Last Update: 08 January, 2014
As we get more information, hints, teasers, rumours, sightings, and so forth, I’m going to update and fine-tune my guesses.
- First Guesses (February, 2013)
- Second Guesses (April, 2013)
- Third Guesses (July, 2013)
- 4th Guesses (January, 2014)
- 5th Guesses (January, 2014)
Update: 08 Janaury, 2014
Oh, dear, after seeing the trailer for the last episode, His Last Vow, not only am I certain it’s curtains for Mary (and the baby), but I’m rather worried about Molly’s health as well! This is Moffat after all — and he’s killed his allotment of Doctors in the past couple of years! Weeping angels, indeed.
Moffat’s specialty is jerking as many tears as possible and wrenching as much gut as human’s can endure. It also has a number of tells and patterns that he’s demonstrated in Dr. Who through the years, so having given us a the frothy feels of joy and loads of laughs in Sherlock Series/Season 3 episodes 1 and 2, everyone should be prepared to have the boom lowered and the guillotine dropped. I am truly concerned about Molly. The series has been making her more and more a support for Sherlock; think Rory from Dr. Who — and what happened to him — repeatedly. It’s John’s role in the Sherlock universe to be the much wounded but stalwart warrior (Rory again). Magnussen is the cold, clinical psychopath that Scott’s Moriarty was not (Scott’s Moriarty was The Master). And keep in mind that Moffat has had several years to perfect his “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” pathos.
So we know that Mary (and the baby) are toast, the question remains who else are we losing and how painfully.
So keep your tissues handy and be prepared for some genuine horror in “His Last Vow,” sweeties!
Updated: 02 January, 2014
Right. I’ve got this cross-posted in the Spoilers, Sweetie post, but in case you haven’t made it there, I’m keeping this brief, but for those who haven’t seen Sherlock Season 3 “The Empty Hearse,” — and for those who planning to re-watch it — pay attention to the scene between Mycroft and Sherlock where Mycroft discusses “goldfish” and the subsequent conversation on “isolation” and Sherlock’s point that the owner of the ugly hat “doesn’t mind being different; doesn’t have to isolated.” (I especially love Sherlock getting a bit of his own back after Buckingham Palace; when Mycroft insists he isn’t lonely, Sherlock replies “How would you know?” and there’s a lovely reaction shot.) All of this discussion of Mycroft’s possible vulnerability through his isolation and “being different” is foreshadowing for Episode 3, “His Last Vow.” I’d place a sizable wager on it. There is another clue at the very end when we get to see our new villain repeatedly watching Sherlock at the bonfire. (Notice how cleverly I didn’t actually mention things that would spoil it for you? Oh, what the heck. You probably know already. It’s when Sherlock rescues John from the bonfire.) We end with Charles Augustus Magnussen freeze-framing on Sherlock’s face. We’ve already been told that Sherlock Series/Season 3 ends on another cliffhanger and a particularly chilling one at that. My guess is that it’s Mycroft who is endangered by Magnussen in Episode 3 and it has something to do with “goldfish” and “isolation.” Is it possible Mycroft isn’t quite as “isolated” as we believe or does he suddenly become less “isolated?” Either way will be interesting.
With the revelation by the BBC that the title of Sherlock Season 3, Episode 3 will be “His Last Vow,” I suspect my guess that we’re getting one of the nautical episodes for a base is wrong, but you may want to read the reason behind the guess anyway. I’m beginning to think now that perhaps we are indeed getting a Sherlock & Watson spy-based story. In some ways, it would free them all from having to follow a chronological timeline. The stories in the original Sherlock Holmes series that came after His Last Bow where in no particular order and jumped around in time and continuity (sometimes with conflicts with previous stories).
Alternatively, they could be getting rid of Watson’s new wife, Mary, in the episode and Sherlock’s last vow is to get her killers.
It’s even possible Steven Moffat could combine the spy story elements of “His Last Bow” and the ending of Ian Fleming’s James Bond wedding tragedy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, to give us a spy mash-up and eliminate Mary Morstan at the same time. I’ll be discussing this more fully in the Spoilers post here, if you want to read more. Steven Moffat repeated at the San Diego Comic Con that Sherlock Season 3 ends on a cliffhanger:
“You’ll be watching the end of the last episode thinking, ‘They wouldn’t stop it there?! They wouldn’t stop it there?! Oh my God, they wouldn’t stop it there?!’”
