After two very long years of waiting for return of the critically acclaimed and fan favorite series Sherlock, how could anything live up to the impossibly lofty expectations that nearly everyone anticipates?
*Major Sherlock Spoilers Ahead*
"The Empty Hearse" opens with a scene that answers our long awaited question: how did Sherlock survive the "The Reichenbach Fall," or does it? Well, not exactly. Next Lestrade calls "bollocks" on Anderson's theory. My first reaction when the scene started was: "Yes! We finally get to see how he did it!" and then after he used the bungee cord and kisses Molly I figured it was probably Anderson's theory, aka Moffat trolling us. On a side note, the tech music in that scene was great; I am listening to it while writing this review. In addition, we now know that Sherlock faked his death to take down Moriarty's organization, and seeing Mycroft, played brilliantly by co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss, again was good fun, especially the brotherly rivalry interaction between the two. However, I am a bit confused since Mycroft and Sherlock seem to agree that Mycroft is the smarter of the two. Isn't Sherlock suppose to the be the smarter one? Also, even though Mycroft does not like personal interaction, he does not seem to have the social ineptitude that Sherlock displays, considering his high position in the government.
Among all of the mystery of how Sherlock survived, why he faked his death, and exactly what happened at the end of the "The Reichenbach Fall," we all know what we wanted to see in this episode, the reunion of Holmes and Watson, and it really did deliver what we were hoping to see. Everything about that aspect was absolutely perfect. From John punching, headbutting, and tackling Sherlock to perfectly timed musical cues that add to the comedy of the situation, everything about the reunion was, well, perfect. Throughout the scene I nearly died of laughter multiple times. It was comedic genius and Watson's reaction was exactly what I was hoping to see.
The best and intended way to experience "The Empty Hearse" to its fullest degree is have watched the "The Reichenbach Fall" around the time it air, which is about two years ago, and then waited until for those two long years because "The Empty Hearse" caters directly to those fans, or at least the ones that have been eagerly anticipating Sherlock's return. Having the two back on screen together reminds me how much I have missed the show in its absence.
Having Andersen be the head of the "The Empty Hearse," a group of Sherlock conspiracy theorists, essentially mirroring the real life fandom was rather hysterical! Also, the episodes pokes fun at the absurd "fan" ideas that imply that Sherlock and Watson are homosexual in anyway, which was hilarious! Particularly with Watson proclaiming to Mrs. Hudson that he is "Not gay!"
Molly teaming up with Sherlock as a replacement for John was a lot of fun. She claims to have moved on from her crush on Sherlock since she is now engaged, however when we meet her fiance he turns out to be a virtual clone of Sherlock in terms of how he dressing and looks.
Not surprisingly, Freeman and Abbington have fantastic chemistry since they are a real life couple, although the best of her character comes in the following episodes.
We get to see Sherlock's parents, who are played by Cumberbatch's real life parents, which is kind of cool.
The Good: Cumbertach remains the best, Perfect character beats, Superb stylistic direction and camera work, Tons of fan-service and meta humor, Even better presentation of Sherlock's mind, Freeman is beyond excellent, Hilarious throughout, Watson's mustache, Perfect chemistry between the actors, Satisfying answers, Stunning cinematography, Memorable quotes,
The Bad: Less focus on mystery,
Mystery: 8.3/10- For my Sherlock reviews I have a new category to give a rating, the actual mystery featured in the episode. With the character development and fallout from last season's cliffhanger resolved, the quality of the mystery suffered. Even though it did have its merits, the actual mystery was lacking in clues for the audience to pick up, however the resolution of the mystery was satisfying.
Characterization: 10/10- "Characterization" is another new category where I rate how well effectively the episode progresses the characters since, in the end, characters are the most important part of almost any story. "The Empty Hearse" featured possibly the best character development and overall characterization of any episode of the series yet. Much thought and time was given to John and Sherlock's friendship and how the events of the previous episode effect that. The addition of Mary Morstan was more than welcome. Thanks to a strong performance by Amanda Abbington, Mary seemed like a realistic and believable character. Even though he is not featured heavily in the episode, Lestrade is given an excellent character moment as well.
Acting: 10/10- Benedict Cumberbatch is the definition of perfection as Sherlock and Martin Freeman continues to give a believable and likable performance as Watson. As stated previously, Amanda Abbington is a more than welcome addition to the cast and Rupert Graves' Lestrade is as great as ever.
Soundtrack: 10/10- Sherlock's soundtrack returns as brilliant as ever with many familiar themes that perfectly fit Sherlock Holmes and his endeavors.
Direction: 10/10- Jeremy Lovering's direction of "The Empty Hearse" was positively superb. There were so many intriguing stylistic choices, camera movements, transitions, and editing throughout the episode. While the previous episodes of the series has shown us, the audience, an inside look into Sherlock's brain through floating text and an occasional inner monologue, the presentation is even better in this episode than ever before.
Humor: 10/10- The first half of the episode made me laugh more than probably anything I have seen in a very long time. Also, the dialogue was witty and fast paced, and the actors delivery was spot on.
Relative Rating: 9.7/10- The relative rating compares the episode to the other episodes of the series, not television in general. For example, the worst episode of Sherlock, "The Blind Banker," which was still better than the majority of what is on TV today, would rate around a 8.2/10, and the best episode of Sherlock at this point, “The Reichenbach Fall,” would rate a 10/10. Therefore, since "The Empty Hearse" is not the best episode of the series, albeit it one of the best, it receives a rating of 9.7/10. Most likely, my explanation made absolutely no sense.
Overall: 10/10- Overall, "The Empty Hearse" serves its purpose brilliantly as it resolves the events of the previous episode as well as providing fans the needed return of everyone's favorite detective. The episode might not be the best Sherlock episode yet, but the pitch perfect characterization is more than deserving of a 10 out of 10.
Since I tried to avoid spoilers when the episode first came on, please let me know if you have written a review and leave a link to it in the comments if I have not commented on it yet!
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