Title: Sherlock S3.E01 “The Empty Hearse”
Released: 2014
Series:  Sherlock

I don’t know about you, but the past two years—the 24 months in between the last, heart-wrenching episode of Sherlock’s second series and the first episode of the third—have been as hard for me as they were for John Watson.* Having to wait so long for a new episode of Sherlock was like waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish another chapter of The Winds of Winter.**

But finally, FINALLY, the new series is here. (In the U.S., that is. I know those of you in the U.K—and you Sneaky McSneakersons who’ve watched it through not-so-legal means—have already seen all of the new episodes.) I laughed, I cried***, I got a stupid grin on my face when Sherlock sauntered out of 221B. He’s back, y’all. And snarkier than ever.

*I might be exaggerating a tad.
**Nerd burn!
***Not really.

The Case

In the two years since Sherlock Holmes’ “suicide”, John Watson has moved on with his life. He’s moved out of 221B Baker Street. He’s found himself a lovely girlfriend, Mary Morstan. He’s grown a (horrid) moustache.

The other people in Sherlock’s life have gone on with theirs as well. DI Lestrade is still working at Scotland Yard. Anderson actually feels bad about the role he played in Sherlock’s downfall and has started a group called The Empty Hearse for individuals who don’t believe that Sherlock’s actually dead, including one girl who’s apparently into Sherlock/Moriarty slash. Molly Hooper still works in the Morgue. And Mrs. Hudson still lives at 221B.

Sherlock, on the other hand, has been tracking down and dismantling Moriarty’s crew. When we first see him, he’s being held and tortured (while naked?) somewhere in Serbia. Mycroft has come to bring him back to London, as the city is currently under threat of a terrorist attack, and no one can solve it better than Sherlock (natch).

Sherlock heads back to England and decides to pop-in on John while he’s at dinner … preparing to propose to Mary. Sherlock pretends to be a waiter, and John is oblivious as ever, even though the extent of Sherlock’s disguise is a bow-tie, a pair of glasses and a moustache drawn on with eyeliner. Sherlock leaves John to bumble through an almost proposal, but then interrupts when John’s just about to finish asking the question. Suffice it to say, John’s PISSED. His anger gets the three of them kicked out of not one, not two, but three restaurants. By the end of their reunion, John’s still angry, Sherlock has both a split lip and a bloody nose, and Mary likes Sherlock a lot. Oh, and Sherlock made fun of John’s (horrid) moustache at least twice.

Sherlock heads back to 221B, where Mrs. Hudson is both scared out of her mind and super happy to see him. When he makes the rounds through his other friends, Lestrade hugs him, which actually seems to make Sherlock happy. What a softie. When he goes to see Molly, he asks her to join him in sleuthing, since John’s not warmed up yet. Molly agrees, but only makes it through one day. She says she’s moved on, and she’s even engaged, but anyone can see that it’s just too hard for her to be around him. (Side note: I love Molly. She’s a tad pitiable to start, but has amazing character progression.)

Meanwhile, John and Mary are having a discussion in their home, and John ends up shaving his moustache. Mary makes fun of him, and asks if he’s shaving for Sherlock. John replies: “I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes.” Mary jokes that it should be put on a T-shirt. (Merch alert!)

John eventually makes his way to 221B, only to get kidnapped when he’s almost there. Mary gets a text alerting her that he’s been snatched, and so she goes to Sherlock. Sherlock and Mary race through the streets of London toward a Guy Fawkes Day bonfire, which John, unluckily, happens to be underneath. Sherlock pulls him from the fire in the nick of time.

The day after, John goes to see Sherlock at 221B. An old couple are in the apartment, seemingly bothering Sherlock with a case. As John arrives, Sherlock shuffles them out. Turns out, the old couple are Sherlock’s parents; John (and probably most other people who ever meet the Holmes parents) is surprised that they’re so ordinary.

Sherlock and John start talking about the terrorism case, and Sherlock makes the connections with the date—Nov. 5—and an earlier bit of interesting tube security footage in which a car seems to disappear. The two head down to the subway to investigate and happen upon a stretch of tunnel that’s wired with demolition charges and a train car that’s been turned into a bomb. Sherlock breaks down and apologizes to John, and admits that he doesn’t know how to diffuse it. This “honesty” leads to a confession from John in which he tells Sherlock, “You are the best and the wisest man I have ever known, and yes, of course, I forgive you.”

Sherlock tells Anderson all about how he pulled off faking his own death. Anderson wonders why Sherlock would tell him about it, but Sherlock leaves with a smirk on his face without actually answering the question. (I’m pretty sure that Sherlock’s not telling the entire truth, and has messed with Anderson’s head, as evidenced by the whole meltdown Anderson haves once Sherlock leaves.)

John prepares himself to die, but the bomb doesn’t actually go off. He looks down and sees that Sherlock’s laughing so hard he’s crying. He’d found an off switch on the bomb, and orchestrated the whole confession just to get John to admit that he forgives him. (Sherlock, you can be such a dick!) As they leave the train in the hands of the police, John threatens him and Sherlock quips, “Oh, please. Killing me? That’s so two years ago.”

The crew finally celebrates Sherlock’s return at 221B. Molly shows up with her fiance Tom, who happens to look a whole lot like and dresses exactly like Sherlock. Everyone notices except Molly and Tom. (Which is hilarious.) As Sherlock and John head downstairs to confront the press waiting outside, John asks why he was kidnapped, and Sherlock says he doesn’t know. As they leave the building, Sherlock pulls on the deerstalker hat and turns the swag up to 11.

The episode ends with a strange, shadowy figure watching multiple screens of Sherlock pulling John from the fire. (Dun-dun-duuuuuun! New Big Bad alert?)

The Bromance

The relationship between John and Sherlock was definitely strained this episode, what with the whole “Sherlock faking his death and disappearing for two years without even a word” thing. But there were a few moments of mutual adoration, including when John shaves his moustache after Sherlock disapproves and Sherlock admitting that having friends had made him a better person. The most moving moment, of course, was when John admitted that he’d missed his friend. Sherlock totally ruined the moment by laughing at him, of course, but he wouldn’t be Sherlock if he wasn’t a huge jerkstore the majority of the time.

The Observations

  • Anyone who watches British television or movies knows that there are only so many British actors. (I kid.) But did you know that they’re so strapped for actors that they’ve dipped into people’s families? Mary Morstan is played by Martin Freeman’s long-time love Amanda Abbington (the two have two kids). And Sherlock’s parents were played by Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, who happen to be the real-life parents of Benedict Cumberbatch.

  • Many references in the episode were to other Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-penned Sherlock Holmes adventures. The stepfather/stepdaughter case was a reference to “A Case of Identity.” Sumatra Road, underneath which the unused tube station was built, was a reference to The Giant Rat of Sumatra, a case that is mentioned in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire,” but was never discussed further. And, the title of the episode, “The Empty Hearse,” is a play on the first story in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, “The Empty House.

The Deduction

I thought this was a great start to what’s sure to be a fantastic set of new Sherlock episodes. There were plenty of laughs and a good amount of action, and the cinematography was once again awesome. I really like Mary; I think she’s going to be a great addition to the cast. And I’m very curious as to who the new villain is, and what his master plan will be.

Also, this:

I laughed so hard.

But enough about what I thought—what did you think, fellow Sherlock fans? Was it worth the wait? Let’s discuss below. (But again, please, if you’ve already seen the next two episodes, try to avoid spoilers.)

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.