In the short days that have passed since the series premiere of Sherlock, it quickly became rumor that the second episode of the season, The Sign of Three, would be the “funniest and least-Sherlock episode” we would experience. Boy, they were not kidding. In an episode written by Steve Thompson (co-writer of The Blind Banker and Reichenbach Fall), Mark Gatiss, and Steven Moffat, we got to see a Sherlock we’ve never seen before – in so many ways.
The episode begins with a series of bank robberies going unsolved by Lestrade and Donovan. Over eighteen months – whether that’s the time between the two episodes is unclear – they are continually out thwarted. By the time they’ve caught the robbers, Lestrade receives multiple frantic texts from Sherlock. Of course, Greg runs to his rescue, only to find Sherlock to be completely intact, in front of his computer. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Write John’s Best Man Speech.
One thing that appears to be just talk, but actually is foreshadowing is Mrs. Hudson’s talk of her wedding day on the day of Mary and John’s wedding. She talks about her chief bridesmaid and how they planned to be best friends forever, but the friend knew it was “the end of an era” so she thought. Mrs. Hudson admits that it turned out to be right, and that her friend even left the wedding early. I can’t think of absolutely anyone this may apply to whatsoever. Mycroft also alludes to the end of era, both of whom Sherlock shuts down almost completely. Of course, that would never happen.
During the Best Man Speech, we are given the beginning of what we all expect would be a speech given by Sherlock. Awkward. Unimpressed by wedding traditions and the uninterested Sherlock. Throughout the speech, we are given flashbacks of events leading up to the wedding. From asking Sherlock to be John’s Best Man to the Stag Party, there are important events leading up to that very day. However, beyond the flashbacks lies something we’ve never seen in Sherlock before. The ability to show how much John means to him, the ability to recognize all of the things John has that Sherlock lacks, and finally, his overall respect for John. The flashbacks may have made the episode what was funny and what will stay with man viewers, however it was the incredible acting done by Benedict, and the just-right amount of human and not that made the speech so wonderful.
The most poignant of the flashbacks of the speech, and a further show of Benedict’s acting would have to be John asking Sherlock to be his best man. Not that we didn’t all see that coming – but it was the meaning behind the question, and as previously said, the wonderful acting of Benedict Cumberbatch that made so many viewers reach for a tissue box. It’s in this memory that we see how, despite Sherlock’s ways of pushing people away, he also sees that in how people respond to him – even John. He’s surprised enough when John asks him to be his best man, suggesting Lestrade – whom he calls Gavin – and Mike Stamford off the bat. Benedict’s acting in this scene, when Sherlock realizes that he has what he’s never had before – a best friend – is astounding. Not only in the scene, where we see him simply stare at John, and then finally ask for clarification – he has a best friend? Narrating over himself from the speech, he says that Mary being good enough for John is one of the highest regards he could give a person.
The flashbacks cover many things, but most of it is the interaction between Sherlock, John, and Mary, and the stunning way that they get along. Again, Amanda Abbington has out done herself on being Mary. In the next flashback, which involves the case that this episode eventually revolves around, Mary pushes the men to go on a case, and they visit a soldier who is convinced someone is stalking him, and then gets hurt by an puncture to the abdomen. The attempted murderer was never found, and they went on.
I will spare a recall of the without-a-doubt funniest part of the episode, because that ten-plus minutes deserves a review of it’s own. The flashback is of John’s stag party where both men get hysterically drunk after only two hours. It is in this flashback that you’ll see Sherlock’s deductive skills when he’s drunk, as well as just some incredibly funny moments courtesy of both men. I will, though, give you a look.
Besides hilarious moments, this also gives us a look at another case that we will see floating around Sherlock’s head. Women who seem to be dating a ghost. At first I thought that Moffat must have accidentally brought the wrong script in – thinking it was a Doctor Who meeting – and made it work, but this is actually an incredible case. Sherlock finds four other women claiming to have the same problem, and figures out that someone is claiming the identity of people in the obituaries to use their homes. The trick is – he can’t find a connection, except that they all have a secret.
The anecdote seems to just be another retelling of how important John is, but it isn’t until he’s about to finish his speech that he realizes something about that very case. Tessa, the woman who had come to them when they were drunk, knew John’s name, something he doesn’t hastily give out to be people – except, if you remember, in A Scandal in Belgravia. This allowed for a cameo for Lara Pulver – naked, of course. But it isn’t Irene, unfortunately. When saying John’s full name, he realizes that one of the women had seen the invitation, and remembered his middle name on the announcement. Which meant so had the man pretending to be the dead men. Sherlock realizes the Mayflyman has to be at the wedding.
Not only does he realize, with a bit of help by an unlikely source, that the Mayflyman is also the man who killed the soldier, and is back to kill John’s Commanding Officer, Major Schloto, who came to the wedding even though he’s a recluse. He realizes that the belt that the soldier and Major Schloto would allow him to be stabbed and stay alive with the belt on. And who is the man? The wedding photographer.
After everything’s done and set to rest, it’s time for the bride and groom’s first dance. Sherlock makes another speech, saying his first and last vow is to always be there – “ for all three of you.” That’s right, three instead of the two of you. Mary Morstan is having a baby. And that is when Sherlock realizes that now John is off to a new life, and that especially with a baby, there is no place for him any more. So he leaves the sheet music of the song he composed for John and Mary, and leaves the wedding early. Gosh. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
This episode had all the makings of a good episode. It was lighthearted at times, hysterical at times, and by the end left us all with a horrible feeling for Sherlock. It required phenomenal acting by Sherlock to make him more like the Sherlock we knew than last episode, but kept him a bit human – which isn’t an easy task. As we near the final episode of series three, this is when everything goes bad for the show, and it seems that someone – or some people – may not make it out alive.
The trailer’s below:
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This article was first posted on January 6, 2014