I have waited almost two years for the next season of this show. It’s amazing how much you can anticipate something, and then you blink and it’s over. Just like Christmas. This season started on January 1st, and was over less than 2 weeks later. Three episodes, even if they are 90 minutes each, doesn’t seem like it should qualify as a full series.
Past here, there be spoilers! You have been warned!
In episode one, The Empty Hearse, we see Sherlock return to London, and admit to being alive. We also see John’s terrible mustache.
The mini-episode at Christmas gave us a taste of what has been happening to our characters since the last season. Anderson has grown a terrible beard, lost his job, and become a Sherlock conspiracy theorist. John has moved out and is very sad and makes me feel all the feelings.
In The Empty Hearse, Sherlock comes back and assumes all will be the same, assumes nothing interesting can have happened since he wasn’t around. John’s reaction to seeing him again is pretty intense. The more Sherlock explains who knew he had faked his death (Molly, his parents), the angrier John gets. Who can blame him? My reaction would have been far more wrathful, but John has a soft spot for Sherlock, and I think his relief outweighs his anger pretty quickly. That being said, Sherlock deserved a good punch in the face.
The most brilliant part of this episode were the various theories on how he faked his death. The first one, the very first scene of the episode, had me going for a split second, and it made me very angry. It made no sense at all! But the second one? with Sherlock and Moriarty on the roof? Hilarious. And a scenario that has no doubt already appeared in at least one fanfiction in a dark corner of the internet.
In episode 2, we see John and Mary’s wedding, with Sherlock as the best man…
Just looking at this picture makes me feel the need to improve my posture. I liked this episode, but in it, Sherlock seemed too normal. Too able to and willing to be charming. One could argue that he was putting on his best behavior for John and Mary (who he obviously likes). But he’s cultivated a personality that is callous and rude, because he truly thinks he is more important than the average riff raff he encounters. I find it hard to believe he could turn on the charm and flirt with the maid of honor and etc. Of course, when I saw episode 3, his behavior toward her made more sense. And, I suppose he has been able to affect normalcy before–e.g. when he pretended to be a vicar who had been attacked outside Irene Adler’s building.
And episode 3? What the hell was that?! Before it started, I was complaining to my boyfriend that we’d barely seen this supervillain Magnussen, and it wasn’t a very good way to build up the tension. Moriarty had been discussed in every episode of the first two seasons, and had been like a shadow hanging over all of them.
And this Magnussen? What did we know about him going into episode 3? Almost nothing. Of course, turns out he only took about 3 seconds of screen time to completely repulse me in every conceivable way. I was so disgusted I think some of my innards turned inside out…
But was he a supervillain?! no. He wasn’t even the most villainous person in this episode, despite being the human equivalent of the word ‘moist‘. I feel like bleaching my skin just thinking about him. But the real shocker in this episode was not him, obviously.
I feel like (and I’m hesitant to criticize Sherlock as a whole, but) Mary seemed to earn her forgiveness extremely quickly. Our acceptance of her is based on a-Sherlock saying she had ‘saved his life’ by not killing him and by calling the ambulance, and b-John being ‘attracted’ to sociopaths because he is an adrenaline junkie.
a- is hard to stomach. Couldn’t she have just knocked him out? Or shot him in the shoulder or something? And why not just shoot Magnussen, instead of shooting Sherlock? I just don’t buy it as some great act on her part to show she’s a good person. Yes, calling the ambulance was good, but not shooting him would have been better. He almost died even though she was trying not to kill him, so not a great plan.
and b? It’s true. No matter what iteration of these two characters (Sherlock, Elementary, House, etc) you enjoy, you start out thinking ‘how does this Watson guy/girl put up with it all? (S)he is so normal comparatively’. But eventually, you realize that people get into these relationships because they want to. And they stay in the relationships because they get something out of it. Probably a relief from boredom. Much like what we get out of watching someone like Sherlock. On the other hand, I think it’s a little ridiculous for everyone to say ‘Oh, of course you married a killer, John, you’re attracted to psychos’. This is only the second unbalanced person we’ve seen John with, so it’s not exactly an established pattern. He was clearly bored with his ‘normal’ girlfriends in the previous series, but this is bit extreme. I really liked Mary’s character, and I like the actress (Freeman’s real-life partner). I just find her deception and her actions unforgivable, and I can’t trust her as readily as John and Sherlock seem to. Of course, it’s easy for Sherlock to trust people, because he usually knows more about them than they do.
And I have one major gripe about this episode. One thing that makes no sense to me. Magnussen apparently had no actual proof of anything he used to blackmail people? So killing him (a pretty serious breach of protocol from our hero that is glazed over very very quickly) destroyed all the ‘evidence’ in his mind? Even if you accept that he somehow saw/found enough proof to blackmail seriously powerful people, and that blackmail worked on them even though he didn’t keep any records, and that killing him would end his threat..there’s still a problem. He showed the letters to Sherlock. Had them in his pocket. So he obviously had evidence of those in hard copy, not just in his mind palace. I suppose you could surmise that they were just random scraps of paper bound together, rather than the actual letters. That’s conceivable, but you have to let your audience know that, otherwise it just seems like a mistake.
My only other complaint about episode 3 is the serious lack of Lestrade! Give that man more to do, even if it is just to be humiliated and called ‘Graham’ or ‘Gavin’ by Sherlock.
But of course, there are only two big important moments in episode 3. The moment we realize the truth about Mary, and…the bit after the credits. I hope you watched until the end of the credits?
Can I just say that I am so happy and terrified of this, all at once? I don’t care why or how he’s back, I just want to see more of him. Andrew Scott, you are the most terrifying and wonderful villain ever.
Gatiss and Moffat have confirmed that there will be a series 4, to start filming as soon as the actors have room in their schedule. Some people are speculating a premiere as early as Christmas 2014. I hope it’s that soon, but I don’t really care when it is. Even when this show isn’t at its best, I would still wait years and years for the next episode. Each episode has enough moments that are shocking, affecting, funny, and scary; each one is worth waiting for.