Sherlock ‘The Empty Hearse’ (Spoiler-Free Review)

Sherlock Season 3; Episode 1’The Empty Hearse’ marks the return of Sherlock Holmes

What exactly does the public know about Sherlock Holmes? We know that he is a super sleuth detective with the mind of a cold, calculating computer and the temperament of Ebenezer Scrooge. We also know that the last time any of us saw him was when he had decided—or rather was forced—to plunge to his death at Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital and somehow managed to live. It was the cliff hanger of the season two episode ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ that left fans around the globe wondering how Sherlock Holmes faked his death, and left his best—and only friend—John Watson ignorant of the fact that he was, indeed, alive.

The episode ‘The Empty Hearse’ which aired January 1st on BBC One reintroduced (about damn time) our favorite crime solving sociopath. The episode takes place after a two-year hiatus and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) has been abdicated of his sins from the previous season where the media had made everyone believe that Sherlock Holmes was a fraud and hired an actor to play Moriarty so that all of England could revel in his smartness. Even though Sherlock Holmes was publicly pardoned the entire world believed him to be dead and no amount of apologizes could bring him back to the land of the living.

We are introduced to a sad, but stable John Watson (Martin Freeman) who is on his way to the apartment that he used to share with Sherlock to clean out his own things and move in with his girlfriend Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington). There is a sentimental bit between John and his former landlady Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) in which she remarks on the state of his new mustache—a reoccurring joke throughout the episode—as aging him far too much. It is the period of this two year hiatus that marks a dormant gloomy change to the characters that surrounded Sherlock’s life two seasons prior and how they’ve all coped and moved on without him that makes this episode a remarkable reintroduction to the series.

As viewers watch the episode we are put into the place of Sherlock Holmes who is abroad (for a lack of a better spoiler ridden word) trying to get his way back to London and he figures that everyone he knew two years ago hadn’t continued on with a normal life since his faux pas passing. In a scene where Sherlock is talking to his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), Sherlock is slightly wounded by the news that his friend had moved from their apartment and carried on with his life. Sherlock returns to London and encounters all of our favorite Londonites to un-confirm his death. The audience as well as Sherlock can see the affects his passing had caused on those that he surrounded himself with, but is especially keen on the hurt he caused John while he was away. Most the episode is spent with John being furious with him to the point that Sherlock enlists the help of (spoiler, spoiler) to solve crimes.

In a heart wrenching, action packed and comedic episode filled with tons of fan service including everything from famously blogged death theories, a lip-lock between Sherlock and Moriarty, and the introduction of a new villain, Sherlock keeps the episode from being too tear-jerkingly sad.

So, what do we truly know about Sherlock Holmes after this two year hiatus?  We know that this reintroduction paints a sympathetic side about the consulting detective we never knew he had.

After watching the episode—and sorry I will not post spoilers about how Sherlock escaped death—while  Sherlock’s death defying act will get mixed reviews it will be hated only by those who missed the point of the episode. How he died and how long he was gone or why he was gone isn’t the point of the episode or the new series.  The point is the fact that Sherlock Holmes is back and more clever—and sentimental—as ever. The point here is that in a time that England needs him the most; Sherlock lives.

P.S.—the American broadcast date of the season 3 premiere of BBC’s Sherlock will Air January 19th apart of PBS Masterpiece Theater.

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