With a satisfying explanation for Sherlock’s death and subsequent resurrection sorted, Holmes was back. A glorious justification of this epic cliff-hanger was delivered on New Year’s Day and with the series returning from a two year wait, things seem to be changing for Sherlock.
With perhaps his biggest challenge to date, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) must prepare and deliver the best man’s speech at John Watson’s (Tim Freeman) wedding to Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington). But, to make matters worse, they havr to deal with a potential murder.
Sherlock has been known for its cut-throat, slick style: it’s a wonderful modern twist of Conan Doyle’s classic and this episode is no exception. It takes a skilful writer to weave a murder story into a wedding so well and Steve Thompson does it to a brilliant result.
Here, we see Sherlock in a position in which he has never been before as he has to deliver a speech in front of an army of friends and family. Interestingly, unlike previous episodes, we see Sherlock in his most weakest position as his arrogant persona is turned into a blubbering mess which causes him to inadvertently make a rather loving speech.
Yet the weaknesses don’t stop there. For the first time in the series, we are shown a case which Sherlock cannot solve. This puts viewers in a unique position: not only are we seeing him an embarrassing situation, we also see him failing at something he consistently excels at. This only brings out the best in him and he returns to his usual form quickly enough, with added humility and much more appreciation for both John and Mary.
Although almost forced, Sherlock does produce a heartfelt and touching speech and for the newly married couple. Another unique experience for Sherlock, as we see a more humanly side to the usual cyborg-esque personality he usually has. Rather than backhand comments and, at times, harsh quips, Sherlock manages to turn into a more loving character that viewers can relate to a little more.
What the series has consistently done is provide stories that enthral and enchant throughout. Unfortunately, The Sign of Three seems to lack something, a slight spark. It is small, but compared to previous episodes, the plot seems a little thin: it is let down slightly by a story which seems all too convenient. The pieces of the puzzle, as usual, are placed together to provide a wonderful crescendo in the closing moments, but here, unlike other episodes, the story seems to be too coincidental. It seems slightly forced, but some artistic license must be accredited.
As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch is phenomenal: it really has to be seen to believed. He is a wonderful actor, who seems to flourish in every part he plays. He turns from quivering sociopath to a wonderfully compassionate best man to a ruthless detective, all in a heartbeat. It really wouldn’t be the same series without him.
A unique set of events provide a wonderful ground work for an episode to remember. We see Sherlock in territory that is novel for viewers, but it is slightly let down by an all-too-easy plot. Nevertheless, this is a minor criticism in a much larger piece of work that is usually flawless: not this time, but it certainly isn’t far off.