Sherlock: 302 “The Sign of Three” Review
Reviewed by David Selby
I’m afraid I can’t praise The Sign of Three. All sentimental values in the series stand opposed to the demanding, cold mentality through which I approach it. A wedding story can be, in my considered opinion, nothing short of a clichéd soap opera epitomising all that is false, specious and irrational with television these days. Today I’m writing about the formulaic but inevitable event which is the doom of modern TV. Anyway, let’s talk about the episode.
If chose to burden myself with Sunday night entertainment during my free-time, it is not out of sentiment or caprice; it is that they can sometimes have many fine qualities of their own which are overlooked in their compulsion to please the casual viewer. Indeed, any reputation that a worthy fan has for mental acuity, dedication to the series and sharpness comes, in truth, from the extraordinary contrast which ‘one-time watchers’ so flawlessly provide – albeit lumber statistics with. Set designers often favour plain backdrops for the representation of weddings, and there is a certain analogy there, I feel. And analogies are, after all, the writer’s own plan to enhance the value of his screenplay on closer inspection – or it would be, if my internet wasn’t so bad and I didn’t even get the opportunity to watch the episode back on iPlayer.
The point I’m trying to make is that I am the most negative, frustrating, ignorant and all-round obnoxious reviewer whose reviews anyone could possibly have the misfortune to read. I am dismissive of the ingenious, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of perfect television. So if I didn’t understand why I was being asked to review the episode it is because I never expected to be counted as a dedicated fan. And certainly not a fan of the cleverest, most moving and surprising television series I have ever had the good fortune of watching. I am a ridiculous reviewer, redeemed only by the awareness and warmth brought to me by this enthralling series. But, as I am apparently its fan, I cannot congratulate it on its viewers.
Now, after hearing the response from the people whom I have spoken to, I can. To the casual viewer it is the highest compliment of which I am capable, but I will say it now: anyone who enjoyed the episode deserved to do so; and I can only hope that, if they continue with the series, it brings them the same utmost pleasure which it brought me. The show has endured tragic moments, hardships and tragic decisions, but now it must be known that today, it is presented to an audience made up of the viewer it has unexpectedly captured and the fan it has saved. In short, the people who love the show the most. Now, onto some comments about the episode… (What?)
Its quality astonished me. Whilst I enjoyed the romanticism of The Sign of the Four – and indeed had high expectations for an episode which could possibly live up to the genuinely believable standards of a book written with passion and experience of love – I’d never expected something which could possible rival it with old ideas and drunken comedy. How wrong I was.
It was the most hilarious Sherlock episode yet. When one considers that the lead actors were stone-cold sober during filming, it is a remarkable result that the crime-solving duo’s ‘stag night’ was so amusingly realistic. It wasn’t something I’d ever wanted to see, yet following the airing, I now want to view it over again.
I could compare my qualities as a reviewer to Sherlock’s qualities as a human being: fastidious, unsentimental and cynical. Just as I was enlightened by the episode’s enriching emotional values, Sherlock himself progressed into a sincerely lovable human being, and it’s clearly thanks to John’s influence. The series has undoubtedly become character-driven. It now revolves around the dynamic between the three (or should I now say, four?) protagonists who seem to bounce off each other with the vigour and excitement of their first episode but the familiarity and authenticity of years. Mary keeps the two boys in line whilst Sherlock and John are like old friends who work around their intricate lives to find time for each other.
It was a revealing episode for Sherlock, particularly in terms of the very imaginative case. Sherlock migrates to a ‘mind palace’ of sorts for a large part of the episode (which shows off McCarthy’s exceptional direction) in which Mycroft is, very revealingly, the judge. The whole time, the eponymous character manages to balance both a perfect speech for his best friend’s big day and a seemingly unsolvable case.
Finally, Sherlock makes his last vow, foreshadowing the tragic events of next week. He’s promised that he’ll always be there for John, Mary, and the baby – but with the sinister Charles Augustus Magnussen lurking behind every corner, will it be a broken vow?
Today we saw two people make vows. I’ve never made a vow in my life so, here in front of you all, my first vow: Sherlock, whatever it takes, whatever happens, from now on I swear, I will always be a fan. Always. Because, frankly, such a spectacular piece of fiction deserves very little else.