January 20, 2014

Episode Review: SHERLOCK, "The Empty Hearse"

It's been almost two years since we last saw Sherlock, and it was reassuring to see that the show did not miss a beat while it was on hiatus because "The Empty Hearse" was pretty good.

As conspiracy theorists and fanboys/girls theorized on how Sherlock faked his death, the real detective was off gallivanting throughout Europe taking down Moriarty's network until he was summoned to return to London by his brother to find those responsible for an underground terrorist threat. One of Sherlock's first missions was to reveal himself to his old friend and partner, John Watson. Of course, Mr. Watson did not take Sherlock's reappearance very well since he spent the last two years moving on. Luckily, John's new fiance Mary was smitten with his estranged comrade and vowed to talk to him.

While John trudged through his new life as a doctor, Sherlock took Molly Hooper on as his new sidekick, and they spent the day solving various cases one of which included a member of Parliament, Lord Moran, who somehow disappeared from an Underground train car. It became clear that Molly would only be around for a short time and that Sherlock needed John by his side, but that proved to be tricky after the latter was drugged and kidnapped. After Mary got a mysterious text, Sherlock's new goal was to save his best friend's life.

It turned out that John was buried beneath a bonfire that was going to be lit in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, but Sherlock was able to find him in the nick of time. As the two tried to figure out why Watson was targeted, they ended up working alongside one another on the terrorist case. In typical Sherlock fashion, he realized that Lord Moran paid off the train conductor to detach one of the cars so he could fashion it into a bomb and blow up Parliament. Holmes and Watson found the car, but it looked like they were not going to be able to disarm the bomb. Before they died, Sherlock asked John to forgive him, which he did. Holmes then started laughing and explained that he turned off the switch to the bomb and they were not in danger.

As the episode ended, a mysterious man watched footage of Sherlock saving Watson from the bonfire.

Now, I'll admit that "The Empty Hearse" was far from perfect. The main mystery involving Lord Moran plotting to blow up Parliament Guy Fawkes style was a tab bit underwhelming because it didn't really make much sense and lacked any real motivation. Add to that the heavy-handed homages to Gunpowder Plots and on-the-nose mentions of the Underground, and it was devoid of any subtly or tension. All of the wheel-spinning that occurred before the resolution didn't help either.

Thankfully, the point of the episode really didn't have to do with the central case at all. "The Empty Hearse" was all about answering the questions that revolved around Sherlock's fake death and how it impacted his relationship with Watson, and I for one was satisfied how it was all handled. I'm sure there are some out there who wanted a more concrete explanation on how Holmes pulled off his trick, but I like the ambiguity of it all. Plus, all I really care about is the core relationship, and I was giddy thanks to all of the great bromantic moments. Although, I did feel that Sherlock's joke at the end came off as cruel and out of character.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Yeah, that mustache had to go.
  • I like Mary.
  • Aww, Molly.
  • When did Sherlock become slash fiction?
  • Mycroft: "He's got on with his life."
    Sherlock: "What life? I've been away."
  • "You should put it on a t-shirt."
Aside from an uninspired mystery-of-the-week, "The Empty Hearse" was a strong return for Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were once again on their game, and it was good having everyone back. I have a feeling this is going to be the best season yet.


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