It is John’s big day and quite an eventful one for Sherlock as well. What could possibly happen when the Great Detective is your best man?
It wasn’t quite the adaptation of The Sign of Four that some may have hoped for, but instead we see more of the relationship between John and Watson. In the build-up to the wedding, once again as in the previous episode, it is Mary who is the bridge between the two men. Speaking to both of them privately and ensuring that one looks after the other, in particular following Sherlock’s bizarre folding of the napkins, and then offering both a simultaneous thumbs up, this highlighted her important role now in the series.
Then we arrive at the wedding and the ceremony itself. Most of this revolved around Sherlock as best man and his apparent fear of speaking in public. Beginning with summoning the police to help write his speech, to his awkward welcoming of “ladies, gentlemen and others”, culminating with his deconstruction of the concept of marriage itself, it became a delightfully awkward moment. It was here though that the structure of the episode became apparent. Showing events in flashback, the cases of the Bleeding Guard and Mayfly Man seemed at first to be designed to showcase John as a man who took charge and a contrast to Sherlock’s cold exterior, masterfully managing to insult and compliment him at the same time.
Only later do we see the connections, much as Sherlock himself does, with a little analytical help from brother Mycroft. Major Sholto, Jonathan Small and two references to dwarves (in a case with a blowpipe called The Poisoned Dart of all things) and the pieces begin to fall into place. Early on in the episode a quick glance at Twitter had shown me that not everyone was enjoying the episode up to this point, that things had been a little too scattergun for people’s liking, but it is here that everything came together. The critics were judging it far too early and by the end I was left quite impressed by the final solution, one that gives it a modern twist to the proceedings.
The crime though was overshadowed by John and Sherlock as we see more of their developing relationship. The wonderfully calculated stag-do, complete with murderous locations and test-tube alcohol consumption, was a hilarious insight into the two men. Culminating in Sherlock vomiting on a carpet and a night in the cells, ‘Drunk Sherlock’ is now destined to enter into the Holmes canon (Did anyone else notice his reference to not smoking anymore? No tobacco for our detective but he can binge drink?)
It did leave us with a few questions though. What happened to the Waters family of bank robbers? I thought they would be involved in the ‘treasure’ if this was to be a straightforward re-telling of The Sign of Four. And what to think of Mrs Hudson? She is certainly a character with plenty of story to explore.
It is only at the very end do we see the true meaning of The Sign of Three and leave John and Mary happily married and expectant parents. However as Sherlock walks off into the night, perhaps foretold by Mrs Hudson, you can’t help but feel that after a particularly light episode, darkness will follow as His Last Vow looms on the horizon…