Did a Single Episode of Sherlock Change the Whole Show's Trajectory?

Illustration for article titled Did a Single Episode of iSherlock/i Change the Whole Shows Trajectory?

It's no surprise BBC's Sherlock has taken off the way it has: the mysteries are delectable, the setting simultaneously sleek and cozy, and the bromance simmering. The show's viewers have gone from fans to having super-fans, to mega-fans, over the course of its run, that is, until the series two finale when things, well, changed. What happened to Sherlock? Following the finale, it was one episode that changed it all. Spoiler alert, read on with caution.


The season 2 finale, "The Reichenbach Fall," wowed fans with the onscreen death of Moriarty, and the faked death of Sherlock Holmes. Everyone was asking, "how did he do it?" And where would the show go from there? How could the writers follow such a huge setback in the Watson-Holmes bromance? When the show — and Sherlock himself — returned nearly two years later, a faction of loyal, yet skeptical viewers came with it. Was this the same Sherlock from our memories, or had Holmes been resurrected into a comically emotionless eccentric?

The middle chapter, "The Sign of Three" was set at John's Watson's wedding with Sherlock serving as best man. With this episode, audiences detected a distinct shift in the tone of the show, and were divided on whether that change was somethingto be celebrated or condemned. So what's the big deal? Did "The Sign of Three" fundamentally alter the show or should it simply be enjoyed for the kind of fun only Sherlock can provide?

The Netflix Debate Club is a weekly Kinja debate where writers face off about the most polarizing aspects of their favorite shows — and want you to join in.


THIS WEEK'S TV SERIES: Sherlock(2010)

THE DEBATERS: Ryan Sandoval (TV.com) and Louise Hung (xoJane.com)

Louise: "The Sign of Three" was Sherlock candy to me. Or should I say Sherlock pudding (cringe), because, Britain? Sweet, indulgent, and best in small doses, "The Sign of Three" treated me to a more sensitive, sentimental, even goofy Sherlock — the Sherlock that fans only caught glimpses of in previous episodes. Light on mystery (totally called Mayfly's M.O.), high on humor, and heavy on declarations of bromance, this installment admittedly felt at times like a precious attempt at humanizing Sherlock. Is the BBC's "high functioning sociopath" better portrayed with a little less functioning and a little more sociopath? THAT Sherlock does not pirouette before nailing the perp. But who cares? I got a kick out of this episode. Aside from dorking out over the pleasure of watching Sherlock's best-man-panic, and his devoting some valuable space in his Mind Palace to the art of napkin folding, I think "The Sign of Three" sneakily prepares fans for the Series Three finale. Going into "His Last Vow", I do think we need a more emotionally evolved Sherlock. Love is a liability after all. So while I greedily gobbled down this serving of Sherlock pudding (yep, still gross), my sweet tooth was satisfied, and I'm ready to get back to the main course.


Ryan: I love the Baker Street Bros. as much as the next Cumber-[expletive], but "The Sign of Three" is Sherlock at its most pandering. Casual hilarity and fan appreciation are a welcome part of the show, but the episode's focus on Holmes as he endures normie wedding problems is jarring in its silliness, offers weak mysteries, and comes off disjointed as a whole. Sure it's a treat to see a more human Sherlock bumble his way through best man duties or attempt to deduce clues while hammered. But he's not a regular human — he's a larger than life, enigmatic hero. Why dismantle his mystique by placing him in scenarios that border on parody? Plus, without a serious mystery to anchor the comedy (come on, a super thin blade?), the result here is a lopsided experience that feels like a sitcom titled "That's Our Sherlock!" I normally love Holmes' anti-social gags — when used as a spice, but after this episode he stopped being a character and started being a walking, talking, deducing meme.

Did you love "The Sign of Three" or did you want the old Sherlock back after series two? Let's discuss that infamous episode, and all other things Sherlock in the comments.


(To brush up on your Sherlock, head here. And get more Netflix at netflix.kinja.com.)

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Netflix and Studio@Gawker.

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