Previously, on Sherlock: It’s been two years, everyone’s become suitably obsessed with the central mystery heading into Series 3- the great Sherlock Holmes was forced to fake his own death in order to protect the lives of John Watson, Greg Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson after his arch-enemy Moriarty shot himself in the head. We knew he survived. John does not. How’d he do it? Well, hopefully we find out tonight.
Yes, it’s true. After two years of waiting – two years of Benedict Cumberbatch starring in approximately 87 other projects, fandom freak outs and the release of a completely different Holmes show – it’s finally here. Sherlock is back. Really really really. Not a drill. Not a joke. It is time.
So, take a deep breath. It’s time to talk about The Empty Hearse.
(Seriously, this is massive. All these Sherlock recaps are going to be massive apparently. Like, I can’t even believe how long this is. Bonus points for making it through all my thoughts and telling me what you think!)
This is Like a Rick Roll, Right? Our episode opens with a shot of Sherlock’s grave and then suddenly, we’re right back where we left off in Series 2 – with Sherlock on the roof and John in the street and oh yay let’s relive the emotional devastation of John watching his best friend die again please punch me in the face some more. Anyway, we go through what appears to be some sort of flashback of How Sherlock Did It, which involves some unidentified guys dragging Moriarty’s dead body off to replace his face with a flesh mask of Sherlock’s own, like something straight out of that Face/Off movie. Then it starts getting really bizarre when Sherlock jumps off the building and uses a massive rope that was apparently hidden under that great coat to propel himself through a window halfway down the side of the building, crashes through the glass, kisses Molly and rushes off. Oh, and noted British hypnotist Derren Brown is somehow involved in brainwashing John while he’s knocked out on the sidewalk below. Okaaaaay.
If you’re busy having a rage blackout about how improbable all this is – that’s okay, because I did too, and luckily, it’s not real. It turns out Anderson (yes, Anderson) is going through his latest elaborate theory about how Sherlock might have survived the leap. Lestrade, who just heard this whole Derren Brown spiel and is also sporting an excellent new hairdo, looks at Anderson as though he is crazy. Which, given the number of holes in that theory (A ROPE?!) and his new DERELICTE fashion sense, might actually be true. The two clink their coffee cups as they watch the news reporter relaying the fact that, two years later, Sherlock has finally been cleared of all charges from that nasty Richard Brook incident. (Take that, Kitty Riley.)
Awwww, John. Meanwhile, back at Sherlock’s grave. John is still standing looking mournfully sad in front of it, much as he did at the end of Series 2. Only we know time has passed because he is now sporting the WORST moustache in the history of the world. He’s joined by a person whose face we don’t see and the two join hands.
Meanwhile, Elsewhere. We cut immediately to someone running through the forest in what is presumably some sort of vicious Eastern bloc style country. The editing is super choppy and looks like something out of American Horror Story. This person is eventually cornered by a ton of soldiers, dogs and a helicopter and given that we’re shown frequent shots of long, curly hair, presumably this is Sherlock. Unidentified Person is dragged off to an underground jail cell area to be beaten and tortured. We don’t know why or what for but it doesn’t matter, because after a couple minutes of this fanservice which gives all the Cumberbatch fans a couple minutes of their hero shirtless in the style of Little Favour, we find out that Mycroft is actually there in disguise. For whatever reason, Mycroft knows Sherlock’s alive and has come to fetch him home. He says there is a terrorist attack being plotted on London, so Sherlock needs to get back to Baker Street ASAP. Underneath all the matted hair, Sherlock smirks.
John Visits Baker Street. After an interminable montage of shots of the tube, we see that John’s heading back to Baker Street to see Mrs. Hudson. He has a bit of a flashback to A Study in Pink in the stairwell, and hears Sherlock playing the violin in his head. Poor John is still clearly not coping.
