Sherlock series 3 episode 2 review: The Sign Of Three

Review Louisa Mellor 5 Jan 2014 - 22:00

The Sign Of Three is a frenetic comedy outing for Sherlock Holmes, more rom-com than crime fiction…

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 The Sign Of Three

The Sign Of Three proved what Sherlock’s writers have been saying in interviews all year: that theirs isn’t a detective show but a show about a detective.

An extremely funny detective, as it happens. Tot up every big laugh of Sherlock’s seven previous episodes - blanket, Bee Gees, bed sheet, deerstalker, “punch me in the face”, “he fell out of a window”, harpoon, doggers, “bollocks!” - and you’ll barely equal the gag total in this single outing. The Sign Of Three was a broad comedy with a relationship at its heart, or to give it its proper title, a rom-com.

No strangers to the wedding comedy genre, how might the British viewing public feel about watching one smuggled inside an episode of Sherlock? Fondly, is the hope, if initially disorientated and - depending on your belief in the powers of a tight belt - somewhat incredulous. It was a warm-hearted, frenetic instalment that left you feeling punch drunk and loved-up: Sherlock Actually.

The episode demanded clowning and a good deal more from Benedict Cumberbatch, who was rarely off-screen for the ninety minutes and ran things more or less single-handedly in that time. Being the ringmaster of The Sign Of Three’s particular circus, with its erratic leaps and timeline jiggery-pokery, was no small ask. Lucky then, that the actor held the thing together.

Less solid than Cumberbatch’s performance was the murder plot, which arrived late, left early and didn’t achieve a huge amount in between. Major Sholto and Jonathan Small - Conan Doyle characters in name only - were given a less lurid backstory than their The Sign Of Four counterparts though the method of attempted murder (undetectable delayed-action stabbing) was as far-fetched as anything involving pygmy sidekicks and poison darts. Unlikely murders and locked room mysteries are of course the meat and drink of Sherlock Holmes stories. In that respect then, The Sign Of Three shook up the status quo less than it may have appeared.

Visually, the tricks were working overtime. Holmes played a round of Take Me Out with a courtroom of ghost-dating women, then narrowed down his search for a potential victim in the wedding party eliminating them one by one in a snazzy  game of Guess Who. Pretty as the wedding venue was, we spent more time inside Sherlock’s mind than anywhere else, a place where - surprisingly given their outward frostiness to one another - brother Mycroft holds court.

In terms of supporting cast, Una Stubbs was tremendous this week. Seeing Alice Lowe (Sightseers, Horrible Histories) as the ghost-dating client was a nice surprise, as was a brief appearance from Lara Pulver in her battle dress. There aren’t enough good things in the world to say about Amanda Abbington’s Mary, who, after just two episodes, feels like part of Sherlock’s furniture in the best possible way.

The let-down, if it can be called that, is that threads left hanging in The Empty Hearse weren't woven in. There was no sign of the spectacle-wearing mastermind glimpsed at the end of the last episode, and no mention of John’s bonfire adventure. Will Lestrade’s bank-robbing Waters family return next week, or was that all an elaborate set-up for a single punch line?

Once again, the cases weren't the main attraction, coming second on the bill to the headliner relationship. Fittingly for a wedding episode, much of The Sign Of Three was given over to repeated declarations of love. Perhaps less fittingly, it wasn’t the newlyweds who confessed their affection, but John and Sherlock, who spent a decent proportion of the ninety minutes adding grist to the Tumblr mill by taking it in turns to say ‘I love you’.

The emotional heft came from Sherlock being drawn further into human relationships than this “high-functioning sociopath” ever intended. Realising he was loved by John thawed Sherlock out, which left him, for the first time, vulnerable to loneliness. The Best Man speech (around the point he called marriage a death watch beetle, God a fantasy and the bridesmaids plain) mentioned the necessity of contrast, and so it was the contrast between his intimacy with John and his isolation at the party that led him to answer Mrs Hudson’s prophetic question of “Who leaves a wedding early? So sad”.

(Incidentally, character-wise, Mycroft is important now as a control to the ‘socialising Sherlock’ experiment. He’s the Holmes brother who hasn’t got involved with the ‘goldfish’. A simple but elegantly written exchange between the siblings in The Empty Hearse had Mycroft incredulously telling Sherlock “I’m not lonely”, to which his brother replied sagely, “How would you know?”)

If the soppy stuff’s not your bag, then the jokes may have been. The stag do, despite it performing the odd function of being a Sherlock Holmes pastiche inside a Sherlock Holmes story, was a comic high point, and the wotsit/thingamabob/sitty thing text-on-screen deductions were its crowning moment. There was stiff competition though, from Mrs Hudson’s backstory (“Wossitcalled? A Cartel”), the elephant in the room, Tom’s meat dagger, Sherlock’s latest silly hat and Watson asking Holmes “Am I a pretty lady?”.

The Sign Of Three essentially tested out a series of giggling ‘what ifs’ on the character: what if Sherlock got drunk/gave a Best Man’s speech/played the Rizla game? It’d be very, very funny, came the answers. Funny might not be what everyone wants from the great detective, but it’s hard to complain when you’re laughing this much.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of The Sign Of Three will likely be down to how far you’re willing to shush your inner Moriarty and not wrinkle your nose at the idea of Sherlock Holmes being “ordinary”. Weddings, best man speeches, stag dos… It’s all very much on the side of the angels. What next, some might say, Sherlock Holmes’ Holiday, squirting sun lotion in his eyes and wrestling Mr Bean-like with a deckchair?

Doubtful. With just one episode of the series left, the necessity of contrast will likely dim the mood once more. Sherlock after all, has uttered his last vow...

Read our review of the previous episode, The Empty Hearse, here.

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Disqus - noscript

That was excellent! Funny, very funny in fact - but you still had to concentrate. Proper telly....

Loved it. Absolutely loved how beer goggles affected his Holmes vision.

Thought the episode was great, really enjoyable and I enjoyed the crime solving elements. I don't think Sherlock was being ordinary though, he was simply playing a role. He put on the best man's suit and did his duty by his friend, when the music started he left the stage with a job well done. Now my only question is what was the look he gave Mary at the end before leaving? He looked happy for them when they found out about the "sign of three" but then almost immediately looked incredibly sad, some portent?

This was a great episode, if I had to niggle at a few things (and I'm British, so moaning about things that feel off is well, part of the charm) The wipes, seriously, the wipe effects...

Unfortunately I don't have BBC here in Canada, do any of you have a link?

Yeah, Holmes has proven himself to be a very gifted actor and that what he was doing, especially since he was now back in more comfortable territory.

I think the sadness was his acknowledgement that things are going to change. Not because of the wedding, but because of the baby.

For me, this was the first episode when Cumberbatch has embraced Holmes and experimented with different aspects of the character - he pulled it off, and it was a fantastic episode.

I agree with Martin here, Sherlock had no competition with Mary and ultimately knew deep down that his relationship with John would still be strong, but the baby is definitely something with which Sherlock can't compete.

The episode perfectly sums up on how the mood can shift wildly in the series- It was a jolly good yarn that was absolutely hilarious and intriguing, eclipsing with the best game of Guess Who? ever played. More drunk Sherlock and his Cheshire Cat grin please.

Felt quite, quite sad for Sherlock when he actually tried to join in and dance with the bridesmaid but he left it so late that that ship had sailed.

And for once, the writing credits were shared equally - Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson. All hail The Power of Three. Very funny, very touching.

Not sure if it was the best episode of Sherlock to date, but it was definitely my favourite. Just superb.

Desperately disappointing episode in my opinion. Nowhere near enough time spent sleuthing which is far and away the most interesting aspect of the show. Yes the relationship between Holmes and Watson is interesting but to have it dominate an episode as much as this one did means a dull 90 minutes.

Personally seems they are running out of steam for this show. First six were sublime telly but the growing fanbase and expectation has killed it. First episode was a thanks to the online sherlock fanbase and this was incoherent and two thirds very dull. While the final reel was fun the stories leading up to it were too thin and badly conceived

Hola Unblocker plug in and BBC iPlayer :)

I know this Episode will split opinion but by god- it was a hilarious and original piece of television. :)

I think it'll seem much better on the second time of viewing as it'll be easier to understand where it's all going - just watching it once it did seem something of a hotch potch (great phrase, hotch potch - really gets in the mouth) until the final 20 minutes, albeit an entertaining one.

