Sherlock S03E03: His Last Vow

A garbled mess that has no idea where it’s going or why, His Last Vow is the last nail in Sherlock’s coffin; a fall from grace so precipitous and a crying shame so heartrending that the very idea of reviewing it is almost unbearable to me. Her Ladyship has, however, done appalling things for the good of her readers in the past – watching the first episode of School of Thrones and finishing that ghastly intellectual nonentity Labyrinth being among them – so she shall therefore endeavour to write her review without keeling over, screaming or dying. If the latter does occur, however: ‘To God [her] soul. To Rafe Sadler [her] books.’

His Last Vow gets off to a very promising start as we are introduced to our villain of the piece, news giant and serial blackmailer Charles Augustus Magnussen, who has been called before a committee to explain why Number 10 has been blessed with his presence more times this year than has been deemed appropriate. Played by an excellent Lars Mikkelsen, he loves to play on what he calls people’s ‘pressure points,’ and has an icy, creepy, unblinking and utterly revolting charisma about him that reminds you somewhat of Tørk Hviid in Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. We’re soon apprised of the fact that he has a similar lack in scruples as he blackmails committee chairman Lady Elizabeth Smallwood (Lindsay Duncan) to rule in his favour, using some explicit letters that her husband once wrote to a fifteen-year-old girl as leverage. This leads Lady Smallwood to call at Baker Street and ask Sherlock to act as intermediary between them. A fatal mistake, it seems, as this is where the entire episode starts to collapse around our ears; a string of ridiculous coincidences involving Sherlock’s feigned relapse into his drug habits and his seduction of one of Mary’s bridesmaids leading to another string of ridiculous coincidences involving breaking into Magnussen’s office,  discovering that Magnussen is still in his office at the time of the break-in, smelling Lady Smallwood’s perfume on the air, assuming she’s there to kill him, and discovering that the lady with the gun is in fact Mary, who isn’t an adorable nurse, but an ex-CIA assassin who wants Magnussen dead because he’s threatening to blow the whistle. From then on out, the episode is plot point after ridiculous plot point, piled one on top of the other with all the grace of a university student’s laundry pile (or lack thereof); mercifully interspersed with one or two beautiful scenes and unmercifully overdosed with a huge pile of poorly-written, unrealistic, tiresome and pointless ones. Further pandemonium is then brought about by the fact that this is all held together by the spit and prayers of a line of liaison so fixed on where it wants to end up that it doesn’t care which convoluted, nonsensical and utterly stupid routes it has to adopt in order to get there…or at what cost.

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One of the best things about the first two seasons of Sherlock was the scrupulous, almost medical cleanliness of the way each episode was presented: beautifully stark; impeccably precise; complex, yet minimalistic; an indestructible glass house with a baroque darkness about the people living in it; modern London as much a living, breathing predator to Sherlock as Victorian London is to Holmes. The first two seasons embodied everything that is best in British crime drama: heavy on plot, heavy on character, heavy in an inexplicably addictive and redemptive way. They also embodied everything that was best about the Sherlock-John relationship: the infectious camaraderie; the old-married-couple bickering; the almost-always-unspoken symbiosis of it, delivered with minimal words and much action. All of this complexity was kept so perfectly balanced that it probably wouldn’t have collapsed if plonked down on the end of a pin and left to fend for itself.

Oh, the good old days.

Oh, the good old days.

The problem with His Last Vow is that this characteristic sense of control and balance, indeed all sense of control and balance, seems to have disappeared across the board. The episode and its characters are allowed to run riot, and to create scenes of such havoc that one is often left wondering whether one is watching a TV series, or a particularly tedious piece of contemporary art with the aim of demonstrating the chaos that populates a writer’s head prior to a story’s actually beginning to take logical shape. Everything that this episode tries to bring to the fore – the depth of Sherlock’s affection for John, and for Mary; the depth of John’s love for Mary; Mycroft’s true feelings about his embarrassing little brother; Sherlock’s penchant for self-sacrifice and the limitlessness of his brilliant brain – all of it is done in a painfully obvious, lamentably unsubtle, sometimes out-of-character and incredibly over-the-top way that suggests that the script of this episode was not ready to be written, let alone filmed. The whole miserable business is still at the stage where it belongs nowhere but the inside of Stephen Moffatt’s head, or at the very limit, in a heavily-password-protected file in the depths of his computer where it can embarrass no one but him. All writers have one, so why not use it?

