Sherlock Lives in “The Empty Hearse”
“The Empty Hearse” is the best Sherlock episode, so far. Unlike most Sherlock fans, I am not completely in love with the series. It has it low points and high points. There are two episodes I find completely unwatchable, yet the good episodes are markedly better than most modern television. Also, John Watson is my favorite character, not the eponymous one. That’s probably why I loved this episode: it focused mostly on John.
After a two year hiatus, in both real and fictional time, Sherlock returns alive. We all knew he didn’t die. There was always going to be a series 3. No one’s watched “The Empty Hearse” thinking that Sherlock is dead. We tuned in because we wanted to know how John is doing, which was better than expected. He grieved and moved on. He misses Sherlock, but he is in love with Mary Morstan, who becomes his fiancée.
While John wished Sherlock wasn’t dead, Sherlock came back at the worst possible time. John was getting ready to propose to Mary, but Sherlock thought it was the perfect time to act like a French waiter and refer to a wine as “a face from the past.” He doesn’t mean to be narcissistic, but Sherlock thinks everything’s about him. We know he has trouble with social cues. However, he should be aware of John’s habits, which typically don’t include dressing up in a suit and bringing a woman to a fancy restaurant. The master of deduction either can’t or chooses not to analyze his best friend. Every time John punched him, Sherlock deserved it. I found it hilarious because John’s reaction was completely natural. They love each other like brothers, yet Sherlock found it necessary to hide the truth from John for two years. John was perfectly justified in his reaction, which proves that some things never change. John and Sherlock fight like brothers, may threaten to never speak to each other again, yet they always find themselves solving crimes together.
We never find out how exactly Sherlock survived his encounter with Moriarty. A couple of scenarios are suggested. None are plausible, but half the time Sherlock’s actions aren’t plausible, so it’s par for the course. One scenario has Sherlock bungee jumping from the roof of the hospital and crashing through a window to kiss Molly Hooper. It was a classic hero survives the battle and gets the girl moment. It most definitely didn’t happen. John dreams that Moriarty and Sherlock planned the whole thing just to prank him. In this scenario, the body that fell was dummy and the two men kiss. Highly unlikely considering Sherlock isn’t gay, no matter what Mrs. Hudson thinks. The most probable is that Sherlock and Mycroft planned for Sherlock to jump onto an inflatable mattress rolled out by the Homeless Network. We’ll most likely never find out why Sherlock faked dead for two years and didn’t tell John, but that doesn’t bother me. Sherlock’s alive and John has his best friend back. For me, all is right in Sherlock’s world. I can live with Moffat trolling the fanbase.
Of course, Sherlock wouldn’t be Sherlock without featuring Sherlock and John solving a crime. “The Empty Hearse” has the duo save London from a terrorist plot on Guy Fawkes Night. The case starts with Sherlock trying to figure out who is responsible for the threat. The first clue was a man seemingly magically disappears with a subway car, which happened because everyone forgot about Sumatra Road, an abandoned section of the London Underground. Before they can go and dismantle the subway car bomb, John is kidnapped and almost burned alive during a Guy Fawkes Night celebration. Naturally, Sherlock rescues him at the last minute.
When they get to the subway car, Sherlock figures out that the whole car is the bomb. He asks John how to turn it off, but John didn’t do that in the army, so he tells Sherlock to go to his Mind Palace. Sherlock acts like he has no idea how to dismantle the bomb and convinces John that they are going to die because he is fishing for a compliment. After John tells Sherlock the usual “you’re the most intelligent person I know,” Sherlock turns the bomb off by its simple on/off switch. Sherlock always puts them in danger, so that he can get compliments from John. He knows John has become aware of his habit, but insists on denying it. Sherlock also likes to convince John they are going it alone, when he has already called the cops. It’s getting ridiculous. Sherlock needs to stop acting like a child who wants to convince his best friend that he doesn’t need his parents. Sherlock needs the cops just as much as they need him.
For once, I’m aboard the Sherlock bandwagon. Instead of watching it for the sake of knowing what my friends are talking about, I’m actually looking forward to the next episode. However, it’s still not my favorite show. Moffat and company indulge too much in not giving fans real answers to major plot points.