The Empty Hearse
So, we know how we did it… or do we? Sherlock made quite the spectacular return with ‘The Empty Hearse’ in an episode full of red herrings and fan service. Opening with what apparently seemed to be how he survived his infamous fall (later revealed to be a theory by Anderson), the episode weaved its way through re-introducing Sherlock to his friends, saving John Watson’s life (more than once) and stopping a terrorist plot.
The episode itself was an almost perfect mix of comedy, drama, and suspense with comedy coming in the form of Sherlock attempting to reveal himself to John in a restaurant with John repeatedly assaulting him every time Sherlock attempts to explain himself and the sibling rivalry between Sherlock and his brother, Mycroft. The drama alone is heartfelt enough between John and Sherlock, let alone between Sherlock and Lestrade as well as other characters’ reactions to Sherlock being ‘not dead’ and an incredibly touching moment in a London Underground train in which John forgives Sherlock. The suspense is delivered expertly with a mad rush from Sherlock and the new character Mary (John’s fiancé, played by Martin Freeman’s real life partner Amanda Abbington) to save John from a bonfire (perhaps a little in-joke to the Sherlock’s fandom comparing Freeman to a Hedgehog?).
As previously mentioned, the episode was full of fan service with running jokes (Mrs Hudson being the latest in a long line of people thinking that John is gay), characters making little jibes at the fandom (A member of “The Empty Hearse” theorising that Sherlock faked his death using a dummy to be with Moriarty) and cameos (Sherlock’s parents being played by Cumberbatch’s real life parents, Timothy Carlton & Wanda Ventham). Eagle eyed viewers may have spotted that the scenes set on the tube jumped between the Jubilee, Piccadilly and District lines seemingly at will with the disused Jubilee line platforms at Charing Cross masquerading as Westminster and St James’ Park stations and the disused Aldwych station on the Piccadilly line masquerading as an unopened station on the District line.
Overall, a VERY satisfying return for the consulting detective even if we still don’t quite know how he survived the fall with several theories being thrown up in the air. All we know is that Mycroft (Sherlock’s brother), Molly Hooper and a small number of Sherlock’s homeless network were involved. One can hope we find out before the end of the series, otherwise it may be the only stain on an otherwise excellent episode.