That was the most self-indulgent, arrogant piece of writing I've ever seen. Just terrible. First of all, the whole thing seemed like it was dragged from the depths of clichéd fanfiction; it's great to give a nod to the fans but not for the whole episode! Yet again the innately sexist writing style bled through (illustrated perfectly by the circle of women who all wanted a 'charming' man, liked perfume, and were completely undefined except for the man who they went out with). The case , when it finally got going, wasn't even that interesting, not to mention implausible. I mean - an ex-soldier who seems in constant fear of his life being under threat doesn't notice being stabbed?...right...
All in all, an episode that would have been acceptable had it been the 100th in the series. Not the 8th, and not after a two year wait.

Haven't had this much fun at a wedding since the marriage of a certain Mr & Mrs Pond.

The only disappointing bit was that Watson, as a medical Doctor, didn't check the vital signs of the stabbed guardsman first before examining him as a cadaver.

Sherlock S03xE02 → → http://x . co/3Ym8t

Sherlock S03xE02 → → http://x . co/3Ym8t

Sherlock S03xE02 → → http://x . co/3Ym8t

Sherlock S03xE02 → → http://x . co/3Ym8t

Sherlock S03xE02 → → http://x . co/3Ym8t

Note: Delete the space in the link to watch!!!

Very poor. Barely any sleuthing, far too much time devoted to boring pedestrian things, not keen to see Sherlock undermining his own marvellous comments on the shallowness of weddings, his atheism, his views on love etc - just to keep people happy? That's not the Sherlock I want to watch.

Didn't like the first one, really, but loved this one. And of course a thread from TEH was woven in! Mary got a congrats card from CAM!!!

hotch potch vs hodge podge - discuss.

Absolutely loved it. Having said that I hope this was more of a one-off rather than a new direction the show is heading in. It was different and therefore something of an unexpected surprise. I couldnt help but think though that this nmay have been better as a Christmas special. Long Live Sherlock.

Drunk Sherlock and Watson is my favourite bit of telly ever, and the speech from Sherlock when he let his guard down and complimented John was beautiful I had a tear in my eye, its just a shame theres only one more episode left and then god knows how long till we get another.

Actually thought that was 1st class. Brilliant, hilarious, moving and involving throughout.

If it wasn't your cup of tea, that's fair enough. It's a shame, cos it was brilliant, but personal preference and all that.

I do think your 'perfect illustration' of sexist writing is a stretch. Sherlock was only asking the women in the 'circle' questions that were relevant to the case; that case being to establish the identity of man they went out with. Also taking into account the actual conversations were taking place online, I'm not sure how 'defined' you felt they should be?

I'd put money on the opening scene being part of Moffat's contribution to the episode. Utterly predictable, didn't serve the plot one iota and containing terrible dialogue.

I'll agree that the specific scene I called out wasn't that bad. Perhaps I picked the wrong one. You make a good point about the online context.

What I was trying to say is that the series as a whole is suffering from pretty sexist writing, and that was just one of those moments. The bigger problem I would say is that none of the women in the series are particularly well-defined or characterised. Mary, for example. She's the one who marries John. Sure, she has her moments, but usually just a funny one-liner or plot device. Irene - the one who turned up just to remind us that yes, Sherlock can fancy someone. The bridesmaid/maid of honour - stereotypical flirting so that we can have a laugh at how Sherlock reacts. I would rather there weren't any women characters at all, if every one of them is just there to fall in love with a guy.

Mrs Hudson is a terrific female character.

Good points, but can we PLEASE stop with the sexist allegations, its getting boring and noone bloody cares!

Yes, she's the best female character on the show, and I think she's brilliant. But she doesn't really do much...

Well I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought the writing and acting was excellent. My wife, however, absolutely hated it. We are a microcosm of the internet it appears.

People call any writers up who don't conform their female characters to the feminist ideal as sexist. I have news for everyone. Women are flawed. Just the same as men. They can be dependant. They can want to impress a man. They can cry. It doesn't mean they aren't strong. It doesn't mean they aren't amazing. They don't have to be the feminist ideal to be perfect. I agree that some of Moffat's writing in particular (especially doctor who) can be sexist but people call everything sexism online to the point which it is impossible to take them seriously any more. In the same way that two guys only have to look at each other for people to be screaming "queer baiting!!!!!!" it seems that a girl only has to mention liking a man for people to be screaming "sexism!!!!!!".

To be honest, I think that the female characters are pretty well written. I thought that Irene Adler and Mary are possibly better served in Sherlock than they were in the canon. As is Mrs Hudson - doing much more in the series than she does in Doyle's work.

I only mentioned her as you had said that every female character is there to fall in love with a guy. I don't think the show is sexist really, The Irene and Mary have literate counterparts and their roles are pretty well defined.

An excellently funny episode of Sherlock. Might not be what a lot of people were expecting but brilliant fun never the less. And as usual a truck full of references.

There's a difference between a woman just liking a man, which I have absolutely no problem with, and a woman being defined purely by the man she likes.
For example: our introduction to John was "This is John, he's an ex-military doctor who is suffering from pretty serious PTSD. He's looking for new adventures, he's bumped into this detective, let's see where it goes."
Contrast this to our introduction to Mary which was "This is Mary. She's dating John."

It's not so much the fact that she doesn't conform to the "feminist ideal", or that she's "weak" (which I absolutely do not believe in any way) but it's the difference in the way that she is presented to the audience.

Absolutely loved it. I much prefered it to last episode because they got the balance of humanity, comedy and intelligence right. I do love the fact that there has been character development in all the characters (including Sherlock) as without it the show would become monotonous. Are people seriously complaining that the writers haven't used the exact same formula with absolutely no character development? As if they had then it probably would of become boring. People develop and stories change. Even in the original books Sherlock developed as a character. I thank the writers for actually taking the story in a direction that encourages development and not the same old story/character every week. If you want to watch a show that doesn't develop and mature watch a cartoon instead!

To be honest if that is how you read Mary's introduction I'd say that is a problem on your side. To me Mary was introduced as an incredibly clever, caring, independent witty nurse with a great sense of humour (who also enjoys baking apparently). She isn't afraid to stand up for herself and she picked a broken man off the ground. I could go on and on and that is just what we found out in episode 1. Seriously if all you got from the first episode is "this is Mary she dates John" then I believe it is your own perceptions and presumptions that are interpreting it as sexist.

"depending on your belief in the powers of a tight belt - somewhat incredulous" If you research Delayed Action Stabbing you will find it is a genuine, if rare phenomena published in many legit medical journals.

The already established canon in the books is fair enough, I can accept that there's a limited amount to play around with the characters. Irene was a difficult one though...she is obviously her own character in her own right but I couldn't help but feel that she was overly sexualised right from the start. That may just be my own interpretation though.
Plus I hated the reveal that it wasn't even really her evil plan at all...she was just doing it for someone else.

(And to be fair to the writers, they did have to adapt a series of books that were written before sexism was even an acknowledged idea, so maybe the characterisations aren't all their fault).

Hmm. Well, I can see where you're coming from. I think what I found hardest to deal with was the fact that I was sitting through over an hour of a wedding of a woman that I'd only just been introduced to last episode. Maybe that irked me a bit and I over-reacted.
Although don't get me started on the dieting to fit into the dress line...

Grow up. Sherlock is not sexist in any way. It is full of strong female characters. I take it you missed the scene where Mary clearly manipulated both John and Sherlock into going to find a new case just to get them out of her hair. Seriously stop shouting sexist just beacuse your brain is wired to look for it. It's boring.

Oh can we please stop the feminist criticism. Unless every women in the programme is some female empowerment stereotype, it is immediately labelled sexist. Women like that exist, and it is perfectly acceptable to have characters like that in a drama.

The murder is perfectly pausible, if you have a tight enough belt, and thin enough blade. Then it could be mistaken for nothing worse than a bee sting, until it is too late.

