In this second installment of the third series of Sherlock, John H. Watson gets married, and Sherlock takes to that as well as one would expect someone like Sherlock to take to the marriage of his best (and only) friend – which is to say, not very well.
Set six months after the end of the first episode, this episode begins with a hilarious montage of Greg Lestrade and Sally Donovan repeatedly trying to solve a case of robberies; when they are finally about to make an arrest on the culprits, Lestrade gets a series of urgent texts, begging him to please come to Baker Street. Lestrade, fearing that something awful has happened, calls in the cavalry – helicopters, police cars, and various other enforcement to Sherlock’s apartment – only to find out that Sherlock only wanted some help in writing a best man’s speech for John’s wedding. Doh.
As the day of the wedding approaches, Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft Holmes, respectively, each warn Sherlock that marriage changes people, and Sherlock shouldn’t expect to stay as close with John, because he is starting another life now, with Mary. Sherlock, at first refusing to accept this, then unable to comprehend it, slowly starts to learn how to be un-selfish, and share John, once he realizes that Mary is truly worthy of John.
Mary, for her part, does her best not to get in between the bromance of Sherlock and John – even encouraging John to take Sherlock out on some cases, so Sherlock doesn’t become too sad.
The episode then jumps forward to the day of the wedding, intercutting the main “case” of the episode, told through flashbacks in Sherlock’s best man speech. And what a speech it is. In typical Sherlock fashion, he manages to insult everyone attending the wedding, categorizing the guests as “friends, family, and… ‘other’,” and then going on to say that weddings are boring and conceptually stupid and pointless. However, it is quickly revealed that Sherlock is actually very nervous, pulling out a series of cue cards from his pocket halfway through the speech that he had pre-written, in case things didn’t seem to be going well. He then goes on to freely admit that he is probably the most difficult person to get along with on the planet, which is precisely why John is amazing for having put up with him.
Sherlock then goes to provide funny anecdotes of some adventures that he and John have had, always painting John in a good light – as Sherlock says he always solves other people’s mysteries, but John is the one to actually save their lives. He provides a string of cases that they never solved, and suddenly freezes in the middle of the wedding speech, with a revelation that a previously unsolved murder mystery has ties to John’s wedding.
Sherlock interrupts the wedding, realizing the killer is planning to make another attack, and gives John a code word. The wedding is put to a halt as John helps him stop the killer.
If that didn’t make any sense to you, then I’m glad I’m not the only one. The second episode, very much like the first one, put its focus on the interpersonal relationship between Sherlock and John, now that Mary has been introduced into their lives. It does not focus very much on the actual semantics of the plot of a “case,” which – while the final wrap up of the case does make sense (sort of) – is very convoluted and almost as tangled as the webs of clues hanging on Sherlock’s wall.
The case starts in the past, is told through flashbacks, and somehow makes its way to the present setting. In addition, the case consists of three seemingly unrelated cases (women in London dating “ghosts,” the almost-death of a royal guard member, and a retired army captain who accidentally killed his recruits) and haphazardly tosses them together – through the explanation of a wedding photographer, who pretended to date the women who all worked for the army captain. Said photographer practiced his murdering skills on the royal guard, so that he could finally kill the army captain, who was responsible for his brother’s death. The intricacies of the plot are nowhere near the level of detail and attention as they were in previous seasons.
“The Sign of Three” is absolutely nothing like Arthur Conan Doyle’s original story, “The Sign of Four, either.
On a different note, the tone of this episode is markedly dissimilar than the other episode, in a good way. This could be because it had a different writer. I am of the opinion that it actually changed for the better; there were some very prime comedic moments in this episode that had me literally laughing out loud, and this episode felt much more emotionally grounded than all the others that came before it. The audience was able to see a completely different side to Sherlock, and got to see him be the closest he will probably ever get to “emotional.” I thought the way they depicted his loneliness, and his need for John as his friend was incredibly poignant, and really shone throughout the whole episode.
I was also excited to see Mary’s involvement, and how she fit in with the other cast. I cannot thank the writers enough for making her such a cool character. She is wholly supportive and accepting of John’s eccentric friendship with Sherlock, and even encourages John to make time for him. Compared to the “woman who gets in the way of the bromance” in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock adaptation, it was a refreshing change to see Mary in such a positive light.
All in all, I was much more pleased with this episode than I was with the previous one, and I’m excited to continue watching to see what happens in the finale!