It’s all very well to sit here on high complaining about The Last Vow, but it isn’t entirely fair to do so without suggesting possible solutions. How, then, could the mess have been rectified? By a process of intense de-cluttering.

Step 1: Get rid of Lady Elizabeth Smallwood and her husband’s creepy letters. It’s a way of linking Magnussen to Sherlock that is just too round-about, wastes too much time and disappears so quickly into the general confusion that by the time we meet Lady Smallwood again at the end of the episode, we’ve almost forgotten who she is. Doing this would mean compromising on her excellent blackmail scene with Magnussen, and depriving us of the joy of seeing two fine actors like Mikkelsen and Duncan in the same scene, but you can’t have everything, and everything is something this episode already has too much of. So instead of introducing Magnussen through Lady Smallwood and then moving on, make his blackmail of Mary the premise from the start. Do a scene with him and her in which we don’t know who he is (or why he’s blackmailing her), only that she’s there to kill him. Ensure that she is prevented in some way:  do an ‘emails get sent to the press if I die’ thing if absolutely necessary – though with a man of Magnussen’s reputation it would probably take a lifetime for his henchmen to work out which one of the ten thousand ruinous emails he has waiting should be sent in the first place. Anyway, an opening scene of this kind gives Magnussen a chance to show off his initial creepiness, and Mary a chance to show off her new-found mysteriousness.

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Step 2: Get Mary to ask Sherlock for help. Not only will this be an interesting investigation into their relationship (particularly if she blackmails him to keep him quiet; which seems more in character than simply begging him not to tell); but is also a good way to educate the audience about Magnussen without all that pointless mucking about with drug dens; Janine; breaking into Magnussen’s office, and Sherlock getting shot and hospitalised. Also, if you want to be really smart, don’t let the audience in immediately on what Mary’s being blackmailed for. All we need to know is that she considers it momentous enough to end her and John’s marriage, and that the evidence for whatever it is is being held in the vaults beneath Magnussen’s house.

Step 3: So Sherlock tells John, of course; or, as in the episode, finds a way for Mary to unwittingly reveal herself. He does this regardless of anything that he’s been threatened with, and John justifiably freaks out. Don’t switch locations halfway through these two occurrences: if anything, it cuts the tension in half instead of augmenting it. The build up to the conclusion that John’s attracted to psychopaths needs to be re-written completely: Sherlock asking him a bunch of questions and making his conclusions for him just doesn’t really cut it, and neither do John’s responses to him. Actually, since our present state of things doesn’t have Sherlock injured, or clueless as to Mary’s past, leave him out of the scene altogether. Make it a matter between John and Mary, and let them draw conclusions together. A bust-up between them would also be more evocative of character than the somewhat heartless ‘we decide if we want you’ scene. The idea of the flash disk key to Mary’s past is good: keep it.

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Step 4: Find some other way of getting Sherlock and John to Magnussen’s house. That entire Christmas scene, smoking scene, drugging the entire bloody Holmes family+Mary and taking a helicopter ride with Mycroft’s laptop in tow is both too much and too far-fetched for words. Of course this poses the problem of how to get their hands on Mycroft’s laptop without his noticing its absence, and how to barter it with Magnussen without Mary finding out about it (one assumes she would want to know something about how her salvation is being brought about, since in our version of events, she’s asked Sherlock for help). Since drugs clearly have to be in this episode somewhere, use them on Mycroft only and preferably at night, so that the contents of his laptop can be copied onto some mega flash disk à la the missile plans in The Great Game; otherwise onto an external hard drive. Totter off to Magnussen’s place; do the big reveal about his vaults being a mind palace, and hold on to the episode’s present ending if we absolutely have to see Sherlock commit another self-sacrifice. Otherwise, get Sherlock and John into the sort of trouble that usually befalls people who walk into psychopaths’ houses (preferably post-mind palace conversation) and do an ‘unknown shooter’ thing (as in A Study in Pink). Police are called, Sherlock and John go home happy, unknown shooter turns out to be Mary, to whom shooting through the bastard’s window had apparently never before occurred.

Step 5: End off with John saying he’s not going to read the flash disk about Mary’s past. Fin.