It’s been confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are signed for a Season 4 and that BBC has optioned a Season 4; the trick is when everyone can get together again given busy schedules for now A-List actors and writers. Or as Executive Produce Sue Vertue puts it, “We just haven’t figured out when we can do it.”
The actors are due to begin filming Episode 3 at the beginning of August, and since Benedict Cumberbatch must be in Canada by 5-15 September, 2013 for the Toronto International Film Festival, where he is walking the red carpet for not one, not two, but three films he appears in (12 Years a Slave, August: Osage County, and The Fifth Estate), I suspect principle shooting will be tight — and security for location work will be intense.
But I’m certain the Daily Mail will manage to sneak some pics for us which I’ll post on the Spoilers post.
Created: 28 May, 2013
So Sherlock Season 3, Episode 2 has finished filming according to BBC America. We pause now for fans to do the Dance of Joy.
That said, I will now do a bit of renewed guessing about what we are going to see in Sherlock Season 3, Episode 3. (For Spoilers of the filming and so on, please check out this post (like you haven’t already…).) Benedict Cumberbatch’s premature ejaculation regarding Sherlock Season 4 was treated mainly with silence by the BBC and Mofftiss — until recently. Now there’s denial that Sherlock Season 4 is confirmed, particularly by Moffat who has already let slip that Season 3 will end on a cliff-hanger just as Season 1 did.
That is significant because Season 1 ended with a cliff-hanger because BBC (and Cumberbatch and Freeman et al) were already committed to Season 2. Sherlock Season 2 did not end in a cliff-hanger as the original story, The Final Solution, on which it was based did.We were shown us quite clearly that Sherlock Holmes is still alive. I suspect this was due to some ambiguity regarding contracts and schedules for Cumberbatch and Freeman at the time. Yes, Sherlock Season 2 left the mystery of how Sherlock faked his death, but there was no ambiguity that he did survive while Moriarty didn’t.
So I now believe that the Sherlock fans hoping for a variation on The Adventure of the Three Garridebs are going to get their wish and Season 3 will end with the cliff-hanger of John Watson being shot.
Okay. Let’s be honest. Moffat likes to go for the obvious emotional heart-string tugs and killing, or appearing to kill, a likable or beloved character is a standard ploy. I also believe that Mary Morstan is going to be killed off, possibly as part of Season 3 Episode 3 or possibly between episodes, although I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see her at least near death or in a deadly situation at the end of Season 3 Sherlock. Granted I’ll be disappointed if Mofftiss use these standard plot devices (it’s the priamry reason I can’t become a Whovian despite adoring the actors and the witty banter). They are trite and hackneyed and the fact that I’m predicting them so far in advance makes them tarnished goods. On the other hand, we could get a twist and Sherlock could bow out (remember, the teaser word for Sherlock Season 3, Episode 3 is “bow”) of Watson’s life with Morstan as the cliff-hanger.
But I’m still placing my money on a shooting or major life-threatening situation á la the Season 1 swimming pool scene.
As the pre-production work on Sherlock Season 3 continues and the tension mounts — not to mention a touch of fan hysteria reminiscent of Sherlock without a ciggie, a nicotine patch or a case — and I continue to be buried in work (I really did not think that many of my proposed classes would actually attract enough students, so it seemed like a good idea at the time to offer so many, and in two locations), I thought I’d take a moment of a rare free day to review a bit of what we know will be in Sherlock Season 3 and what I think Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat will cook up.
I’ll be creating a Sherlock Season 3 Bingo and Drinking game(s) and posting it shortly. Please feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions for the season or the game(s) in the comments area below.
Sherlock Season 3 Guide
First, let’s remember the three key words that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat taunted us with in August, 2012: Rat, Wedding, Bow. Moffat, of course, has gone on to say that they “may be misleading, are not titles, are only teasers or possibly clues, but might be deliberately designed to get you into a lather.” (As if there was any need to get BBC Sherlock fans into more of a lather.)
This teasing is helped enormously by the ambiguity built into the English language which allows words to have multiple meanings in various context. But let’s take a look at the terms in regards to Sherlock Holmes canon (the original stories).
“Rat” could be one of several references from the Sherlock Holmes stories. There is, of course, the literal meaning from “the giant rat of Sumatra” which has been one of those stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle refers to, but we never actually get to read because supposedly, as Watson tells us, it’s a “story for which the world is not yet prepared.” Speculation on what that case was about is a popular pastime among Sherlockians, and Mark Gatiss is an aficionado of the macabre, but I don’t really think we’re going to get any giant rats to go with the “giant hound” of The Hounds of Baskerville (although, yes, I have a bit of fan fic on the idea coming soon).
