This will immediately contain spoilers from all three seasons of Sherlock. If you haven’t watched, exit now!
Sherlock is one of my favorite shows for a lot of reasons; it’s clever, modern, funny, witty, and can also be very suspenseful. Series 1 & 2 really seem to never slow down and I never am worn out by the 90 minute episodes. It allows for great story arcs and enough time to develop a real mystery without ever feeling too boring.
However, the season two finale, while being really awesome, also created an interesting situation going forward. Who would be the new long-term villain for Sherlock to face off against? With Moriarty dead, who could possibly be able to mentally match Sherlock? This was my biggest question after series two, and well, I thought that this series of Sherlock was just good, and not as great as the past two have been.
3.1: The Empty Hearse
The series opened with the episode The Empty Hearse, and the much awaited return of Sherlock after his faked fall to death. Yet, I find myself caring more about how John will react to seeing his dead best friend. We discover that he has been able to move on; John has moved out of Baker St. (for obvious reasons), and developed a serious relationship with the newly introduced, Mary Morstan.
Overall, I thought this was probably the weakest episode of Sherlock compared to the previous seasons. It’s tough to comeback from a finale where your main character fakes his death while his arch-nemesis blows his brains out.Where do you go from there?
The on-screen chemistry between real life partners, Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington, really blends in with the show perfectly, and her character never feels like it threatens or takes away from the Sherlock/John dynamic.
I thought that the worst part of the episode was the switch on the side of the bomb. It was slightly humorous, but a switch on the side seemed like a cheap way for the show to address John’s forgiveness. I found the transition from solving the railway gunpowder plot to John being kidnapped was confusing, but was an interesting way to display the power and capability of the new villain.
The one thing I did like a lot about this episode was the decision to tease at how Sherlock survived his jump. Having Anderson represent all of the crazy fans and their theories was funny, especially when he goes mad pulling everything off of the wall. The Empty Hearse was definitely my least favorite Sherlock episode, but a lot of it seemed like set up moving forward, which is necessary.
3.2 The Sign of Three
Episode two of Sherlock this season definitely was an improvement from the first, and tackled an important plot point; the marriage of John Watson. As we see in The Empty Hearse, John is attempting to propose to his girlfriend Mary. This episode focuses on their marriage and the days leading up to it.
I loved seeing Sherlock as the best man, and how everyone knows that it will be the most awkward speech ever. Right when they finish the ceremony and come out to take pictures, the photographer says, “just the bride and groom,” and Sherlock doesn’t pick up on it. Then the episode gives us the funniest moment throughout the entire Sherlock series.
John’s Bachelor party.
Sherlock has it all mathematically worked out right down to the exact time John will have to use the bathroom. It’s funny and nice to not dwell on Sherlock’s faked death. John even starts sneaking shots for himself and dumping some into Sherlock’s beer until they are both pretty drunk. Then they even take a case that just ends in disaster.
So where’s this episode going exactly? Well, it turns out that the case mentioned in the beginning with the London guard who died in the shower was just a set up to kill John’s war companion Major Sholto. I enjoyed seeing Sherlock solve the case while trying not to arise suspicion throughout the ceremony. I liked that the episode pulled off the combination of showing John’s wedding ceremony while also providing another solid filler mystery. In the end we even discover Mary is pregnant! This was a fun episode and added some nice character development as well as showing Sherlock and John are back to normal.
3.3 His Last Vow
The final episode of series 3, His Last Vow, was definitely the best episode of the series. We haven’t really seen what is happening with the villain so far but only that he had John kidnapped and and nearly burned alive. This episode opens with the hilarious discovery of Sherlock “undercover” as a, now, drug addict. His needs for addiction are amusing but it turns out he’s going undercover for his case on Charles Augustus Magnussen (CAM), the most powerful man in England who stays behind the curtain.
When we meet CAM, it’s easy to see that he is the one responsible for John’s Guy Fawkes Day surprise and also has some sort of mind palace, like Sherlock, where he accesses information about people in order to blackmail them. I thought that Mikkelsen did a good job portraying Magnussen and I actually believed him to be just as smart as Sherlock but an actual threat. Nobody can live up to the psychotic equivalent of Sherlock, but to follow up with a villain who is just as smart but exploits his knowledge was a very good choice. Magnussen literally does what he wants; we watch him lick Lady Smallwood’s face, take a wee in the Baker St. fire place, and repetitively flick John in the face just to showoff his grasp on the country.
I liked the story line that they provided Mary with in this episode. We see that she is, in fact, a liar (as Sherlock deduced upon first meeting her) for specific reasons. Mary’s involvement with Magnussen is pretty interesting, and although it wasn’t the most surprising plot point, I felt it gave the character some good mystery and meaning. Mary used to be a spy who wants to erase her past and settle down with John, but Magnussen has his hold on her. The entire scene where John discovers all of this by faking as Sherlock in the wheelchair was awesome, and to see him handle immediately treating her as a client was so sad but well done. Freeman is such an awesome actor and I really thought he nailed the sequence of events in this episode.
The episode leads us to Christmas, where everyone is at Sherlock’s parents house and he drugs everyone, besides John. Sherlock has made a deal with Magnussen to give him Mycroft’s laptop with access to his files in exchange for a visit into Appledore the estate and vault where Magnussen lives and keeps all of his records. We find out that Appledore is actually the name of Magnussen’s mind palace and he keeps all of his secrets hidden away. He thinks he has the upper hand on Sherlock and John, by also reporting them for treason, but in the end, Sherlock was searching for confirmation that Appledore was not a physical thing and he shoots Magnussen in the head, deleting all of the dirt he held on people.
This episode was awesome, just thrilling, thought provoking, and funny all the way through. I was a little disappointed that Magnussen only had an impact for one real episode, but again, it’s sort of tough to follow an act like Moriarty. I thought this series was a solid filler to develop or stall until a lengthier villain was created, but I was wrong when we see this episode end with Sherlock being temporarily exiled only to return 4 minutes later because Moriarty is apparently back!
I lost it when I saw this. I’m still not sure what to expect. If he’s alive, there better damn well be an explanation! I can deal with not knowing how Sherlock survived his jump, that’s easier to believe than Moriarty shooting himself in the head. I wonder if someone could be planting a red herring just to get Sherlock back into the country. Mycroft perhaps? Maybe even Mary depending on her skills? It could be a bluff, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
This final episode of Sherlock Series 3 was really awesome and ended the season on a good note after a rocky first episode. It’s disappointing that we have to wait so long until Series 4, especially with the increasing popularity of Cumberbatch and Freeman, but at least there has been talk about a Christmas special!
What did you think of Sherlock’s third series? How did it compare to past episodes?