Through its first two seasons Sherlock has been a consistently great show. The adventures of the modern day Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have been exciting, fun and dramatically intense. Showrunners Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have turned a story that has been quite bland on the screen in recent years (I’m looking at you Elementary and Sherlock Holmes) into one of the best series on television. Sure, every season normally had a noticeably weak second (middle) episode, but at least they were sandwiched between two incredible episodes (each season of Sherlock consists of three episodes). Season three of Sherlock was the first true stumbling block for the show. Instead season three has two problematic episodes sandwiching one fantastic episode. Sure, Sherlock is still one of the best shows on television but it’s always more noticeable when one of the greats stumble.
Season two of Sherlock ended in spectacular fashion, but it left the show in a ditch it probably never could have dug itself out of. Even worse was the conflicting schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman allowed speculation to continue for over a year before a new episode of Sherlock graced our screens. So we ended up with a disappointing resolution to the “How did Sherlock survive the fall?” question that traded in the moment’s intense drama for a newfound goofiness. Sherlock has always found time for comedy, but the balance between comedy and drama felt off from the get-go this season.
Luckily, the balance was restored midway through the season’s second episode, “The Sign of Three”. “The Sign of Three” ended up being an all-around return to form for the series as the show mixed together some master class editing with an engaging bottle episode storyline for one of the best episodes of the series to date. Now with momentum back in the show’s corner the series entered into the season finale with incredible efficiency as it made the adventures of Sherlock, Watson and Mary (the show’s new main character played by Amanda Abbington) as exciting as ever. Then suddenly the season’s final episode fell completely apart. A major last moment decision by Sherlock was just glossed over as a joke, and a last minute twist (which on one hand was nice to see because it assured another season of this usually great show) in addition to the season premiere served to completely undermine a great episode in “The Reichenbach Fall”.
In many ways the last ten minutes of this season were similar to a scene in another recent Benedict Cumberbatch project, Star Trek Into Darkness. Just as the ability to create a magical healing serum from Khan’s blood showed that nothing was permanent in that film’s world so too did the actions of the final ten minutes in this season of Sherlock. Yet just like that blockbuster there was too much to like in this season (especially the performances from Cumberbatch and Freeman and even Louise Brealey as Molly Hooper) to not at the end of the day like it. Despite this season’s stumbling blocks I still actively anticipate the next season of Sherlock (long wait ahead be damned).