Two years ago Sherlock Holmes, the detective in the funny hat, jumped off the roof of a hospital to his apparent death. Of course, this was not the end of the beloved sleuth. After all this time, and countless internet theories regarding how he faked his death, “Sherlock” is back on the BBC for another season. I’m happy to report, “The Empty Hearse” is a warm welcome back into Holmes’ intricate London playground.
“The Empty Hearse” deals with Sherlock’s triumphant return to Baker Street following a two year absence after “The Reichenbach Fall”. In this time Sherlock has dismantled Moriarty’s international criminal network, and is now ready to return to London to deal with the threat at home, and give John Watson a heart attack. After a rocky reunion with his former roommate, Watson and Holmes are on their way to uncovering an imminent terrorist plot in their nation’s capital. Meanwhile, a new arch-nemesis is teased, threatening both Sherlock, and the man he… solves mysteries with.
“I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes.”
First off, “The Empty Hearse” is not the best “Sherlock” episode there’s been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great, but it’s not up to par with the fantastic trio that made up Season 2. That said, it’s a wonderful reintroduction for the characters you’ve already grown to love and care for. Benedict Cumberbatch falls back into the role he was born for with little to no effort; it almost seems like he never left. Molly Hooper, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and even Anderson are all back, and in good form. But the real star of the episode is Martin Freeman’s Watson. Freeman has proven himself a great actor time and time again, and his subtle despair and relief are terrific here. The premiere alone could garner him multiple award noms, and I’d be sad if it didn’t.
With all the hubbub following the fall at the end of “Reichenbach”, the writers take the chance to have a bit of fun with the fans and their crazy theories. Anderson, the insufferable forensic analyst from past seasons is now a tinfoil wearing conspiracy nut, intent on figuring out Sherlock’s death defying leap. It makes for a few funny scenes where we see the various scenarios acted out, usually followed by mockery and chastising. The real explanation is revealed, though (just like Anderson) many fans still believe there’s more to uncover. It makes for good fun, but is unnecessary I think. Regardless, the big mystery of the episode revolves around the shady new villain, and his lethal fixation on Watson. Moriarty has left big shoes to fill, so we’ll see how that turns out.
“Molly… would you like to… solve crimes with me?”
So, Sherlock Holmes is back in full force for what is sure to be another stellar season with the boys on Baker Street. With the absence of Moriarty, we’ll have to see what Gatiss and Moffat come up with to tie the series together, but with their track record, they should do just fine. Keep watch for the next episode airing this Sunday (Jan 5th), with the finale the following Sunday (Jan 12th). But for now rest assured, with all certainty, the game is back on.