Sherlock S3 Ep 2 – The Sign of Three

Alright my Baker Street Irregulars let me level with you: I almost had to stop watching Sunday’s Season 3 Episode 2 “The Sign of Three” of Sherlock for a few reasons. But I stuck with it and was actually quite pleased. This is not to say I was overly pleased with the episode, but pleased enough when it mattered.

“The Sign of Three,” a riff on “The Sign of Four” story, primarily details the planning of John Watson’s wedding, his stag night and, of course, Sherlock’s speech as the best man. This is all interspersed with seemingly unrelated and unsolved cases in an attempt to highlight the humanizing factor that Watson brings to Sherlock’s sociopathic side and why Mary is lucky to have him as a husband.

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There’s a joke here about forgetting the Ring.

On paper this sounds heartwarming, and to a degree it is, but again it’s sacrificing the mystery element for the comical and mundane. It’s like watching half of the cast of Friends do an Agatha Christie style “the butler did it” wedding. Admittedly I come from a more procedural mystery background and I do realize that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did have his characters discuss their own mundane lives but his focus was solely on the mystery, all that life stuff happened around and outside of the mystery central to the story. We’re two of three episodes in and it seems the focus isn’t taking the mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works and updating them for the modern world with a twist as much as it is about exploring their relationships.

The low point for myself was watching the events of the stag night where they drunkenly take on one of the seemingly unresolved cases. I mean, really? Even as one who loves comedy I find the drunken stupor of our heroes cheap and uninspired. I did nothing but cringe and grit my teeth.

The other thing that nearly made this episode unwatchable was the cinematography. With the back and forth, left to right intercuts I found myself having to look away from the screen until the shot settled. I guess with the vacancy of action they decided to make everything else more interesting with these effects.

All that aside (I’ll hold my comments of Mark Gaitiss wearing tight workout pants to myself), the episode quickly brought itself together and impressed in the final moments. I will say that while I was sure from the get go that Major James Sholto (Alistair Petrie) was going to be the victim and that the photographer (Jalaal Hartley) was the culprit I wasn’t sure how all the unsolved crimes would tie together. I could have spent more time with these cases, as well as with sober heads doing the investigating, rather than having them recounted during the speech.

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Get it? Because they’re both in The Hobbit Trilogy? Ha!

I will say that I thought maybe the character of Major James Sholto was going to play into the who-is-the-mystery-man-with-his-vague-threat-to-London mystery left at the end of the previous episodes. I mean, I know who the mystery man is, no surprise if you read the stories (I know, this makes me a pretentious jerk now) but I was kind of hoping that something from this episode would tie into that. I’m sure some of you are sitting there with the benefit of having already seen all the episodes saying, “John, if you only knew. Just wait you myopic critic. Just wait.” And then the fog rolls in to envelope you and you disappear into the gray, your words hanging in the air like some echo of a foreshadowing and I wonder if I’ve seen a specter of my own mysterious future.

But yeah, if I watch this episode a next time I’ll be fast forwarding through the wedding stuff because the mystery parts were pretty decent. I mean, yes, the bit where Sherlock manages to make everyone tear up is what every best man should strive to say in their speech, but most of it was meh.

Got an answer to the mystery? Leave a spoiler free comment down below!