Thoughts on Sherlock: ‘The Empty Hearse’ (SPOILERS)

Towards the end of 2013, promotion of Sherlock Series 3 has since surprisingly increased, leading to a revelation that it would return on New Year’s Day, 2014.

Social media hype swiftly followed, with excitement rising about the revelation of how Sherlock survived the fall at the end of Series 2. Entitled The Empty Hearse (a play on the Sherlock tale, The Empty House), writers of the episode promised that how and why Sherlock did it would be revealed, as well as the shock re-introduction of Sherlock back into Watson’s life. If anything, the show well and truly delivered…

Throughout the show, the fans were in for a variety of treats, with the show fulfilling many Tumblr theories and fantasies about the fall. These included theories such as Sherlock using a rope, kissing Molly or (scarily) Moriarty, and getting Derren Brown in on it (a rather cheekily pulled-off cameo). All of which were attempts to just frustrate us, and along with it working, it definitely made me laugh.

But in terms of the story itself, there was only one thing that was predictable about the episode itself… That being that we knew Watson wouldn’t be too pleased when Sherlock decides to go walking back into Watson’s now-moved-on life. In particular, the moment when Sherlock reintroduces himself to John was that of pure brilliance. With the act of disguise being one of Sherlock’s many skills, the show added a hint of humour to the revelation before it fulfilled the prediction that there would be a punch-up. Not once, but three times!

But let’s not also forget that Watson now has a love interest, that being Mary Morstan. Despite her having a seemingly minor role in the episode, it is clear that this love will flourish (particularly in the next episode – no spoilers!).

So, with Sherlock and John going their separate ways in a strop-like fashion, Sherlock temporarily recruits Molly as his new “Watson”/sidekick. This sees Molly do a rather good job as a forensic expert, and wins a kiss from Sherlock (which no doubt filled more Tumblr fantasies).

Talking of fan-tasies and other comments made on the new series, the fact that John grew a moustache over the course of the two year gap created in the episode, surprised, amused, and shocked some fans. But in the end, Sherlock and Mary, and to be honest, all of us, agreed that the moustache should go, which lead to even more hilarity in the episode. Also, let’s not forget the brief comment made by Mrs Hudson about Sherlock and Watson being together… At last, the OTP of “JohnLock”, according to fans of the show, has been fulfilled by the writers of the episode, and I have no doubt that they’re greatful.

OK, so back to the plot. The premise itself seemed fitting, and appeared as being a rather high-octane opening to the series. With some very emotional moments near the end, but not of course without some occasional joking and banter between John and Sherlock. The episode itself truly allows the friendship between the two of them to grow stronger upon Sherlock’s return, and if anything, this actually shaped him. In the moments where Sherlock examined the body with Molly, the thoughts from John that Sherlock kept having was intriguing, as it implies that Sherlock is slowly settling into the “ordinary” stereotype of Watson and everyone else in the Sherlock universe.

There was also some action involved as well, with John waking up to find himself in the middle of a bonfire. With the writers pumping up the pressure for the first episode, along with Sherlock and Mary dashing to the scene. The episode did well to create a lot of intrigue, which added of course to the overwhelming curiosity when it comes to how exactly did he do it?

In my opinion, the show was clever to reveal it. Teasing us first before finally revealing it to us in an equally clever fashion – to the person you’d last expect him to reveal it to, Anderson. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but feel that everyone’s theory was accurate at some point, so I feel pleased that I could say “I knew it!” to at least some of it.

As well as Sherlock restoring the awkward situation with Anderson to a mutual level, it was good to see that Mycroft and Sherlock have finally got on well as brothers, and that the police officer, Sally Donovan, has since randomly disappeared. I feel as though the majority of us were beginning to get a bit tired of her whinging…

The only thing that annoyed me as a fan was how true it remained to the Conan Doyle story, The Empty House, which I presumed the episode would be based upon. Instead, the episode did not present a Sebastian Moran, but a more modern twist to the plot. However, it was a good twist, and stayed true to the book on the grounds that it reintroduced Sherlock back into John’s life.

So with Moriarty well and truly gone (with only a few new snippets of Andrew Scott shown in the theories), all that’s left for the writers to do is introduce the next archvillan, and they did that brilliantly in the traditional fashion. The last few minutes of the episode, like the first series, were dedicated to the new villian, named Charles Augustus Magnussen. I have no doubt that it will be a promising introduction for him.

So we are left at the end, well, me at least, scratching our heads at what excitement, craziness and hilarity the episode involved. The awe created was simply brilliant, and we are left to anticipate the show on Sunday, where Sherlock will perform a best man speech. It is clear that throughout the series, the action and humour that we’ve been longing for all this time will return in the second episode.

Liam

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