The hearse might have been empty in the long (too long, two years long!) anticipated first episode of the new Sherlock season, but everything else was full on. We wanted an explanation of how Sherlock survived the fall from St Barth’s Hospital roof? We got three! We wanted to see John’s reaction when discovering the trickster is still alive? We got three! We wanted to see the flamboyant detective out of the hearse and back on the horse investigating crimes? We got (kind of) three! Number 3 is a charm then? Season 3, 3 new episodes – better hang on to your deerstalker!
The Empty Hearse offered a light-hearted pick-me-up after the grim events that sank fans’ hearts in the last episode of season 2. Humour took over melodrama for the most part, relationships blossomed and feelings mattered just as much as action.
The episode started with an awe-inspiring sequence revealing how Sherlock managed to stay alive (or so we would think), complete with bungee ropes, a smouldering snog, a Derren Brown cameo, and an exact replica of Sherlock’s face being put on a dead Moriarty. From then on the episode was just as crazy of a rollercoaster with the other possible escape explanations being timely revealed, with Watson’s physically and emotionally explosive reaction to his friend resurrecting from the dead, and with new crimes connected to another master-mind villain to look out for.
The best thing about Sherlock’s new outing though was undoubtedly Mark Gatiss – both because of his virtuoso screenplay writing skills and his masterful portrayal of Sherlock’s just as ingenious brother, Mycroft. If you have ever wondered how a battle of wits between Sherlock and Doctor Who would go, you might have just had a preview (or watch the video below). A crafty scene exhibiting the sibling rivalry between Sherlock and Mycroft takes the shape of a game of Deductions – a fast-paced, treat-or-trick-for-your-mind amusing verbal duel, which however ends on a sensitive personal note. “I’m not lonely, Sherlock”, exclaims Mycroft in disbelief of his brother’s concern. “How would you know?” is Sherlock’s deadpan answer – after all, he, himself, didn’t know he was lonely until John came along. For a second there, we can see a true brotherly bond developing, and then, it is “back to work, if you don’t mind”.
And the detective work does continue intertwined with more emotional exchanges than we have ever seen on the show before. The potentially mushy moments are turned on their heads by Gatiss’ never-knowing-what-to-expect script – drama, comedy, danger, relief, pain, hope – it is all in there, and it culminates perfectly in the scene of Sherlock and John exchanging “last words” in a just about to explode tube carriage.
As for the dilemma of how to avoid people being “a bit disappointed” with the final clarification on how Sherlock orchestrated his “death“, Mark Gatiss manages another masterstroke. He self-depreciates the explanation by putting the dissatisfaction out there, in Anderson’s reaction to Sherlock’s “big reveal”, just to wrap the debate up with Sherlock’s sarcastic remark “Ugh, everyone’s a critic”. It is like he challenges us to find a more complex and unexpected, yet plausible and executable plan than his. Having in mind he is the man who devises both Sherlock’s and Doctor Who’s brilliant minds on a regular basis, though, this is one challenge we might want to leave alone.
Just a few – keep up the amazing work, Mr Gatiss! Not forgetting mind-blowing Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and everyone else involved, of course!
5/5 Marvelous points
1) Bonus points for finally including a variation of my favourite line from the Sherlock Holmes stories: “when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’
2) My fandom reaching critical levels 😀
3) That is something I would like to see!