When it comes to the second episode of the Sherlock runs, I’m always slightly wary. In Series One, we had ‘The Blind Banker’, which was for me by far the weakest of the three episodes in the run. In Series Two, though I loved ‘The Hound of Baskerville’, it was the inferior episode to the other two excellent episodes. So bearing this in mind, my hopes for ‘The Sign of Three’ were not that high when I sat down to watch the episode. And was treated to what I think is the best Sherlock episode of any series so far.
After the dramatic reunion of Sherlock and Watson in ‘The Empty Hearse’, the day of John and Mary’s wedding has finally arrived. And Sherlock has his best man’s speech to prepare and a new case to crack. Well, more than one in fact. Holmes’ fantastic speech treats us to a whole series of new cases, at first all seeming random, only to be brought together into one, over arcing realisation. This is writer, Stephen Thompson, at his best. Be prepared to be amazed.
There are many things I loved about this episode. Sherlock’s unique way of dealing with Mary’s ex and a troublesome pageboy. Irene Adler’s cameo. The mix of humorous and touching moments from Sherlock’s speech, delivered perfectly by Cumberbatch, making us laugh and cry, often at the same time. But, perhaps my favourite thing about this episode was that Sherlock suddenly seemed… human.
Sherlock’s tribute to John is heart wrenching, showing that beneath that harsh, tactless exterior is a man who genuinely cares about his friend and is struggling to cope with the possibility that their relationship is about to change forever.
We are also given the treat that is John’s stag night. Sherlock has everything carefully planned, hoping to make the night perfect. Of course, things don’t run quite as smoothly, with both the Baker Street boys end up hung over, in a cell – but not before Sherlock attempts to solve a case whilst under the influence, ending up asleep and vomiting on the client’s carpet. Was I the only one who laughed out loud when his ‘Sherlock-sense’ labelled the couch as ‘sleeeeeep’?
The final scene, after the case has been cracked and danger averted, for me summed up the entire episode. As John and Mary dance to Sherlock’s specially composed waltz, there are moments that make you both laugh and cry. I particularly loved that we once again saw Molly as the only one who noticed Sherlock’s sadness as he stood alone on the dance floor, his clear display of emotion proving that, despite everything, Sherlock is genuinely worried that everything has now changed and that the golden era of Sherlock and Watson is over. Hopefully he is, for once, not correct.