Going To The Chapel and We’re Gonna Get Muuurdered- Sherlock- The Sign of Three
*Spoilers again. I am sorry*
As the title might suggest, this week we’ve all had a wedding to attend. And man alive what a wedding it was. There was an attempted murder and a damn clever one too. But before all that, you know how I thought The Empty Hearse was the funniest episode yet? Well I was wrong. So very wrong. The Sign of Three is the most joyous, brilliant episode of Sherlock yet. Granted, there is once again a lack of a proper meaty central mystery in the style of say A Study in Pink but what we do get is some of the best character development I have seen in television in a long time.
I begin with a Mary Morstan Appreciation Paragraph. Because I think she is just brilliant. What makes Mary so remarkable as a character is how much she understands John and Sherlock. She is a woman who met John, we can only assume, at one of his lowest times and has learnt the significance of Sherlock to her other half. It would have been so easy to have her hate Sherlock, to pit the two against each other for John’s affections but the truth is she makes their relationship stronger. She gets that they need to run around solving mysteries about elephants in rooms and hollow clients because neither of them can be properly happy if they aren’t. Her relationship with Sherlock is especially interesting. Any normal person would perhaps not take too kindly to someone who left their best friend broken hearted after pretending to be dead for two years but she instantly accepts him. The two of them are as much of a team as Sherlock and John because they have one striking thing in common, they both dearly love John. On top of that, they both seem to really love each other. But it is not just her love for our boys that make her so wonderful as a character. No, she is clever, cleverer than Sherlock sometimes (like in The Empty Hearse with the whole awesome code cracking business) and funny to boot. She is my kind of gal.
Amanda Abbington is totally charming in the role, which certainly sweetens the deal. She is a very talented comic actress who gets some of the funniest moments (see photo of excellent thumbs up above). You are totally on her side the whole way through. If that wasn’t enough, she can pull a really great disgusting wine face. I think it helps that Amanda is the real life partner of our John Watson, Martin Freeman and be friends with Sherlock himself Benedict Cumberbatch, the three of them seem so relaxed in their performances with each other which lends a real sense of believability to the Watson-Holmes-Morstan trio. But amongst all that loveliness clues are being dropped left, right and centre that all may not be as it seems with Miss Mary Morstan. I would keep an eye for Cam who wished her family could have been there for her special day. My bet would be that he is a lot more significant than just a name on a telegram.
We’ve heard about the bride but who could John possibly have asked to be his best man? Well obviously the answer is Sherlock, who else could it be. And he is the best/worst best man you could have wished for. He is remarkably good at certain things. He can make the Sydney Opera House out of napkins (impressive), he knows how to bribe the page boy so he wears ‘the outfit’ (show a small boy pictures of a beheading and he’ll smile at anyone and everyone, apparently), he can tell the bride who hates her and who to sit by the bogs. All in all, he makes himself pretty useful as a wedding planner.
Whilst all of this is very funny, it represents a huge leap for Sherlock and is so telling of his relationship with John. We begin to learn the depths of the love that he feels for John, his best friend in all the world. Nothing better demonstrates this than the first part of his best man’s speech. Off Sherlock goes with his speech about how all the bridesmaids are mediocre looking, God is a ludicrous concept and marriage inevitably ends with death and depression. CHEERY. But what begins as what could be classed as the worst wedding speech of all time slowly morphs into the kind of speech that shows you why people cry at weddings. It is both beautifully written by Steven Moffat and beautifully performed by Cumberbatch, in particular Sherlock’s acknowledgment that he is an obnoxious arsehole (which we all knew but it is good to hear him say it) and that John’s love and warmth make him a better person. I will confess, I had a lump in my throat. The cold, unfeeling Sherlock of series 1 is almost dead, replaced by a man who, whilst still certainly not comfortable with social engagement, is becoming more and more tolerant, all for the love of John and Mary. The real emotional clincher sees John bear hugging Sherlock halfway through his speech, something I think we all wished we could have done, had this not been a fictitious television show. Perhaps the most tragic moment of the whole episode though, was the fact that whilst Sherlock Holmes loves to dance (who knew?!), he departs prematurely from the festivities, suddenly aware that all those who love him are more occupied elsewhere. It just made me very sad to see the man who had been so desperate for everything to go well skulk off almost unnoticed (except by Molly, who, after having stabbed her fiance in the leg with a fork, did sort of owe it to him to stay).
But before all the emotion of the big day, we must have a stag do. So how would the great Sherlock Holmes send his best friend off into the world of married life? Why, a murder themed pub crawl, of course. They say that pretending to be drunk is one of the hardest things an actor can do and both Cumberbatch and Freeman absolutely nail it. It is quite beautiful. They are a pair of drunkards of the highest degree of hilarity, stumbling around London, solving crime and slowly morphing into Sir Digby Chicken Caesar and his sidekick Ginger. I have no idea if this was an inspiration for the pair but they may as well have had the terribly sung theme tune playing in the background. Highlights of a rather messy night for the boys of Baker Street included the world’s only consulting detective forgetting how to deduce things (deaded skull anyone?), ‘clueing for looks’, falling asleep face down on a carpet whilst investigating, vomming all over said carpet, and not knowing who Madonna is, which makes 20 questions a little more difficult. I felt Sherlock and John on a spiritual level, mainly because I too have babbled nonsense whilst lying on a flight of stairs, I too have looked at a leather chair and just thought sleeeeeeep. Sherlock was at his most relatable when absolutely rat arsed.
As I’ve been talking about character development, drunk Sherlock gave it to us in spades. It proved that The Cleverest Man In The World is human after all and, like the rest of us, absolutely hilarious when he has had one too many. The stag do was by far one of the strongest moments of the episode, if not of Sherlock so far and I belly laughed all the way through. If it were up to me, Sherlock would get absolutely hammered every episode and try and serve more murders, only being able to deduce that chairs were ‘sitty things’. As I said before, Cumberbatch really flexes his comedy muscles here and proves just how very funny Sherlock can be. His is probably the best drunk detective I have ever seen. Also he knows ash.
So the title promised you murder, so here we go. Well attempted murder really, Sherlock being a clever sausage and all he managed to solve it all without ruining John and Mary’s big day which is an impressive feat in itself. It concerns a Major James Sholto (CANON KLAXON), John’s old commanding officer and social recluse, rendered so after leading new army recruits to their deaths during a training exercise. As a result he is constantly receiving death threats. I won’t go into it too much but it involves a belt, an army uniform, an impossibly thin dagger and a vengeful photographer. It is a clever mystery around which the tension ratchets up to a conclusion that I would not have guessed. In context of the episode it worked well and it is an elegant little problem but I must admit that I am missing a big meaty mystery. With the death of Moriarty, the series has lacked a sense of overarching threat, the menace that seemed to follow Sherlock around. However, we have had two episodes that verge on the jollier side. Sherlock and John were reunited, the Watsons have a baby on the way and we’ve seen Sherlock smashed. All seems too rosy. Next week, I expect there will be tears at bedtime as we race towards the end of the series. Known for a cliffhanger that will keep us guessing for years (LITERALLY YEARS), let’s hope that it’s a good one. I am nervous and excited in equal measure.
For those who don’t know who Sir Digby Chicken Caesar is, watch and enjoy. It really is very funny. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QACSo5xk3dE