There is also a literal reference to the word in one of the more famous published stories. In The Boscombe Valley Mystery, the word “rat” is overheard by a witness and used as part of the evidence against Sherlock Holmes’ client. It is, of course, misunderstood and the true meaning of reference is deduced by Sherlock Holmes in the course of his investigation.
And finally, there’s the use of the term “rat” to refer to criminals, scoundrels, and other unpleasant and ruthless people. Naturally, there are a lot “rats” in the Sherlock Holmes stories, and we got rid of the worst one, Moriarty, at the end of Sherlock Season 2.
Episode 1: “The Empty House” & “Rat”
Certainly, a large chunk of the first episode of Sherlock Season 3 will be revealing how Sherlock faked his death as well as his reunion with John Watson. We’ve been told by Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Martin Freeman that “all the clues were on the screen.” Moffat has been quoted as saying:
“I’ve been online and looked at all the theories and there’s one clue that everyone’s missed. It’s something that Sherlock did that was very out of character, but which nobody has picked up on.”
To me, Sherlock asking Moriarty for a “bit of privacy, please” was decidedly out of character and I can’t help but notice that we have a cut at that point that takes the focus off of Sherlock rather like a magician who creates a distraction, so I’m guessing that’s part of it. And I have seen others mention that bit.
In addition, I’ve seen enough screen grabs and blow-ups (including the person on the street gathering around the “dead Sherlock” with what appears to be a bag of blood), theories, and such that I think I have a pretty good idea of how it was done. (I’m assuming no one thinks the guy on the bicycle knocking down Watson was an accident or the fact that there are two large bus/van vehicles blocking Watson’s view of the pavement until he gets up from the street is coincidence.) But I’m thinking the detailed explanation to Watson will need to eat up at least 10-15 minutes of screen time minimum.
As for the reunion with Watson, we know episode one will be largely based on the original story The Empty House, so we can expect a surprise reveal. In the original, Sherlock Holmes assumes one of his famous disguises (this time as a very old and impoverished bookseller complete with white whiskers and mutton chops). In the original story, Sherlock first bumps, literally, into Watson on the street outside a crime scene, dropping a stack of books Sherlock’s carrying, and bursting into a brief tirade against the doctor for Watson’s clumsiness. Later, the bookseller comes to the Baker Street flat to apologize for his behaviour and, after distracting the Dr. Watson, peels off his disguise and causing Dr. Watson to faint when he turns around and recognizes his friend, Sherlock Holmes.
However, Mofftiss has been very careful in Sherlock Season 1 and 2 to have Sherlock avoid tricky costumes and disguises. Sherlock has taken on false personas, giving Benedict Cumberbatch wonderful opportunities to display his acting range and skill, but Sherlock has never dressed up or applied prosthetics and make-up for a character. So I don’t expect it to be that kind of reveal.
Having said that, I expect at least a nod to one of the most famous scenes in literature with a preliminary run in between the two characters and then Sherlock pulling off some kind of clever reappearance, all smugly pleased with his brilliance and a “Please don’t feel obliged to tell me that was remarkable or amazing, John, because you’ve already expressed that thought in every possible variant available to the English language.” Only to be met with a serious trouncing. Martin Freeman has repeatedly expressed his desire to have an opportunity to have John Watson beat up Sherlock again (after A Scandal in Belgravia) and the fanfic writers have all done their variations on the idea, so “let’s get physical, physical.” I’ll be very, very surprised if John doesn’t express his displeasure at being conned both loudly and physically.
That said, I also expect to see some interesting 21st Century tweaks such as John getting mysterious texts or electronics going awry as part of the reunion. Given Gatiss’ penchant for the spooky and scary, I think John (and the fans) may be in for a bit of an adrenalin rush (and possibly another Mycroftian black car and gorgeous girl).
I also don’t think they really need to stray far from the actual plot of the original The Empty House. Similar to Hounds of Baskerville, which actually stuck quite close to the original concept of psychological and chemical tricks designed to cover-up a murder, Mr. Gatiss could take the basic concept of Sherlock Holmes returning to take down the assassin who is a threat to him — and they could even use the name Sebastian Moran for the assassin. The original story had plenty of play for suspense and tension and I will expect to see something as wonderfully suspenseful as A Study in Pink, where we were successfully moved back and forth between John Watson’s frantic efforts to reach Sherlock and Sherlock’s mental dual with the cab driver.
