SHERLOCK Recap: “The Sign of Three”

     January 26, 2014


Another fast-paced and whimsical Sherlock episode, which spent most of its time on characters and relationships.  The case, which took a backseat to the other proceedings, was wonderfully integrated in with the Watson’s wedding, and we even got a hint at some of the cases we did not see Sherlock and Watson tackle (such as “The Elephant In The Room”).  The whirlwind atmosphere of “The Empty Hearse” showed no sign of slowing down in “The Sign of Three,” despite Mrs. Hudson’s assertions that marriage changes everything.  Hit the jump for more.

sherlock-sign-of-threeSherlock has managed to keep a perfect balance, with the incorporation of the Mary Morstan plot, between mystery and the character development.  Watson’s girlfriends have always been antagonists for Sherlock, and it’s telling of course that he seems to have an actual friendship with Mary — at least, as much as he is capable.  They have a mutual respect for one another, tied in with their love of John. “The Sign of Three” was also a sign of the workability of the newly formed trio (soon to been quartet).  It was as important for John and Sherlock to prove to one another that nothing would change after the marriage as it was for them to prove it to us.

Sherlock has always had strong characters and quippy interactions with great payoff for viewers, and “The Sign of Three” was an episode particularly devoted to that.  The intro with Lestrade coming to Sherlock’s rescue in “epic” proportion (and turning down the chance to catch — in the act — a trio he had been desperate to arrest for over a year and a half) was a great gag, as was the revelation of Mrs. Hudson’s history with Mr. Hudson, and of course Sherlock’s Best Man speech.  The way that the speech and the cases integrated with the wedding and its planning was practically breathtaking in its scope and attention to every detail, and the reflexivity with the number three throughout the episode was nearly worthy of applause.

sherlock-sign-of-three-benedict-cumberbatchIf there has to be one hiccup mentioned though, it would be the second act of Sherlock’s speech, when he’s searching for the would-be victim of the crime.  It was one of those moments reminiscent of where Sherlock has dragged in the past, when a character (be it Sherlock, Moriarty or even The Woman) starts spouting off an incredible stream of nonsense while something else is at play.  We’re distracted by the text on the screen or the gun in the hand or whatnot, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t listening to the babbling.  It’s a wasted opportunity, something Sherlock can rarely be accused of, but the verbosity is absolutely a hallmark of some of Steven Moffat‘s style.  Also, it’s rare that viewers are ever a step ahead of Sherlock, but it was very obvious who the victim would, and increasingly irritating that Sherlock didn’t see it as the minutes dragged on and on and there was nothing really happening but swirling text and nonsensical speech.

Still, it’s a small point when the rest of the episode fit together so beautifully.  The vibrant colors, and exceptional use of on screen text and tech (something the show has always excelled in), was particularly stylish in “The Sign of Three.”  It was also inventive to have so many cases explored, teased, and eventually come together (as we had to know they would — an unsolved case on Sherlock is just too unsatisfactory).  The adventures of Sherlock and Watson — from crime solving to drunken detecting to even weddings and babies — has never been more gorgeously displayed.  “The Sign of Three” also continued the light-hearted tone from the season premiere, which is a welcome return to the show’s roots.  Like the Eye displayed in its opening titles, Sherlock is always a spectacular ride.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

sherlock-sign-of-three-benedict-cumberbatch-martin-freeman— Almost gave this a minus because of the little drag / plausibility bit I mentioned earlier, but honestly, this was one of my favorite episodes of the entire series so far.  It deserves nothing short of an A.

— The opening with Lestrade and the newspapers was somewhat reminiscent of Harry Potter.  Nice effect!

— “I have a list … Mycroft has a file” – Sherlock, on what his mother has to answer for.

— I love that Sherlock also uses YouTube tutorials.

— “She has completely turned my life around. There are only two people who have ever done that. And the other one is … a complete dickhead” – Watson.

— Sherlock’s repulsion to sex is always interesting, especially given his interactions (and dreams about) The Woman.  Nice cameo by Lara Pulver, by the way.

— “The should always be a spectre at the feast” – Sherlock to Mycroft, in one of their always semantically delectable exchanges.

— The telegrams, the eyeball in the coffee, the doom of the species speech, Lestrade and Tom’s lack of crime theories, everything with the “room” full of women … a really hilarious, sharp episode.

— “He’s clueing for looks” – drunk Watson.

— After watching Sherlock, the theme music gets stuck in my head on a loop for days.  Now I have a dubstep version to mix it up …

— “I honestly think I had dinner with a ghost.” I would not even doubt there is an I Dated A Ghost website.  The scene where Sherlock was interrogating the women was so great, particularly Vickie and her off-the-wall answers (and Sherlock’s reaction to them).

— No one died in this episode!  That seems rare.

— Sherlock interrogating some of the wedding guests and showing the kid those corpse pictures was also pretty great.

— Coincidence? “The universe is rarely so lazy” – Sherlock and Mycroft.

— “I will solve your murder, but John Watson will save your life.” – Sherlock.

— And baby makes three!