This version of events does deprive us of another chance to see Sherlock giving up everything for his friends, but after The Reichenbach Fall, even more self-sacrifice seems a bit excessive.

The Last Vow is not entirely shitty. It has some lovely moments, and a couple of truly brilliant ideas (i.e. Magnussen’s non-existent vaults beneath his home). Unfortunately, the way it’s all executed is so tangled, sloppy and headache-inducing that the good doesn’t even come close to redeeming the bad, and this season of Sherlock suffers for it; ending with a whimper rather than a bang.

Sherlock S03E02: The Sign of Three

Any wedding episode that manages to be totally lacking in corniness without having The Rains of Castamere on its playlist is a jewel, and while The Sign of Three is without doubt the most atypical of all Sherlock episodes in terms of just about everything, it has the distinction not only of being a jewel, but of being a remarkably well-thought-out and impeccably-structured rendering of a fiendishly-complicated plot, and a moving and hilarious bringing-to-light of everything that is good about the Sherlock-John relationship.

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It’s John and Mary’s wedding day, and Sherlock has found the build-up to the event rather distressing, for more reasons than one. Firstly, because of a deep-set fear (that he insists on denying) that John’s being a married man will spell the end of their partnership and will inevitably consign him to the gallows of haunting crime scenes with only a skull to talk to; secondly, because he has to make a speech as best man. His fears on the first count turn out to be groundless, most obviously because John can’t imagine a life without solving crimes, blogging about it and sniggering when Sherlock forgets his pants, but most importantly (and realistically) because John has had the good (and rare) fortune to fall in love with a woman who actually encourages their bromance (Sidebar: Mary is fucking awesome, she like totally sees that they’re both afraid things will change because of her, and likes to make them sneak around together like naughty schoolboys when she’s actually the person who planted the idea of doing the actual sneaking. But anyway.) As to Sherlock’s fears about the best man speech, well, those do turn out to be justified, and it is when confronted with a hall full of loud, half-drunk, oddly-shaped wedding guests and too nervous to be anything but himself, that Sherlock sets the ball rolling across a barrage of memorable cases, anecdotes and other totally sincere praises of the incomparable John Watson that takes an entire episode to navigate, and that soon transforms into one of the most important deductions of Sherlock’s life as it becomes clear that the wedding day is also one ingenious murderer’s personalised version of judgement day.

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Structuring an entire episode around a best man speech, and managing all the inevitable back and forth craziness incumbent upon such a structure, is a huge risk for any production to take: too much, and the audience can’t follow, too little, and the audience falls asleep. In the case of The Sign of Three, the risk pays off beautifully, and a sizeable chunk of the credit for that success goes to writer Stephen Thompson, who, despite his evident prowess and talent from a technical perspective, is also wildly imaginative and unfailingly good at bringing that imagination to the screen; most especially in the devices he employs to help us see what’s going on in Sherlock’s head; some of them classic, some of them entirely new. The most intelligent, and the most entertaining of these, is the lengthy scene involving Sherlock, a lecture hall full of women, Mycroft providing helpful hints from on high, and a surprise appearance by Irene Adler (defrocked), who is promptly told to ‘get out of my head, I’m busy!’ It’s a fantastic metaphor – and it looks good too.

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Whereas last week’s episode was definitely Martin Freeman’s in terms of acting, Sherlock belongs, this week, to Benedict Cumberbatch. Sherlock is utterly unpredictable in this episode (more so than usual, I mean); acting his charming, high-functioning-sociopathic self one minute, and unabashedly praising his friend with total and complete sincerity the next, to the point of making every person present burst into tears. The language might very well have seemed cringeworthy, and out-out-character in the hands of any other actor, but Cumberbatch delivers such a deadly combination of gravity, coldness, emotion and drama that the considerable amount of gut-spilling he does in the praising of John’s character is beautifully touching, and perhaps most importantly, perfectly believable in a character who prides himself on his own freedom from sentiment. Acting kudos also go to Amanda Abingdon, who is luminous, smart and hilarious as Mary, and to Alistair Petrie, who is tragic and charismatic as John’s ex-commander, Major Sholto.