So yes, I’m expecting a smashing update on The Empty House, including a heroic bit of action from Mrs. Hudson and don’t see any need for a mash-up with another story. However, I would not be entirely surprised to see Sherlock Holmes doing some undercover work for his brother Mycroft. After all, Sherlock had to have traded something of considerable value for access and free-range use of Baskerville in Season 2, episode 2, The Hounds of Baskerville. (“It’s what I have…[clears throat]…negotiated.”) But that may be a card played later.
(Although, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if we are suddenly informed in S3 Episode 1 that Sherlock knew, and approved, Mycroft’s feeding Moriarty all of that personal information. It would certainly would explain Mycroft’s blunder there.)
Episode 2: “Wedding”
Man, there are a LOT of weddings in the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories! Ranging from the Watson’s own match-up with the apparently short-lived Mary Morstan in the classic “The Sign of the Four” to run-away brides of noblemen to the disappearance of Lady Cairfax to ruined engagements to Sherlock Holme’s own breach of promise. So Moftiss have a lot of room for maneuvering with this teaser clue.
I’m certain, however, that we won’t see Sherlock marrying — anybody. It would be lovely to see Sherlock play yenta matchmaker for Molly, but I don’t expect it. Unfortunately, she is neither his intellectual equal nor a strong enough personality to overcome Sherlock’s disinterest in sharing space and time with a woman, let alone engage in sex.
Irene Adler’s return to the scene would almost certainly result in her death (or at least imprisonment because really, after the Moriarty debacle, I can’t see Mycroft overlooking her treason again). So, while Watson in the canon kept holding out hope and attempting to play Cupid for Sherlock with some of their female clients, I’d be willing to place significant odds that Sherlock Holmes is not getting married in Season 3. Well, unless he woos temporarily for business reasons (see below), but I can’t see them taking him to the alter.
(As an aside, it was not that unusual for men of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s generation to be rather less focused on sex. In fact, Sir Winston Churchill was thought to have remained a virgin into his 30′s, when he married, and, unlike most American presidents of all political persuasions, was never suspected of philandering. So an “asexual” Sherlock Holmes is not an anomaly, particularly when the original stories were written.)
There’s an off chance that we’ll meet Mary Morstan, because The Sign of the Four is one of the major stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Although, I just don’t see Martin Freeman’s John Watson worrying too much about marrying a woman considerably wealthier than he is.
But the Moftiss have liked doing the big, popular stories.
One of the goals in Season 2 was to tackle all the really big, classic stories that everyone knew: Scandal in Bohemia, Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Final Problem. So going back and picking up The Sign of the Four would not be inconceivable. Not if they wanted to hit the other big ones in case there are no more seasons because of Cumberbatch’s and Freeman’s new fame (and probable price tags). These remaining major original stories would be: The Empty House, The Sign of the Four, and The Last Bow. And I’ll get to The Last Bow in a minute.
Freeman could easily be lobbying for a bit of Watson spotlight that Sign of the Four would bring, however, it would take quite a lot of twisting and shifting and manipulating to bring the original Sign of the Four story up-to-date. I could see how it could be done using the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, or even the fall of Iran or Iraq, but having watched considerably more Dr. Who lately (both to study the mind of Moftiss and to support my Whovian friends and their addiction), I’m a bit doubtful about that choice. I certainly wouldn’t put a lot of money on that being the core of S3 episode 2. It could be very mysterious, tense, and even chock-a-block full of Mycroft entanglement, but I just don’t know if we’re ready for it.
Besides, in the canon, John was married to Mary Morstan shortly before The Final Problem and Reichenbach Falls, and she’d died before The Empty House. Since Sarah seems to be the longest lasting relationship prior to The Reichenbach Fall episode (and my favorite of his many girlfriends; I mean the woman saved Sherlock Holmes life — despite him being an arrogant arse! And she was able to joke about it later! And she’s a doctor to boot! John, John, what were you thinking letting her go?), I can’t see them dashing through a rushed courtship, marrying John at the end of the episode, and then killing her off before S3 Episode 3. But there is another possibility for Mary Morstan which I’ll discuss when we get to Episode 3.
Which brings us to what most everyone else is thinking as Most Likely Candidate for the foundation story for S3 Episode 2: The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Charles Augustus Milverton (or CAM among Sherlockians) was second only to Moriarty in Sherlock’s list of brilliant criminals with whom he crossed wits. (Irene Adler held first for women and possibly third overall.) Milverton is a ruthless blackmailer and we meet him when he has ruined a high society wedding and is threatening another. It is this second wedding that brings Sherlock Holmes into the case and it’s Milverton’s brilliance that causes Holmes to disguise himself as a plumber to gain access to the house (and allows Doyle to show that even in Victorian times, wealthy men had no clue to how the basic functionality of their homes or any handyman skills). In the course of his investigations, he has to court a maid and ends up not only in a dust up with another servant who is sweet on her, but engaged to be married to her. (Watson is absolutely appalled and morally shocked when Sherlock confesses to doing so with every intention of jilting the poor girl.)
