The Sign of Three followed on from the exciting frenzy of Sherlock’s resurrection in the New Year’s Day episode on a somewhat more light-hearted note. There was still murder and intrigue – of course, but we got a deeper insight into the character of Sherlock himself and some explorations of hilarious situations we never could have imagined when we were first introduced to the sociopathic detective. In a marriage that felt somewhat abrupt to me as a viewer but more reasonable when you considered the two year absence, Mary and John were tying the knot, and of course, Sherlock was asked to step up as best man. To some degree, it may have felt as though you were watching an entirely different show to the one you were used to. This episode, and the one before it seemed to be more interested in exploring the personal relationships of Sherlock and his struggle to maintain a relatively ‘normal’ life amidst his obvious abnormality. We journeyed further into the bromance of John and Sherlock, exploring hilarious examples of drunken misdeeds on a stag-night and a fantastically amusing speech by the great detective himself.
Far aside from the regular open and shut case we are used to getting each week, The Sign of Three consisted of a mix match of compelling mini-stories told through Sherlock’s interesting best man’s speech, every enticing strand being intricately woven together by the writer of the episode, Stephen Thompson. To me, this was brilliantly well done, as it allowed us a brief insight into some of the time that John and Sherlock had spent together, without devoting too much time to each individual story. It was like watching a best-of reel from some of their cases – a series of stories within a story. The murder-mystery elements were – as always – very well done, keeping viewers watching with avid attention until the very end. Even the wedding guests seemed to enjoy their foray into the world of mystery and crime, although they were a little reluctant to get involved within the question and answer segment of the event. Still, could you really blame them? Having Sherlock Holmes ask you for suggestions has to be a pretty daunting thing.
There have been some complaints that The Sign Of Three continued to lead the original drama away from its roots to take on more comedy and emotion than it had before, but I liked the mixture. The drama and humour melded well, and I loved the idea that John couldn’t even manage to have a wedding day without the potential for murder cropping up in some moment. One moment, toasts were being raised to the happy couple, people were dancing and cheesy snapshots were being taken left right and centre and the next John, Sherlock and Mary were upstairs trying to talk an old army friend out of effectively killing himself.
As ever, Benedict Cumberbatch gave a stunning portrayal of everyone’s favourite high-functioning sociopath, treating viewers to a brilliant insight into the inebriated version of an almost superhuman detective – complete with slurring words, falling asleep on a client’s rug and vomiting and potential ‘evidence’. I found this part particularly interesting myself, as it is the only effort the series has made to connect with the original idea of Doyle’s Sherlock as a drug-addict, showing what he would actually be like under the influence of mind-altering substances. At the wedding itself, with various smiles and the sunlight hitting his face in such a way, Benedict’s Sherlock seemed completely out of place, pale and plain weird surrounded by colour and festivity at every angle. To me, this version of Sherlock is more the kind you would expect to be sneering sarcastically than smiling genuinely, and his attempt to be genuinely happy for two people seemed to be a true challenge to the detective.
Still, despite his inability to connect with various emotions and his revulsion at forms of sentiment and nostalgia, the speech that Sherlock actually came up with when it came to stepping up as Best man, was actually quite touching. There were times when I felt genuinely moved by the things that he was saying, and for perhaps the first time we got a real insight into just how much John means to him. Usually, the pair are too busy tracking down killers and solving mysteries to truly show how they feel about one another, but this episode catered perfectly to the supporters of the Sherlock and John bromance.
Alright – so it wasn’t the strongest story we have ever seen in connection with the Sherlock saga, but the writing was still fantastic even with the element of mystery and Sherlock’s genius somewhat toned down in favour of wit and comedy. However, it was fun to get an insight into the world that has been created by this series from a completely different angle and I did genuinely experience a few laugh-out-loud moments. For all of you who much preferred the darker tones Sherlock has had to offer in the past, the ending of the episode, with Cumberbatch donning that famous coat and returning to Baker Street, implies that we will be right back on track with next week’s finale.