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Jan 19, 2014

TV Review: SHERLOCK, Season 3, Episode 1: The Empty Hearse [BBC, PBS]

Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman Sherlock

BBC’s Sherlock The Empty Hearse TV Show Review. Sherlock: Season 3, Episode 1: The Empty Hearse began the third season of the cult British TV series and kicks off with a spectacular episode, which appropriately glorifies the world’s most famous detective in every way imaginable. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the classy duo that was the heart and mind of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) make fans of this modern take of Sherlock’s character wish that the new season lasted for much more than just three episodes. ‘The Empty Hearse’ offers thrills, mystery, drama, humour and jaw-dropping, stylish sequences of revelation, all of which eventually serve to worship Sherlock Holmes’ unrivalled coolness and truly immortal intelligence.

The dramatic resonance of the episode or otherwise the relationship of Watson and Holmes that is affected by the faked death of Sherlock remarkably succeeds in matching that constant feeling of admiration for Holmes’ genius. This main emotive conflict is also a perfect starter for this new season-a reminder of the bond between these two legendary collaborators and their exceptional friendship in the face of death. Emotional drama is not why we watch Sherlock but this new episode reminds us that there is more to it than bad-ass, stone-cold genius and mind games to the show, which anyway are more than enough for any average viewer to enjoy the show. Sherlock is this wunderkind that cares more about his reputation than the feelings of Watson and Watson is this slightly inferior character, which spends most of his conversations arguing with Sherlock but both of these guys care for each other and beneath those obvious contradictions, we can feel the bond and we love it.

Uncomfortable bromance emotions aside, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is as brilliant, funny, unpredictable and cool as ever. The episode is full of stylishly directed and edited sequences in which the protagonist thrilling unravels mysteries and conversations that demonstrate Holmes’ extremely-likable arrogance and self-confidence. These series know exactly how cool Sherlock is and the writers are not afraid to take this coolness for granted as in moments like the one when Watson himself declares: ‘You are as clever as it gets.’ His friendly debauchery is the most charismatic part of Sherlock’s character-the way he plays carelessly with everyone and everybody and the way those ‘victims’ eventually admire his genius. At some point, even Watson’s romantic partner expresses her admiration for him even though earlier Holmes is quick to interrupt Watson’s engagement proposal to her.

‘The Empty Hearse’ however also offers us a lot of fresh moments to admire Holmes like the ingeniously faked incident of his apparent demise to the way his intelligence is incapable of failure as he unstoppably uncovers formidable secrets and saves lives. There are moments when the situation seems too grim and when the characters themselves admit defeat and Watson provokes Holmes to come up with an answer because he is Sherlock Holmes and then even, we, the audience believe that Holmes can’t handle it until he surprises us again, raising the bar of our possible admiration for this unbeatable hero. ‘The Empty Hearse’ is quite a perfect title for the episode. Within the story it is actually a small club dedicated to explaining Holmes’ genius while marvelling it and we truly start to feel as members of this club while watching the episode. The stakes go higher and higher, the tasks grow more difficult and with every successful move that Holmes make and the incredible, humorously-ingenious ease he eventually does it with, we are reminded more and more of Sherlock Holmes’ overwhelming genius that forces us to love him.

All in all, a truly great start to a great season and an episode that reminds us why we like this modern Sherlock and energizes us not simply for the remaining episodes but certainly for the remaining seasons of the show.

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