Warning: contains a major spoiler for Sherlock series 2.
All change! Time to switch focus momentarily from Gallifreyans and Zygons to flappy coats and consulting detectives.
Sherlock’s third series is on its way, arriving in the US on the 19th of January and here in the UK on an as-yet unspecified date (though we’d be mightily surprised if it was any later than New Year’s Day), which can mean only one thing: we have some speculation to be getting on with.
As the brief teaser trailer told us on Saturday night, Sherlock lives. Exactly how he managed that, and a few other questions, remain. Here’s what we surmised about the new series from that thirty seconds of footage…
Sherlock is still mourned
In a very similar shot to the one in which Watson and Mrs Hudson were reflected in Sherlock’s gravestone during the closing moments of The Reichenbach Fall, here, Sherlock’s grave receives a visitor. At first glance, it looked like the collar of Sherlock’s characteristic coat silhouetted against the shiny black of his memorial stone, but on closer inspection, the hair seems a little short for the man himself. The very next shot, of John outside looking intently at something, appears to follow on from this one, ergo, it’s John.
Some time has passed between John’s previous graveyard scene and this, evident from the wilting of the flowers (which, if you look, are a different collection to that in his now-famous graveside speech).
Our guess: We know that two years have passed between The Reichenbach Fall and The Empty Hearse, and it appears that during that time, John and Sherlock’s fans have kept his grave tended and marked with flowers. Two years later, and Sherlock Holmes is mourned.
John’s soup strainer
We first met this moustache in this even briefer glimpse of Sherlock series three released back in August, containing the same shot of Holmes walking into a restaurant and meeting a menu-perusing Watson.
We know that Watson has met his future wife since we last saw him, so could the new look be at his other half’s insistence (everybody loves a Selleck)? Or is he in a slightly rubbish disguise?
In The Adventure of the Empty House, the Conan Doyle story on which the series three opener bases its title, The Empty Hearse, Holmes first reunited with Watson in disguise at a case scene and then revealed his true identity at Watson’s medical practice. In the BBC’s Sherlock the reunion, if that’s what we’re looking at, appears to take place in a fancy restaurant.
Our guess: We know that some of The Empty Hearse at least takes place around Guy Fawkes’ Night on the 5th of November, so we tend to agree with those who say that medical man John is simply doing his bit to raise money for testicular cancer (donate here) by joining in with the Movember crowd. Mark Gatiss, who wrote the series three opener (and that Tom Tom joke in Doctor Who’s The Crimson Horror) is certainly not averse to including the odd pop culture gag.
Sherlock’s fan club is alive and well
Like the Devil, the greatest trick Moriarty ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. This he did to besmirch the name of Sherlock Holmes, painting him as a spotlight-seeking fraudster masquerading as a crime-solving genius.
John Watson refuses to believe that Sherlock ever told him a lie (he’s wrong of course, that rooftop confession was a real porkie), and so, by the looks of it, do this lot. It’s a Sherlock fan club, such as the one Holmes mentioned when deducing the real identity of Katherine Parkinson’s journalist character Kitty Riley in The Reichenbach Fall, and it appears to be led by Sharon Rooney’s character, Laura.
Our guess: Moriarty failed to convince everyone of his nemesis’ fraudster status, hence this loyal group of Sherlock-hat-wearing fans. Some still believe, and we’re looking at them. They, in turn, are all looking at one spot in the room. A television, perhaps? The news of Sherlock’s return travels with incredible speed around social networks in this scene, but it appears to have broken via the TV…
And Anderson’s a member?
Forensics team member Anderson (Jonathan Aris), who, we should remember, was taken in by Moriarty’s Rich Brook scheme and thus must feel partly responsible for Sherlock’s ‘suicide’, is amongst the fan club members here. Anderson and Sgt Donovan (Vinette Robinson) believed Sherlock was a fake, and played a part in ‘outing’ him.
Our guess: The intervening years between Sherlock’s ‘death’ and his return may have seen Anderson faced with guilt over his role in Sherlock’s demise and doubting his belief in the great detective’s fraudulence. Thus he’s sought out this club to act as a support group of a sort. Whatever he’s been through, Anderson is not looking his best. John isn’t the only one to sport mystery facial hair in this trailer.
There’s a new hashtag in town
Forget #SaveTheDay, #SherlockLives is the new #Sherlocked. Director Jeremy Lovering has continued Paul McGiugan’s on-screen text tradition.
Our guess: In a synergistic move that Jack Donaghy himself would be proud of, Sherlock provides its own in-episode Twitter hashtags. You see if #SherlockLives isn’t trending by the time this scene is broadcast.
Sherlock is still posing on rooftops
Though noticeably here, not the same one as he appeared to plummet from in The Reichenbach Fall. The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye are closer and more visible.
Our guess: If you’ll allow us a little moment of indulgence here, we’ve been doing some deducing of our own in relation to the last time we saw Sherlock on a London rooftop, and have noticed a little something that escaped us at the time. First things first, what we’re about to point out has a very simple, very obvious explanation that has zilch to do with how Sherlock survived his fall: TV magic. You know the sort of thing, a character walks out of a door on set in Bridgend and emerges from another on the Barry sea front (to use an example we saw on a Being Human set visit). It’s very likely that this is a simple case of the practicalities of filming and so on.
With that caveat established then, here’s what we noticed by snooping around Google Earth: in the rooftop confrontation with Moriarty and the shot that shows Sherlock jumping from the building, he’s on a different rooftop to the one John looks up from the street to see him on. We’ll explain.
John sees him from this angle, on the edge of St Bartholomew’s Hospital:
Here’s a shot of John’s position in the episode, next to the ‘Ambulances Only’ sign.
And here’s John’s approximate position in the real street on which the scene was filmed. Note the low building obscuring his view of the pavement.
When Sherlock jumps though, he’s facing this building, which is opposite the next rooftop along at St Bart’s, and not the one John’s looking up at.
Here’s the building Sherlock is looking at the rooftop of (the same one visible in the background during his Moriarty showdown). Chances are, it just made for a better symmetrical shot than if Cumberbatch was filmed looking across at the real view he would have seen from the original spot, but still.
The person we watch fall though, does it from the position John was looking up at, as we can see as he passes these windows, which aren’t on the adjacent building:
You can see the windows he falls between here on the Google Earth view of the building.
Additionally, you’ll notice that in real life, the Latin lettering along the top of the St Bart’s building is quite visible and easy to read, but in this screengrab of Sherlock falling, it’s very difficult to make out, almost as if it has been digitally blurred to obscure the part of the rootop from which he’s jumping:
When the body lands of course, it lands on the pavement directly underneath the spot John has been looking up at:
Which is roughly here in real life (note the position of the bus stop, two benches, phone box etc):
So, what does it mean? In all likelihood, not much. Could it be Steven Moffat’s ‘obvious’ clue everyone’s missed? Probably not. It’s unlikely to mean anything other than TV trickery, but with not long to go before the real solution is revealed to us, it’s time to get our brains back into deduction and theorising mode.
Sherlock, coming soon to BBC One
Our guess: We have our fingers crossed for Wednesday the 1st of January 2014 in the UK. Our US chums will be able to see The Empty Hearse on the 19th of January.
Read more about Sherlock series 3 on Den of Geek, here.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.