Sherlock: ‘The Sign Of Three’ – series 3, episode 2 review

For his best man speech, Sherlock rolls out a murder mystery

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© BBC

The day of John and Mary’s wedding has arrived and instead of the groom getting nervous, it’s Sherlock who is over obsessing his role as best man when faced with his worst fear – delivering a speech to a room full of ordinary people.  But what upsets the normally stoic detective even more, is his fear of losing his best friend.  With everyone telling him marriage changes a person and their friendships, that things will never be the same again, it starts to play heavily on his mind – not that he’d admit it of course.

The speech – which takes nearly the entirety of the episode as we flash back and forth to demonstrate Sherlock’s points – bombs spectacularly before he unwittingly claws it back with “today you are sitting between the women you have made your wife and the man you saved.  In short, the two people who love you the most in all this world.” and continued the compliments with, “I will solve your murder, but it takes John Watson to save your life.” Assuming the guests would be amused by anecdotes of the cases he and John have been working on, Sherlock begins to tell the stories of The Bloody Guardsman (Harry Potter‘s Alfred Enoch) who is found murdered behind a locked door with no weapon; and a Tessa who believes she dined with a ghost who Sherlock names ‘The Mayflower’, after discovering the man she met died before her and his other victims met him.  Initially Sherlock struggles to find the unifying factor before realising the victims of said ghost are all household staff and security of Major James Sholto – John’s former commanding officer from the Army, guest at the wedding and the target of the killer who is masquerading as the wedding photographer. It turns out the guardsman was a rehearsal for his attack on the Major.

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Fans will be surprised and thrilled to see a cameo from Lara Pulver as Irene Adler during one of Sherlock’s mind palace sequences.  As he struggles to focus his mind Mycroft is also helping / taunting him along the way. If Sherlock returns will we see more of Adler? After all Sherlock admitted he had no idea where she is. Molly meanwhile still holds a candle for the detective as she frets over how Sherlock will cope with the speech; she almost stabs her new boyfriend for suggesting Sherlock is drunk and later watches him leave the party.

Let’s be clear, the episode is a mess. A brilliant intricate mess but until you get to the ending you’ll spend most of the ep thinking “and why is this important.” But with Sherlock that’s the point. Every minuscule bit of info is important (we didn’t really need to see the entirety of the stag do to get one small piece of information though). However, Mrs Hudson’s remark on their inebriated return “you’ve only been out two hours” was very funny as well as her later remark at the reception “I think you’re a popular choice at the moment dear” in reply to Sherlock’s question about who would the guests choose to murder. We also get quite an insight into Mrs Hudson’s criminal husband.

No one can deny Sherlock is great telly and gets the audience thinking, but this series seems lacking in something? The pace of this particular episode seemed slow and there’s too much focus on the personal and not enough on the actual complexity of the plots. It was great to see parts of the wedding reception but I’d have been quite happy to have seen it right at the end of the episode rather than interwoven. Sherlock has seen some great villains in Moriarty and Adler but this series hasn’t delivered on that score. Although I’m sure Lars Mikkelsen will change that in the final instalment next week.

Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job of portraying Sherlock’s inner turmoil while trying to remain aloof. However, his mask slipped with the arrival of the Major as he realised John has confided things to Mary that he doesn’t know, and that he’s not the “first” as Mary puts it.  Amanda Abbington‘s casting has been a bone of contention for a small number of fans but I think it’s clear her character fits in perfectly and is very encouraging about John’s friendship with Sherlock.

As Sherlock made his vow to proudly stand by Mary and John, the two friends now become three and so does John and Mary’s family as Sherlock reveals to the surprised newlyweds that the signs are clear – Mary is pregnant.

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There was also a few unanswered questions:

1) Why was the Waters case featured so heavily at the start? Surely it can’t be just to show Lestrade would drop everything after a call from Sherlock. Can it? Or could it possibly be a reference to “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” after Mycroft also mentioned Red Beard.

2) The victims all described the ghost looking different. Did our fake photographer just wear different wigs or did he have a network helping him?

3) Mary can read Sherlock! Several times in the episode she mentioned how Sherlock was hiding his real feelings and she knew when he was lying. Is Mary a bit of a sleuth herself?

4) What was Mrs Hudson laughing at?