Sherlock: The Sign of Three
June 6, 2014 4:55 PM - Season 3, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Watson and Mary's wedding, and Sherlock's nearly endless toast.
posted by rue72 (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
And to go along with noting in the last thread that Freeman and Abbington a thing in the real world, now here they are sitting through their own wedding despite being rather public about not being married. They've evidently done it before. Except... Freeman's since hinted that maybe it's more official than previously thought.

So, basically, my headcanon is that this is the one that stuck, because I am a sucker for this sort of sap.

I thought the mystery in this one was actually pulled off better than I would have expected, but I think it was still overshadowed by all the character stuff, and much as I loved this, I was really torn by the end about such heavily character-oriented episodes having made up 2/3 of the series.
posted by Sequence at 5:28 PM on June 6, 2014

I enjoyed this one, and the humor and all, quite a lot, and I don't mind the mystery being subordinated. What I do mind that makes me struggle some is this trend, which I see in other shows as well, of taking interestingly neuro-diverse characters like Sherlock and then eventually transforming them into regular people, instead of letting them just be who they are in a non-caricatured manner. Elementary is doing the same thing, and possibly The Bridge. As an oddball myself, I like Sherlock Holmes in all his unabashedly unusual glory and don't want him made into Phil Donahue.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:11 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I actually found Sherlock very unlikable in this episode, and Watson and Mary's reaction to his ridiculousness surrounding their wedding was over the top for me as well. The part at the end when Sherlock was like, "you're ready to move on to a real baby, now that you've dealt with all the immense brattiness I've shown you," fell flat for me because I hadn't found his brattiness cute, let alone relatable, at all.

It seems to me that if they want to play up the socipathy of Sherlock's character than they have to commit to him not being likeable or cute all the time, and maybe even a bit scary a lot of the time. His callousness and selfishness just makes him seem untrustworthy to me, to the point that I can't then stay in his POV or on his side throughout the episode -- except you kind of *have* to be in his POV and on his side for these mysteries to work or for the jokes to make sense.

Meh, this wasn't the worst episode that they've done. There were some good parts -- like that kid who actually had a pretty credible point, or the wedding guests spinning theories. But as mentioned in the previous episode's thread, it felt to me more like (not fabulous) fanfic than an actual episode. I thought the mystery definitely got overshadowed by the theatrics of *telling* the mystery.


(Moriarty lives, pass it on).*

*I know people hate when it's said but I'm saying it because this is the most recent episode I've seen so I genuinely don't know: SPECULATION NOT SPOILER. Or rather, my personal fanfic/wish-fulfillment/head!canon.
posted by rue72 at 6:19 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

socipathy of Sherlock's character

The person who originally claimed Sherlock was a sociopath was Sherlock, which should render that diagnosis pretty suspect. He seems to have proven perfectly capable of forming emotional attachments to people, if not responding appropriately to social situations. Hell, this whole episode is kind of a giant ball of Sherlock's emotional attachments and inappropriate reactions--honestly, I didn't rewatch it today for this, but I don't really see him getting made "normal" as I see him finally settling in among people who are okay with how he is.

The baby thing was ridiculous, though.
posted by Sequence at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yes, I agree that "I'm a high functioning sociopath" is just a convenient way for Sherlock to get rid of people and distance himself from bullshit rather than a factual description of his personality/psyche.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

But I would disagree that behavior and perspectives falling outside narrow social norms are necessarily inappropriate.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:01 PM on June 6, 2014

Inappropriate by conventional standards, I didn't mean for there to be a moral judgment or anything implied in that.
posted by Sequence at 7:22 PM on June 6, 2014

Hey, if yo says he's a sociopath, who am I to disagree? Everyone always says to pay attention to what men say about themselves because they're probably telling the truth, and I'm comfortable extending that to fictional characters!