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A huge improvement from last week across the board, The Sign of Three does nevertheless leave one wishing that something more would have happened, or at least that things might have been a bit less predictable. It’s a problem that also popped up in The Empty Hearse, but The Sign of Three is simply too much fun for me to throw my toys out of the cot about it. And there’s always next week; which, considering the story on which it is based, will more than make up for these rather glaring deficiencies in plot.

Sherlock S03E01: The Empty Hearse (Review)

Her Ladyship takes time off from her wanderings in the dark corridors of fan fiction to watch the premier episode of Sherlock season 3 and to reason from what she sees.

A singularly-strange and enjoyable little episode that feels a lot more like the product of the hugely-hyperactive and oft OTT pen of Steven Moffat than the darkly-intelligent work of its actual writer, Mark Gatiss, The Empty Hearse is big on chemistry, hugely entertaining and very promising of more awesomeness to come; yet falls a little flat in terms of plot, and of the mishandling of a few subtle but entirely basic Sherlock character traits that doesn’t quite seem pardonable in a show run by a pair of Holmes junkies.

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The Empty Hearse has a lot of fun ridiculing the many fan theories (both plausible and preposterous) that have popped up since the deeply-moving rooftop scene in The Reichenbach Fall that had most of us crying and screaming into our pillows for days after it was shown. None, however, is quite so much fun as the one we are introduced to first, in the episode’s engaging and utterly-badass opening sequence that brings us everything from the strategically-placed cyclist, to the bungee-rope-not-bungee-rope in Sherlock’s coat, to the Sherlock mask on Moriarty’s corpse; as well as a range of other awesomeness of which we shall not speak (except Sherlock crashing through the mortuary window and sticking his tongue down Molly’s throat. That part was too much fun not to mention). After the opening sequence, the show loses no time in informing us that Sherlock has been fully exonerated, post-mortem, of the charges trumped up by Moriarty, has spent the past two years dismantling the criminal genius’ network, and has been recalled to London from the depths of a Serbian torture chamber by his brother Mycroft, who wants him to investigate an imminent terrorist threat to the city. This, of course, means being reunited with John, who is newly-engaged, still grieving the loss of his best friend to the point of not having contacted Mrs Hudson for two years, and will probably be none too pleased that Sherlock has knowingly allowed him to go through hell. John’s reaction to the discovery that Sherlock is alive constitutes the main crux of the episode, and it is, most unfortunately, a double-edged sword of a focal point.

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First up, John. Martin Freeman’s acting is beautifully, movingly and vividly realistic. In John’s day-to-day existence he dons the grin-and-bear-it mask that so many bereaved people wear every day of their lives no matter how much it hurts. In his quieter moments of remembrance with his fiancée Mary (Amanda Abbingdon), and in the touchingly-garbled and emotional conversation that he has with Mrs Hudson when he finally works up the courage to visit 221B after Sherlock’s death, he starts to let us in more and more as to what he’s been thinking and feeling in coming to terms with the ‘aloneness’ of a world without Sherlock. It’s in his interaction with Sherlock himself, of course, that all hell truly breaks loose, and the naturally-volcanic chemistry between Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a whole lot of highly-emotional, heartrending and side-splitting scenes together, as John alternates between listening to Sherlock trying (and failing) to explain himself in an acceptable manner; and attempting to murder Sherlock in a variety of ways for what he has done.

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It is Sherlock’s half of the equation, regrettably, that just doesn’t feel right, and the problem lies in the script’s characterisation of him. Yes, we all know that Sherlock is a sociopath and has a near-autistic inability to understand or consider the feelings of others; and this may very well lead us to make the same conclusions, in terms of his character, that Gatiss has made in the script, i.e. Sherlock believes that John will be ‘delighted’ to discover that he is alive; doesn’t display anything that could reasonably be called remorse; is quite at a loss to understand why his friend doesn’t forgive him immediately; and is willing to resort to the most callous (if typical) of theatrics to bring John’s true feelings about him to the fore.