Now the advantage to Milverton being the basis for the Season 3 Episode 2 plot is that he is a deliciously psychopathic villain and Steven Moffat has said, ” There are other great villains… that we want to visit.” So I’m putting my money on “wedding” being based on The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. What I’m really anxious to see is who they will cast and how they will treat the character, because to be absolutely honest, Andrew Scott’s Moriarty was rather close to how I’ve always viewed Milverton in the books. And I know Moftiss aren’t going to want to repeat themselves or parody themselves by having a “Moriarty light” villain. In style, I’d love to see Gary Oldman or Rickman, but they’re too old and too expensive. Ditto Daniel Craig. I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think who among the young British men would have the clout because, face it, whoever plays the part of Milverton has to pull off holding his own with Benedict Cumberbatch (and Martin Freeman, probably). Can casting pull another Andrew Scott out of their hat?
Oh, I just had a wicked idea. John Simm as Charles Augustus Milverton!
After all, he’s played The Master on Dr. Who and a ton of other baddies, all with aplomb.
Anyone else got some ideas to toss around in the comments below?
Episode 3: “Bow”
It’s been clearly stated that the pronunciation of the word is like the “bow” at the end of a performance and not like a “bow” tie (however cool). So, of course, this puts all the Sherlockians in mind of the story His Last Bow in which Sherlock Holmes goes undercover for King and Country in the days leading up to WWI as a spy to recover confidential information about to be smuggled out of the country to Germany. Watson also goes undercover and together they do have a very James Bondian adventure (without any Bond girls or sexual high-jinx). After this, Sherlock Holmes supposedly hangs up his hat for good and all subsequent stories were set before this “last” story.
I do like the idea of Mycroft putting his little brother to work as a spy and heaven knows Martin Freeman’s John Watson would love a bit of action-adventure, not to mention all of the fun with “The name is Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.” and lots of cross-over in-jokes. Not to mention the suit porn. Benedict Cumberbatch has already expressed his delight in the scenes where Sherlock gets to show off his action skills such as fighting murderous Arabs in desert robes or taking our psychopathic CIA agents in slow-motion. But my problem with this as the basis for Season 3 episode 3 is that in the canon, Sherlock Holmes is well into middle age when His Last Bow story is written. He’s 60 as a matter of fact, so “middle-age” is a euphemism for “old.”
Could Moftiss use His Last Bow as a basis for the plot, making Sherlock and Watson younger, and do a mash-up with other stories? Absolutely. Steven Moffat has already hinted at a cliff-hanger ending for Season 3 and Sherlock Holmes announcing his retirement would certain send fans into a frenzy. It would also remove the pressure on everyone should Freeman and Cumberbatch not be available for future seasons (until much later in their careers). I could easily see a mash-up of His Last Bow and John Watson marrying Mary Morstan (whereupon she would conveniently die before the next season). And it could easily work in the favour Sherlock surely owes Mycroft after the Baskerville access arrangement. We know that Mycroft has pulled rank, and power, on his little brother before to get something done for the British government, so it’s not inconceivable that he would shanghai his brother (and John Watson) into some serious espionage.
But I think there’s another strong possibility that folks are overlooking.
The pronunciation used for “bow” is the same as that used for the front end of a ship. And there are tons of ships in the original Sherlock Holmes stories. We’ve got criminals escaping justice to die in shipwrecks; Sherlock Holmes’ “first case” involved the father of his only friend in university being involved in a mutiny aboard ship; heck, the “giant rat of Sumatra” arrives onboard a ship where crew members have been “mysteriously killed” and disemboweled (and tell me our Sherlock wouldn’t be interested in that!). Oooh, I could see our own Mark Gatiss version of Snakes on a Plane with giant rats and a ship (or boat, if it were a submarine) and Mycroft roping Sherlock in to figure out what killed the crew)!
[Note to Beryl Vertue, Sue Vertue, Steven Moffat, and Mark Gatiss: Should you ever need someone to develop wildly imaginative story concepts (or scripts), I'm available at an incredibly reasonable price. Blink-blink.]
