Bring all the maps! Sherlock S3E1 review (SPOILERS)

Well, I say spoilers, but if you've read any Reichenfall theories or Sherlock fanfic in the last two years, there's nothing in here that you haven't read before. Because that's essentially what this is: All the speculation condensed into a fan-fic-tastic episode.
(In all seriousness though, there's detailed discussion of E1 and obscure minor spoilers for the rest of the season - and the trailer linked below is okay for E1 as long as you don't click on the interactive stuff, that has E2 (edit: and now also E3) content, which I'm avoiding. Also, this post contains gifs. Spoilery gifs.)
We know Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are aware of what goes on on tumblr, so they probably just decided to do a nice little "best of" medley for the episode. (Heck, I wouldn’t be awfully surprised if they came out on Sunday with the actual first episode of the season and went "haha, just messing with you, that one doesn’t count!")

Sherlock fans, in turn, have been inspired by the episode (or rather the trailer), too:

© geothebio (tumblr, Twitter, Redbubble)

© @vereentjong (tumblr)

So yes. After two years‘ wait, he's finally back. For readers of George R. R. Martin’s books, two years is a blink of an eye, but I'm still glad to finally see Series 3 of Sherlock. I watched the first episode and it was one giant festival of poking fun at fans and still managing to be a brilliant Sherlock episode (and then I watched it again because I was laughing so hard in some places I missed some of the subtler things).

Sherlock is back, thankfully with a haircut (the Jesus hair didn’t really suit him) and a possibly new but still dramatic coat ("I have lots of coats."). He’s ready to have it out with Mycroft over a game of chess – no, wait, Operation (bahaha) and to pick up with John where he left it, because what life could he have had while Sherlock was gone. So naturally he goes to surprise him at a restaurant, only to find him perusing the wine menu (not the dessert menu, like I assumed) and wondering how to propose to Mary (called that one, but it was rather obvious).

I didn’t particularly expect to like Mary’s character (though I didn’t set out to hate her, and certainly not Amanda Abbington, as some crazies have done - I just couldn't picture the dynamic), but I LOVE HER. She is cool, she is funny, and she totally ships it. (As does Mrs Hudson, loved that scene! "So soon after Sherlock? What’s his name?" – "It’s a woman." – "A woman?! My, you really have moved on!") 
I love how at first she’s all 'you bastard, you have no idea what you’ve put him through' but then as he’s explaining it at Speedy’s and the kebab place, she starts to come round and by the next morning she’s reading the stories on the blog and totally fangirling for them to get together again (in a crime-fighting way, of course). 
And can we take a moment to remark how SMART she is? She recognised the text message cipher right away. (Okay, maybe that’s because she’s a clever linguist, as Sherlock deduced.  But he also deduced she’s a liar. I’m not quite sure whether to interpret his expression as she gets into the cab as worried or simply confused by this woman.) Is she just awesome or is there something sinister about it? Is she in cahoots with Mystery Man? God, I hope not, she’s just way too cool. I hope she lives a much longer and happier life than in Conan Doyle’s books.

John’s moustache: Loved Sherlock’s "we’ll have to get rid of that". Thank God John did, that thing was really awful. "Does yours come off too?" was also a pretty good one. But oh Sherlock, did you really have no idea how inappropriate your appearance at the restaurant was? Grinning like a child with a particularly good trick, emphasising the "old friend" and "familiar face" and despairing when John doesn’t react, so pleased with himself when John finally recognises him... John’s reaction was spot on. Having him pretty much lose his voice from being overwhelmed and shocked and furious was a nice touch.

Content ©BBC One*, gif from Olga
Content ©BBC One*, gif from Olga

Sherlock’s either changed during the time he was away and come to realise he misses John and gotten better at showing emotions - or he’s gotten better at faking them. You see it a lot in this episode: The discussion about friends and loneliness with Mycroft (could just be to rile him though, since Mycroft obviously has even worse issues than Sherlock), his conversation with Molly at the end of their day together (and the little kiss), the way he wants to surprise John. Of course in the train he’s obviously faking (and probably faking the mind palace exploration as well), but did he have this sort of humour before? And John’s commentary in his head while he’s trying to use Molly as a substitute sidekick (engaged Molly, who very, very obviously has a type, and it’s not 'sociopath'), not enjoying the showing off without John there. "Forgot to turn up your collar", "jealous?". The other emotions he displays in the episode may be faked, but this is real. He feels incomplete without John. Overall, he seems more emotionally invested in the world around him.