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‘If his theatrics are typical, then what’s the problem?’ The answer to that question is in the Reichenbach Fall itself. The pathos of that scene; the incredible emotion and tragedy of it; Sherlock’s willingness to destroy both himself and his reputation for the good of his friends; the fact that we see him crying towards the end of it; the usually stunted nature of his emotions transformed in the face of death, even though the great detective almost certainly knows, at that point, that he will not die: the idea of those emotions being simulated is, to Her Ladyship at least, absolutely unthinkable. Watching it, you’re really seized with the idea of separation being just as painful for Sherlock as it is for John (even if it isn’t, John not being about to die), and as a viewer, you’re granted a rare opportunity of seeing that, unburied beneath all Sherlock’s usual bullshit. I’m not saying that I wanted Sherlock to break down and be an emotional wreck for most of The Empty Hearse. Emotion is not something he does easily or lightly: but just one, tiny particle of a millisecond of acknowledgment of how hard it must have been for him to know that for two years, his friend was just a text away from being spared complete misery and heartache, would have rendered the Sherlock we see in this episode just a little more human, and would have ensured that the Reichenbach Fall itself, arguably the greatest scene ever between Sherlock and John, was not so shamelessly trivialised.
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The original short story on which this episode is based, The Empty House, succeeds marvellously at this particular aspect of Holmes’ character, even though he is faced with an entirely forgiving Watson who does nothing more alarming that faint at the sight of him. The short story manages to preserve both Holmes’ character, and the uncharacteristic expression of the depth of his regard for Watson. Let’s look at a quote:

“I had only one confidant – my brother Mycroft. I owe you many apologies, my dear Watson, but it was all-important that it should be thought I was dead, and it is quite certain that you would not have written so convincing an account of my unhappy end had you not yourself thought that it was true. Several times during the last three years I have taken up my pen to write to you, but always I feared lest your affectionate regard for me should tempt you to some indiscretion which would betray my secret (…) I came over at once to London, called in my own person at Baker Street, threw Mrs Hudson into violent hysterics, and found that Mycroft had preserved my rooms and my papers exactly as they had always been. So it was, my dear Watson, that at two o’clock to-day I found myself in my old armchair in my own old room, and only wishing that I could have seen my old friend Watson in the other chair which he has so often adorned.”

In contemporary English: ‘I was scared that you’d do something stupid if you knew I was alive. I knew what you must have been going through, I missed you like hell, and I’m sorry.’ The short story preserves Holmes’ charming narcissism and high opinion of himself, while still presenting us with a touching apology and a sincere admission of guilt. Will somebody please explain to me why this could not be done convincingly in The Empty Hearse? True, Victorian men were much more vocal about their affections for their friends than contemporary ones, but the Moffat/Gatiss Sherlock could easily have portrayed emotions parallel with those of the Conan-Doylian Holmes even without saying a word, and this could have been achieved with just a tad more attention to detail and subtlety in the script. I find it very hard to believe that a writing and production team working with an actor of Benedict Cumberbatch’s calibre could not find some way of doing this properly.

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But now I’m acting as though the entire episode was ruined by this one thing; and that is very far from the truth. Most of the scenes between John and Sherlock are an absolute joy to watch, thanks to the aforementioned Freeman-Cumberbatch chemistry, and as the original storyline of the terrorist plot on London becomes more and more submerged in the interaction between their characters, we find that we don’t mind very much at all. There is a wonderful scene involving Sherlock, John, a bomb and a railway cart (V for Vendetta?) that makes for phenomenal viewing thanks to its powerful acting (I don’t ship Sherlock and John as a couple, but I must confess to harbouring sentiments distinctly of the ‘just kiss him, already!’ persuasion while watching it). A pleasant surprise is the instant and seemingly-mutual respect that springs up between Sherlock, and John’s fiancée Mary, which should provide us with plenty of interesting interactions in future episodes; particularly in terms of the way it will no doubt develop when the time actually comes for John and Mary to get married. An unpleasant surprise is the recourse to terrible jokes and clichés for no apparent reason (what exactly was the point of making such a terrific fuss about Sherlock getting his coat back, à la Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood: Children of Earth?). But, ultimately, The Empty Hearse is well-acted enough, and entertaining enough, to keep us wanting more, and to make us give the showrunners the benefit of the doubt thanks to the awesomeness of their previous material. Her Ladyship shall return next week, to find out if the game is afoot, or over.

The 10 Best Sherlock Holmes Fanvids on YouTube

Artwork courtesy of avikstudio.files.wordpress.com

Artwork courtesy of avikstudio.files.wordpress.com

Let us praise the faceless rock stars and the consummate artists that most of us only know through an alias: the YouTube vidders who open up the many dimensions of Holmes and permit us to see into them as they do. Collected here are my top ten Sherlock Holmes fanvids from the timeless interpretations of Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch in no particular order (I reserve the right to omit the Downey Jnr movies, this being my blog): some of them are hilarious, some of them disturbing and some simply make you cry. Whatever the intention of the vidder was, these fanvids make up the cream of the crop in an extremely crowded online market.

