Friday, 3 January 2014


Derren Brown! Oh my God! It was Derren Brown who saved Sherlock Holmes!
Can you believe it…neither can I. The third season of Sherlock kicked off with a bang on New Year ’s Day and managed to throw all of us back into the world of the legendary deductionist. A surprise reunion, a terrorist attack and a couple of bizarre facial hair, let’s take a look at The Empty Hearse.

Rightfully, it started with the one thing everyone everywhere wanted to know: How did he survive? And in classic fashion, we had to wait until the end of the episode before we were finally given the solution. In the meantime however, we were treated to a nice set of theories, each more ridiculous than the last from a number of individuals. The first involved Sherlock going all James Bond, bungee-jumping to safety, sucking the breath from poor Molly Hooper’s lungs via a very passionate kiss, putting up his collar and dressing Moriarty up as Sherlock Holmes. Derren Brown also made a cameo appearance as the master illusionist who put Watson to sleep and reset his watch. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss must really love Brown. As some of you might remember, The Day of the Doctor (Doctor Who) also featured a top secret organization (U.N.I.T.) blaming the TARDIS-helicopter spectacle on Brown.

This was only the beginning of the theories, but for now, let’s move on. The Empty Hearse has something of a thin plot, but it doesn’t matter because we all knew that this episode was never going to focus on saving London from an underground terrorist attack. This was going to be a character piece about what would happen if your best friend, whom you believed dead for two years, suddenly popped back into your life – not dead! Naturally, Sherlock treats this encounter as flippantly as possible, disguising himself as a waiter and ruining John’s attempt at marriage proposal. John obviously, reacts a little more forceful and humanly. I must say, this episode had quite the bit of slow-motion camera-play and I loved it. This combined with the spectacular musical cues made the episode even richer. 

Mary Morstan is the new girl on the block, real-life wife of Martin Freeman, playing in-universe fiancée of John Watson, is an absolute dream. I expected her to hate Sherlock from beginning to end, but was pleasantly surprised when she did a one eighty and claimed that she liked him. Not in that sort of way, this isn’t a soap opera people. If Sherlock is the fisherman, then Mary is the lure, carefully guiding Watson back to Sherlock in stealth-like fashion.

And we’re back to How He Did It. Another theory, probably one that represents the real-life Sherlock fandom, was presented in the form of Sherlock and Moriarty being in cahoots and having a dummy fall off the roof before they leaned in for a passionate kiss that was interrupted thankfully. Sherlock fans who’ve been writing those Sherlock/Moriarty fanfiction probably punched the air at that point. Thank you Mark Gatiss. If you’re that dead set on Sherlock and Moriarty shipping people, go watch Elementary! The fan who presented this theory is a strange emo chick belonging to Anderson’s group of conspiracy nutters. I apologize to any conspiracy nutters reading this review. 
I’ll be frank; Anderson has completely flipped his lid! From the crap hairstyle to the rubbish goat-beard, it’s no wonder why he lost his job. I will testify that he has a legitimate reason to be so…odd. He feels guilt over driving Sherlock to suicide after he learned that the man was innocent. That is enough to drive anyone up the walls. One disappointment from the episode though is Sally Donovan and Kitty Reilly. Or rather, lack of. I was hugely upset that the two people who helped make Sherlock’s life a living hell wasn’t even mentioned as I would have loved for Sherlock to rub it in their faces that he was right all along. I would’ve also liked to see Donovan and Reilly fired and humiliated for their actions, in a similar manner as Anderson and Sherlock just standing there gloating silently. Perhaps this will happen in the future. I hope you at least.

Back to praising Gatiss’ script. It is one of the best ones we’ve ever had. He manages to hit every nail on the head and build us a very entertaining piece of television work in the form of The Empty Hearse. His personal interactions with Benedict’s Sherlock during their brother bonding scene in Sherlock’s flat are just spectacular and it’s nice to see the Holmes brothers growing closer…ish.

Sherlock has always used theatrics such as text-on-screen and psychedelic imagery to create a more vivid picture of events in either real-life or in flashbacks. The Empty Hearse featured more of this than any before and as the name implies, hypnotized me the more I watched it. From trains twisting overhead to plotting the fastest way through town, The Empty Hearse was chalk-full of action and suspense. 

We’re nearing the end of this article, so we have to talk about the terrorist threat. As mentioned, this episode was more a character piece dealing with how the various people reacted to Sherlock being alive. Some were overjoyed (Lestrade and Anderson), others shrieked in terror (Ms. Hudson) and some physically attacked people multiple times. An underground terrorist group planning to blow up part of London is a valid excuse for Sherlock’s return, but as evidenced in the story, it took a backseat with lack of focus and finding of clues and the emotion coursing through the episode. This all culminated in a lovely little scene on a train with a bomb and no time to escape the blast radius – perfect time to talk. This atmosphere is what is used to finally have these two friends sort out their differences and it is here that you see how sorry Sherlock is for lying and hurting John these last two years. It is also here that we finally get an explanation of how Sherlock survived. Let’s have a look.

Actually, let’s not! I’m not spoiling it for you. I will talk about the escape, but I won’t talk about the escape if you catch my drift. I will call the escape clever. I will call it realistic (as opposed to some of the less likely scenarios we’ve been presented with, in-universe and out over the past two years) and I will call it obvious, hidden in plain sight which is something I can believe not to be a simple cop-out. A teaser for you all, this escape borrowed a little from Murder on the Orient Express and a little from Derren Brown in the way it utilized misdirection to achieve its purpose.

All in all, it was a fantastic start to a fantastic season that has been away from our screens for far too long. It is during these times when I realize that Elementary is simply a police drama with a fancy name attached. It is no Sherlock and it never will be. Not with episodes like this. It might win in the quantity category, but that is all. Sherlock is cut from a different cloth altogether.

Next week, Sherlock faces his most deadly assignment yet…delivering a best man speech at John Watson’s wedding. Yikes!

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