Great fun! Yes, it wasn't the most modest or understated of episodes and perhaps it indulged a certain section of fandom a little too much, but it was 90 minutes of joy for avid viewers.

Sadly, the end really does look nigh. I hoped there would be a series four but clearly its not to be.

You'll probably all of noticed this but at one point Mary said to John "Come on husband!", memories of Amy and Rory just swam back. A good episode but where Sherlock-run-middle-episodes are concerned this wasn't as good as the Hounds of Baskerville, I'm sorry but we are all entitled to our own opinion. In conclusion I think they showed this episode too soon, the series is now really going to be over before it feels like it's taken up a residence!

Absolutely loved it.

After criticising the last ep for not having had a very good mystery at the heart of it, I was expecting the wedding to be even worse, frankly. I never like wedding episodes - too much exposition, everyone takes it in turns to say how they feel about each other, it's a notably artifical situation in real life, nothing but artifice on telly. Signs weren't good.

It took its time winning me over - I hated Sherlock for the pre-titles, was very conscious that there was no mystery whatsoever in the whole first half hour, and I'm getting a little wary that it's becoming "Sherlock the characters" as opposed to "Sherlock the detective show" and threatening to disappear up its own mythology. I love character stuff, character's important, a story's only as good as the people it's about, but I love Sherlock as a detective story first and foremost - so thank god the mayfly killer strand genuinely hooked me. A proper, Victorian mystery, right at the show's heart. Linked to the scenario in intuitive and surprising ways, but never obtuse or infuriating. Chuffed. Great ep. Between this and The Reichenbach Fall, I'm rather starting to rate Steve Thompson.

Sorry if I offended you in some way. I'm not entirely sure why you're being rude...

I am not debating "strong" vs. "weak" women. I'm pointing out the lack of women who are not introduced to us through a man. It's a different thing.

I'm not campaigning for the "female empowerment stereotype" that you seem to think I am. There is no right or wrong type of woman. There is a right or wrong way of presenting that woman to an audience.

Hmm interesting. I guess if the blade was really that small. But then wouldn't you feel something? It would have to go deep enough to really hurt...

As do thousands or even hundreds of thousands of women do for their weddings... It's not a crime to want to lose weight and it isn't a crime to feel you look better while being thinner. The crime is when you start judging other people for their weight.

To be fair, you picked a particularly weak example. Mary was introduced to us as the one that picked John up from his grief and got his life back on track, in that circumstance John was the "weak" one.

It was great.

John is a major character in the series, Mary is not. "Contrast this to our introduction to Mary which was "This is Mary. She's dating John." That is a statement of Sherlock's difficulty to relate to people. It's not sexist. He only really relates to three "people", John, Irene Alder/Moriarty and Mycroft. He cant even remember Lestrades name. I suppose that's sexist too?

Did anyone think they filmed Watson's reception at the same place Amy & Rory married? The garden looked familiar too, where River walked past. Will have to find that episode.

And a different thing again is a women being introduced to us WITH a man. That is not sexist. Sexism is discrimination of a person based on gender. That is not happening here.

Oh I'm not calling that out as sexist, it's not. To me it seemed like another throwaway line in a TV show that reiterates society's acceptance and encouragement of short-term dieting....
I could go on, but it's a completely different issue and is unrelated to what we were discussing, so I'll stop.

Men have also been known to diet to fit into a suit. I did.

A terrible, ponderous episode that betrays the spirit of Holmes. Bring back Jeremy Brett! OK, he's dead, but bring him back anyway, he'd have to be better than this throwaway nonsense.

Because she is only a minor character. What would you have her do.. Doing a Lara Croft and raiding tombs?

In that case I don't mean it was sexist - I didn't like it for an entirely different issue. Nothing to do with gender. (Probably should have mentioned that above..).

It's all hocus pocus to me

Hmm, interesting point. I guess when it comes to TV shows I am on the look-out a bit, especially when Moffatt's writing...

Killjoy! It was great fun!

Have you even read the original books? Irene Alder was always an overly sexual character. And since when does being sexually interesting for either male or female characters equal sexism? The bridesmaid found Sherlock sexually atractive - oh it must be SEXIST. Sherlock found Irene Adler sexually atractive - OH that must be SEXIST too. Sexism is discrimination. Do you not see the ridiculous duplicity in the whole sexist argument? It can't be sexism both ways. Acknowledgement that people find people of the opposite (or same sex) sexually attractive is not sexism.

Haha while that would be hilarious, my only point was really the same; she's a minor character and therefore isn't very influential to the overall feel/attitude of a show.

What about not noticing you've been stabbed by the guy posing behind you?

What happened in the first 40 minutes then? Nothing. And why is Holmes now no more than a cuddly curmudgeon? High functioning sociopath? Avuncular eccentric more like. The jokes were awful and predictable, it was more like Four Weddings than a detective story but without the wit. I loved the first series. This is like Friends with Holmes as Chandler - though he doesn't get his lines.

I have read them, thank you.
I just thought in the books she was overly sexual, but also very very clever, evil, cunning etc. But in the show they took away too many of her other characterisations for my liking. In this case it's probably not as much sexist as my dislike for an interpretation of the original.

"I'm not campaigning for the "female empowerment stereotype" that you seem to think I am. There is no right or wrong type of woman. There is a right or wrong way of presenting that woman to an audience.

Hmm interesting. I guess if the blade was really that small. But then wouldn't you feel something? It would have to go deep enough to really hurt..."

They are supporting characters in a drama, they will not get the same backstory as the main character. I'm afraid too much feminist criticism is based on the idea that you can only have feminist approved characters. Which would make for very bad drame. There are weak and flawed male characters and weak and flawed female characters.

You would feel something, but if the blade was small enough, it might not feel like anything serious.

Out of interest, as I've never mentioned the idea, what would you define as a "feminist approved character"?

For me, Molly Hooper is great. Complex, strong but not in a typical-strong-female-character-to-please-the-audience way, with a defined personality.

Mesmerising - hardly a wasted word throughout the 90 minutes … that takes some doing.

I won't lie, I loved the episode, I laughed quite a lot and I was trapped into the case. However, I do hope that this series will finish in a more serious tone, and that series 4, if it happens, will go back to the traditional schema of a big case being the focus. I liked that. With 90 minutes, there's enough time to get both the cases and the character developement going. I think that it can be justified to try a different thing in this series because the changes are too big (a two-year absence, a wedding, not living together, etc.), but after dealing with all this, we should go back.
Also, a bit of fanservice is ok, but I truly think they are overdoing it. This is starting to look more gay than Billy Wilder's Holmes movie, and if they are not willingly going there, they should probably be careful.
Although maybe they are. Gatiss did say that he loves that movie and how, there, Holmes falls in love with Watson.

I think she was incredibly clever and cunning in the show too. She used her oversexualisation (voluntary oversexualisation) to play people around. And in the end, she got exactly what she wanted: she got away. She played both Mycroft and Sherlock masterfully.

While I miss the tense version of Sherlock the show this was also fantastically written - I tune in not just for the plots, but also for my deeply beloved characters. Sherlock was fantastic in this one. And what struck me in this episode about Mary and John's wedding was Sherlock's... devotion to John? (and obviously, they played up Sherlock's fear of losing John). But I can't possibly have been the only one who thought his best man speech could've practically passed for a marriage vow. And I don't mean that in a shippy way, it's just that. If we could all be so lucky to have a relationship like theirs in our life.

Not a hater, but this is still overblown, unfocused, and too showy, The Cumberbatch Comedy Hour. And we waited months for this. Back to Downton Abbey and Doctor Who for me.

In 1898, the Empress Elizabeth of Austria was killed in much the same fashion so the murder method isn't as far-fetched as you might think.

Nobody was stabbed from behind mate.

It was diabolical.

one thought for me was 'what if Mary doesn't want the baby?' i hope thats not right

They were! Watch it again. I'd initially assumed it had something to do with the belt buckle, but that's not what happened.

Forgive me mate. Yeah you are right. So much going on it had me baffled. Much like Sherlock should. :::D

BitTorrent is your friend.

