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Sherlock and The Sign of Three

Sherlock faces his most formidable opponent – John’s best man speech – in the latest episode of the BBC’s Sherlock.

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Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

This episode is unlike any previous episode of the series that we have ever seen. For the first time, the episode is not driven by a case, it is driven by Sherlock’s heart. Unorthodox to be certain, considering the two things Sherlock Holmes is famous for are his cases and his apparent lack of a heart. It is the fact that this is his legacy that makes this episode the most engaging and charming episode to date.

It is John and Mary’s big day, the “Most important day” of John Watson’s life, and the last person you would expect to see at the forefront of the festivities would be one Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Weddings are “Not really his area,” as he is quoted as saying the episode immediately preceding this one, The Empty Hearse. Yet here we are watching Sherlock take on the lion’s share of planning the wedding, from learning to artfully fold napkins to aggressively screening the guests, all the way down to the children who are invited. To an outside eye one would probably guess it was Mary and Sherlock having the wedding, not that it was a Watson affair.

You wonder, after all the grief and frustration Sherlock has caused John over the years with his contrary attitude, why he would suddenly be taking over on a wholly sentimental ritual that he himself puts no importance in. But as you see his much-anticipated best man’s speech unfold, it suddenly becomes clear. John is the one person he cares for more than anything in the world, and in his eyes John only deserves the very best in this world. He deserves to be happy, over Sherlock’s comfort. And more startlingly, he deserves to be happy even over Sherlock’s cases.

It becomes as blindingly apparent as a photographer’s flashbulb. This is the most important mission Sherlock has ever taken on. There is no room for his usual theatrics, or unsolved cases that eat at his brain. This is John’s wedding. And Sherlock takes his role as best man very, very seriously. I do believe we are witness to the moment the curly-haired Grinch’s heart grows three sizes, in fact. That moment is the moment when John asks Sherlock to be his best man because he considers the detective his best friend. Clearly, this idea had never occurred to Holmes, as it can be attested to his severe, (or perhaps lack of severe,) reaction. For once, we see the great Sherlock Holmes struck dumb.

What follows is what can only be described as organized chaos erupting in this solitary man’s head. He’s never had a friend before, let alone someone who considers him a best friend, a person who accepts him completely for who he is. So many things must fly through his mind – all the thoughtless, callous things he has said and done to John bearing extra weight, and with that unbridled Holmes obsession, the requirement for John’s complete happiness becomes tantamount.

But don’t get me wrong, even though this episode is a master class on character development it is also wholly entertaining. You find that Sherlock’s naivete perfectly compliments children’s disposition. You get to discover exactly what would happen at a stag party for John Watson should it be hosted by one high-functioning sociopath. And you get to experience our favorite consulting detective’s sheer panic at the wedding party’s reaction to the most touching speech you could ever dream of from him, (even the hardest of hearts would be impressed.) He stricken, blinks at the crowd of weeping faces with that of a confused kid, (He worriedly sputters to John as the groom hugs him amongst riotous applause and tries to continue with “Funny stories about John,” long before the applause has died.)

Not that the wedding runs anything but smooth. What would any event involving these two men be without a murder plot to solve? Thankfully, the day is saved as it always is, only this time with the seamless addition of Mary joining in to add a new and essential piece to the puzzle.

I’m also sure you realize that not everything is champagne and cake, either. You see Sherlock, our hero, our knight, come to the realization that with John paired up with someone now, that is effectively once again along, and painfully aware of it now that he has experienced the closeness of friends and people who worry and care for him. With no one to turn to at the end of the night to share a much anticipated dance with, as you find out Sherlock loves to dance much to our surprise and delight, you see him quietly close up the proverbial shop. His face shuttering down as he slips away unnoticed with a flip of his collar into the still night air.

With this new development and the responsibilities that undoubtedly come with it being laid bare by Sherlock, it seems at the end of the episode that neither man knows what the future holds for them as a pair despite their assurances that nothing will change. Marriage can shift a person’s life quite drastically when it comes to outside relationships one has, and hopefully Sherlock won’t jump the gun and make any decisions for John. We’ve all seen how it turned out the last time he made a decision over John’s head. But if we know one thing, it’s that it would take a lot more than a wedding to break these two apart. I mean, not even death could tear them away.

Sherlock is currently airing in the United Kingdom. American fans will get their chance starting January 19, 2014.

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