Review – Sherlock, Series Three, Episode Two: The Sign of Three
Sherlock faces his biggest challenge of all – delivering a best man’s speech at John’s wedding.
After the success of episode one, The Empty Hearse , episode two could not arrive fast enough. A wedding? A case? A stag do? Yes please.
Penned by all three writers (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson), the episode had an excellent starting point. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman fit comfortably into their characters of Holmes and Watson, alongside the oh-so-likable Amanda Abbington as John’s partner, Mary Morstan. The episode starts with Sherlock back on top-form: demanding the world revolve around him. This really should not be as funny as it is, but the consulting detective is just so face palm-worthy that you can’t help but giggle.
The story is very cleverly told through Sherlock’s best man speech, with flashbacks and interludes to how everything he mentions happened. The episode has been criticized for being too choppy and dragged out, but personally, I think it’s perhaps the best episode of Sherlock ever. It’s funny, it’s touching, the cases are so clever, and the acting is award-worthy. Louise Brealey’s Molly has some brilliant one-liners, and Una Stubb’s Mrs. Hudson is, once again, fantastic. I’ve said this before, but the cast of Sherlock is simply terrific. There’s not a single bad casting decision to be found.
The whole ninety minute episode is very evidently dedicated to the friendship between Sherlock and John. It’s, for want of a less soppy word, beautiful to watch. For someone who claims to be a ‘high-functioning sociopath’, Sherlock’s speech is incredibly moving and heartfelt. It’s just so freaking emotional. I think that it’s even more so because Sherlock is portrayed as very detached from human emotion, so watching him stand in front of a crowd and declare his love for his best friend is a really touching thing. There’s a particularly ‘aww’-worthy scene in which John asks Sherlock to be his best man. It’s truly amazing to watch and very, very well acted. There is absolutely no question about it: Freeman and Cumberbatch are both exceptional throughout the episode.
The stag night was an absolute delight to watch, what with the sassy arguments of drunk Sherlock and ‘Who am I?’. Looks like a brilliant game to play when drunk if that scene is anything to go by. There’s a new face in client Tessa, played by Alice Lowe, who’s ghost-boyfriend case is explored whilst the crime solving duo are a tad drunk. Note to self: don’t investigate a crime scene whilst inebriated. Doesn’t end too well.
Mark Gatiss, who also plays Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft, was responsible for writing the murder cases in this episode. He constructed a well thought-out turn of events which was portrayed exceptionally well by the cast and crew alike. Sherlock’s cinematography consistently stuns me, with some exquisite camerawork taking place throughout the episode. The time-freeze wedding pictures at the start of the episode look lovely, but take a lot of cameras and a lot of patience, I can imagine. Sherlock’s glass falling to the ground in super slow-motion, John’s extreme close-up after the stag night… It’s all noteworthy and it’s all lovely to look at.
I have to mention the ending. I was near tears many times during this episode, but the ending did it for me. I won’t ruin it if you haven’t seen it, but it’s heartbreaking. I’ve watched it five times now, and I can safely say that the writers are very clever in their foreshadowing and cross-referencing. The topic of a conversation had between John and Mrs. Hudson in the episode is startlingly relevant to the ending, and that’s a scary thought. Never thought I’d say that “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons would make me cry whenever it plays. Think it’s safe to say that I’m a little emotionally unstable after this episode.
If it’s not evident already, I’ll just say it. I love Sherlock a great deal. I love the writers, the actors, the behind-the-scenes workers, the everything. I love how it excited it makes me, how it makes me think for a long time afterwards. I am in love with this series and The Sign of Three is a phenomenal piece of television.