Mrs. Hudson makes tea, and laments that John apparently never comes to visit since Sherlock died, and really hasn’t even called. This is very sad, considering she was the one who was by his side at Sherlock’s grave at the end of last season. She also hates the moustache, because Mrs. Hudson is perfect. John said he let everything slide after Sherlock died and it all just got too hard. She lets him up to see their old flat, and we find that Mrs. Hudson’s just sealed it all up, because she couldn’t face letting again, or to pack up Sherlock’s things. Dust is everywhere and it’s all just as they left it.
John then decides to drop the bomb about why he’s visited – Mrs. Hudson panics and assumes he has a terminal illness, then that he’s emigrating to another country, but it turns out that he’s just met someone and he’s going to propose. Mrs. Hudson assumes it’s a man, because even without Sherlock being physically present, I guess someone thinks the jokes about whether they’re gay or not are still funny. Why? Mrs. Hudson’s not an idiot. The man lived in her building for several years, she knows him very well, this just seems pointless to me. Explore John’s love life or don’t, Lord knows that there’s been enough material that you could make many different arguments about it, but given how close all these people are at this point in time, the constant refrain of are they/aren’t they jokes as regards Sherlock and John’s relationship is just tiring.
I Wish It Were That Easy To Get This Coat. Back at Mycroft’s office, Sherlock is busy getting cleaned up from his adventure in the woods (which was apparently Serbia, FYI). We learn that he’s been quite busy the past two years, dismantling Moriarty’s network of operatives around Europe. Sherlock and Mycroft snark back and forth a bit about why the elder Holmes didn’t stop the younger one from getting beaten up by Serbians, which is pointless, but Gatiss and Cumberbatch have amazing sibling chemistry, so that’s okay.
Mycroft’s awesome assistant Anthea shows up, with a fresh outfit for Sherlock. Sherlock promises to solve his brother’s terrorist network problem, just as soon as he can reacquaint himself with London, and see John Watson again. Mycroft looks surprised at this statement and this is the part where we learn that apparently Sherlock has not only not kept tabs on John in any way whatsoever over the past two years, he doesn’t know that he’s actually moved out of 221b and has gotten on with his life. Sherlock doesn’t understand how that can have happened – that John’s had a life without him there, a comment that reads as awfully bitchy on the service of things, but in some ways is a weirdly accurate barometer of Sherlock’s regard. He does, after all, talk to John whether John’s there or not, so presumably Sherlock’s’ life hasn’t really got on very much without him, either, therefore why would his?
Sherlock also hates the moustache. Because Sherlock is perfect. But then Sherlock decides that he’s going to surprise John that he’s back. Because Sherlock is an idiot. Mycroft tries to tell Sherlock that John might not be super thrilled to have his supposedly-dead best friend crash his dinner date, but Sherlock’s all whatever. Then he gets his signature coat back, puts it on with a flourish and all is right with the world again. Or well, it is after he takes a second to loiter on a rooftop for a bit and look out over the gorgeous vista that is London’s architecture while the camera pans around him and a dramatically orchestral version of the theme music plays. This bit is pointless, but since both London and Cumberbatch are looking rather lovely, it’s okay.
Meet Mary Morstan. John’s having a rather posh dinner with his lady friend, whose name it so happens is Mary Morstan. Those of you who are familiar with the Arthur Conan Doyle stories know who she is. She’s very pretty, and is being played by Martin Freeman’s real-life romantic partner Amanda Abbington, whom some of you may know from Mr. Selfridge or Case Histories.
We learn that the two of them haven’t been dating very long at all, but apparently that’s enough time for John to decide to pop the question. Because reasons I guess. John’s rather adorably flustered, talking about how hard he’s life’s been the past few years and how much meeting her has turned his life around. Freeman and Abbington have an easy chemistry together, even though it’s apparent in the first two minutes that Mary’s going to have that sassy quippy thing going on that characterizes ladies on a Moffat show, so just prepare yourselves now.
