing more doubt.) Of course, when he realises Sherlock is playing him, he calls him a cock, they laugh it off and they will never speak of it again. But it was needed so they could go back to the best of friends – the air had been cleared.
The one who counted the most:
The relationship between Molly and Sherlock was the one that had to have developed since the last series, and I was so happy with that development. Sherlock asking her to be his assistant – not as John but as Molly. And she holds her own, yet realises that it is a role she cannot fill. Sherlock was so gentle in these series and it was as if he was trying to make up for all the times he treated her like dirt in the past. There’s your emotional development right there.
I’m intrigued by Tom. I’m not going to form any opinion yet but I want to see more.
The Family Holmes:
Mycroft and Sherlock’s little tiff over Operation was fabulous and I was actually cheering during the whole ‘How would you know?’ conversation – it was lovely.
Mrs and Mr Holmes – as well as being a brilliant cameo by Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton, I really should have seen that coming. Because at Crimefest, Moffat and Gatiss talked about how they saw Mycroft and Sherlock’s parents as being quite ordinary and almost perplexed by their own children – and I didn’t think for a second that they would show it on screen.
And Mycroft begging for a reprieve from the parental trip to Les Mis – I laughed my head off.
And on a final note…
It was a brilliant opening episode that I thought hit the right note for the series return. It wasn’t too dark, it was fast-paced and full of drama and left me begging for more.
Yes, it was a love letter to the fans, but the whole show has always had hat-tips to the associated fan lore with Sherlock Holmes, as well as the canon and other adaptions (always 1895), so I like that the newer fandom jokes were given a nod. But really, we see all those fandom things because we are in the fandom. At work, a lot of my non-fandom, casual viewer colleagues saw it too and they thought it was brilliant. They didn’t think that it was confusing, or that they didn’t get half of it. They just saw a fantastic ninety minutes of telly. (and then asked the resident Sherlockian what they had seen Amanda Abbington in before!)
Sherlock’s back. Bring it on.