Sherlock episode 3.1 review

sherlock2We finally got the season 3 opening episode here in the USA on PBS and it does not fail to entertain.  The main point of this series is not that it is a detective show, it is a show about a detective.  This is never more true than in the season 3 opener, “The Empty Hearse”.  The episode plays with the audience as it teases the reveal of Sherlock’s survival, because that’s the point of the whole friggin episode.  It’s why we tuned in.  The episode too knows that we really want to know how Sherlock faked his own death.

I think the way Watson reacts to learning the truth that Sherlock is alive is really realistic.  John wigs out.  He slugs Sherlock for the hurt he’s put him through.  By the end of the episode though, John forgives him.  The rest of the characters are there to react only to Sherlock Holmes and give us an update to what they’ve been doing.  There is an underlying threat and mystery that Sherlock solves, but that is secondary to the truth about Sherlock’s survival and learning about it.  The episode teases us.  Tell us already!  The story makes fun of this notion of the “truth” by making a Sherlock fan even doubt the real story when he hears it, which is extraordinary and quite funny.


The truth is (sorry pun), if you’re not at least a little interested in the show, then all the self-aggrandizing might be quite annoying.  Anyway, that didn’t grate me very much, as I simply love Sherlock Holmes, modern interpretation or not.  That’s another thing.  In all my life, I have never before seen so much fuss made over Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day, as opposed to a period piece.  I must say, I prefer the Jeremy Brett period piece showing Sherlock Holmes in his element, but the modern interpretation is entertaining, I’ll admit that.  Well I’ll admit that now, anyway.  I didn’t watch at first because of my bias, but eventually warmed to Sherlock because I could see the actors really trying their best, doing the best really, to give their audience some quality work.  Plus it’s entertaining and has a good pace, not stopping to drown us in anything too boring.

Anyway, “The Empty Hearse” has some comedy and intrigue, though probably not as much as in previous episodes.  This is because the episode repeats some of the things we love about this Sherlock show though, but it does give us just few new things, like the death reveal, John’s reaction, and the expansion of familiar characters.  The characters Molly and Anderson are given more to do in this episode and I think that’s great.


Overall, the episode was pretty good.  I like the fact that it is smart most of all and makes fun of itself, as it knows the audience really wants to know how Sherlock survived certain death.  The performances are also good, especially by Martin Freeman, who is a more developed character now than when he started.  That’s the thing about most Sherlock Holmes tales and the books.  The characters don’t really change that much.  But Sherlock changes all that.  I, for one, don’t mind.