The Sign of Three: BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ Forges Ahead

By Brent Glass


And we’re back.  Sherlock’s second episode of the third season (“The Sign of Three”) aired on PBS’ Masterpiece last night.  As expected, the episode delivered a healthy helping of deductions, wit, and biting sarcasm.

The episode began with Detective Inspector Lestrade trying to catch a gang of bank robbers.  He is either too late to the scene or the case gets thrown out of court, lacking evidence, leaving him without a conviction.  Lestrade recognized the need to catch them in the act.  The opportunity arose, and when Lestrade was about to enter the bank, apprehend the robbers, and do some good police work, Sherlock texted him “HELP.”  Lestrade, having learned not to dismiss Holmes’ suspicions, phoned Scotland Yard for maximum backup.  Lestrade arrived at Baker Street, where Sherlock sat confounded.

Confounded Sherlock

“This is hard,” Sherlock said.  “Really hard.  Hardest thing I’ve had to do.”  Holds up book titled How to Write an Unforgettable Best Man Speech.  “Do you know any funny stories about John?”

Lestrade, puzzled:  “What!?”

“I need anecdotes,” Sherlock said.  Sirens wail and helicopters circle.  “You didn’t go to any trouble, did you?”

The scene set the stage for the rest of the episode.  John was to get married.  Sherlock was to give the best man speech.  Tada!  Recipe for disaster.  One could only speculate at the heartless things Holmes might say.  And say those things he did.  But he also incorporated a considerable amount of truly moving words.  The genius of the episode, in my opinion, was the structure.  The entire 90-minute episode essentially revolved around Sherlock’s speech – with other topics strewn in through flashbacks.

Sherlock’s speech highlighted certain key cases he and John had solved together.  The theme of his dialogue was that without John, many people, including himself, would not be living.  He even brought up one case that the partnership could not decipher; a case involving an invisible knifeman.  Of course, almost nothing in a Sherlock episode is superfluous.  Sherlock’s remarks eventually materialized into a hunt for a killer among the crowd.  Still wielding the microphone, Holmes stalled until he figured out the target of the next attack, John’s former commanding officer.  Without spoiling the solution, Sherlock and John, once again, cracked the case.  There was something different this time around: Mary proved to be an invaluable asset to both John and Sherlock.

Mary’s character has shown her importance to John’s and Sherlock’s relationship.  She does not attempt to dictate John’s life.  Contrarily, Mary, in a flashback, masterfully manipulated both John and Sherlock, making them believe they were helping each other out by going on a case.  Mary Watson’s character has been a positive impact on the show — in my book.


Following the happy solution to the enigma, the wedding reception carried forth.  The first dance, by John and Mary, was accompanied by an original violin piece, written and performed by Sherlock Holmes.  At various times in this episode one may detect the slightest hint of loneliness in Sherlock’s face.  To most any person, this would seem a normal response.  Your best friend gets married and you get a little depressed.  But that is not what we expect from our surreptitious sleuth, is it?  Will Sherlock miraculously have human emotions come to him?  Or is it simply a gimmick by the writers to make us think as much?

Wondering why the episode was titled “The Sign of Three”?  Well, you should be able to deduce that by now.

As always, I tried not to spoil any of the mysteries.  That is not my purpose.  Look forward to next week’s episode, which is sure to shock!

Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working as a freelance writer for Sagamore Institute, creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in public policy.


Categories: Television

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