Absolutely loved it! You are right it was like a fabulous romcom of the best kind.
Very loved up and squishy. A+++

Big mistake in your review. The 'glasses-wearing criminal mastermind' was, indeed, there. Listen to the telegrams...one of them is to Mary from CAM, our bad guy. Big thread woven in right there if you pay attention.

Not what I was expecting. I liked it, especially how they tied it all together, I was starting to think they didnt know what they were doing now, but also didnt like it; does that make sense?

Lighten up.

If you think ''feminism'' means criticizing women for being traditionally feminine, you might want to re-take feminism 101.

For me, Sherlock is one of the best British dramas of this century. Unfortunately, despite brilliant acting all round, I found this episode self indulgent and frankly boring in places.

Just my opinion and I see most seemed to enjoy it.

Look forward to next weeks.

Irene is one of the most complex characters in the story and she BEAT Sherlock. Mary has been in two episodes and she's already proven herself clever, strong and useful. Pay more attention.

Worst episode ever! Blehhh

It's an episode about a /wedding/. Of course it's indulgent, all you grumpy curmudgeons in the comments.

Excellent review.

or, what if she loses the baby. Considering what happens in canon, that is a real possibility.

I think it was slightly overly sentimental. The first speech about Watson was nice, but then it kept going and going. "I will always be there for you" "The two people who I love the most in the world", glances toward John's empty chair, John's hand on Sherlock's knee with "I don't mind". I feel the relationship between Sherlock and Watson works best when it is subtle. This was a bit in your face. And also I was surprised that Sherlock would want to share his deepest feelings for John with the whole wedding party. And occasionally he seemed more like Sheldon Cooper than Sherlock Holmes (Like when he couldn't understand what had happened when everyone was crying).

I did like how everything came together nicely in the end though. Up until then it felt like a very erratic episode with lots of small side-plots that seemingly had nothing to do with each other. I loved the scene with Sherlock's mind courtroom, and how he kept jabbering on while trying to think (although the audience must have figured out who the victim was long before Sherlock did)
I do not understand how the small knife in the belt works. Even if it had just been a small needle you would have felt it going in... Even if someone uses a needle for a blood sample, you do feel it... And was the belt somehow supposed to have worked as a tourniquet, preventing you from bleeding out? At the waist? Huh?

I hope the next episode is more focused. 90 minutes is bit too long for a comedy (although there were great moments here)

Now, hold on. The murderer was caught because he wasn't in any of the photographs HE took? Where was the evidence that he committed any murder? Did he leave finger prints? A hair? A thread? NO!
Ridiculous nonsense!

"and a woman being defined purely by the man she likes." That is just in your head. Most people both male and female have a normal respect for each other.

Halfway through, I was thinking "what is going on?" It was strange and different, just as it should be. I kinda like Elementary to pass the time but it's not in the same league really.

Fantastic! Probably the most purely enjoyable episode of Sherlock to date, if not necessarily the cleverest/most gripping storyline. It actually reminded me a lot of a Doctor Who episode (makes sense, with the overlap of writer/showrunner) -- especially when Sherlock was twirling around in the crowd while trying to solve the murder during "part two" of the speech, he could so have been the Doctor (I mean that in the best way possible, and it made me do a giant-Sherlock-sized smile)
I will really miss these versions of the characters once the series is over...it's especially amazing because this Sherlock is definitely the least likable of the various adaptations to date, and in this ep he had some truly infuriating moments, but he was also at his very best and most lovable, if that makes any sense.
I actually almost wish this were the last ep just because of how it ended on a such a nice note that I'm a bit worried about how much they'll break our hearts next...The BBC certainly is good about getting tears out of us, isn't it?

Well he did CONFESS to the murder, in front of a member of the Scotland Yard, so there's that.

I completely understand why some people didn't take to it but, if you view it simply as as piece of TV rather than needing to adhere to a formula, it was sublime from start to finish.

No Sherlock figured out he was the murder because;
a) He was a photographer, the guy who killed the guard took tons of photos of him before hand.
b) He was related to one of the people killed in the incident (which to be honest is enough to be going on on its own).
c) He was also a temp hat came out of no where.
d) He was one of the few people who would of got close enough to the soldiers clothing (while dressing to take pictures) to put a sharp thing in there.
In other words, just because you fail to see the logic it doesn't mean it isn't there.

Unsold at the moment on this as it was certainly a different direction. However, I have found both previous series to start well, have a dip in the second episode before exploding into almost perfection in the third so I'll reserve final judegment until I see how it all ties together next time.

I think people are being too hard on you, @Random_Dent. You have some totally valid points, and all the moments you point out could be argued are sexist (or at least a bit lazy) writing. I personally didn't mind the scene with the women in a circle around Sherlock, or at least I saw it as just another example of his casual offensiveness/social awkwardness towards everyone (including his few close friends) which is by no means acceptable but it definitely a part of his character. But I definitely found the writing of Irene Adler to be...disappointing in general. People who say she's a minor character are nitpicking or apologizing for a problematic storyline, I think -- with only six episodes and her being the main character/villain/focus of one whole episode, she is a fairly major presence in the show, and given how strong and interesting she was in her one story in the books, I wish she had more solidly "beat" Sherlock on the show than she did. Honestly, I think the real problem with Moffatt ladies is that they are all just the one type (quippy, confident, clever and pretty -- can't you see Mary Watson, Amy Pond, Clara, Irene Adler, even Mrs. Hudson all being best friends or sisters or something?).

The wipes were used well, not just for transition sake but strong story and design reasons. but yeah normally there something i hate

It was an incredibly incredibly thin sharp thing (I can't remember what it was exactly sorry). However this is also a thing if you bother to go look it up.

If you are not campaigning for the 'female empowerment stereotype' then stop complaining and screaming sexism every single time a woman isn't shown to be this. It is tedious to watch people doing this all the time on the internet.

The not being able to feel incredibly fine sharp thing piercing you is also a real thing despite what everyone may think.

Drunk deducing was hilarious. Best piece of Television I've seen this year!

Don't keep apologising for your point of view, @Random_Dent...as Rebekah Gordon mentions, you have some valid points, and it frustrates me when (primarily) male commenters jump down someone's throat for calling out what they see as sexism. Often when someone points out sexist attitudes in a show's writing, particularly in a dedicated online forum, it is done not because they are a hater, but because they love it and want said show to be the best it can be for all its viewers. And yes, sexism can cut both ways...but rarely in Sherlock. As a long-time Doctor Who fan (classic and current series), I find that I can't expect, as a female viewer, to be taken into consideration by Moffat and his writing team. I suppose I should be "too busy hunting for husbands" (a Moffat quote) to care about the classic TV/book characters he's been granted the opportunity to make shows about. I enjoy them but do feel underwhelmed by the bones thrown to anyone who is not a white male.

I just wish that the Beeb had openly signposted that Season 3 was going to be the Comedy Series. Yes, it's great fun - but if you walk into it from Series 1/2, it's a bit of a shock to see it altered into this.

got to agree with lots of the comments below, a fantastic, witty and entertaining episode, yet Jarring if you're expecting a Detective/sleuthing story. it was Brilliant and yet vaguely disappointing (I'd sat with my two kids watching a Sherlock marathon since Saturday and had just watched all previous seven episodes) as the tone was quite different from what had gone before.

still loved it, but wasn't prepared for the change in direction (although the season three opener was a clue)

i get the feeling though that the next episode may well be a return to darker territory.

A bee sting...? A bee stung me on the bum once, and let me tell you - I bloody well noticed it, as did everyone in a half-mile radius. But then I suppose that's irrelevant...

actually, the contrast has been created. Now the last ep will be felt on a more active note

Completely agree with your first point. Sherlock said it too many times. In fact just once would have been the right number.

And am also struggling a little with the victims not experiencing pain from the belt thing - not to mention how the mechanism actually worked.

These niggles aside, enjoyed the show very much.

In a fantastic episode full-to-the-brim with memorable moments; my favourite part has to be when Sherlock delivers the line - "A high-functioning sociopath... with your number" followed by THAT grin.

This is an episode that definitely deserves many, many repeat viewings.

