It’s been a grueling wait for more Sherlock especially after the events of the Reichenbach Fall and the supposed death of Sherlock Holmes. After a series of delays involving both stars being tied up in the production of The Hobbit film, and a wonderful mini prequel episode the hype was through the roof for more. Thankfully, Moffat succeeds admirably in answering our questions and telling a good Holmes story, but hopefully the next two episodes will have a little less self-servicing winking at the audience and more intriguing cases.
The intro starts out with Sherlock’s daring Mission Impossible style death faking complete with bungee jumping, crashing through a window, and a kiss. Needless to say, not what I was expecting. In a classic bait and switch opening this turns out to just be Barry explaining his pet theory to Lestrade and I loved it. Great way to reverse viewer expectations.
The re-introduction of Mycroft and Sherlock was perfect, and it was nice to see that Mycroft shares his brother’s love of disguises from the books. Based off of the condition he’s in: cut up, bloodied, and bearded it seems he has been having many adventures. Mycroft welcomes him back to London by upping the ante. Sherlock has to find a hidden underground terrorist network. It’s the old rebel Death Star stakes as one of their agents died to get us this information. Sherlock as an agent of the government? Maybe the opening dream of Barry isn’t too far away.
From this point on Sherlock returns to London and reintroduces himself to everyone. Lestrade’s reaction in particular to being fooled was excellent. A common theme throughout this episode seems to be humanizing the sometimes aloof and always egotistical character more. The subplot with Molly Hooper in particular was both emotional and funny. Sherlock and Mycroft even have an entire conversation about lonliness over a friendly game of Operation.
But how is John going to handle all of this? He’s spent two years wishing his best friend wasn’t dead, only to have him turn up out of the blue. The answer is that the bromance continues… after some well-deserved punishment of course! Even Mrs. Hudson admits that she felt the sparks flying between them in a hilarious exchange between herself and John.
Eventually they get onto the case of the underground network, and after reviewing some suspicious security footage, gathering “All the Maps!”, and a toasty motorcycle race against time they find and stop the bomb detonation at the capitol on Guy Fawkes Day in what is more than a slight nod to V for Vendetta.
One of the smartest things Moffat did in this episode was addressing all the crazy theories that have sprung up about how he could have faked his own death. The title of the episode The Empty Hearse is not only an allusion to the fake burial last season, but the name of the show’s conspiracy theory group dedicated to the thought that Sherlock lives. One of their member’s theories was a great satire on the fan fiction and bizzare relationships people concoct online. Unfortunately, with the president of the group Barry losing his mind after Sherlock reveals how he did it, it felt a little too much like Moffat was trying to preemptively tell his fans that they were being a ridiculous by reading too much into things. It was a step to0 far for me and seemed a little childish and insecure as a director.
We have a return to the new status quo by the end of the episode and plenty of unanswered questions..
Who and why are they targeting John?
Who’s eyes were watching the film in the final scene?
How did he survive the fall!?
They set up the overarching plot for the new season, successfully pulled off a time jump, and got a lot of character threads out of the way from last season. Now that it is after the fall, I’m excited to see what the next episode can do without the baggage of a cliffhanger finale to live up to. I’m just glad that #SherlockLives