1. Title:  Sherlock: No Light, No Light. (A Reichenbach Fall Fanvideo).

    Vidder: RockPrincessMarta

2. Title: Holmes & Watson- Fix You

     Vidder: givemeanimeanyday

3. Title: two fools in love | sherlock bbc

     Vidder: Deductism.

4. Title: Holmes/Watson My Life Would Suck Without You

     Vidder: B Smith

5. Title: Seven Nation Army- [Sherlock] [Series 2]

     Vidder: Sherlock Whovian

6. Title: Sherlock Holmes – Dangerous Mind

     Vidder: VHunter07

7. Title: Sherlock: I Am Not A Robot

      Vidder: ShortAngryRedHead

8. Title: The Way You Move- Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

     Vidder: givemeanimeanyday

9. Title: losing your memory | sherlock

Vidder: OMNJJ134•

10. Title: If Everyone Cared

Vidder: MishaFromPoland

 

A Novice Holmesian’s Ultimate Wishlist for Sherlock Season 3

sherlockLet’s say from the outset that I think that this season’s keywords, ‘Rat,’ ‘Wedding’ and ‘Bow’ refer to the giant rat of Sumatra, The Sign of Four and pretty much any of the stories in His Last Bow (please let it be The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot please let it be The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot please let it be The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot). However, since I don’t for a second presume to have an inkling of what’s going on inside the heads of Moffat the Magnificent and Gatiss the Great, this post isn’t really going to talk about that: I’ll just talk about an idealistic, rather whimsical bunch of stuff based on the canons of Sherlock and of Holmes that I would seriously love to see happen in Season 3, but probably never will. And since both Sherlock and Jim love to play, I suppose it’s okay if I do too.

When Sherlock turns out to be alive, John either faints (this would be beautiful and moving) or punches Sherlock in the face (this would be extremely funny).

sh_203-60a sThis one’s being flying around my head for ages, more than the question of how Sherlock actually survived in the first place. In the stories, Watson faints from shock because Holmes appears in disguise as a garrulous old bookseller – this subsequently causes Holmes some concern, because he had no idea Watson would be ‘so affected.’ Because of the high emotion and tragedy of the last few minutes of The Reichenbach Fall, I honestly can’t see Sherlock adopting this strategy – it trivializes that intense openness of their last few moments together that had most fans crying miserably into their pillows for hours afterwards. On the other hand, that same intensity seems sufficient for said fainting to take place without a disguise being necessary, and would make for gorgeous continuity of that same emotion, before they inevitably snap out of it and resume their former state of spending most of their time quarrelling like an old married couple. The punching Sherlock in the face option would work just as well for snapping out of Reichenbach emotion, the usual state of the friendship being resumed as soon as they meet. While this would simultaneously be funny and put things back to some semblance of normality, it carries the same risk of triviality as a disguise would. I also have a strong suspicion that John will not be as quick to forgive as he is in the stories, which would no doubt create a very nice tension in the first episode. No problems there.

John’s limp comes back when he believes Sherlock to be dead

Let’s remember two things: John’s rather nightmarish life before he meets Sherlock and his heartbreaking words over his friend’s grave – ‘I was…so alone. I owe you so much.’ Losing Sherlock is no doubt going to put him right back where he started, and making his limp come back would be a more powerful symbol of the loss he feels than anything you could accomplish with dialogue or acting (not that Martin Freeman wouldn’t be more than equal to the task).

The entire world understands that Moriarty was fucking real

sherlock6sherlock2_moriarty-spot Sherlock coming back from the dead isn’t going to create much of a change if everyone still believes him to be a pathological liar. SO, Sherlock and John need to make sure that everyone recognizes the terrifying, insane, narcissistic, devastatingly sexy little shit for what he was and blow up Richard Brook in alphabetical order. This running parallel to whatever crime has been committed, together with Sherlock and John re-establishing their friendship would make for a first episode so chockablock full of awesome that it would make most of us collapse in a heap afterwards from our brains being unable to handle it.