You're asking the show to adhere to a formula that it was breaking as early as Episode 3 of Series 1. An episode of Sherlock isn't necessarily "one case dissected and analysed over the course of 90 minutes" and I would say that's a huge strength of the programme.
There are plenty of shows that adhere to that structure - and I'm sure Elementary is adhering to it if you want to see it done with Conan-Doyle characters.
Moffat and Gattis should be applauded for wanting to do something different with their show.
If you loved it, then it's done its job.

Don't know where to start with this episode really, it was a complete mess and easily the weakest one to date. The plot was all over the place and riddled with holes as has been pointed out up thread. Tying a case to the wedding was a terrible idea to start with which even if handled differently wouldn't have been very believable. Playing around with the narrative only works if the various strands form a cohesive whole which this didn't and at times was just dull. There was way too much focus on the relationships between the characters which has been better served in previous episodes by subtly accompanying the case solving. There was also a cloying sentimentality hanging over everything that you might expect somewhat from a wedding episode, but which was overcooked to the nth degree. And sweet jeebus why have they turned Sherlock into a gurning buffoon when they had nailed it previously in terms of seriousness and humour? Disappointing. Hope they sort it out for the final episode...

That was a great hour and a half of sheer good fun. Those criticising it for being too silly or not really having a case are missing the point of Sherlock completely. It's supposed to be a silly show. Whilst it does, of course, have thriller and whodunnit elements, it has always been more about having fun.

And for those moaning about there being too much fan service in terms of the Sherlock/Watson relationship taking centre stage, I have few words. God forbid that character could get in the way of a TV programme.

Firstly, loved the episode but I am hoping for a darker mystery to tie up the series. I think this episode would have felt better placed if it was a 4-episode run and this was episode 3 and we'd had a 'standard' (for want of a better phrase) episode 2. Did anyone else spot that Mary said she is an orphan? Is this important??? Also, anyone know if a series 4 been commissioned?

Finally, a review which accurately sums up the merits of the episode. I agree that it took a while to get going, but when it did it was cleverly woven together, and was very fun to watch. For all the people complaining about how it wasn't up to usual standards, the original Conan Doyle stories were full of humour and elaborate cases which weren't always solved by the great detective. Equally, I'm sure the loose ends will be tied together in the final episode (as has been done in the previous series. Clues and plot elements were scattered throughout other episodes in order to create a big finale.). Perhaps the writers were releasing their inner fan in writing this episode, but it worked, and they're most likely using the lightness and the depiction of Sherlock as more human in order to lead to a dark final episode. I just wish people would stop writing that the series has lost it. If it's no longer their cup of tea and they don't like humour, that's fine, but compared to the majority of what's on television, the writing and calibre ot this show remains fantastic.

So what issue did you have a problem with if it wasn't sexism?

Like I said before, You need to grow up. Stop looking for sexism when it does not exist.

Okay, can I start by saying that I am a woman, so this is from a woman's perspective. I am not a hardcore fan of the show, I don't write fanfiction or have a tumblr account, although I know people who do. I watch the show and buy the DVDs because I am a fan of the original Conan Doyle stories, and I really enjoy the BBC Sherlock representation. It's clever, involving writing. I have never considered the show to be sexist, and it was interesting reading both @Random_Dent's views and the counter arguments. Everyone is entitled to their views; personally I agree that Mary was set up perfectly, and right from the start is shown to be a strong character. It's not "this is Mary, she's dating John", its "this is the woman John wants to marry" and then a list of fantastic attributes which explain why. Also, Molly's new boyfriend Tom is most certainly introduced as "this is Tom, he's dating Molly" and he has had the mick taken out of him ever since. So if anything, the sexism would have to be against him rather than a woman. At least that's my view, and this just refers to Sherlock. I can completely see elements of sexism in Moffats' Doctor Who, just not Sherlock, and perhaps that is the influence of the other writers.

Only in your head. In my world I love and respect both my Farther and my Mother it make no difference the sex.

And I absolutely applaud them. I just wouldn't like for the whole show to be like this from now on, because it's a bit too light and... Friends-like for what I expect from Sherlock, even though I've always considered it a truly hilarious show. I think I just need to get used to the new tone, I liked The Empty Hearse the first time, but didn't properly enjoyed until I re-watched it, and The Sign of Three did not shock me that much.

I do believe that the case in the first episode was a bit weak, though, and in my opinion, if we are in Sherlock Holmes, cases should be good even when they are peripheral.

Regarding Elementary, I've watched it too (well, the first season), and after a bumpy beginning, I actually grew quite fond of it. I'm just not that invested with it, but it is a solid show in its own right.

YES, this. River Song and Irene Adler are the same person. In every way. Especially now their story line is finished - the occasional cameo in the guy's imagination...I mean, different actresses but other than that no difference.

Oh God, my heart couldnt' take it.

I hate "embarrassment comedy" - The Office is the the worst comedy show I have every seen - and as such I hated most of this episode, it did improve a lot right at the end but the plot really did suffer - you can get stabbed and not feel it? even if you could would a long very thin puncture really likely to be fatal?
just how was ghost boyfriend expecting to get info on the major?

And most of all why was none of the thread from last week followed up on?

This was almost certainly the worst Sherlock episode of the 8 so far IMHO, some way behind The Blind Banker.

You'd be surprised at what people don't feel if they aren't expecting it. I've sited many venflons without people noticing them go in, just tell someone to wiggle their toes and they don't know it's in. Same with blood tests, also it depends on needle size and what you do with the patient. I am one of the people who you can't trick with venflons or blood tests because I'm a nightmare to get blood out of, if you struggle with it ask for a "butterfly needle" it's very small and doesn't hurt.

My issue is that why wasn't something found in the wound?

Ending was a rip from the Green Death.

I'm really struggling with this series, it's hard not to feel like they're just taking the p*ss. The acting's great of course and it's still well made, but the show's got so smug and jokey and hyper aware of it's own success now, these new episodes are just 'Four Wedding And A Carry On Sherlock' . I feel it's really jumped the shark and I'm increasingly finding myself saying 'oh just give me Jeremy Brett any day!'

Yeah, but you did miss something: one of the telegrams was sent by some CAM and mention Mary's family. Look: Charles Augustus Magnussen. Mary said she was an orphan.

So, yeah, he was mentioned on the episode, we saw it but we didn't observe.

(ok my english is very bad, but I think you all will understand the message).

Maybe, in some cases, but this was clearly bigger than a needle. A needle would not have killed a man! The weapon was removed, he didn't leave it in (I think).

Yet they never found a weapon nor the killer so where was the weapon if not in his wound? I've seen liver biopsies with no one flinching and had major things done to me. I've had multiple operations on my foot resulting in amputation, yet I can say it wasn't as bad as migraines I've had despite having a local anaesthetic shoved under my toenail.

Just to add I don't actually think it would have worked since the belts really aren't that tight. You'd really be surprised at people who just don't feel pain, it's mind over matter in some cases. My dad severed his finger and walked to hospital with a tea towel over it to stop the bleeding, he wouldn't waste an ambulance. I've had a lot of experience with him (he's clumsy) and at a hospital where I worked and as a patient myself.

Brilliant,witty clever episode...several LOL moments with some great visual scenes...eg Sherlock in his Mind courtroom trying to work out what the connection was between the women who dated the Mayfly man,great way to show us how Sherlock mentally solves things,loved the cameo,the method of murder was inventive and as others have pointed out is a documented method of killing someone,the telegram from CAM and Mary's look when it was read out has me fearing the worst in the final episode for her character...in ACD's original stories Sherlock hates CAM more than any other villain,so I'm dreading the finale being the dark in tone episode that some of you are craving..getting back to this episode and the criticism..if every episode was the same in style,the actors would get bored for a start..the way this story was presented gave them new ways to show different facets of the characters and how they relate to each other so I applaud the writers for giving us this story.

Excellent review, sums my feelings about this episode up well.
Not my favourite but VERY funny.

Ok, say someone could be stabbed in the back and not notice, you still couldn't count on that happening. What are the odds? And for it to work on two different men. Although no one seems to know what mysterious weapon was used. (and lets say it even makes sense that a belt works as a tourniquet around a man's abdomen. Which is again very far fetched). These are a lot of very unlikely scenarios. But now I'm nitpicking. I thought maybe the Major didn't have any sensation at that part of his body, as he clearly did have some war wounds, but then that still doesn't make sense for the other guy that was "stabbed".

