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Title: Sherlock S3.E02 “The Sign of Three”
Released: 2014
Series:  Sherlock

The game was on this past weekend—a game involving John Watson’s wedding to Mary Morstan, a terribly awkward, yet endearing best man speech, and an unexpected case of an attempted murder.


The Case

“The Sign of Three” opens with poor Greg Lestrade trying, multiple times, to arrest the Waters Gang, a group of criminals who seem to escape his grasp at every turn. Just when he’s about to make the arrest that will stick—the gang have been caught in the act—Sherlock texts him, urgently asking for help. Lestrade, of course, thinking that something’s horribly wrong (because when else would Sherlock use the word “please”) rushes to 221B Baker St. with all of the backup he can muster. When Lestrade arrives at the apartment, however, he finds Sherlock bemoaning his latest task: writing a best man speech. Lestrade is rightfully peeved. #BecauseTypicalSherlock.

The next day (I think?) Mrs. Hudson heads upstairs with tea service and finds Sherlock dancing, by himself, around the room. Mrs. Hudson laughs, but then warns Sherlock that John’s marriage is the end of an era. Sherlock reassures her that nothing will change, but he looks a little worried anyway. While Sherlock is getting ready, we cut to a man with damaged hand and burns on his face putting on a military dress uniform. (Not quite sure who he is at this point, but it’ll obviously be cleared up later.)

John and Mary get married in a lovely ceremony, which we don’t get to see at all. We do get to see pictures being taken outside, however, and a bridesmaid making jokes with Sherlock about the traditional hooking up of the bridesmaid with the best man. Sherlock looks a bit taken aback, but then starts making deductions about the various other men at the wedding in order to help her out.

Fast forward through a few interactions that reveal Sherlock grilled and scarred for life both an usher and the ring bearer, respectively, and the man in military garb shows up to the reception. Turns out he’s John’s ex-commander, who was involved in a terrible accident that involved the death of all of the soldiers under his command. He’s been a bit of a recluse ever since.

Sherlock starts in to his best man speech, which is expectedly horrible at the start. It’s also extraordinarily meandering, involving various stories and cut scenes of:

  • Molly Hooper worrying to both Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson about how terrible the speech will be. (You’re brilliant, Molly.)

  • The moment in which John asked Sherlock to be his best man, and Sherlock’s shocked silence.

  • Sherlock’s thoughts on how weddings are horrible, John is dumb and God is fake.

Sherlock eventually saves face and causes a lot of people in attendance to tear up. But I’ll let the man himself say it.

In order to lighten the mood after that moment of honesty (and to save us from ALL THE FEELS), Sherlock begins to tell stories about their previous cases, including one about “The Bloody Guardsman,” an unsolved mystery that involved the “locked room” murder of a young Welsh Guard and a conversation between John and Sherlock that had two of the best quotes of the episode:

Sherlock: “You think they’re given classes?”
John: “About what?”
Sherlock: “About how to resist the urge to scratch their behinds.”

And:

John: “And the other one is … a complete dickhead.”

Sherlock also tells the story of John’s stag night, during which John and Sherlock got wasted, played a game of “Who Am I?” (in which we learn that Sherlock doesn’t know who Madonna is), took a case involving a woman going on a date with a “ghost” and tried to help her while totally drunk. (I could NOT stop giggling.)

Sherlock continues with his speech, while the entire audience grows restless. Suddenly, Sherlock realizes that the cases of the guard and the ghost (“The Mayfly Man”) are connected, and that someone at the wedding is in danger. John picks up on the change in tone as Sherlock goes through the his process, trying to deduce what’s going on, and comes to the realization that the threatened person in question is John’s ex-commander.

Sherlock, John and Mary follow the ex-commander up to his room and Sherlock susses out that he’s already been “murdered”—by someone stabbing a thin knife through the belt of the military uniform (also how the guard was killed). John jumps into the role of doctor and saves the man’s life. Turns out, it was the butler wedding photographer, who was the brother of one of the soldiers killed in the accident, seeking revenge.

The wedding draws to a close with dancing. Sherlock plays the first dance on the violin and makes one last speech, vowing that he will always be there for “the three of them.” He then apologizes for the slip up, but heads to Mary and John and reveals that he’s deduced that Mary is pregnant. While the parents-to-be are freaking out, Sherlock tells them that they’re already brilliant parents, because they’ve had to deal with him. (Well played, Sherlock … but that grin was kind of terrifying.)

As the dancing continues, Sherlock leaves into the darkness, popping his collar as he goes.

The Bromance

“The Sign of Three” was a lot more about the relationship between John and Sherlock than it was anything else, even though the actual case was woven nicely throughout. There were a lot of moments in which Sherlock opened his heart to admit that John was his best and pretty much only friend, and that was heartwarming—if a little strange, knowing how Sherlock usually is—to see. (See the video above for the best bromance moment of the episode by far.)

And oh my goodness, that stag night. Drunk!Sherlock and Drunk!Watson are the best. And when they’re lying on the stairs? My heart.

The Observations

  • In one of the flashback scenes, Sherlock stuffs a Persian slipper full of cigarettes. In the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes keeps his tobacco in a Persian slipper. Additionally, the title of the episode is a play on the original Holmes novel The Sign of Four, in which John Watson meets and gets engaged to Mary Morstan.

  • Mrs. Hudson has a CRAZY backstory. Not only was her husband arrested for killing at least a couple of people, he also ran a drug cartel in Florida and had a lot of other women on the side. She told every story with such calm, too. It’s no wonder she’s so easygoing when it comes to Sherlock’s eccentricities.

  • Holy skinny legs, Mycroft. (I literally said these exact words out loud when the episode jumped to him on the treadmill.)

The Deduction

This was a fabulous episode … for those of us who are more invested in John and Sherlock’s relationship than the actual investigations. (For those of you who fall in the latter camp, I’m sorry.) There was laughter, there were feels, and there was a whole heaping of Mary, who—instead of being a total Yoko Ono—is absolutely brilliant in playing the two against each other and dealing with Sherlock’s crap. I wanted to clap out loud when she said, “I’m not John. I can tell when you’re fibbing.”

I’m a little worried about what’s to come in next, particularly because there was no sign of the mysterious man at the end of “The Empty Hearse” in this episode. Will everything be wrapped-up in one 90-minute episode, or will we be forced to contend with a cliffhanger for another two years? (I am really hoping for the former.)


But enough about me—what did you think about the episode? Was it a worthy middle chapter? Let’s discuss below. (A friendly reminder: If you’ve already seen the next two episodes, please try to avoid spoilers.)

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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.