Get a couple of people fired for sticking by Sherlock

Here I’m thinking Molly and Lestrade, though something tells me it’s most likely to be Molly. As ridiculous as she can be, her belief in Sherlock really is quite profound, and I think she’s the kind of person who would never give up on him, even if it got her fired. She could be the Connie Sachs of the Sherlock universe. I’m not entirely convinced that Lestrade wouldn’t turn his back on Sherlock because he trusts Andersen and Donavan’s judgment, but after this whole disaster he’s likely to get suspended, demoted or fired anyway.

John meets Mary

101_0156Let’s assume for argument’s sake that I’m right about episode two being The Sign of Four and that John does actually end up falling in love and getting married. As we’ve seen from previous episodes, Sherlock’s attitude to John’s girlfriends ranges from tolerance tinged with coolness and boredom (Sarah) to blatant nastiness (‘Sarah was the doctor and then there was the one with the spots and the one with the nose and who was after the boring teacher?’ ‘Nobody.’ ‘Jeanette!’). Thinking about his reaction to John getting married frankly terrifies me. In the story The Blanched Soldier, Holmes’ description of Watson’s marriage could either be described as rather sweet or rather autistic, depending on how you look at it: ‘the good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association.’ So, if this happens in an episode, it could happen in a number of ways. One: John meets Mary while he believes Sherlock is dead, Sherlock comes back, hilarity ensues. Two: the producers use the Downey Jnr. movies as a template and have a horribly rocky start between Sherlock and Mary that eventually develops to a kind of respect. Three: make Mary so unbelievably incredible that Sherlock takes to her right away (unlikely). The good thing about all three of these is that while Mary is an absolute wimp in the books, this is a golden opportunity to introduce a permanent strong female character, something the show has rather lacked, as much as we love poor Molly.

Violet Hunter shows up

Natasha Richardson as Violet Hunter in the Grenada TV adaptation of The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Natasha Richardson as Violet Hunter in the Grenada TV adaptation of The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Yes. I’m fully aware that after the disaster with Irene, Sherlock is staying as far away from girls as is humanly possible, plus it’s high time that poor John got some action. So who’s Violet Hunter?

She’s the client in the story The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, and is usually ignored because of the entirely unjustified hysteria surrounding A Scandal in Bohemia (Holmes and Irene don’t even MEET, for God’s sake, so what’s all this lovey-dovey crap for? Anyway…). She first approaches Holmes for advice as to whether she should accept a post as a governess with a creepy employer and Holmes is instantly impressed by her. It eventually turns out that she’s determined to accept but would appreciate it if Holmes would help her out if her employer turned out to be creepy in a disagreeable way. Holmes spends much of the next two weeks worrying himself sick about her and muttering to himself that he’d never allow any sister of his to accept such a situation. Inevitably, Violet’s employer turns out to be creepy in a disagreeable way and though when Holmes and Watson join her, she admits to being terrified, she tells her story in detail and with flawless composure, and they find that she’s acted like a total badass in attempting to get down to the bottom of her employer’s strange behavior; Holmes subsequently informing her that she’s fucking awesome (‘I should not ask it of you if I did not think you a quite exceptional woman’). She then fearlessly assists Holmes and Watson in apprehending her employer. Holmes then typically forgets all about her awesomeness the minute she isn’t his client any more (sigh).

Holmes and Violet is one of my many pet ships, and it’s sufficient to type her name into Google to find people who think so too: ‘where’s the love for Violet Hunter, Sherlock Holmes fans?’, ‘Violet Hunter: Another Young Woman of Holmes’ Interest’ and ‘Violet Hunter: the best character that nobody cares about’ are among my favourite headings. She was beautifully portrayed by a young Natasha Richardson in the Grenada TV adaptation, boasting positively volcanic chemistry with Jeremy Brett’s iconic Holmes. It would be absolutely awesome to see her in Season 3, but after Irene, I don’t think we will.

Work more on Sherlock’s relationship with Mycroft

We’ve been dancing around the edges of this one for the last two seasons, but after giving a ton of personal information about Sherlock to Moriarty just to make him talk is directly responsible for the death of his own brother, I think it’s time for Mycroft to let us know what all this incomprehensible sibling rivalry is about.

Sherlock and John end up in the sack
Oh come on! JUST once!