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Sherlock Watch: Holmes Tackles Wedded Bliss and Blunders in 'The Sign of Three'
Steve Thompson is no slouch, and may currently be my favorite writer on Sherlock thus far. The third season’s second episode, “The Sign of Three,” signified Thompson’s return following his season two-finale episode, “The Reichenbach Fall,” and was an absolute stunner. (A relief to say the least, after last week's semi-underwhelming and super-Moffat-y premiere). Benedict Cumberbatch's interpretation of the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective soars when there’s incredibly intricate work at play. And there was no shortage of such thanks to the wedding of John and Mary, wherein we saw the most human — and mature! — side of Sherlock Holmes we'd yet to encounter. In fact, this may go down as my favorite episode of the series thus far.
Tonight Sherlock was faced with the reality of interpersonal relationships and the evolution that must carry us through to the subsequent chapters of our lives. John Watson has been the touchstone to humanity that’s forced Sherlock to consider things like other people's emotions and feelings — and the reality that the two affect the perceived “logical” outcome. And now, Sherlock must deal with the fact that Watson’s own humanity and emotional capacity have had a profound affect on him and his life. And he does this in the most pitch-perfectly Sherlockian way: by solving a murder after one very long, overstuffed, and absolutely mad Best Man speech.
Well really he solved two attempted murders and three cases all at once — as if the man didn’t already have an impressive track record. But in order to save the last (John's other best guy friend, the oft-reclusive and subsequent death-threat magnet, Major Sholto), Sherlock was forced to consider not only himself but John's standing in the matter. It was a hard pill for Sherlock to swallow, but the result was dynamic and the best of the detective that we've ever seen — on this series or otherwise.
All those seemingly random anecdotes from Sherlock's speech turned out to be not-so-random at all, but rather pieces to the night’s puzzle. Both The Bloody Guardsman and The Mayfly Man — one in the same: the stand-in wedding photographer, as it turned out — were merely trial runs to collect data and run a bit of trial-and-error before making it count with the attempt on Sholto’s life. The realization rattled all three of the players involved, but Mary, John, and Sherlock managed to each play their part to ensure that the mystery was solved and the murder averted. These three already have us excited for next season, should they all return. And if Mary's really all that she says she is.
Oh that Mary — she’s pretty fantastic, isn’t she? The way she keeps these two together is truly special, and the way she can handle both men with an intelligence and charm all her own makes it easy to see why John would fall for her. But it does bring a bit of foreboding, considering we hardly know anything about her when all is said and done. The deepest we've dug into her past has revealed her to be an orphan, which is equal parts intriguing and worrisome. How and why was she the one that received the text messages in last week’s episode regarding John’s whereabouts? Could she be hiding something herself? Is the invisible hand of the season's big baddie, Lars Mikkelsen's Charles Augustus Magnussen, guiding Mary into John’s life for some terrible plot twist in next week's upcoming season finale? We’re on pins and needles to find out.
Especially now that we've found out Mary is pregnant, which was a wonderful flip on the head of the episode’s title, at first encapsulating the dynamic between John, Mary, and Sherlock, and then the wee bairn-to-be. With a baby comes the real end of an era for John and Sherlock, though. And the pain on his face at the realization that he’d be John’s bratty child no more was as sad a realization for him as well as the audience. But Sherlock, you see, has done some growing up this season, constantly propelled forward by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in brave and exciting ways that still hold fast to the authenticity of a character as well-known and loved as Sherlock Holmes. With next week’s “His Last Vow,” we’re anticipating only more of the brilliant same to come.
- Hey Mycroft: who is Red Beard? And why are you so jealous that Sherlock has friends and is just generally different than you?
- Wait, maybe I just answered my own question there. Since we’ve had the feeling that Mycroft is up to no good this season, perhaps therein lies the issue: is Mycroft searching for a Holmes/Watson dynamic of his very own? (Oh, and just imagine if it’s Magnussen.)
- Molly sure is getting feisty this season, isn’t she? “We’re having quite a lot of sex” was probably the last thing Sherlock expected her to say regarding her stand-in boyfriend.
- Will anyone ever take care to remember poor Greg Lestrade’s name, ever? And when they do, will anyone actually care?
Lord, next week cannot come soon enough! - Drunk Watson and Drunk Holmes FOREVER. That was some seriously spectacular drunk acting, boys. Hip hip.
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