The Reunion. Sherlock arrives at the restaurant and takes a minute to flex his deduction muscles on most of the staff and patrons. Which, other than the fact that the visual sequence is cool is also pointless, because it’s not like Sherlock didn’t have anything at all to deduce while he was away. He steals a bow tie from an unsuspecting guest, some glasses from another patron, and uses the eyeliner pen from a woman’s purse to draw a moustache on himself. What can go wrong? #facepalm
Sherlock then decides to reintroduce himself into John’s life by donning a hideous French accent and pretending to be the water at his dinner table. Unfortunately, John’s too busy being preoccupied by the whole “about to propose” situation and picking a good bottle of champagne to notice that his waiter is actually Sherlock back from the dead. This then devolves into a situation where Sherlock keeps speaking in an awful French accent, trying to get John to put two and two together and see him by making big gestures and using a lot of leading language about “familiar” things. But, John continues right on being oblivious. Until he isn’t.
Honestly, this scene is very entertaining – Cumberbatch is really a master of comedy, and it’s especially fun for fans of his BBC Radio 4 series Cabin Pressure to note the similarities between this performance and the episode where his character is forced to deploy a similarly awful accent as part of a tourism flight gone wrong. Plus, this whole bit is a nod to the Conan Doyle’s The Empty House in which Holmes returns to Watson in disguise, which makes all the canon fans happy. But it also in some ways feels a bit cruel to a modern sensibility, and also is just a terrible plan. I mean, really, Sherlock.
Anyway, John realizes what’s going just as he’s about to get the proposal to Mary out of his mouth, and then everything starts to get kind of painful to watch. John gets up, shaken and asks what the hell’s going on, Mary’s confused because she doesn’t know who this guy is, and Martin Freeman’s face goes through about 3890735 emotions as John tries to process this life-changing information. Sherlock starts talking very fast, trying to explain in his weird Sherlocky way, and it’s oddly endearing, until Mary starts spluttering about how he doesn’t know what he’s done, and Sherlock chooses that moment to make a joke about the Moustache of Horror and John can’t handle it.
John’s furious and hurt that Sherlock let him grieve for him for two years, and Sherlock doesn’t seem to have come to this reunion with any plan of what to actually say to John, and hasn’t managed to apologize or even mention that the whole façade was to save John’s life. So, instead he makes ANOTHER joke about the Moustache of Doom and it’s all awkward and then John tackles him to the floor in rage. There’s a lot going on here – on the one hand it feels really good to see John get to vent some of his anger, on the other hand, it’s just so difficult to watch Sherlock not know what to do, and handle the situation so poorly.
The Reunion Continues. After getting kicked out of the posh restaurant, Sherlock, John and Mary keep moving to smaller and smaller dining establishments as they attempt to talk things out, Sherlock keeps being an idiot, and John keeps tackling him.
Sherlock tries to talk them through what happened on the roof with Moriarty but John says he doesn’t care about how he did it, he wants to know why he did it. Sherlock just says that Moriarty had to be stopped and then gets all awkward again, which I suppose is meant to be some sort of tell that we’re entering any section of the Conversation Zone that might have to involve emotion or sentiment. Mary helpfully seems to be taking Sherlock’s side throughout these conversations, but John gets more and more angry as he keeps finding out people who knew the secret – Mycroft, Molly – that weren’t him. This is a justifiable reaction to be sure, and I’m left again wondering why no one has mentioned that Sherlock did all of this to save the lives of his friends. Perhaps the writers think that’s too soppy, or that we don’t care, but since it’s obvious that the answer John’s looking for is an emotional one, it seems unfair (both to him and to us as viewers) to skirt the issue with yet another joke about the Awful Moustache. There’s an argument to be made that Sherlock might not realize that John needs emotional closure because he doesn’t understand matters of the heart instead of the brain, but it just seems like such an obvious mistake.
The trio end up in a takeaway shop after getting thrown out of yet another restaurant for fighting, where Sherlock deduces that Mary also hates the Awful Moustache, and she agrees. Hee. John says he only needed to hear one word from him over the past two years. Sherlock looks regretful and says he almost made contact so many times, but couldn’t, because he was afraid John would be indiscreet. John is really furious now that everyone’s acting like what Sherlock did is okay – as both Mary and Sherlock say he’s overreacting. Sherlock tells him that people don’t know he’s still alive and that London’s in danger. He then tries really hard to sell the idea of their old life together – about how much he needs John’s help, how much John’s missed the thrill of the chase, the two of them against the rest of the world. This is total emotional manipulation and Sherlock gets headbutted for it. Now out on the sidewalk with a nosebleed, Sherlock watches as John storms into a cab as Mary looks fascinated by him. She says she’ll talk John around and seems quite confident about it, because I’m sure what we all want to see is the boys work out their issues through the intervention of a third party.
