Netflix would have me believe that there were four episodes in Series 3 of the wonderful BBC program Sherlock. IMDb lists “The Abominable Bride” as episode zero of the fourth series, while Netflix says it’s the fourth episode of the third. The truth is that “Bride” was broadcast two years after the episodes of Series 3, and one year before the premiere of Series 4. It was a one-off, a special, and I’m going to treat it as such. I haven’t watched it yet and won’t talk about it here.
Series 3 consisted of three excellent episodes of television. Just when I thought the show couldn’t get any better, it did.
In “The Empty Hearse,” Sherlock returns to the land of the living, after faking his death in “The Reichenbach Fall.” When he reveals himself to John, Dr. Watson is understandably pissed. I mean “pissed” in the American sense of the word, meaning extreme anger, not in the British sense of intoxicated. I will never understand, or accept, that someone who can deduce, and even predict, human behavior in the way that Sherlock Holmes can could also be so oblivious to how his actions affect those around him. I don’t blame Watson for being angry; I would feel the same way, and, vicariously, I did. The episode demonstrates Watson’s state of mind admirably in the way he keeps physically attacking Sherlock. It was even amusing.
Watson has finally moved on, it seems. He visits Mrs. Hudson after avoiding 221B Baker Street for an extended time. He is engaged to marry the lovely Mary. He is starting to pull his life back together after the psychic trauma Sherlock caused by faking his suicide. And then Sherlock returns from the grave. Watson initially wants nothing to do with his old friend, and who can blame him?
Greg Lestrade has a different reaction. He hugs Sherlock when he sees him. Also a nice touch.
Watson’s soon-to-be wife likes Sherlock, however. She is determined to get the two of them back together as working partners. In the meantime, Sherlock attempts to use Molly from the morgue as his new Watson. That doesn’t work out. Watson is going back to 221B Baker Street when he is drugged and kidnapped by some villains outside. They put him at the bottom of a Guy Fawkes Day bonfire (few things are more British than Guy Fawkes Day). Sherlock and Mary hop on a motorcycle together and manage to save Watson in the nick of time. This Mary has spunk (there’s a Mary Tyler Moore Show joke in there somewhere). Watson’s bonfire event and the case of a man who disappears from a train converge and bring Sherlock to the conclusion that the terrorist plot is to bomb Parliament. Sherlock and Watson are rejoined as a team again as together they foil the plot. Good stuff.
“The Sign of Three” is a delightful episode about Watson’s wedding to Mary, with Sherlock as best man agonizing over his speech. The title of the episode evokes the Doyle story “The Sign of the Four,” but that’s where the similarities between the two end. The episode seems almost a light-hearted one, with Sherlock telling anecdotes about Watson during his speech. But, everything comes together at the end. Someone is going to be murdered at the reception, and it’s up to Sherlock to prevent it. Even the final revelation of what the “Sign of Three” means is satisfying.
“His Last Vow” draws on elements of a couple of Holmes short stories, neither of which are “His Last Bow,” which inspired the title. In this one, Charles Augustus Magnussen, a news media mogul dubbed “the Napoleon of blackmail,” becomes Sherlock’s target. Sherlock is apparently back on the drugs, something that has been alluded to in previous episodes as a problem. And any self-respecting Holmesian knows that Sherlock in the source material was a cocaine addict. Only, this time it’s a ruse to get Magnussen to blackmail him. During the course of the investigation, Sherlock is shot and nearly killed by the last person I would have suspected. But, he lives and even forgives the person. No, it isn’t John Watson, who probably would have gladly shot him a couple of episodes before.
The episode has a dramatic surprise ending and it seems we’re about to lose Sherlock to exile again as the credits begin to roll. Only, the credits are interrupted and we see the exile being cut short as Sherlock is called back, as Jim Moriarty’s face begins showing up on every video screen, asking “Did you miss me?” Moriarty is definitely dead, though. Right? Right?
It will come as no shock to you that I love this program, and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone to will listen to me. If you’re not already a fan, watch it and become one.