So while I wouldn’t discount the idea of Agent 221B and His Last Bow, I’m inclined to think we’re going to have something nautical. It just seems far too early to have Sherlock retire and there are far too many stories that have not been incorporated or presented that were before His Last Bow. The one niggling doubt and fear I retain is that Moftiss might want to end Season 3 in a way that would allow everyone, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and MartinFreeman, to go off and be famous and busy, and then return older and less busy for a bunch of pre-His Last Bow episodes (although how they are going to age Cumberbatch and Freeman in S3 Episode 3 to make that work, I can’t fathom).
Nope. Nope. The more I think about it, while I could see doing an espionage episode, I just can’t see His Last Bow at this time.
But I could see Mary Morstan and John Watson in episode 3. There’s sure to be plenty of time to kill her off before The Fandom Who Waits gets a Season 4. *heavy sigh*
So what’s your thoughts, guesses, bets, or ideas for Season 3? Go ahead and tell us in the comments below.
(I, meanwhile, have some short stories to write just as soon as I finish teaching one more class.)
Oh, and I thought I should mention that my inner-Watson tackled my inner-Sherlock and stopped me from booking a flight to London for the day after my last class in March so that I could attend the University of Cambridge Science Festival with Benedict Cumberbatch as director (Really. Science, Cambridge, and Cumberbatch. I still finger my Amex Card like Sherlock sniffing nicotine from time to time.) AND hover around Gower Street in hopes of catching some outside location work for Sherlock shooting (Sherlock, Science, Cambridge, Cumberbatch, Freeman, Gatiss. Mycroft is reading my mind again.). I am a mature, grown-up who can NOT galavant off to the UK whenever the whim takes me and who is ruled by reason and intellect, not emotion, and will NOT max out my credit card(s) for foolish fannish obsessions… again.
Besides, I didn’t want to appear one of those creepy stalker fans who delay production or make the work harder for Mr. Cumberbatch and Mr. Freeman.
I am saving my shekels so that I can spend several weeks in the UK this fall and see Sherlock Season 3 when it appears on BBC this fall and remain to see Harrod’s and London during the Holidays — and then return next summer to take classes at Oxford and Cambridge and then do the Worldcon in London. There will be more about this madness later.
I just wanted to let all the people who don’t believe the lightbulb can change to know that self-control can be learned at any age.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! HERE THERE BE SPOILERS, SWEETIE.
We’ve got quite a bit more to work with now, so the basic structure of Sherlock Season 3 is taking form. We know the name of two episodes: The Empty Hearse, Episode 1 written by Mark Gatiss and The Sign of the Three, Episode 2 written by Steve Thompson (who wrote The Blind Banker in Sherlock Season 1 and Reichenbach Fall in Sherlock Season 2). This is solid information from Mark Gatiss and the production company and the BBC itself. We also have been told by Steven Moffat that Episode 3 ends in “a cliffhanger” and we know there is going to be a Sherlock Season 4 because Benedict Cumberbatch let it slip that he and Martin Freeman are already committed to another 3 episodes after this season, and the BBC confirmed it. We also know that Amanda Abbington, Martin Freeman’s real-life partner, is being added to the cast and it “significantly impacts upon the lives of John and Sherlock.”
From these bits I can start by saying I was wrong about the “The Sign of the Four” not being used in a big way. The official hints we have (remember the original clues were “Rat. Wedding. Bow.”) strongly point to the introduction of Mary Morstan and John Watson getting married and Watson moving out of 221B Baker Street. (I’m thinking that may be the cliffhanger, but more about this later. )
Of course, those of us who are avid readers of Sherlock Holmes stories know that Mary doesn’t live long and is extremely accommodating about John Watson gallivanting off on adventures with his friend Sherlock. (His frequent absence from home may explain why she forgets his first name in one story and calls him “James” which mystery maven Dorothy L. Sayers suggests is because the “H” in “John H. Watson” stands for “Hamish” which is Scottish for “James.” Steven Moffat cleverly works this bit of trivia into the Irene versus Sherlock scene in Scandal in Belgravia.)
We’ve also got some tantalizing hints from some location work that’s been done in Bristol, Cheltenham, and London so far. Check out the Spoilers here if you want to see the photos and video. In Bristol we have Sherlock and Amanda Abbington’s character race to a bonfire and apparently rescue John Watson from inside. [Big Shout Out to MBC for reminding us of Moriarty's threat: "I will burn the HEART out of you." which would make it really poetic if this is tied to Sebastian Moran who was Moriarty's right-hand man in the Canon and who attempted to assassinate Sherlock Holmes both at the Reichenbach Falls and later in "The Empty House."]