Sherlock takes that moment to actually deduce Mary, and in the flurry of words we see several repeated – most notably nurse, only child, guardian, shortsighted, secret tattoo and, interestingly enough, liar. Sherlock, for some reason that I can only assume has something to do with how well his reunion with John did not go, doesn’t ask or comment on this at all. Hmm. Mary bounces off to join John in the cab, and tells him she likes Sherlock. Which isn’t really what people normally say, but okay.
Bye, Moustache of Doom and Another Fake Out. Now that Sherlock’s told John that he (and apparently everyone else) hates the Awful Moustache, John decides to shave it off. He insists it isn’t because Sherlock hates it, but, well. Sherlock meanwhile, reintroduces himself to people in his life, stopping by to see Molly, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson. Lestrade actually hugs him even though Sherlock still doesn’t get his first name right, and Mrs. Hudson, representing us all, starts screaming, so it’s all very adorable.
Another Rooftop Flashback Sequence begins, but it’s much more quickly revealed as a fake, when it appears Sherlock and Moriarty are in on it together, and end up giggling at John’s confusion before leaning in to kiss. This latest theory is offered up by a random member of Anderson's Sherlock Holmes fanclub/support group and is roundly shouted down, before the news breaks that their hero is in fact back from the dead. These folks are all obviously some sort of stand-in for Sherlock’s massive contingent of online fans, and the reference feels simultaneously sweet, a bit too meta and possibly the tiniest bit rude. It’s just very on the nose.
Mycroft comes over to Baker Street and he and Sherlock discuss terror plots and play Operation, which was totally my favorite game as a child, so I probably missed a bit here because of the squealing. We also get some interesting insight into the Holmes brothers childhood as genius children who were too smart for the neighbor kids and never had any friends and the two have a deduction-off. Cumberbatch and Gatiss are awesome together as always, though it’s touchingly obvious that Sherlock feels weirdly inferior to his brother, is exceptionally touchy about that fact, and also misses John. A lot.
Sherlock and John Try to Make It Without Each Other. Sherlock decides that since John’s still mad after having been lied to for two years, he’s just going to pretend like they aren’t friends anymore and start investigating Mycroft’s whole terror situation. John goes to work. There’s a nifty bit of editing here that splices snippets from John’s day at the surgery (apparently Mary is a nurse in his office) with Sherlock’s walk through of the case. Sherlock co-opts Molly to be his new investigatory assistant and/or John-stand in, to be more accurate, and hilarity ensues, although he’s not as rude to Molly as you might expect. He does actually call her John at one point, though and she makes the mistake of assuming he’s about to ask her to dinner, so it’s not entirely free of awkwardness. John, meanwhile, accuses a random elderly patient of being Sherlock in disguise and attempts to pull his actual beard off. So, if we’ve learned anything here, it’s that the boys are rather crap without each other.
Sherlock tells Molly thank you for all her help, and acknowledges that while she’s had a lovely day, she can’t really do this whole crimefighting thing again. He congratulates her on her engagement and wishes her well. It’s oddly sweet, but given how Molly totally thought Sherlock was about to ask her out, the engagement’s a bit out of nowhere. Here’s hoping he’s not a psychopath.
There’s Kind of a Case, But Not Really. There’s a sprawling sort-of case happening in this episode involving a man named Lord Moran (not Sebastian, apparently, the internet tells me) who disappears in the Underground between Westminster and St. James’ Park, and someone trying to use a train car to blow up Parliament in a modern-day recreation of the Gunpowder Plot. You are better off ignoring this plot. It mostly makes no sense, and fits very poorly into the rest of the episode and it’s largely unsatisfying, so it’s best just to handwave it and focus on the emotional bits which are much better.