I always like it when a show pokes a bit of fun at the fans. This episode definitely hits all the buttons. All the different crazy Fall theories... I felt pretty let down at the beginning when I thought that this was actually how it happened... and then I fell for it again with the last version, going "seriously? They got it right? Even the ball? Wow!"  – I really should have gotten suspicious when I thought I recognised the phrasing of the ball explanation from a theory I’d read). My favourite has to be the Sheriarty one though, and I’m glad to say I didn’t fall for that one. Their giggling and the faces they pull – priceless. And of course the kiss. 

Content ©BBC One*, gif from Zap2it
Why does Sherlock know Anderson’s first name but not Lestrade’s? Also, I really expected Lestrade to punch him in the face. But aww, how happy he is to see him!

The terrorist plot is pretty decent but, as in any Sherlock episode, far from complete because there’s layers there (in this case it was mostly the backdrop against which all the important stuff happened). I had an issue with the missing train car (not carriage) though: Wouldn’t Train Guy have spotted the train being too short for the platform? Pretty sure they have the same amount of cars on those trains. Should’ve looked different on the footage, assuming both cameras were at the end of their platforms. Unless they use shorter trains at night and it therefore didn’t strike Train Guy as odd?  By the way, I totally called the "underground network". Yay me.


Oh, Sherlock. I thought you were crying and was slightly disturbed and quite moved, but then I see you pointing and laughing at John and you’re just a bloody bastard aren’t you? I would’ve killed you. (It was pretty funny though, I’ll give you that. Do bombs really have an off switch? Seems like a useful thing to have, but really?)

Content ©BBC One*, gif from Luciawestwick
I’m a bit upset that I already know who the Mystery Man at the end is. Did you really have to give his identity away in advance, BBC? I would have enjoyed the mystery of not having any idea who this ominous man was who seems to be behind the bonfire incident, possibly even the bombing... he could have been a remnant of Moriarty’s network, perhaps even the man himself. I feel cheated out of the thrill of speculation.

But let's not forget that it's not all about fandom references, there's also the usual brilliant play with A.C. Doyle canon references. I thought it was a nice nod to The Empty House to have an old book porn collector (British Birds was a genius touch!) whom Watson suspects of being Holmes in disguise but who' really just some old guy (instead of Watson suspecting nothing in the original when Holmes in disguise shows him books with the same titles as the porn here, then fainting when Holmes takes off the disguise). Then of course there's the striking fact that The Empty Hearse only referred to Anderson's little fanclub and there's no Adair in sight, and Moran is someone completely different. There's A Case of Identity (and look at how angry Sherlock is at the stepfather!), and I realised I had been both right and wrong about the rat hint (yes, Sumatra, but not the way I imagined it). I'm sure I missed a few more.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable episode. Mr Gatiss, Mr Moffat, you’ve outdone yourselves.

It won't have escaped your attention that this post contains gifs for the first time in my blogging career. Well, an image says more than a thousand words, and sometimes you need a gif to relive the best moments of a show. And let's not forget the people of tumblr said nearly everything I said except briefer and funnier. And they spotted a TARDIS. Whoa. But they're also crying, which I'm not.
Still, in celebration of this episode and because we all know tumblr is where the real fangirling happens, I've joined tumblr. Nothing much going on there yet, but I'll be linking my fandom-related blog posts there and partaking in some real fangirling, gifs and all, if that's your thing.

Happy weekend! Oh yes, and speaking of cakes and surprises: don't forget to enter my blogiversary giveaway for books or beauty items.
Captain Spacenails Fangirl

*Disclaimer: To the best of my understanding, the BBC Terms of Use (for personal use) permit me to use BBC content on this blog when correctly credited. Should this not be the case, I will be happy to take the relevant gifs down, just please let me know by mailing me at boldly_polish (ät) yahoo[dot]com or contacting me via one of my social media accounts in the right sidebar.


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