From London, there appears to be a press conference, complete with deerstalker, an abduction of John Watson by a serious (and seriously good-looking) thug that I’m guessing might be Sebastian Moran or might be one of the thieves from “Sign of the Four,” because we also have some shots of Sherlock and Amanda Abbington’s character racing out of 221B Baker Street and apparently commandeering a motorcycle.
There was also a scene shot with Amanda Abbington, Watson and the extras in formal attire. So this could be The Wedding. If it is John Watson’s wedding, I am praying nightly to whomever will listen that we get to see the Sherlock at the Bachelor Party. Better yet, that we get to see Sherlock throw the Bachelor Party for John!
Now keep in mind we don’t actually know what goes with what episode. They do not shoot scenes in order or even in episode order. Although, we do know they are shooting episodes 1 and 2 right now and then taking a break so that Cumberbatch and Freeman can take care of other obligations before coming back to shoot episode 3 in the summer. So what we’ve seen so far is definitely for episodes 1 and 2.
So let’s back up and I’ll try to give my new guesses for Sherlock Season 3 based on the information, hints, and clues we have so far.
Episode 1, The Empty Hearse (RAT)
Written by Mark Gatiss, who has said publicly that production didn’t feel compelled to stick too closely to the original story, I’m not willing to place any bets on the plot for this one now. But then again, he may just be saying this to throw us off. Gatiss has warned that the teaser words, “…May be misleading, are not titles, are only teases or possibly clues, but might be deliberately designed to get you into a lather.” Both Gatiss and Moffat love good word-play, as well as a good tease, so things may not be what they seem.
What we can be certain of is an explanation of “The Fall” and how Sherlock survived it and faked his death. There have been photos leaked in the British tabloids showing Benedict Cumberbatch and his stunt double re-creating the plunge off of Bart’s (St. Bartholomew Hospital) in London. Certainly, this will eat up a bit of screen time.
In the original, “The Empty House,” Sebastian Moran is the villain who ultimately attempts to kill Sherlock Holmes in 221B Baker Street, and there’s considerable speculation that the casting of Tomi May in Sherlock Season 3 was for Sebastian Moran. Ever since MBC left the comment about Moriarty’s line “I’ll burn the HEART out of you!” after the Bristol bonfire leaks, I’ve been hoping that we do get Moran trying to revenge Moriarty’s death by taking those words literally (because we all know that John Watson is Sherlock’s “heart”).
I’d still like to see Mrs. Hudson get to show her heroism again, but it looks like they’re going to have a lot to juggle with just the explanation of the faked suicide, the reunion of John and Sherlock, and the little matter of Sherlock’s shredded reputation. I’m assuming that that has something to do with the shots of a press conference in front of 221B Baker Street and Sherlock in the deerstalker. In the bits leaked, Martin Freeman plays a decidedly not happy John Watson as he follows Sherlock out of the front door into the throng of reporters (and, in reality, fans). This may connected to how John finds out that Sherlock is actually still alive. If Sherlock is smart, he’ll spring it on John in a way that prevents John from reminding Sherlock he was a soldier. (“You were a doctor!” “I had bad days!”) John might hesitate to assault Sherlock in front of a flank of cameras.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that instead of Sebastian Moran, Tomi May plays the murderous thief, Jonathan Small from “The Sign of the Four.” Granted, in the Canon, Small is a peg-leg accompanied by a very small aboriginal islander, but Moftiss have made it clear in previous episodes that they follow the spirit of the Canon, not the letter.
Which brings us to…
Episode 2, Sign of the Three, (WEDDING)
Written by Steve Banks, I expect this episode to actually be quite suspenseful with multiple viewpoints. There should be at least one long, slow, intense scene as well. I confess Mary Morstan is going to have to go some to beat Sarah in The Blind Banker as a good match for John Watson. I mean Sarah goes on a date with John to the circus that is crashed by Sherlock and ends up with her saving Sherlock’s life in a fight with Chinese tong members. She then gets insufferable rudeness from the man whose life she just saved while endangering her own. She’ s offered a cheap take-away dinner on trays (that she never gets to eat), gets kidnapped, gagged and tied up, nearly skewered by a javelin — and she still lets John Watson kip at her flat and flirts with him! Sarah is going to be a tough act to follow for Mary.