Sherlock getting drunk ...brilliance :)

The worst episode of Sherlock was bored halfway through. Just hope the last episode is a good one. 3 out of 10 for me.

First of all, this is not the kind of Sherlock Holmes we've come to expect and accept. After a two year hiatus, where even John is kept out of the loop regarding his plan, Sherlock is back and how! He has stopped being intelligently rude, become friendly with almost everyone he comes in touch with and has almost become soft. Mellowed. Why this change? A man who prides upon emotional detachment is sharing his feelings openly. Before an audience. Deeply shocking. And the name Sherlock Holmes is synonymous with solving mysteries which baffle everyone. This episode was nothing less than a romantic-wedding-comedy with a couple of minutes of mystery attached. And such a shallow mystery at that. The subtlety of the relationship between John and Sherlock is full blown and almost clingy. If humour was required then it should have been a little more less desperate than to make the average viewer laugh and the intelligent one cringe. Really disappointing. Hope the next episode provides some much needed contrast.

Well he's not actually in the episode, so it's not a mistake. That's like saying that if Sherlock had mentioned Moriarty's name then Moriarty was in the episode.

CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN THE STABBING... IS THAT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE HE WOULDNT FEEL IT?? please explain :(

The tightness of the belt eliminated the level of pain felt whilst being stabbed as it tight fitting; so the event where they were stabbed was passed off as a mere tingling sensation - the belt compressed to flesh together (sort of like applying pressure to the wound stemming the blood flow). Upon removing the belt - equals no more pressure, removing the plug from the human bath tub. (at least that's my interpretation)

Apologies for the errors.

The tightness of the belt eliminated the level of pain felt whilst being stabbed as it was tight fitting; so the event where they were stabbed was passed off as a mere tingling sensation - the belt compressed the the flesh together (sort of like applying pressure to a wound stemming off the blood flow). Upon removing the belt - no more pressure, removing the plug from the human bath tub. (at least that's my interpretation).

That's a good point about Molly's boyfriend Tom! Ha, I didn't think about it that way.

The way I saw that, though, that scene was more about mocking Molly for not having actually "gotten over" Sherlock at all and being completely unaware of the fact. I think it's more the general tone of such scenes that makes people feel a bit uncomfortable, more than a single throwaway line (like, why does almost every female character introduced have to be in love with the male leads to the point of it ruining her/making her less clever? That was def true of Irene and, in spite of the "Tom" introduction, or actually because of it, clearly it's true for Molly as well. Just because Moffatt loves Sherlock and the Doctor to distraction doesn't mean every single person they meet will be immediately sexually attracted to them as well, regardless of presumed sexuality -- see the hot bridesmaid for example -- was she even named?).
I actually mostly loved the Mary reveal, despite (as I said earlier) that she's clearly an archetypical witty and strong female character. I think that type is perfect for John though, and I love that she stands up to Sherlock, so I'm not complaining much about that. Do I think it's realistic she'd genuinely like Sherlock immediately after seeing how he ruined her boyfriend/fiance's life? No...but see above (edit: about everyone who we're meant to like loving Sherlock, I mean)

How come there were no knives or anything present? When exactly did they get stabbed and what by and how did it end up near them :)? Sorry I was generally confused by this.

But, why would anyone confess with NO evidence!

I think it was a revenge killing (because his brother, I think it was? was killed in the incident, as Cheese Orange mentions below) so he was ~proud of the attempt and frustrated that it hadn't worked. Which is why he burst out "I should have killed him faster, I shouldn't have tried to be clever!" or whatever. So he didn't MEAN it was a confession, but it was obvious enough to warrant an arrest.

Yeah I completely agree. It just somehow felt like it had less of an impact because it was so obvious how many times Sherlock said he was amazing. What makes their relationship so great is that Sherlock doesn't act as if it means anything at all, but you get occasional glimpses of what John really means to him. I also completely agree about him not realising why people were crying- he might have thought it was an unnecessary sentimental response but he would have understood it, just been above it. I think it would have been more in character for him to tell everyone to stop crying rather than act bewildered

I loved the episode, and as always a 'bad' episode of sherlock is still absolutely amazing, I just felt there was something missing. Sherlock didn't seem quite in character and he and John seemed to be spelling out the obvious in terms of emotion rather than leaving it implicit like it usually is. It just seemed a bit cheesy for Sherlock! I thought that the episode might be based around a mystery and have the wedding as a backdrop, because the emotion is usually underlying and more subtle. Sherlock was obsessed about stuff like the seating plan and napkin folding (and missing John and Mary's 'code' which seems ridiculous Sherlock wouldn't work out..) which I just thought wasn't like him, even if he was just playing a role for John during the speech.. I suppose the loneliness is supposed to be getting to him, I just thought he would pretend everything was fine a bit more and not change character like he did.

I did look it up. I'm still not convinced that your midriff would be that numbed that you wouldn't feel quite a long weapon being plunged into you. Even if it numbed the pain you would surely still feel the movement; the flesh (as relied upon by the solution) would have been quite compressed, and so anything stabbing through that flesh would have created a noticeable push on the victim.

Really enjoyed the episode but for me it didn't feel like Sherlock. I'm quite happy for a comedy episode in most series but because we get so few episodes of this I felt the time could have been used better.

It was fun, though!

Drunk deducing was stupid and disgusting. Even Sherlock is an ass when drunk. The British tolerance for drunkenness is astonishing. They moan on and on about cannabis but laugh at people vomiting over everything in sight. And then they wonder why so many people have an alcohol problem, why nobody over 25 wants to go into town centres after dark and why so many people wind up in court for offences which are drink related.

It's there to make episode 3 a shock. This season is all about Watson, first reacting to the return of Sherlock, then apparently building a really happy relationship, and next (I bet) losing it. However nice Mary is, she is a plot device, a means of probing the Sherlock/Watson relationship and inflicting as much emotion as possible on Watson. Which is why I predict that she is going to die, just to milk as much as possible from all this. It's the cliché of clichés, the disposable woman who is only there to prod the man into doing stuff.

I think the people offended by this ep forget that despite being set "real world" and Sherlock being an almost believable character, its still fantasy. People like the ones that drive the show don't exist. I applaud the writers for experimenting with different directions and themes/tones rather than sticking with what's worked upto now. "Fans" will complain whatever they do anyway.

Absolutely loved this episode, and have been quite surprised at the amount of frosty criticism I've read. Check out the thread on the Guardian's review if you want to see a bunch of people suffering a massive collective sense of humour failure. The "show about a detective rather than a detective show" description is spot-on - we've had plenty of exciting and labyrinthine cases, why not show how Sherlock translates his particular set of skills to more humdrum, personal affairs? Especially when it's this funny?

"I don't like this' is not the same as 'this is bad'. You don't like embarrassment comedy. The Office is VERY good embarrassment comedy. Your distaste for a genre does not make things within that genre ';bad', just 'things you don't like'. I don't like american Football but it would be ridiculous for me to say that The New England Patriots were a bad team because they play it!

No, it was intricately and carefully structured and possibly the BEST episode so far. You let your expectations get in the way of enjoying what was actually offered. A pity.

Oh please please go and get yourself a life.

To be honest I'm still a little confused of how the knife got in there etc... But I do know of a story (which may or may not be true) where a man was in a motor bike accident and stood back up after and appeared fine, but his helmet was completely jammed to his head. When they eventually got his helmet off and his skull essentially just shattered and well you can imagine what happened after that... There is also a similar story (which is true) with someone being stabbed in the thorax and their corset stopping them from bleeding etc...

I can believe that; there's a significant amount of trauma involved in a motorbike crash, and if the pain was numbed you wouldn't necessarily notice the pressure. However, in these presented cases, the two men were standing upright, with no particular distractions (the guard in particular had nothing to focus on besides the man having his photo taken with him), and so a blade pushed into their backs, even sans pain, would still have been someone pushing hard against their backs. Even if they didn't know it was a blade, they'd register something.

