This is a two-part review. The first part will be spoiler free, and I’ll let you know when I’m moving into spoiler territory.
Part I: Spoiler-free
It’s been many moons since Sherlock graced our screens, and it seemed that with every passing day, expectations grew stronger and anticipation heightened. After seeing the episode, I can say with 100% certainty that even the highest expectations were not misplaced. As with previous series, the writing is clever, the directing fast-paced and stylistically unique, and the acting unparalleled. What I did not expect was the liberal (and extremely effective) use of humor to an extent we haven’t previously seen in the series.
Perhaps what surprises me most is how absolutely satisfied I am. Literally every box on my Sherlock wishlist was ticked, and not in the perfunctory way we sometimes see with longer-running franchises. Without spoiling details, I can assure you that giving an hour and a half of your time to “The Empty Hearse” will present you with an intriguing and twist-filled plot punctuated by character moments so numerous and so good that I’m tempted to use the word sublime to describe them.
I’m having a little bit of a problem here, because it seems that when it comes to reviewing, negative opinions add credibility, but I can’t seem to come up with any of significance (minus a couple of vulgarities that are not to my personal taste). The opening salvo of Sherlock Series 3 is about is perfect as it gets, and I can’t wait to see what the next two episodes have to offer.
Part II: Spoilers
Where to begin?
There was a little doctor with a mustache. There was a detective who needed a shave. And there was a hilariously dramatic scene in which Benedict Cumberbatch kissed Louise Brealey. At some point, I tweeted, “I CANNOT WITH THE WATSTACHE.”
Yep, “The Empty Hearse” broke my brain. The devious genius of Mark Gatiss gave us not one, but three, ways Sherlock “did it,” never really definitively telling us which was real, but sending up about every fan theory in existence. I think we all wanted John to punch Sherlock. I didn’t know I wanted him to punch him like twelve times, but once I saw it, I knew I really did.
Anderson. Dear goodness, Anderson. Anderson is, as they say, all of us. Crank-turned-conspiracy nut, he turned out to be the one who was right all along. Like the beleaguered fandom, he endured, growing increasingly and more hilariously insane. He may have deserved it, but give the poor guy a few props for persistence.
In many ways, as Kafers pointed out in her review for the Baker Street Babes, a main theme of the episode was relationships, and I agree. Sherlock is about a mad, surrogate family, and “The Empty Hearse” was about what happened when the glue that held it all together–Sherlock Holmes–was gone and what had to happen to put it back. Surrogate sister Molly and surrogate mum Mrs. Hudson were their usual brilliant, funny, understated selves, and Inspector Lestrade’s heartfelt reaction to Sherlock’s return was equal parts humorous and heartwarming. Getting the gang back together was far from a routine necessity; it was a pleasure to watch.
At the same time, Amanda Abbington’s luminous warmth as Mary added a beautiful dimension to John’s life, and I was glad to see that Mofftiss used a canonical reading of her character–a strong woman who likes Sherlock Holmes enough to let her boyfriend/husband spend a great deal of his time with the detective. The ending tease of the man we know to be the Big Bad of this season was another intriguing touch.
“The Empty Hearse” was funny, clever, completely captivating, and left absolutely nothing to be desired. I really couldn’t have asked for more. Bring on eps 2&3.
The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.
The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.