Ok so before my review proper I need to have a little fan girl moment to say “Arghhhhhhhhhhhh Sherlock is back!!!!” . . . OK overexcited moment over on to the professional bit.
Sherlock’s back in with a bang in the first episode of this the third and much awaited series of the BBC drama. Everything we once loved about the great detective has returned to our screens, seemingly empowered by his 2 year break Sherlock bursts into our living rooms in a whirlwind of fan theories and swishing overcoats. Embracing the MANY theories as to how Sherlock survived his “Reichenbach” fall “The Empty Hearse” tantalizes audiences by dramatizing a diverse cross section of the theories from the plausible to the more outlandish, fan-fiction inspired but never really revealing the truth about his fall.
This device of drawing the audience into a theory before trashing it is used through out the episode and never gets old, each time the audience willing it to be the big reveal. Writer Stephen Moffat cleverly avoids disappointing anyone by letting the fans dictate what might have happened; he has said in many an interview that the fan theories are far more elaborate and interesting than the truth – so why not embrace that creativity!
The writers of “The Empty Hearse” have us wait a full 10 minutes to see that face, but when we do that little smile of his is enough to wipe away the last 2 years of waiting, wondering and theorizing.
Of course Sherlock is not only returning to us but to John Watson, having grown a grief moustache and moved on with his life Watson is not as pleased as Sherlock would have had him at his triumphant return. In a nice slapstick routine Sherlock dressed as a waiter reveals himself to John only to have John not recognize him. This is followed by a brilliant sequence in which Sherlock is attacked by John in multiple restaurants of descending quality; each of which they are thrown out of before ending up in the street, Sherlock with a broken nose.
Having decided to return to his previous position as Sherlock’s medical consultant/sidekick Watson returns to Baker Street only to be thrown in at the deep end as he is kidnapped and placed in a burning bonfire. Based around Bonfire Night, “The Empty Hearse” features an attack on Parliament and a lot of explosives. 5th November, now known as Bonfire Night is the night in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic member of the Gunpowder Plot, placed explosives under parliament in an attempt to kill the Protestant King James I. To celebrate the capture of the terrorists people lit bonfires around London, and so people around Britain still light bonfires and set of fireworks on 5th November. The more sinister use of the bonfire as a live funerary pyre is sure to scar some kids at next year’s celebrations!
The quickly unraveling plot is full of the brilliant stylistic markers we have come to expect from the previous 2 series, the sharp editing, use of overlapping images and above all the fantastic transitionally pieces. The plot is fast paced and moves between emotion, pathos and action effortlessly, a brilliant return for the famous detective.
The 2-year wait has more than paid off; the plot, characters and music all seem like old friends that have been given a new lease of life. The franchise seems reanimated and refocused, and even though the whole thing will be over again in 17 days it’s sure to be a rollercoaster ride of a series with many a new mystery to obsess over.