The middle episode of the latest Sherlock series. I entered this episode thinking, “you know what I’d really like? I’d like a more cheerful episode for a change. It’s Watson’s wedding and every episode so far (presumably because there are only three per series so showrunners, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat want to make each one into a huge event) has been huge in terms of virtually everything – high stakes, huge amounts of drama and emotion, heart-wrenching, daring, constant action and pace. It’s great. But wouldn’t it be nice, just for once to have a bit of a more light-hearted break with less of a huge dramatic case, I mean we don’t want to ruin the wedding. Of course it’s a useless wish, that will never happen.” How wrong I was. My hopes were fulfilled. This was the most cheerful and amusing episode of the show yet and it worked really well in that respect! Of course it had a complicated (and well devised) case, and a murder and such like, but it was presented in such a way that was, for the most part, gripping, entertaining and didn’t spoil the Watsons’ wedding… just their reception.
The opening (with Dark Knight-esque clown-masked bank robbers) was unfortunately irrelevant to the rest of the episode but it was nice to see a return of Donovan (Vinette Robinson) and very cute that Lestrade (Rupert Graves) cares more about Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) than his job… or perhaps Sherlock is just more valuable to his job than the big case. Sherlock’s Best Man speech is perfect, being both brilliantly funny and incredibly touching, Cumberbatch even appearing to be on the verge of tears! A really amazing blend or comedy and emotion, and one of the show’s best moments thus far. Furthermore the frequent flashbacks were slightly annoying but their humour forgives that, particularly in Sherlock’s reaction to Watson asking him to be Best Man.
Martin Freeman (John Watson) has got back up to his usual standard after the last episode, and of course Cumberbatch is excellent as always, particularly in his jealousy of Sholto, and thankfully with a slightly more realistic misunderstanding of human nature this time. Alistair Petrie (James Sholto) was also brilliant, though his introductory shot seemed unnecessarily long seeing as nobody had a clue who his character was. There were some great cameos from Alfie Enoch (Bainbridge), Oliver Lansley (David), Ed Birch (Tom, whom I predict to be a villain) and Jalaal Hartley (the photographer, who, I might brag, I predicted to be important to the case after he was introduced). Amanda Abbington (Mary Morstan) is clearly a more than competent actor, but her character seriously lacks development, which is a shame as I will more than likely lack much investment in her when she dies next episode! (Don’t fret, it’s merely a prediction of mine. One that will be right.)
Unfortunately, while much of this episode is great, there was one huge fatal flaw: It also happened to include the worst, dullest scene in the show’s history. I am of course referring to the drunk Watson and Holmes (in itself rather out of character). Their pub crawl was amusing, though the dubstep arrangement of David Arnold’s signature tune was dreadful. Following that, the scene in their home was frankly a huge drag. I would have thought the opportunity to make the two leads drunk would be a great one, but it was clearly misused as the whole thing was tedious and irritating, perhaps except Freeman’s comic timing. It slightly improved on relocating to Tessa’s apartment, but really I was very relieved to see them sobered up. And it was soon made up for by Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs)’s hilarious backstory.
Finally, apart from the dreaded drunken scene, Steve Thompson’s script was otherwise brilliant. It would have been nice to see some of the wedding service but I see why it wouldn’t have suited the episode, nor the character of Sherlock. Some of Scott Hinchcliffe’s editing seemed a little sea-sickening but the episode’s format and Colm McCarthy’s direction of the chatroom scene made up for that, making the most of Alice Lowe (Tessa)’s acting talent and of course bringing the exciting return of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver)! Over all it’s a very original and lovely episode, with some lovely touches such as Sherlock’s composition for the wedding and that Watson replaces Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) as the voice of reason for Sherlock’s deductions. Perhaps without the hideous drunken scene it would have been virtually perfect, but alas, that is yet to arise! Perhaps in episode three…