SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of the BBC’s “Sherlock”, please find a way to watch it before reading this article, I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
If you’re still reading, then I assume that you have seen “The Sign of Three”, the second of three new episodes of “Sherlock“. This episode serves to move us forward in the overall narrative of the characters lives, and throws in a small mystery to solve along the way.
The Bachelor Party
This episode centers around John and Mary’s wedding, and you can’t have a wedding without a bachelor party. Trouble is, Sherlock Holmes may not be the best person to plan this sort of thing out. Or is he? In preparation for John’s big night out, Sherlock turns to Molly Hooper for some chemistry help. With her help, he plans out exactly how much beer he and John can consume over the span of the night to reach and maintain an enjoyable level of drunkenness without going over the edge. This provides us with an enjoyable, yet extremely silly, of seeing Sherlock belly up to a bar with beakers for them to drink out of. The silliest moment of this entire series happens when the crime solving duo take on a case and Sherlock throws up all over the rug of an apartment he’s investigating. All-in-all this was a fun time, but it did get a little too silly for a show that has taken itself fairly seriously up till now.
In the review of the season premier of Sherlock, I mentioned that this season would contain more “real life” elements than before, serving to humanize Sherlock Holmes in a way that have not really been explored in this series. In “The Sign of Three”, we see John and Mary’s wedding, which in itself is an important moment. During the first two seasons John Watson’s world revolves around Sherlock and his work. The first episode of this season setup the idea that this is no longer the case, and “The Sign of Three” drives this message home. Sherlock is still John’s best friend, but he’s no longer the only person in John’s life.
The Best Man’s Speech
In a fashion only this version of Sherlock Holmes could bring us, the best man gives a one-of-a-kind speech, and simultaneously solves both a previously unsolved case and prevents a murder that was taking place at the wedding itself. The speech itself is touching in several places and comical in others, showing us just how important John is to Sherlock. The speech also serves as yet another humanizing moment for Sherlock in a number of different ways. We see an absolute genius struggle with something ordinary, yet come through it and able to bring everyone in the wedding reception to tears.
In an unusual tact, we see a previously unsolved case (“The Bloody Guardsman”) and a second seemingly unrelated case (“The Mayfly Man”) tie together with a crime in progress. The three end up being tied together by a single perpetrator, and Sherlock solves all these mysteries in the middle of his speech. While these three were interesting, they lacked the usual strength of the mysteries found in this series. To be fair, I think that it was a very intentional move on the part of the show runners. Seeing Sherlock fumble through a best man’s speech is very entertaining, but viewers expect there to be a mystery solved and a bad guy apprehended by the end of the ninety minutes.
The Sign of Three
The episode concludes with John and Mary having their first dance as man and wife, moving to music composed and performed by Holmes on the violin. It’s very sweet, right up to the point where Sherlock tells Mary and John that they’re going to have a baby. Both shocked, John asks, “How did he notice before I did? I’m a bloody doctor!”.
All in all, not a bad episode. This series has always seemed to dip a little in the second episode, and I enjoyed this one more than “The Blind Banker” or “The Hounds of Baskerville”.