TV Show Review

TV Review: SHERLOCK, Season 3, Episode 2: The Sign Of Three [BBC, PBS]

Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman Sherlock The Sign of Three

BBC’s Sherlock The Sign Of Three TV Show Review. Sherlock: Season 3, Episode 2: The Sign Of Three forgoes the perfectionistic view of the protagonist and replaces it with the deeply moving theme of Holmes’ character as a loner. This episode is better in every way than the otherwise exceptional The Empty Hearse. The emotional resonance is increased, the humour is crazy good and the intelligence and the creativity invested in the unravelling of the episode’s mystery is nothing short of mind-blowing. Freeman but especially Cumberbatch display the full range of their acting capabilities while dealing with murder, alcohol, painfully uncomfortable situations and heart-warming moments. The episode’s greatest achievement is the way Sherlock is displayed with his powers and weaknesses at the same time. The brilliance of his character is that he is capable of helping people through his tremendous wits and detective abilities but is incapable of normal social behaviour at the same time and so he happens to be alienated from others and alone as a human being.  This conflict is explored thoroughly with emotion and wisdom in the spectacular one and a half hours of this episode.

First off, the humour is everywhere around this episode. Benedict Cumberbatch can be just as cool and charismatically stone-cold intelligent as he can be quietly and yet outrageously funny.  The writers offer us situations which are highly unnatural for the infamous detective-a wedding best man speech, a drunken night in a bar, etc. Sherlock is placed in all those situations but the writers never forget his character and the enormous comic resonance is derived exactly from the way the highly intelligent, nerdy, indifferent Sherlock reacts with those unfamiliar territories. Sometimes it is just painfully embarrassing to behold and sometimes it is just a hundred percent pure comedy. You are bound to laugh either way, regardless if you observe how Holmes is drinking a beer in a bar from a chemical test tube or when he is falling asleep while examining the floor for clues due to his helplessly drunken condition. The episode will make you ask yourself ‘What the hell am I watching?’ but you will always buy it because the true Holmes and Watson never leave the screen. You will enjoy it, be fascinated by it and never taken aback.

Secondly, this one of the most intelligently constructed Sherlock episodes ever. Holmes and we as the audience goes through the majority of the episode receiving clues regarding a possible case of murder but until the spectacular conclusion, we never really realize that these particular moments were the clues. The episode is written in a way so that every little insignificant detail of the story is actually a key to the solving of the case and when you see over and over again how Sherlock puts the pieces of the puzzle together you feel equally mind-blown and respectful towards this extra-ordinary sharp character. There is one particularly top-notch sequence in which Sherlock’s mind is depicted as a court room in which he questions all of the possible people that can answer the mystery. It is long-at least five to ten minutes but the artistry, the humour and the wit displayed by the writers in depicting Sherlock’s incredible mind are irreplaceably superb. The mystery in ‘The Sign of Three’ displays Sherlock’s entire potential as a detective and takes us on a wonderful journey through his formidable brain putting us right in the middle of his unique way of investigation.

The best part of the ‘The Sign of Three’ and my personal favourite is the emotional resonance. There are thrills to be experienced as murder and secrets are beheld and there is excitement as the answer is being discovered but these are ordinary sensations for the show. What is special in this episode is the painful embarrassing silences which we experience during Holmes’ sequences of social failure, especially at the wedding. There is the humorous element of it but the painful silences that define the negative side of Sherlock’s character are also undeniable. The most moving parts of the episodes are the moments when Sherlock acknowledges his one weakness-his inability to interact with people and when at the same time he uses his genius in order to help his friends. Regardless of how weird it may sound, it almost looks like he is there to help and serve others and not to enjoy himself as they can. He is a higher creature, someone who is unique and brilliant but that vast difference in him costs him the normal life amongst his normal friends.

The Sign of Three is a rarely and originally emotional, utterly hilarious and fascinatingly intelligent episode that is a worthy middle chapter in this new season.

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Deyan Angelov

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