After the second episode of Sherlock series 3, understandably, the reaction was interesting. Whilst some people thought it was normal sherlock in a different format, others thought the show was indulgent and, in the most appropriate non-existent word, fangirly. And it’s a very big divide on that.
But here is where I stand on that matter, and here me out, and you may agree or you may not. I don’t think it was a remotely normal sherlock, but I don’t think it would have been appropriate for it to have been normal. Sherlock concealed his being alive from his best friend for two years, and when he finally returned, this man was marrying a woman he truly loves. He’s moved on. Everything has changed. The game has changed.
And therefore the more insensitive thing for the story to have done was to write itself like Sherlock had never been away, and Watson is not getting married, and the two, as before, run around solving huge cases despite the fact John now lives with another and has a job. How would it be fair and human to the characters? So yes, I think it’s indulgent and it’s fangirly, because finally the man who worked so hard to pretend he’s not human and he has no friends faces the fact that he has made a friend, hurt him, and now will, in some light, loose him from his life. And of course, Sherlock, in his own way, (and weddings are always soppy), has to come to terms with this fact. It also visits all the other characters and shows how they’ve changed over the two years – their attitudes, confidence, etc. It’s a very human episode. What more human a setting than a wedding to celebrate love? And in that sense, Sherlock almost celebrated his as well.
My response to those unhappy with the quality of the stories, and the lack of a big case within them, I understand. This series isn’t the best. I feel it is more of a nod to the people who are already empathising with the characters, and who have followed through this far. But I still think it excels as a television drama. Third series’ are famously never as good as the first, and in this case, second either, but we are seeing a side to the characters that I think you’ll want to embrace. I’m not excusing the fact it’s not as good, but simply saying, perhaps it’s not ‘not as good’, maybe it’s just different. And difference tends to be a good thing.
This past episode was all about emotion, external and internal. (SPOILER AHEAD) I can tell you that from the final scene with Sherlock standing in the middle of the dance floor, looking around. You didn’t just watch him there, thinking ‘oh poor soul doesn’t know how to be social’, because that’s not how it was anymore. You saw him in all his humanity, exactly as yourself, and felt in you, the time you’d stood alone on a dance floor. His genius intellect and raging arrogance was stripped away in the tiny second he was there, to a certain kind of human vulnerability. See, that’s the relatable part.
Moffat messed up Doctor Who, that’s a given. There was little emotion going on around the characters in doctor who, and the stories weren’t anything. I’d encourage you to stop worrying that the same will happen to Sherlock, despite the fact I myself sometimes tremble at the thought. Moffat isn’t the sole writer of Sherlock, and despite his run at a doctor who series, has done some incredible writing in the past. And Sherlock also is an entirely different audience, with entirely different expectations, so it can’t be written the same as Doctor Who.
My point is that Sherlock is different, you could maybe even argue it’s not as good this series, but I don’t think it would be right to be the same. It’s changed. It may have been fun to see the big cases being solved again, but I’m going to embrace the changed characters. And with an episode ahead, you may even be surprised again. After all, Sherlock’s not short of enemies. But hopefully, you’re not added to the list.