It all comes down to how much your suspension of disbelief will allow for the plot resolution to fall into play.

My first thought (with pain) was that it was an ultra fine weapon. I know a couple of scientists who work with a similar material (I can't remember what it is actually called sorry) and have cut their hands with it and literally not noticed because it is so fine. They then pull their hands away and realize that their hands are just pouring with blood. I assumed this would of been similar to the weapon the killer used so it would be possible for them to not feel it.

My confusion comes when I start to question how the heck the killer got the fine weapon both in and out of there. I mean he'd have to be pretty near to them.

Well, that was shown; he stabbed the guard by posing for a photograph with him, and he stabbed the soldier while arranging his positions for a photograph (in his role as wedding photographer).. But I still maintain that in either of these scenarios they'd feel the the pressure if not the pain.

It's tricky, this, really - if Sherlock were formatted like most other shows and did six forty-five minute episodes per series instead of three feature-lengths, then an episode with as much heart and humour as this one, and willing to play with its own formula to try something different would be praised as an enormous triumph. It had some amazing moments and the flashback mysteries, while they felt peripheral and unnecessary for a while, were still engaging and fun, and when it was finally revealed that they all tied together it was a really great moment, albeit a bit rushed. But the fact that this is such a significant percentage of the series, it does feel like a tiny letdown that we've yet to see a really ingenious storyline to rival the complexity and brilliance of A Scandal in Belgravia or The Reichenbach Fall. I really enjoyed this episode, but I guess I just wish there was more Sherlock per series so the writers would be granted more leniency by viewers to try something new.

Ah I missed that in the episode (thanks). Trust me it is possible with an incredibly fine weapon not to feel the pain and even if they felt pressure they probably would of just ignored it as they were posing for photographs and it would of just been a very sharp sting that lasted about half a second. Although I am a little confused now as to why the guard was able to take his belt off followed by his uniform and then get into the shower without noticing or starting to bleed.

Horses for courses innit. I'm glad you liked it but it wasn't for me. My only expectation for this episode was for it to be as good as all the preceding ones however it wasn't, hence my comments ^^^ above. Sherlock is my favourite British TV show of recent times but I'm not one for defending something of substandard quality just because I like the brand, it has to stand up on it's own merits.

I think a lot of the small clues about Mary are important. She is an orphan, a liar, great at gently manipulating John and Sherlock, she can read a skip code, and most importantly got a "telegram" from CAM... And the face she made. She seems to be hiding something. I hope it's not too bad, she is such a great character, and even Sherlock really likes her.

Wow, aren't you a bundle of joy. I was merely saying I enjoyed a scene in the episode, not that I endorse drunkenness.

The episode had many faults - it was a little on-the-nose and sentimental; the mystery was a little slight and the culprit fairly obvious early on. But the episode was so funny and clever and heartfelt I absolutely loved it.

And this is from a person who bears Steven Moffat almost no good will at all. I usually find his writing self-involved, smug, morally problematic and lazy (no wonder he likes the character of Sherlock). 90% of the time the combination of these traits results in episodes I find absolutely dreadful. But on the rare occassions the balance is right, you get something delightful.

It was only really let down for me by the fact I found Gatiss's The Empty Hearse so profoundly unsatisfying - all the questions, emotional and practical, that TEH ought to have addressed were still hanging over this episode a little for me, so it was slightly difficult to get past the sense of "but what about the fallout from Sherlock's 'death'?" and just enjoy this ep on the terms it was intended.

But moments like, "the game is... something..." largely made up for that.

I just wanted to say you're not alone in finding massive sexism in Moffat's work (though I imagine you know there are plenty of people who feel the same way). Whenever one comments on the subject (at least, outside of feminist-leaning sites like The Mary Sue and Jezebel) one tends to get shouted down by a lot of people angrily refuting the idea with arguments they may not realise we've all heard many times before and have given up responding to.

I personally didn't react as badly to the writing of women in The Sign Of the Three as I have many other Moffat episodes, and generally I find his writing of Sherlock less egregious in this regard than his writing of Who. But I absolutely see your point about the fact we're always getting these reductive stereotypes that are pretty eye-roll-inducing. at least we got Mary Morstan featuring prominently (I'll retract this if she gets fridged next week), and the return of Queen Sally Donovan.

People fall over themselves trying to defend Moffat's writing of Irene Adler with canon, as if there's no possible other way he could have written her. Quite how the original's 'Opera singer with a scandalous personal history by Victorian standards' translates automatically into 'dominatrix sex-worker' I don't see. I also don't see why people think 'it's that way in the canon' is a defense of ANYTHING in a series which is expressly about updating the canon to a modern setting. It's pretty sad that Moffat's modern translation of 'intelligent, ambitious, adventurous person' is automatically cast as 'prostitute' because the character happens to be female.

Jon, have you considered that you're not the best placed person to judge what's sexist and what's not? You are a man. You're voice is not of much value in the debate around misogyny. I know men always find that idea a surprise, but would you consider yourself well placed to tell black people what they were allowed to find racist? Why not try listening to others opinions with an open mind?

You've made your feelings very clear, that you don't find sexism in Moffat's writing, and that's your right. Despite Random_Dent continually responding with patience and humour and a willingness to debate, your tone is aggressive and dismissive.

What is not 'grown-up' about taking issue with a writer's work? I find having a discussion about stories' politics and morality pretty grown up.

For the record, I'm not a feminist and so I don't go around looking for "sexist" agendas. I think Mary is fine. BUT I don't think one has to be a feminist to recognize that what they did to Adler was thoroughly despicable and disgraceful. In the story, she was a beautiful, elegant, dignified lady. In the TV episode, she's been completely stripped of her dignity and turned into... I can't even find the words. Of all the liberties this show has taken with canon, what they did to Adler must go down as the worst.

Sorry I did reply to this but I think the site ate it :)!. Thanks for pointing that out I had missed it in the episode :).

I think it is definitely possible that they would of felt pressure or even a sharp sting but it would of only lasted a second at most. If I feel a sharp sting of pain that goes away within the second I generally just ignore it and carry on with my life. I can't imagine a two soldiers who needed to stand still at the time would even bother to make a fuss out of it.

However this doesn't explain why the guard was able to take his belt off followed by taking the rest of his clothes off, getting into the shower and putting shampoo in his hair all without realizing he was starting to bleed. I suppose it was through his back which means he couldn't directly see it, but surely he'd see the trail or on his clothes or at least would have felt the pain.

Mary does die in the original books, so there is a precedent...

You do realise it is just Moffat's "brand of feminism" ( between the lines: he can't be branded a sexist if he follows the public concept of feminism - which is is not necessarily the most ... Well you probably know ) I agree it has to do with who they'd probably meet, but I agree some of the questions were a but sexist, additionally Irene's movement ... No comment. Seriously though compare all of Moffat's strong women - all sexual, desperately so, quick to violence and all submit to no man except the ultimate alpha-man - seriously Doctor Who's marriage with River - hello how am I going to shut up River and do whatever I want? Marry her with derision oozing off you.

Towards the end of the episode when the mayfly man is unmasked as the photographer Sherlock remarks of how he has no limits placed upon him. His face is concealed there is no discernible way to identify him as his face is shrouded by the camera. Nobody pays attention to the camera man at a wedding; they can walk anywhere. If Jonathan Small walked into him - or stood behind him whilst taking a picture - via the use of a concealed weapon the stabbing could have occurred - the sensation being passed off by Sholto as it is after all - just the cameraman. The guardsman was likely stabbed when the man his presumed to be his stalker stood beside him posing probably as a tourist and taking a picture.

That explains it :). I only have one more question, how did the guard manage to take his belt off followed by the rest of his clothes, then get into the shower and put shampoo in his hair? Surely the pain/blood would have been noticeable almost immediately after he took his belt off or at least it wouldn't of took long enough for him to be able to complete all these actions.

You make a great point there Mark. Even though you don't like something it doesn't mean you can't give credit when it is due.

It also find it strange when people complain that something is bad when they don't understand it. For example many people over the years have called BBC Sherlock a rubbish show because they can't follow the cases. Surely that is an issue on their side? It has nothing to do with the quality of the show.

