Sherlock 3.1 Review: The Empty Hearse

After two years of theories, gifs, headcanons, and fanfiction, the Sherlock fandom finally got what they’ve been waiting for: Season…

Molly Tracy

Contributor

BBC

BBC

After two years of theories, gifs, headcanons, and fanfiction, the Sherlock fandom finally got what they’ve been waiting for: Season Three. Written by Mark Gatiss, The Empty Hearse was an episode unlike any other episode – something that made it good and bad at the same time. Overall the episode was a wonderful step back into the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, and reminded us all while we loved the show while setting us up for two more episodes of what ought to be a whirlwind.

The episode itself had many factors that may have had some fans of the show, or the original works – scratching their heads. The confusing factor? Both Sherlock and MyCroft appeared to be more human than the robots the characters are known for being. This allowed Benedict Cumberbatch to try out comedic acting, which he was previously unable to do on Sherlock – and he shone wonderfully. As expected, John Watson was not happy to see him, hitting him three times – in three different restaurants – and while this episode gave Benedict the ability to stretch his comedic legs, it gave Martin Freeman the opportunity to contrast that with an incredible dramatic performance as he shows John’s reaction to the homecoming of Sherlock throughout the episode.

However, if there’s an award for “Making The Expected Unlikeable Character Likeable”, that title goes to Amanda Abbington, who played John’s girlfriend/almost fiancée, Mary Morstan. As every Johnlock fan sat in front of their televisions ready to post on Tumblr about how much they disliked Amanda Abbington, she quickly gave them reasons to love her. From siding with Sherlock about needing a confidant while he was hidden to telling Sherlock that she’ll get John to come around to Sherlock, Mary Morstan is far from wanting to come in between Sherlock and John’s friendship. I have to give credit to credit to anyone who plays a character that comes between a fandom’s favorite relationship, but comes out – somehow – making you root for her. However, is there more to Mary than meets the eye? We got a brief look at Sherlock deducing Mary outside the third restaurant, and the word ‘Secret’ and ‘Liar’ popped up multiple times in his head. Whether he knew she was just being polite to him about helping out his cause with John or something more, there’s more to be found out about John’s love. Gatiss and Moffat adding drama? Is anyone surprised?

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BBC

There were many parts about this episode that made it enjoyable, and a little bit lighter than the episodes previous. Sherlock’s attempt at a fake accent, John’s continuing to beat Sherlock up as the night he came back went on, and the deducing contest between Mycroft and Sherlock are just the beginning. However two parts of this episode were very poignant for anyone watching, because they gave notice to characters that, before this episode, were known for being one-dimensional characters: someone who hated Sherlock, and someone who loved him.

First off: the man who hated Sherlock. For many people, the opening scene of the Sherlock episode was incredibly confusing. A bungee chord? Kissing Molly? Derren Brown? It just goes to show how needy the fandom had gotten that we would believe such an utterly impossible story. It wasn’t until Anderson’s voice came over the screen and explained it was only a theory, did we finally calm down and realize we wouldn’t jump to conclusions again. Throughout the episode there were two more theories given, one involving an almost-kiss between Moriarty and Sherlock, and one that was the most plausible, yet still untrue. The idea of doing this was incredible – it gave us a different side of Anderson, one we got a glimpse of in the Minisode released on Christmas and then got to see more of in this episode, as well as served as a shoutout to the two years fans went insane trying to figure out what happened. Of course, being Moffat and Gatiss, they didn’t tell us what did actually happen, but it was interesting – and also possibly a little worrisome? – how close these theories were to what fans had come up with.

Second off: the woman who loved Sherlock. For two seasons, we watched Molly Hooper continue to get rejected by Sherlock episode after episode. She was a nuisance to Sherlock, and seemed to be someone there only to be the lovestruck coworker that he would never have feelings for. Well, that idea is no longer plausible because Molly Hooper emerged a vital part of Sherlock’s life. She moved on with her life once Sherlock was gone, got engaged, she lived her life, despite the fact that the man she claimed to love was gone. And even though we don’t know what happened to Sherlock, it’s a smart guess based on the events in The Reichenbach Fall and The Empty Hearse that she was part of it. In this episode, she finally got to do what she always wanted to do – spend time with Sherlock as his equal. Molly Hooper quickly went from love struck background character to someone who proved stronger than so many people in the series.

All of what I’ve mentioned, and so much more, made this episode more lighthearted than any episode before it. Sherlock and Mycroft were more human, John has a girlfriend, and background characters came forward and into the light. However, it’s the exact things I mentioned that may make fans of Sherlock unimpressed with the episode. While it’s great that Sherlock showed off more sides and the episode in and of itself was more lighthearted, people don’t watch Sherlock for comedy. People watch Sherlock for the adaptation and the intense acting. Some parts of the episode just seemed to be completely against the character all together, such as when Sherlock tricks John about the bomb in the train. It was funny to see and interesting to see how much Sherlock needed John to forgive him, however that scene, and many more scenes, made me feel like I was watching a different show than I had the past two years. Is that good? Only time will tell.

Despite that small factor, people will always find something about an episode they don’t like. For me, it was a wonderful episode to welcome back characters, see what has happened to them in the two years Sherlock was away, and a great episode to fall back in love with the show. Gatiss took an incredibly important episode to the series and did everything people could want – mentioned fanfiction, gave us a great new leading lady, and above all else, gave us more questions than answers.

BBC

BBC

Hello Sherlock, it’s good to have you back.