Also, there's a difference between not being ~normal~ and being an asshole, and I definitely thought that at the wedding Sherlock was straight up being an asshole. He made his bff's wedding all about himself! Talk about a drama queen. He needed to just journal that whole story, if he absolutely had get it out -- not the time nor the place, seeing as the day and the occasion weren't about Sherlock! I'm not saying that he has to be normal (whatever that would even mean), he just has to think of others sometimes/more. Which he's certainly capable of.

But that's at heart a structural problem with the episode more than a problem with the character of Sherlock, to be honest. It was suffocating to have to keep going back to that reception, and the silly editing (that falling glass!) didn't help. Why they couldn't broaden the episode's scope, I don't know.

Then again, maybe it's just that I don't like weddings.
posted by rue72 at 7:24 PM on June 6, 2014

Or, I guess he doesn't *need* to be more considerate, I just personally was fed up with how inconsiderate he was in this episode, and how inconsiderate he often is generally.

Every time he's inconsiderate, I wish he got called on it or suffered for it or at least then did something considerate to make up for it. And he often does...but not in this particular episode, or not enough for me.
posted by rue72 at 7:30 PM on June 6, 2014

The person who originally claimed Sherlock was a sociopath was Sherlock, which should render that diagnosis pretty suspect.

Exactly. Sherlock claims sociopathy whenever he suspects somebody is about to expect too much from him and subsequently be disappointed in him. It's clockwork if you watch for it through the series. He is absolutely not to be trusted with his self-diagnosis here.

I have a hard time reading this episode as anything but Sherlock being heartbroken at losing John. I also still can't even believe they did a whole wedding episode and didn't show John and Mary's vows or kiss - just Sherlock declaring his vows to the family Watson.

This is my favorite episode of the season but I can understand why people wouldn't dig it as much.
posted by dialetheia at 9:20 PM on June 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

Hey, if yo says he's a sociopath, who am I to disagree?

It's a little, honestly, like trying to figure out if you're watching the same show? The same show where this very episode was plastered from top to bottom with stuff about Sherlock's emotional attachments to people? And if he has emotional attachments to people, he's not a sociopath, that's basically how that works. If you dismiss his emotional life as a factor, I can see how you can get to this just being a matter of his being somehow deliberately inconsiderate throughout, but to me that's like trying to interpret Garfield as a comic by reading Garfield Minus Garfield. Whatever one thinks of the source material, it's a very different thing sans Sherlock's feelings. In that light, I think I would have started finding this unwatchable a long time ago.
posted by Sequence at 9:25 PM on June 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

But he *was* deliberately inconsiderate throughout. He (deliberately) treats the person he ostensibly loves most -- John -- like shit all the time! It's all well and good for him to consider John his bff, but he tricks John into thinking that he's about to be blown to smithereens, he ruins his wedding day, he even staged an entire fake-play in order to fake his death *just* for John and then refused to let John in on the ruse for 2 YEARS for no known practical reason considering that tons of other people were in on the supposed secret the whole time! Sherlock sure doesn't *act* like a good friend to John. Meanwhile, he either seems like he could care less about others or hates as much as loves the people he even sort of pays attention to.

Sherlock is an interesting character in the context of a mystery story because he's clever (when the show allows him to be, by constructing a real mystery for him to solve and showing how he solves it), but honestly, I'm not seeing the emotional depth that you guys are seeing. Where is it? Because he plays the violin and gets possessive? I'm for real asking where you're finding evidence of the character's emotional depth, not being snarky.
posted by rue72 at 9:51 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me, so much of it honestly just comes from Cumberbatch's performance, not from particular plot points. It's his face, the way he obviously responds to people even when he pretends not to, especially with John, Mrs. Hudson, and Molly (this season, anyway). Both Cumberbatch and Freeman are experts at showing two seemingly contradictory emotions at the same time, and it gives these characters a lot of emotional complexity if you watch for it. For me, their performances are the main draw, not the (often thin) plots. I just don't think Cumberbatch actually plays him like a sociopath.

