Having waited almost two years for the sequel to ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ episode in which Moriarty appeared to have discredited Sherlock, and in which we supposedly saw Sherlock plunge to his death; this episode, ‘The Empty Hearse’, had the extremely high expectations of some 10 million Britons weighing on it.
Unsurprisingly, in typical Moffat and Gatiss style, Sherlock lived up to the hype, and was as brilliant as ever. Much of the episode revolves around Watson’s reaction to Sherlock’s less than thoughtful return. Interestingly Watson reacts rather differently to how Conan Doyle had imagined the scenario, but considering the current thread, the comical sequence of Cumberbatch appearing more and more bloodied every minute, works a treat.
Expertly moulded around an imminent terrorist attack on London, the Watson-Sherlock relationship proves to be as entertaining as ever. Unfortunately, this plot is not as gripping as others, and its suspicious similarities with V for Vendetta are called into question. This can probably be explained by the need to focus on more important plots within the episode, and overall, does not ruin what is otherwise a fabulous episode.
Martin Freeman once again shines as Dr. Watson, putting in a really commanding performance that ranges from the fully-blown tear-inducing emotion, to the down-right comical. If anything, Freeman has grown in to this role since the last series, and the chemistry between the two leading roles is extraordinary. No need to mention Cumberbatch’s interpretation of Sherlock is as excellent as ever.
Of course, much focus is given to how Sherlock managed to survive the fall at the end of Series 2 – a conundrum that had Twitter exploding with theories from the absurd to the ridiculous within minutes of the episode having finished. After a fantastic opening sequence, which has most viewers staring at the screen in disbelief, Gatiss and Moffat give a satisfactory Sherlock-esque explanation for Holmes’ deception. Satisfactory rather than breathtaking, but this must be explained by the enormous swell in expectations of the theory – a national past-time since January 2012 – rather than a weakness in the plot.
The cinematography, something Sherlock has always done slightly differently to the norm, was impressive. Perhaps even more so than Series 1 and 2, the use of mind maps and text on the screen as well as some mind-boggling well-edited scenes on the London Underground, ‘The Empty Hearse’ is a real visual spectacle.
Bring on episode two!