But we have seen Amanda Abbington chasing after Sherlock (and possibly riding a motorcycle very fast in tandem) to save John from an apparent fiery end. Of course, we don’t know for certain Amanda Abbington is playing Mary Morstan, but given that:
- a) we’ve got the episode title so obviously tied to the story “The Sign of the Four,”
- b) we’ve got the teaser word “wedding,” and
- c) it’s another of the “big stories” in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series so Moftiss will want to do it.
And finally, we have those leaked location images of Amanda Abbington and John Watson in formal wear (I’m still cringing over the powder blue tux) with a large number of extras in formal attire at what looks like a reception. So the odds on favourite is a Watson Wedding.
I know, I know. It doesn’t mean that this episode will actually have John and Mary’s wedding. It could be someone else’s wedding they’re attending or even just a formal reception of some sort (Sherlock finagling out of another knighthood?) But it would apply if it was the episode where John meets the woman he eventually marries.
Which brings us to…
Episode 3, His Last Vow, (BOW)
There are a lot folks (okay, mostly Johnlock slash fans) who are fervently hoping this episode is based on “The Three Garridebs” because that’s the story in which Sherlock goes gonzo when John is shot in the leg, pistol whips the shooter and tells him that he’s very lucky the wound isn’t more serious. Since Steven Moffat has stated that Sherlock Season 3, Episode 3 ends with a cliffhanger and we know there’s a Season 4, a number of fans think the cliffhanger will be John Watson getting shot — and the audience not knowing how seriously until Season 4, Episode 1. (Think the end of Season 1 with the swimming pool stand-off.)
Personally, I’d like it to end with John and Mary’s wedding and the cliffhanger is “OMG, John has moved out of 221B! How will the series, and Sherlock, go on?” Bear with me for a moment. (And if you want to see what a Sherlock Bachelor Party might be like, here’s a fan video that is the only justification for the movie The Hangover that I can see.)
In the original stories, John is married before “The Final Problem” and Sherlock’s plunge off of Reichenbach Falls. But by “The Empty House” where Sherlock reappears, Mary Morstan is dead and John is once more a bachelor. It’s not in sequence with the original stories but it would work just as well for Season 3 to end with John married and in his own place and then… Mary dies before Season 4. Hey, you know they have to get rid of her by Season 4!
Update: 16 April, 2013
Just realized I forgot a bit the other night when I was working. Benedict Cumberbatch, according to a news report, let slip a reference to a Sherlock Season 3 Christmas episode. Now it was unclear whether he meant that a Sherlock Season 3 episode will appear at Christmas or there’s an episode set at Christmas. But if true either way I will now do the Happy Dance of Joy.
If it’s an episode set at Christmas, I break out the champers in expectation of another John Watson Christmas Sweater and a tiddly Mrs. Hudson and sexy Molly Hooper. It also suggests that Gatiss, Banks, or Moffat may be including one of my personal favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Blue Carbuncle.”
For those who don’t remember the story, a very valuable blue diamond is stolen, the wrong man accused and arrested. Meanwhile, a beat bobby comes to Holmes with a mystery of a street assault, a lost hat, and an abandoned goose (dead and ready to become someone’s Christmas dinner) and asks Holmes what to do. Holmes tells the bobby to cook the goose for his dinner rather than let it go to waste and Holmes keeps the hat for a bit of deduction. The bobby returns ashen to show Holmes what his wife found inside the goose — yes, it’s the diamond. Holmes, of course, goes on to solve the case but this is one of the few times when Holmes takes justice entirely into his own hands and lets the thief go. It’s really one of my favourite Christmas stories and is entirely in the spirit of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Not only does the kind bobby get a free Christmas goose, but he gets the reward for recovering the diamond, meanwhile, the down-on-his-luck alcoholic old scholar who bought the goose as a gift for his wife, gets his hat back and a fine replacement goose courtesy of Sherlock Holmes. The thief, who was seduced and is thoroughly repentant and obviously not ever going to steal again, avoids arrest thanks to Holmes. And finally, one of the bits near and dear to my heart, Holmes and Watson see that the wrongly accused man is released and returned to his family on Christmas Day. I re-watch the Brett version every year as part of my Holidays Tradition.
If we are getting a Blue Carbuncle variation, it could easily be incorporated in any of the episodes since it basically is a classic mystery story with a Christmas theme. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and keep an eye out for any corroborative evidence. Maybe this year Sherlock will actually have Christmas dinner with Mycroft. … Na-aaw!
Okay, I have to stop for now, but I’ll add updates as we get more information.
Feel free to drop your thoughts below and share with others for a good laugh.
And I still think this fan video could be the Sherlock Season 3 trailer!