Sherlock – Series 3.02 – The Sign of Three – Review
SPOILERS for episode 2 of Sherlock series 3, “The Sign of Three.” Please don’t read further if you haven’t seen.
It’s hard to believe that we are almost done with another series of Sherlock, considering how long we waited for this third series. What’s even more difficult to consider is just how unusually happy these two episodes of Sherlock have been. There have been dramatic moments to be sure, but they have been almost overshadowed by moments of levity, humor, and a general good feeling of seeing our dashing duo of John and Sherlock back together again. The second episode certainly had its moments of levity, but the end foreshadowed something much darker in store for the last installment.
That speculation, however, is for another review. This week there is a wedding and this wedding brings out all sorts of things in Sherlock that we aren’t really used to seeing: mainly, his humanity.
What I’ve always enjoyed about this particular incarnation of Sherlock is how cold and cruel, and mostly inhuman Sherlock could seem at times. It seemed an essential part of his character for me, and one thing this series has showed us in the seven episodes we’ve seen is that what really makes Sherlock human is John. The two work so well together, and complement each other in a way that cannot be underestimated. It was extremely surprising then, to see how well Sherlock seemed to have adjusted to the idea of John getting married. Marriage, as was often repeated in the episode, changes everything, and would certainly change the dynamic of the relationship between John and Sherlock.
Throughout the episode, however, it was clear that however much the dynamic may change Sherlock seemed to be remarkably ok with it. Might this be the work of the incredibly selfless Mary, who seems to have developed her own relationship with the detective, one that works on all levels? There is clearly no need to be jealous of Mary, as she seems to fit right in with John and Sherlock, effortlessly working with the two of them. Her presence never feels forced, or out of place, and is actually a welcome change to the dynamic of the show as a whole. All of this, especially the fact that Mary has proved to be an absolute delight, of course makes me worried for her safety. Alas that too will have to wait for another review.
In Sherlock’s acceptance of Mary, and acceptance of John moving on, as it were, we are introduced to that aspect of Sherlock we are so unfamiliar with: his humanity. It is in this that the episode finds both its greatest strength and weakness.
Many parts of the episode rang true. Sherlock’s reaction to John asking him to be best man was perfect, as was his emotional yet awkward speech, a speech which took up most of the episode and brilliantly told story after story of cases, stag nights, and unsolved murder. At the outset it seems like the same old Sherlock, who, when performing ordinary human tasks, falters and insults. But it is John who once again brings out the humanity in Sherlock as the speech turns from second hand embarrassment for the viewer to an incredibly heartfelt admittance from Sherlock that John is actually the one who saves people.
Like last week, the actual mystery of the episode came second to the character development and emotional punch it packed. Seeing Sherlock fumble in trying to solve the case was perhaps the part that threw me off the most. This episode was all about highlighting Sherlock’s humanity, something unfamiliar to us. Add in the unfamiliar sight of Sherlock not immediately putting the pieces together and solving the case, and it made for some strange viewing. This was probably the weakest part of the episode for me. In retrospect, perhaps the writers could have been showing just how much “losing John” could actually affect Sherlock’s capabilities as a world class detective, but somehow I just don’t think this was the case.
Despite the more human side of Sherlock we get to see, and the general happiness of the episode, it ends on a more somber note, as Sherlock leaves the wedding early and alone. It leaves the viewer to wonder, was it all an act? What do you think? Did you like seeing a different side to Sherlock or did it throw you off? Do you like the addition of Mary (and are you worried for her safety?) How distraught are you that we only have one more episode before another season is once again finished?