John Gets Kidnapped! John heads to 221b, and manages to get kidnapped by some strangers on the way. I guess two years out of crimefighting practice makes you slow. Poor John. Poor John particularly when we realize that he’s been buried in a pile of kindling that’s meant to be a Guy Fawkes Night bonfire.
Mary gets a random text, which she immediately takes to Sherlock, because apparently it’s some kind of code and she knows where Sherlock lives, surprise. She says that whatever the text says, it actually means that John’s been taken, because it’s a skip code. How on earth Mary Morstan, random nurse, knows what a skip code is I have no idea (having never heard of it myself despite a master’s degree and many years of watching Alias), but Sherlock doesn’t ask, so it seems we aren’t meant to either. Whether this is a clue that Mary’s more than she seems or just that she’s super perfect because the Steven Moffat School of Writing Female Characters allows for exactly two types of women (the “Clara” edit and the “River Song” edit, and if you watch Doctor Who ever, you know exactly what I mean) and does that kind of thing some time even if it makes no sense for an average person. Anyway, Sherlock drops his fish and chips to the floor as he reads the message and races out of the flat. Sherlock then commandeers a random motorcycle from someone out on Baker Street and the two of them set off to rescue John.
Benedict Cumberbatch Must Have Loved This. Hardcore Cumberbatch gals will already know that the man himself owns a motorbike and spends a lot of time (or used to at any rate) riding around London on it. So, this extended sequence where Sherlock and Mary are racing to find John on a bike must have been his favorite day on set. Sadly, for us viewers, this sequence is edited very strangely, using a bizarre mix of jump cuts and unnecessary slo-mo, all intercut with scenes of John waking up and struggling in the kindling pile. After about fifteen years of driving – Sherlock must have given Mary the scenic tour of all of Southern England – the duo arrive at a park, in which a bonfire has just been lit.
Sherlock leaps from the bike shouting John’s name and the over-dramatic slo-mo kicks in again, just in case you weren’t aware that Sherlock is actually quite concerned and scared for his best friend at this moment. Cumberbatch’s face is pretty epic as Sherlock races through the crowd, shoving people out of the way and diving into the fire, so it’s okay. Ahh, sentiment. Sherlock saves the day and pulls John out and luckily he’s okay.
This probably has something to do with why he comes back by Baker Street the following day. Hilariously, John interrupts Sherlock visiting with an older couple who turns out to be his parents, but Sherlock doesn’t mind forcibly shuffling them out of the house in order to see him because, priorities. (Fun fact: Say hello to Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, two lovely British actors who also happen to be Benedict Cumberbatch’s real-life parents.) It’s a bit weird to contemplate Sherlock as the offspring of a couple so normal, but maybe they found him in a basket?
The Baker Street boys have a few tense minutes of conversation where John tries to guess whether Sherlock’s parents also knew that he wasn’t dead along with everyone else they have ever met apparently, and Sherlock defaults to more Awful Moustache comments because this is his new nervous tic. They try and figure out who attacked John and whether it’s related to the terrorist situation, but Sherlock says he can’t see the pattern. John falls right back into help Sherlock figure out what’s going on with Lord Moran and the train car and terrorists and it feels a bit like old times again as the two of them talk it out We still don’t really care that much about the case, but whatever.
The Boys Are Back in Town. Sherlock realizes that the mystery of the guy who vanishes in the Tube isn’t so much a mystery of one guy disappearing, but rather a whole car disappearing. Our dynamic duo determine that the car must have been diverted into an old tunnel somewhere in the Underground system, and Sherlock puts two and two together about someone trying to put recreate Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot and stop some anti-terrorism legislation. (Why we’re so incredibly sure that whoever kidnapped John and hid the train car are the same person I don’t know, but I guess just go with it?) They discover that a station was built on the Underground system near Sumatra Road (haha, Conan Doyle reference), but never opened, so they head to check it out.