The bomb thing was ridiculously childish, but I don't think it was sociopathic, and Sherlock wasn't going to let John get blown up - he turns the bomb off before he begs John for forgiveness in desperation. When he gives John the speech about "I can't do it, I don't know how", he isn't talking about defusing the bomb, he's talking about repairing the damage he's done to his most important relationship. The bomb is a (nearly hamhanded) symbol for Sherlock's heart here - it even looks a lot like a heart. I think the writers often made the symbolism do a lot more work than was necessarily warranted this season, and that often the plots don't make a lot of sense without the attendant metaphor. But ultimately he did this because he cares so much about John's friendship, not because he's a sociopath.

As for Reichenbach, I hate the way they handled it and I still hope it turns out that the whole thing wasn't solely for John's benefit. If that's how it turns out, I think that's terrible writing, and I hope the classic Moffat-style "twists" that are sure to come make this seem less awful in context somehow. Basically I choose to strike their Reichenbach explanation from my headcanon because it doesn't make any sense.

I can't even begin to understand how you think Sherlock ruined John's wedding, though. He did everything within his power, up to and including giving up cases for multiple weeks, learning to fold napkins, giving a big scary public speech, etc., to be the perfect best man for John. You can see it during his speech, when he tries to switch to funny stories while everyone is still crying - he immediately turns to John like "did I do it wrong?". He is trying SO HARD here. Besides, it wasn't Sherlock's fault that someone tried to murder Sholto at John's wedding.
posted by dialetheia at 10:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

You can see it during his speech, when he tries to switch to funny stories while everyone is still crying - he immediately turns to John like "did I do it wrong?".

Poor poor Sherlock was just so thrown. Loved that bit, especially after the unvoiced acceptance earlier. Sherlock's just come back and John's building a new life... I thought this was a natural growth of character, and one that is very faithful to the books.

And of course Sherlock used two unsolved and recent cases in his speech. Previous small cases were probably deleted for space.
posted by RainyJay at 11:29 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

The matchbox! Loved that nod to Belle de Jour.

I thought this episode really laid it on a bit thick though. I don't watch it for the bromance and I am relieved that the introduction of Mary was handled so well. I find the relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft to be much more interesting.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:53 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Meh, this wasn't the worst episode that they've done.

That's about the highest praise I could give it as well.
posted by homunculus at 7:25 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this episode, and although Sherlock had some childish moments, I was very touched by his devotion to John, even if it manifested in a weird, very Sherlock-ian way. First, there was his complete befuddlement when John asked him to be his best man. Even more touching, Sherlock learned how to fold napkins into swans! Oh, and that "Did I do something wrong?" comment when everyone started tearing during speech. And the hug! Not to mention the stag night, which was over the top, but amusing nonetheless. I also enjoyed Sherlock's banter with Jeanine.

Despite the many upbeat parts of this episode, I have to say, that scene at the end, with Sherlock walking off alone, breaks my heart every time.

Granted, there were plenty of things to criticize in this episode, but I still love it in all its imperfect glory. Of course, I'll freely admit that I'm such a big fan of this show that I'm inclined to give it a real pass on any missteps. With that being said, the one thing I really hated was the baby subplot. I really wish they hadn't done that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:40 AM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Mark me up as someone who really liked this episode. The framing of mixing mysteries with the speech is really fun, and I found the speech itself amusing and quite touching. I think some of his revelations were a little on the nose, and I'm not convinced Sherlock would actually admit some of the things he does. I also really liked the court scene with the different woment and Sherlock trying to find the link.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:13 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

it wasn't Sherlock's fault that someone tried to murder Sholto at John's wedding.

Yes, and Sherlock did persuade him to reconsider and let John help him.

I've just recently seen Seasons 1 through 3 and have fallen so hard for this show. I now understand the furor around Benedict Cumberbatch and have rented many of his past works that are available in Japan. Nobody around me has seen this series, so I've been enjoying the discussion. My first FanFare comment!
posted by misozaki at 3:14 AM on June 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

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