I loved this episode. I’ll have to re-watch it to be certain, but it just might be my favorite episode of the entire series thus far. I felt it even cleared up some of my frustrations with The Empty Hearse – because here, finally, we got to see the heart of Sherlock.
We got to see that he does have emotions, he just doesn’t have the ability to understand them, and so he ends up making huge missteps, both to try to stuff the emotions back down and to try to work around/with them. So messing with John’s head about the bomb? Not necessarily being manipulative and sneaky, but more “I have all these weird things that I think are called feelings and I don’t know how to process them or work with them and I don’t know what to do so I’ll just do this stupid thing and hope somehow it helps.” Goodness knows I use humor – occasionally inappropriately – to get me through an awkward situation or a time when my emotions are threatening to overwhelm me.
But here, in The Sign of Three, we get to see Sherlock coming to terms with the fact that he does have emotions, and attempting to communicate them, and it’s beautiful. Despite the fact that the speech is planned and choreographed, it’s still genuine, and he’s never just saying the words because it’s what society expects (well, until he gets to the funny stories).
This was one of the funniest episodes in the series, and I loved that, loved the combination of the solemnity of Sherlock trying to express what John means to him and then getting to see the two of them interacting and being utterly ridiculous. The stag night drinking, and trying to solve the case while completely out of it, and Lestrade’s glee over having to get them out of jail – LOVED IT.
And oh my, Sherlock’s decision, whether conscious or unconscious, to include Mary in his group of “people he protects,” because John loves her and she loves John – beautiful. The scene with the usher, where Sherlock threatens him if he ever tries to weasel his way into Mary’s affections, was both funny and poignant, because for him to do that meant that Mary, now, was one of his. And of course he reiterated that at the end, much more bluntly.
(Side note: the “yeah, okay” to Archie’s request to see corpses was brilliant. I chortled.)
Speaking of Mary … can I just say how much I love her? Playing John and Sherlock off each other so they go solve a case, reassuring them and incidentally getting them out of her hair at the same time? “I’m not John, Sherlock, I can tell when you’re fibbing.” ZING. Teasing Sherlock at the wedding about neither of them being John’s first. She is completely unthreatened by their friendship, completely unintimidated by Sherlock, treats him as a human being, lets them do their mystery-solving thing but joins in when necessary without forcing anything, and in short is pretty much my favorite character on the show. If they kill her off in Episode 3 I am going to be SO MAD.
The mysteries were a side note here to the human stories, and I think that’s why I loved it so well. We got to see – everyone got to see – why John and Sherlock work so well together, that John is not an idiot but chooses to focus on people rather than problems, while Sherlock deals with problems over people, and how well they balance each other, even while sometimes they drive each other mad. I could go on and on, detailing every aspect that I enjoyed, but really, that sums it all up.