After another unnecessarily long sequence featuring Sherlock and John exploring the hidden Underground tunnels and shining flashlights in every conceivable direction, as well as a really poorly CGI-ed sequence of Parliament exploding in Sherlock’s mind palace, they find the “missing” car down a tunnel. Which has, of course, been completely wired with a massive pile of explosives. Sherlock discovers the main panel and tries to disarm the bomb, but doesn’t actually seem to know anything about defusing explosives. We see Lord Moran turn the bomb timer on remotely. Dun dun dunnnn….
Sherlock and John Come to Terms in a Train Car. The boys look rather terrified. John starts shouting at Sherlock to figure it out, because he’s Sherlock Holmes and he’s as clever as it gets and this is the sort of thing he’s supposed to just be able to just know. Sherlock asks how come John doesn’t know how to do it, him being a soldier and all. John’s furious and scared and Sherlock looks like he’s just been kicked in the stomach and he tells John to just go, to try and get out before it explodes. John says there’s no point, because there’s no time to get away and if they don’t stop the bomb, a lot of other people will die. He shouts at to use his Mind Palace, like it’s the Force or something, so we’re treated to another uncomfortable Mind Palace Visualization, which really just seems to be Sherlock grunting and making a lot of faces, and that bit was much more fun in Baskerville last year.
Sherlock is defeated by lack of mind palace knowledge and John looks crushed. John then starts freaking out about how they’re going to die in about a minute and Martin Freeman’s Face does some more epic acting in between shifting through about 500 expressions. Sherlock, meanwhile is frantically rooting around the bomb casing in the floor before looking back up at John mournfully and apologizes for not knowing how to save them. He also asks John to please forgive him for all the hurt he caused him. John immediately thinks that it’s a trick, that Sherlock’s trying to make him say something nice after he behaved so awfully. Sherlock looks sad and defeated. John says all he wanted was for Sherlock not to be dead, and Sherlock says he probably should have been careful about what he wished for because if he hadn’t come back, John wouldn’t be standing over a bomb. John says he finds talking about stuff like this difficult, but Sherlock is the best and wisest man he’s ever known, and of course he forgives him. Sherlock looks up at this, and seriously seems moved and almost crying and John takes a deep breath and mentally prepares himself for death.
The Truth? Or Is It? There’s a weird decision in the middle of this emotionally moving scene to cut to a completely different scene of Sherlock telling Anderson What Happened When He Faked His Death. This version of events involves Mycroft helping Sherlock mislead Moriarty and coming up with a dozen scenarios of how their roof confrontation might have gone down. It also involves the participation of the homeless network, a big inflatable bouncy castle style mat for Sherlock to land on, a rubber ball in his armpit to hide his pulse (which the whole internet called), a handy extra dead body from Molly that happens to look just like Sherlock and a bunch of fake blood. We’re meant to assume I guess that there are literally no other Londoners anywhere near this building at this time of day, nor actually working in the hospital, or just the growing cluster of totally random folks who would totally stop and stare if it looked like someone was going to throw himself off a building. Anderson, to whom Sherlock has been telling this story, doesn’t actually believe it’s the truth either, and starts laughing in a creepy, crazy way while pulling bits of paper down from his walls. Ookkaaay.
Why we suddenly have to cut back to this moment here, when the boys think they’re going to die, when it’s not even John that Sherlock’s telling this story to, when we’re not even given any sign that this is actually the true story, just feels really really strange.
Sherlock Holmes is a Jerk. Anyway, back to the life and death situation. Or maybe not.
Surprise, it would appear Sherlock actually has behaved rather awfully. The great detective starts giggling uncontrollably at John’s “Ready for Death” face, and the light on the bomb starts blinking, so you know it’s not actually going to blow up.
