S3 EP2: “The Sign Of Three” | A-
Hello again, Sherlock viewers, or friends who are polite enough to click on the links I post on Facebook. Today we were invited to hear the longest wedding speech ever, and also one of the most entertaining. That’s right, an amusingly nervous Sherlock Holmes entertained the wedding guests and, for the most part, the audience, with an hour-long speech about his friend John Watson. And through his stories about his friend, we flashback to different cases the pair have worked over the years. Eventually, these stories all come together in spectacular fashion in a solid episode of Sherlock.
The episode started slowly, with more character work then mystery. But, this episode, this approach worked better than the season premiere. The sitcom stuff was toned down and there was an undercurrent of mystery behind the plot points from the beginning. In “The Empty Hearse”, the episode was frustratingly wandering, almost avoiding the mystery, but in “The Sign Of Three” everything felt more purposeful and direct. This time, I actually didn’t mind situations played for laughs, like Sherlock interrogating Mary’s friends or him describing the drunk night out with Watson, because they all eventually fit in the grand scheme of things, and were just plain funny. The crux of the plot didn’t begin until later, but the first sign that this was going to be an incredible episode was the scene where Sherlock brings the crowd to tears with a tale about his friend John Watson. The moving tribute is everything a best man speech should be, the only problem is Sherlock isn’t done, he has to talk more (Because he’s Sherlock, of course). He then goes on to tell a series of short stories, which built up into our mystery.
The first part of the mystery was Sherlock’s opening story (all given during his wedding toast) about John Watson saving the life of a royal guard. The guard believes he is being stalked, and after the pair go to investigate, they find him knocked out, stabbed, with no sign of a murder weapon. The interesting thing about this case, a classic locked room mystery, is that Sherlock never solved the case. He admits his own failure in order to demonstrate the merits of his friend: John Watson saved the life of a man who seemed destined to die. A rare setback for Sherlock, but not for long.
The next plot starts up as Sherlock describes his and Watson’s drunk night out before the wedding. The scene is quite funny, but for my taste goes on a little too long. Last week, an interlude like this would have served no purpose, but this time it introduces us to the main mystery of the episode, which is a refreshing addition of purpose and cohesiveness to the storyline.
After the two return to Baker Street, drunk out of their minds, a woman hires Sherlock. She believes she went on a date with a dead man. Sherlock is fascinated, but cannot focus on it because, well, he was drunk. The pair try to survey the crime scene, but end up barfing on the rug. Sherlock wakes up and attempts to solve the case, even though he has been understandably fired by the client. Sherlock discovers that this has been done to multiple people, all of whom went out with someone who impersonated a dead man. Now, we are finally at the heart of the mystery, and a tangled one it is.
Sherlock interrogates the various victims. In actuality, this is done through online chatrooms, but the director sets the scene in a lecture hall and displays the deductive process Holmes uses brilliantly. Sherlock is frustrated. He can’t seem to find the common thread, or any reason these five women were targeted. To make things worse, he knows another crime is about to be committed and has no way of stopping it unless he figures this out. The scene is amazing. Sherlock is at his mystery solving, fast talking, smartest man in the room, best. And, he’s still giving a wedding toast. It’s by far the best sequence of Season 3 to this point.
Eventually, Sherlock deduces that the suspect has seen one of the invitations, and that the target for the imminent attack is at the wedding. Now, the show is on fire. Benedict Cumberbatch kills it as Sherlock stalls to figure out the mystery. Constantly talking, analyzing, trying to narrow down the target and the suspects. It’s an incredible sequence of events that make for an amazing climax. Eventually, he figures out the target of the attack is Watson’s former commanding officer, whom he has been intrigued by the entire episode. It seemed like a throwaway gag for laughs at the start of the show, just typical “Sherlock as nosy, high functioning sociopath” stuff when they meet. But the reason this is episode works so well is that nothing is wasted, and everything has its place in the tightly wound plot.
After a whirlwind of analysis, Sherlock gets the commander to safety, has Lestrade lock down the building, and finally finishes his speech. Now, the task at hand is to save Watson’s former comrade from the well-planned death that awaits him. Through another series of coincidental flashbacks, we realize that the murder will be done in the same way as the attempted killing of the London guard. In order to save the man’s life, Sherlock needs to solve that case. With a little help from a small member of the wedding party, Sherlock does just that.
Historically, the middle episodes are the weaker ones in Sherlock’s previous two seasons, but this is different. Some amazing work is done here by the Sherlock crew, and I cannot wait to see what they come up with for next Sunday’s finale.
-Some of the editing was weird, like the editing room was trying to show off how many fancy transitions they have to play with.
-I love the ending note of the episode, the audience not only feels bad for a lonely Sherlock leaving the party alone, but are reminded of how different Holmes is from the rest of the wedding guests.
-Whatever happened to this guy? I assume he’ll come back next week.
-Is it bad that I really want them to make “The Elephant In The Room,” like really badly?
-I’m still getting a kick out of Molly’s Sherlock lookalike boyfriend.
-The bit at the beginning with Lestrade leaving a crime scene to attend to Sherlock wedding nerves was absolutely hilarious.
-Please no spoilers for next weeks finale, only one week to go then you can scream about Sherlock to me all you want
-Why the heck did PBS schedule the finale to air against the Super Bowl? Do they want people not to watch it?