S3 EP1: “The Empty Hearse” | B+
It’s been two long years since Sherlock last aired an original episode. Two years since we saw Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and boy have I missed him. I actually didn’t realize how much I missed the show until it came back: this show is so good you guys. As if it needed to prove itself anymore, Sherlock once again defended its position as one of the best shows TV has to offer with a completely engrossing full length episode that kept me entertained throughout.
“The Empty Hearse” opened with a bizarre dream sequence that, rather than revealing how Sherlock actually survived his suicide, revealed that former detective Anderson has gone mad. He’s gone from the punchline of the show to a character that seems to exist to say “Hey Online Sherlockians! I read all of your theories, and I’m going to show you how ridiculous they are!” Sherlock’s first scene was a strange way to open the show. Instead of easing audiences back into the distinct world of Sherlock, we were put back into a heightened action movie. Fortunately, things got much better from there.
We found Sherlock in a prison being tortured, for reasons we don’t know. He is broken out of the prison by Mycroft, who, much to his own distain, did some undercover work for his baby brother. Mycroft needs Sherlock to help him prevent a terrorist attack on London, something he believes is imminent. After a quick shave, Sherlock is back to his old self. There’s only one thing missing: his pal John Watson. The problem is, John thinks he’s dead. Watson is understandably affected by the death of his best friend, he even grew a terrible mustache (Seriously, it terrible).
Watson is not amused by Sherlock’s rather incredible french waiter surprise visit. In sitcom fashion, Watson expresses his anger in a funny series of punches and bursts of anger. Once that is over, Watson and his new fiancé Mary leave Sherlock alone, and with a sidekick void. Instead of facing his loneliness, Sherlock fills Watson’s position with the always fun Molly Hooper. Eventually Watson realizes he wants to be with Sherlock, rather than at his boring day job, and goes to 221B Baker street to see him, only to be kidnapped and put into harm’s way. Now, we finally have our mystery.
I didn’t have many problems with “The Empty _Hearse” but my main complaint is that it took so long to get things back up and running. In comparison, Season 2’s premiere, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” in my opinion the show’s best episode, wrapped up the cliffhanger quickly and got along with the mystery within minutes. Sure, it initially seemed like a cop out choice to have Moriarty’s cell phone ring, but it got the plot moving forward and showed the powerful influence of Irene Adler, who needs to be brought back into the show cast immediately.
“The Empty Hearse” dances around a mystery for a while, but doesn’t get into full detective show mode until halfway through. The first half is more of a sitcom, or family drama. While the show’s excellent writing and performers could probably make an incredible half hour comedy about a sociopathic detective, that’s not Sherlock, that’s another show. Throughout the first act of “The Empty Hearse” I just kept on willing the writers to get to the meat of the plot, because the show thrives when it’s in mystery solving mode.
Don’t get me wrong, this episode is fantastic. The performances are absolutely incredible, and the writing is as sharp and as witty as ever. Any complaints I make about the show are pretty minor. This show, and this episode, are both great. I am merely saying that it could’ve been better with a few minor tweaks. It’s a solid, entertaining entry it a series that is undoubtedly among the best we have today. But, I know Sherlock can do better, and I know it will do better.
Once we get to the mystery and leave the melodrama behind, “The Empty Hearse” truly becomes a great episode of TV. It starts with an exciting chase sequence showing Sherlock’s expert navigation skills and also allowing him to form a bond with Watson’s future wife, Mary. From there we are off to the races. Sherlock and Watson delve deeper into the mystery, the team is back in action!
In the end, Sherlock and Watson find the bomb that Mycroft was worried about, the only problem is their inside of it. We only just got back from break, and our heroes already find themselves inside a subway car, rigged to explode, and with no way of defusing the explosives. Faced by their death, the pair seek to end things on good terms, forgiving each other for the events of the past. After Watson spills his emotional guts out, Sherlock can’t keep it in any longer and begins to laugh. He always knew how to disarm the bomb (There’s always an off switch!), and was just toying with Watson. Rather than punching him, as Watson would’ve done in the beginning of the episode, John laughs it off and everything is back to normal.
Overall, this premiere was a solid start to a season that I fully expect to be something spectacular. With viewer’s expectations sky high, Sherlock, has never disappointed it’s loyal fan base, and this week was no different. I missed this show so much, and I’m very, very happy it’s back. I’ll see all of you next week, in formal attire of course, as we attend the wedding of our favorite doctor, John Watson.
-Remember when Anderson was a Detective? Boy, that guy has fallen far, what’s his story? How’d he go from professional detective to a Sherlock Holmes obsessed fangirl?
-I don’t think we’ve heard the answer to how Sherlock faked his death yet.
-I love that the show went there with this fantastic moment.
-Mary fits right in with the rest of the Sherlock crew, I can’t wait for next weeks wedding
-Molly replacing Sherlock with a look-a-like. This. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.
-This new villain wears glasses, seems very frightening to me.
I know the show is already released in different areas across the globe, so if you could please refrain from spoiling me and other American viewers of what happens in the next two installments, it would be much appreciated. Thanks Guys!