TV Review: Sherlock S03E02, The Sign of Three

An episode of never-ending bromance between the detective and his bestie John Watson, plus a wishy-washy case to fill in airtime

Deborah Cornelious January 9, 2022
  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Cinematography
  • Screenplay

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So last week, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) resurrected from the dead (he actually faked his death) and returned to his one and only John Watson (Martin Freeman) unfortunately to learn he’s got someone new. With all his teenage trepidation over whether or not their relationship would change now that his partner in solving crime was getting hitched, the big day finally arrived. Amidst this giddy happy news, Sherlock is faced with what was to be his biggest challenge so far, that of being best man.

“The Sign of Three” screams its love for bromance from the tallest peak there is for all to witness, all the while also pulling off being the funniest episode written so far. It starts with Sherlock interrupting Greg Lestrade played by Rupert Graves (damn you, Sherlock for never getting the poor man’s name right) foiling a super important heist. The detective leaves at the risk of losing all the credit only to arrive at Baker Street to see Sherlock struggling with his Best Man’s speech. We know then this is going to be a fun ride throughout. The episode is hilarious indeed right from Sherlock first disheartening the crowd with his rant about the futility of marriage. But wait he’s not all Sheldon Cooper, the emotionally inept detective then goes on to show his gratitude for being chosen as the Best Man.

He might not understand friendship, but he sure loves that Watson called Sherlock his best friend. While he may not voice it out loud, we know Watson is Sherlock’s BFF too. “Mary, when I say you deserve this man, it is the highest compliment” is one of the several accolades Watson is showered with. Man, Sherlock’s not a tear-jerker, but this certainly came close to doing that while making us laugh just moments later. Some skills that writer Stephen Thompson has.  Plus there was a stag night that ended two hours after it started. There was vomit and a jail cell involved despite the maddening calculations of Sherlock on his trusty iPhone.

Of course, it is also painfully obvious that the show’s creators are also milking the chemistry between the two protagonists for all it’s worth. After all, that is the show’s winning quality. And although, we’d be happy with an episode bursting at the seams with honouring this platonic love, an hour and a half is a tad much. So the creators, like an afterthought, incorporated a case into the wedding. It really did feel as if they were just checking off a list, for the great big mystery only starts to surface after half the episode is over. Even then it’s not a strong one that compels us to shift our attention from Cumberbatch’s adorably confused expressions to worry about what’s going to happen next. When there are signs of murder most foul at the reception, Sherlock must crack it to save some sorry guest from a horrid fate. Off he goes into his “mind palace” where The Girl still sits pretty and Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) is the voice of reason commandeering the detective’s ship of deduction.

With the high-paced action we’re used to, “The Sign Of Three” seemed like a fluff episode, one that the show cannot afford to have with only three episodes per season. Don’t get us wrong, it was an absolutely entertaining and super fun watch. That said, it lacked its usual depth. When we pieced out with “The Empty Hearse,”" we’d assumed that despite the wedding, Sherlock would be wracking his brains trying to solve who would want to do away with Watson, his bestie. But it was as if being nearly burned alive never happened. Instead we were provided with a flashback of a case they had worked on that sneakily made its way to the present moment, aka the wedding. Next episode “His Last Vow” is the finale and is definitely going to pack in a power punch of excitement. But a huge part of us feels as if it’s not going to be satisfying. The episode will predictably create a tangible scenario for the antagonist. After a showdown between the good and bad guys, we’d still have to wait for what seems like an eternity for the fourth season to gratify us. Oh well, it’s not like we have a choice. We’re just going to have to sit back and enjoy it in any case.

  • You can catch the episode on January 10, 9 pm onwards on AXN India.