‘Sherlock’ Recap: ‘The Sign of Three’

'Sherlock: "The Sign of Three"

‘Sherlock: “The Sign of Three”

After last week’s shenanigans with bonfires, bombs and moustaches, it’s time for the relative sanity of John Watson’s wedding. What could possibly go wrong?

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Before we get to the big day, Lestrade is having a tough time prosecuting the Waters crime gang, and is understandably miffed. Time and again they evade prosecution, and eventually Greg stops kicking his car long enough to resolve to catch them IN. THE. ACT.

Which means foiling a gold bullion robbery, while the gang wear clown masks. Lestrade is cock-a-hoop, he’s finally going to make his collar. Nothing can spoil his big moment, nothing at all.

Except…

He’s getting text messages that read “HELP. BAKER STREET. NOW.” and that means only one thing, Sherlock is in trouble. Lestrade hot-foots it over there, with full police escort, only to find his detective friend in the throes of a real dilemma.

He has a Best Man’s Speech to write and he’s run out of funny anecdotes about Watson.

(ROLL CREDITS)

The next day is the big day. Mrs Hudson takes the view that marriage changes people, chatting away ten-to-the-dozen while Sherlock pines for biscuits (or, more accurately, peace). And then it’s time for the wedding, and during the confetti and congratulations, Sherlock accurately deduces which of the wedding guests would make a good sexual partner for Janine, the maid of honor, and exchanges significant glances with Mary’s clingy ex-boyfriend, who he has already warned off.

Then there’s Archie, a child after Sherlock’s heart, who has already been shown the best of Mr Holmes’s forensic collection. Somehow, his anti-social tendencies make him quite the party facilitator.

Elsewhere, a man gets into his dress uniform awkwardly, and without the use of one hand. He’s clearly battle-scarred. It’s Major Sholto, and he’s John’s former commanding officer.

Then, Sherlock takes a moment to call his brother Mycroft and demand to know if he’ll be attending the “night do” (that’s the dancing part of the wedding, after the meals, if anyone’s confused). Mycroft teases Sherlock about getting involved, as if they come from a different race to humanity, and then mentions “Redbeard,” which clearly gets under Sherlock’s skin.

No time to mope, however, there’s a meal to eat and a speech to make. Get comfy, this might take a while.

The speech begins badly. Lengthy pauses and flashbacks to Molly and Lestrade and Mrs Hudson’s hysterical responses to the idea of Sherlock making his speech and reading out the telegrams, which he does dismissively and at speed.

Then a eulogy for John Watson, which is lengthy and takes place across more flashbacks. John asking Sherlock to be Best Man, and Sherlock being so (nearly) moved that he fails to react physically, or stop himself taking a sip from a mug of tea with an eyeball in it.

Speaking of wet eyes, after lambasting the entire event, everyone in it, and himself, Sherlock’s speech takes a marked turn for the soppy, and contains a most definite admission of love, actual real love.

A most unexpected turn of events that floors most of the wedding guests:

And now, some funny stories about John, one particular one being the case of the Bloody Guardsman, which the crime-solving pair only embarked upon because Mary needed to keep both of her boys busy in the days before the wedding. Flashback time.

Private Bainbridge from Her Majesty’s Household Guard has emailed in because he fears he has a stalker, so with Mary’s blessing (oh look, it’s like she has horns…), off they go to investigate:

Sherlock - Mary's horns

Bainbridge is on duty as the pair arrive, and while they wait, Sherlock and John discuss Major Sholto, whose injuries come from a controversial battle, in which a squad of new recruits were all killed. He’s not a popular man. Nor is Sherlock after he leaves John talking to himself and sneaks into the barracks, closely followed by a returning Bainbridge, who nips into the shower. And then collapses in a pool of blood.

He’s been stabbed, the question is how. There’s no weapon and no access to the shower from outside. Back at the wedding, Sherlock invites the guests to guess how it was done, and is not satisfied with any of the suggestions (“meat dagger,” indeed). Not that he knows how it was done either. Let’s just put a pin in that while we revisit the stag night; a sorry tale involving badly executed, but meticulously-planned booze intake, a woeful attempt at the Rizla game, and, in the case of the Mayfly Man, a horrifically spoiled crime scene.

Tessa, a nurse, has had one special night with a man who has since vanished, even from his own flat, and his landlord said he had died a week before she met him. Sadly, Sherlock and John are too wasted to be of much use, and end up in the police cells, woken by a shouty Lestrade.

And here again, amid tales of her drugs cartel running, murderous and cheating husband (and their sex life), Mrs Watson gives her speech about marriage changing everything. Seems to be something of a theme.

Sherlock, meanwhile, has populated his mind palace (actually a collection of individual laptops) with women. Women who have all experienced the romantic attentions of a man she later discovered was already dead. He attempts to draw a common thread between them, but draws a blank each time. It seems the Mayfly Man steals the identity of recently-deceased single men, and uses their homes as the base for his romantic endeavours. But why? Because, as John points out, because he’s married. Marriage changes everything.

Except… just as Sherlock rises to toast the bride and groom, he remembers that Tessa had called John by his middle name at the drunken crime scene. A middle name John had been at pains to keep secret until the wedding invites went out. Back to the Mind Palace (if Sherlock can keep Irene Adler out of his mind), and the realisation that the Mayfly Man is using these women to get access to John and Mary’s wedding. And why? Because something awful is about to happen: a murder!

All Sherlock has to do is figure out which of the guests is likely to be the perpetrator or the victim, before the end of his speech (or his wits, or the patience of the wedding guests). The victim is the easy bit, someone private, under threat, someone like Major Sholto, whose needs are met by a series of service personnel, a lot of whom are single ladies.

Then Archie suggests that the murderer could be the same person who attacked Private Bainbridge. Sherlock realizes the murder has been rehearsed, and that Major Sholto (who has locked himself in his room), has already been attacked. Stabbed through the belt of his uniform, which binds his wound together until later, just like Bainbridge.

Sholto face death bravely, until talked out of it by Sherlock, in the name of John Watson. Finally he opens his door, and Watson attends to his wounds.

But who is the murderer? Well, that’s a puzzle, and once he’s finished dancing with Janine, it’s one Sherlock is happy to solve. The wedding photographer is the only person with access to everyone at the wedding, the only person no one pays proper attention to, and Lestrade has tracked John and Mary’s down. He’s not only the Mayfly Man, he’s the person who attacked the Bloody Guardsman, and now he’s off to jail.

Which just leaves a wedding to complete. Sherlock plays John and Mary’s first dance on the violin, and makes another speech. Surprisingly no one runs away. And he’s made one final deduction: Mary is pregnant!

So the only thing for Sherlock to do now is leave, quietly, sadly, alone. His work completed for now.

See more:
‘Sherlock’ Recap: ‘The Empty Hearse’
10 Reasons Why Steven Moffat’s ‘Sherlock’ is the Best
When Sherlock Met Sherlock
NTA Awards: Matt’s Thanks And Benedict’s Shorts

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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