Why is Sherlock’s Third Season Treading So Much Water?


I sat on this review for a few days, hoping that I could stir up more thoughtful commentary. Instead, I’m left with a late review filled entirely with the thoughts I had as soon as the credits rolled on Sunday night: that The Sign of Three was a hilarious, adorable and completely endearing waste of time.  While the third season’s second episode managed to avoid last week’s trap of being full-on professional fanfiction, there was still a heavy air of fan service permeating the experience — particularly in John and Sherlock’s feeble, boozy bachelor party and Sherlock’s serious and burning desire to dance the night away.

The biggest challenge that I seem to have with this last episode is finding anything strictly critical to say. The mystery was serviceable, tied in nicely and tied together nicely. Small elements, like Sherlock’s courthouse mind palace or the fact that he needs multiple computers to talk to different people (apparently Sherlock, in his infinite wisdom, has never heard of tabs) did bug me, but it wasn’t anything too troubling or irritating.

But I suppose what I’m left with is the feeling that while I was entertained, nothing has happened in the season so far. We haven’t even been given a good mystery. And we’re 2/3rds of the way through the season.

Nor have we been properly been introduced to Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen), who is — one presumes — the series’ new overarching villain the wake of Moriarty’s suicide. The revelry of the wedding might have felt a little less pointless if the specter of the new bad guy had even been winked at.

That said, if Sherlock is less a detective show and more a show about a detective (as show runner Steven Moffat argued earlier today), then perhaps my biggest criticism is in the continued inconsistency as far as Sherlock himself is concerned. Is he crazy, emotionally stunted, emotionally handicapped, mentally handicapped..? The writers can’t seem to decide, and so instead settle on whichever answer provides the best comedic effect. And add to that the way in which John seems to lap it all up and you don’t so much have a toxic relationship as one that literally makes no sense.

I’m not saying it’s not fun to watch — it often is — I’m saying that it doesn’t reflect anything remotely true to reality and therefore doesn’t have much of an emotional impact. John telling Sherlock that he’s his best friend should’ve been really touching, and it almost was until you remember that last week Sherlock thought it was really funny to make his best friend think he was about to be blown to pieces by a bomb. That best friend being a veteran with PTSD. I get it, I get it — Sherlock’s an asshole and John loves the adrenaline rush, but that took things to a point beyond possibility and was flat-out manipulative and cruel.

But all the same, I suppose I can say that it was funny and I laughed and I definitely enjoyed it more than last week, I just wish I knew where the show — and, more importantly, the characters — were going and why.

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