Sherlock, it would seem, had actually managed to successfully disarm the bomb several minutes ago while he was flailing around on the floor, using the “off switch” that of course terrorists always build into all bombs because reasons. This is so ridiculous. He’s merely been letting John think they were mere moments away from blown up so that the two of them could hash out their lingering emotional issues using the excuse of imminent death and therefore…I don’t know making it okay to talk about feelings. Or possibly just Sherlock’s a jerk. I tend to prefer the former reading because I like Sherlock and it’s obvious neither of them were ever going to be able to have this conversation on a normal day, but the bit where Sherlock breaks down laughing at John’s tangible fear is harder to excuse.
For that reason alone, the scene is more than a bit uncomfortable to watch in places – Sherlock pretending that he and John are about to die feels calculated and more than a bit cruel, especially considering that he’s already made his best friend think he was dead once before. It’s good to see them giggling together again, and I don’t think the set-up nullifies the truth of the sentiment expressed by both parties, but ugh, still. The argument that this scene treats John’s pain as a joke is a valid one, and something I’m still wrestling with. In the end, I suppose the details are irrelevant, because Sherlock and John basically belong together (however you want to read that “belong”, I suppose) and we have to get back to that somehow.
And to do that, Sherlock needs to be forgiven. For himself, clearly, but also I think for John, too, because he can’t go on being furious with him forever. Sherlock needs to be forgiven so much that he’s willing to fake a bomb threat to give the two of them the space to say the things that need saying between them, the sorts of things that neither of them is brave or emotionally mature enough to figure out how to say without the threat of immediate dismemberment hanging over them. Sorry to get a little gender-biased for a second, but ugh: Men!
And Just Like That: Sherlock is Back. Now that Sherlock and John have worked out their problems, it’s time to get back to the business of Being Sherlock Holmes. The media is called for a press conference outside 221b, Sherlock gets the deerstalker/ear hat back out, and heads out to re-meet his adoring public. John comments on how much Sherlock loves being Sherlock Holmes like this, and asks if he’s ever really going to tell him how he faked his death. The answer is no, if you’re curious.
John says that he visited Sherlock’s grave after he “died,” and talked to him. He says he wished for one thing, just one more miracle, that Sherlock would stop being dead. Sherlock turns back to face John, and his expression does something very complicated, and he quietly says “I heard you” before turning to face the flash of the cameras. And, suddenly somehow everything seems mostly okay again, and it’s weird but this little exchange in the stairwell has more emotional weight behind it, for me, than the entire scene with the fake bomb scare. It was certainly much more in line with what I as a viewer needed to see happen – it feels real, like a genuine conversation, when so much of the prior scene was staged. Maybe things are really going to be okay between them now. But we’ll have to wait and see.
The Answer That Wasn’t. There’s a question that’s left dangling though – and that’s oddly the central one that the show based its entire promotional strategy behind this season. How’d he do it? Well, we don’t really know. You can certainly read Sherlock’s final story to Anderson as the actual truth of events. I have some issues with this as it’s not entirely plausible in my opinion and requires almost everyone on a busy street to be in on the plan except John. Which, I know that they said the street was closed off, but seriously?
However, we’re not given a definitive statement that this is The Answer, and Anderson is allowed to poke tons of holes in it, and that leaves the episode with a tinge of dissatisfaction around it. To be honest, after the half-hearted resolution of the pool standoff cliffhanger with Moriarty in Series 1, I was expecting much, but I was rather expecting something. Possibly it’s for the best to leave it to the viewers’ imagination, but then don’t bother with all the “fake” answers and nods to the many fan theories that sprung up over the past two years. I’m happy Sherlock is back enough that I’m willing to gloss it over, but that’s going to bother me the more I watch this episode, I think. Well, that and the fact that Sherlock never tells John that he faked his death because of the threat to his (John’s) life sice apparently that’s something that Mycroft just took care of. We’ll gloss over the fact that if that bit is true, it undoes all the emotional work of The Reichenbach Fall and also removes the reason not to tell John that Sherlock’s dead, does it not? If he’s not in danger, why can’t he know? (WHYYYY.) It’s sort of a mess, and honestly, I don’t know how to feel.
Come talk to me in the comments and help me sort this mess out. What’d you think? Am I overreacting? Did I miss something? Is Sherlock a jerk? Is John too stubborn? What? Tell me!