In reply to Tlotoxl if the puncture was deep enough then I would imagine so. There is a lot in your abdomen that is empty of blood as well as sterile and it is like that for a reason. However since it was such a thin weapon it would likely take a while, which is why both victims ended up surviving as they got treatment before it was too late.

But it is written by Moffat who doesn't actually like to kill people off and seems to hate dealing with negative consequences. I mean he bought Gallifrey back just to redeem the doctors wrong.

Well in the books, POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT -

Mary dies during childbirth. Perhaps there is something that Sherlock knows, that might affect the birth, something he won't let on.

Just wanted to point out something. During the reading of the telegrams, Sherlock reads something to Mary from someone named "Cam" and Mary's face immediately fell. John reassured her, thinking that it was about her family, but oh no, it was much more than that

It's almost definitely an anagram: CAM
Charles Augustus Magnussen

suggesting that Mary's been involved in problems with this man before in the past.

So that might also be the reason why she seemed more panicked than happy at the announcement of the baby. It's not good news when you're in deep trouble with a blackmailer.

Hey, I just wanted to mention that I completely agree with your post. Drug use (which is what drinking is) should never be played purely for comedy. I found it disgusting to watch someone drunk to the point of vomiting. I don't drink, and I think as a nation our attitudes towards alcohol are just plain idiocy.

I thought it looked like the place that Gwen got married in Torchwood. Could be wrong, though!

Quite honestly methinks 'R_Dent' here seems would only be entirely satisfied if this were instead written as Sherlockette Holmes. ... ;)
(I imagine she must be over the moon with 'Jane Watson' - tho' thankfully 'Elementary' this is not !)

Equally then - why blame a man for writing like a man !? - Seriously I'm really tired of the whole Moffat/sexism myth (that's by now been more than over-beaten to death online).
It's really simple, if u dislike the way he writes he's characters, just DON'T further watch what he scripts !) Personally, bottom line, I believe a writer has every right to write he's characters however he wishes to - they are HE's creations - no matter how sexist or not-sexist (or whatever) they happen to be or not be. It's he's prerogative ! - (And certainly under no obligation to please everyone). ...
Besides I think he's done them far better justice than Doyle ever did. - (Or rather 'THEY' have, as after all Moffat is NOT the only scripter here ... )

... AND yes I'd say that under 'Victorian standards' a 'scandalous opera singer' (or any female who dared go anywhere near a stage for that matter), would most probably be regarded as most likely 'quite loose' at very least. - So updating her to a 'dominatrix' I think is actually ingeniously spot-on really ! (After all, one would be hard pressed to find a stronger more self in-control & empowered female character nowadays than a 'dominatrix', I'd say.) - The only person I see NOT agreeing with this is someone who obviously looks down their nose at someone who CHOOSES prostitution as a self-appointed choice.)

It wasn't implied that they didn't feel it - just that they (being who they were) have been trained to deal with such with a certain endurance.

... are ANY bridesmaids really ever 'named' or that relevant ? They are meant to be the unimportant '2nd-fiddle' characters at any wedding ! :) - (AND yes, like it or not, 90% of the time they WILL most likely land up pursuing/bedding the grooms. - It's just what DOES happen at the majority of weddings !) ...
And besides even if it were not, that is the 'joke' that was written, so .....

And YES I'd say that any man with a TARDIS (even regardless of sex-appeal), or Sherlock with that brain (& who's topped the 'sexiest man alive 2013' list - a bit of a clue, not !?) ;) - WOULD most certainly YES more likely than not, have more women than not, finding them sexually attractive yes - it's perfectly self evident ! ... (Hell, even I might very well be tempted AND I'm a guy ! - So I don't think Moffat's far off there) ;)

How else are they supposed to be introduced then in a show revolving around two men ???

Hardly much of a prediction when it's already been written as such by Doyle. ... OMG, if u all hate what Doyle has written for his characters so much, then WHY the hell are u all still watching this adaptation ?? Only to b*tch moan & complain about it it seems. Pathetic really !!!

I think Moffat/Gatiss/Thompson have elevated the characters & story, both when they've stuck to the canon & when not. So whether they decide to kill off Mary as original or curve-ball us a not - I think it will work either way !

Nobody was asking u to believe they DIDN'T feel anything, just that they being who they are (a guard for one, that's trained to be stock still most of the day) would certainly probably feel a piercing jab at the time - BUT have been trained with heightened endurance, especially when the area is constricted. (I imagine they feel all sorts of 'jabbing' & 'numbing' thru-out the day). And especially so if u are not expecting that someone is actually going to stab u - one would feel a jab & just continue on until they have better proof of what actually happened. Most of the pain would only return once the constriction is eased. - Besides it's been proven that often one is only aware of pain if one is aware it's being inflicted. Only becoming aware or feeling the pain on realisation you've been cut or seeing the wound.) ...
So basically what I'm saying is that it was certainly perfectly plausible, (& not just by 'suspension of belief').

I'd just like to say that I'm sorry for the amount of flak you've received for the points you've made, and for the unnecessarily confrontational tone of some of the responses. While I don't agree with everything you've said, I can't fault your tone - it's been consistently good-humoured, and you've shown that you're open to having an actual discussion rather than a shouting match, which is how Internet debate should be, and how things generally are on DoG.

Seems that sexism is one of those issues where some people just can't stop themselves from being rude. It's a shame.

I think we've generally got a fairly relaxed attitude towards cannabis too.

But I'm actually drunk right now so agmweg,..

Just out of interest - I'm not looking for an argument - what else do you think should never, under any circumstances, be played for comedy?

She doesn't really die so much as stop existing. There is no great drama of her death; it's just convenient for her to disappear so there can be more Holmes and Watson.

Yeah. I thought that was a bit of poor writing (re. Mary immediately liking Sherlock despite the circumstances) but then I found Gatiss' writing quite patchy, especially as regards character, in The Empty Hearse.

Mary liking Sherlock seemed to be written in to appease fans and make them not hate Mary as they would have if she'd been against Sherlock. Mary knows the profound effect Sherlock's death has had on John, how broken he's been - then he turns up, interrupts John's proposal to Mary (and I got the impression Mary KNEW John was about to propose) and acts like a dick towards her boyfriend? To be fair, she does ask Sherlock 'have you any idea what you've done?', but that anger seems immediately forgotten in the subsequent scenes.

I don't mind the idea of Mary quickly warming to Sherlock, or perhaps being able to see things from a perspective John can't yet (like, she can understand his outrage but thinks John should look at the bigger picture - that Sherlock's alive). But without any indication of her indifference to John's suffering, and with her turnaround on Sherlock being immediate and off-screen, we don't get any impression of her thought process and it comes off as unbelievable. Written to suit the audience rather than suit the character. It's particularly bad writing when a character is so new and we don't yet have any experience of them to infer what their motivations might be.

I agree that the show is falling into the trap of 'the only people who don't like Sherlock are bad guys' at the moment. And in the same vein, I think you're right that the writers keep making every woman (apart from Mrs Hudson, whop is a mother figure) who encounters Sherlock fall in love/lust with him. That keeps happening with the Doctor in Moffat's DW as well.

I agree. I loved this episode in the same way I used to loved those episodes of the X-Files where it got funny and silly. I enjoyed them hugely but wouldn't have wanted that every week: they were funny BECAUSE they were exceptions to the usual tone.

It is an anagram, in the books he signs like that.

I personally attributed Sherlock missing the Beth-code as a sign of his emotional distress, which is still clearly very present. He stumbles in his deductions and he is not in his best moment. I am guessing that his mental and emotional breakdown will be addressed in episode 3, which looks as if it is going to be more serious, and which will a have a villain perfectly able to play on those vulnerabilities. I don't think that Sherlock's game is 100% on, even though Mary and Molly seem to be the only ones noticing the signs of that.

Disappointed ...!
There was no thrill...
Boring episode ...

load of shite episode! really disappointed!

The one and only time I have been stung by a bee, I was lying on it with my arm for several minutes. I didn't feel anything until i stood up, and thus took the pressure off my arm. THEN it did hurt. So I guess that kinda works...

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