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31 December 2013 @ 03:20 pm
Sherlock: The Empty Hearse  
Welcome back, Sherlock!


Just to start off, I am very much not familiar with the original Holmes story, "The Empty House." I never read it and my knowledge of it is through the Granada adaptation of it. And I only saw that episode twice and all I can recall is that Sherlock Holmes returned from the dead, Watson fainted, and Moran was arrested. So I can't comment on how well and/or closely the BBC show followed the original plot. The episode was written by Gatiss and overall I enjoyed it. Sure, stuff got weird and/or not good in parts but considering what was at stake with this premiere, I thought the episode ran fairly smoothly. It almost felt like there was so much drama and frenzy emanating from the fandom leading up to the premiere that the episode's actual content and pacing by comparison felt almost sedate, which threw me a little. Still, overall it was good fun.

I was all but in knots about how this Mary Morstan would work out. My expectations dropped a bit once I heard about the casting because it felt a bit too much like fan service and somewhat cutesy in a distracting sort of way. But ultimately I thought it was mostly okay. The show didn't do that much with Mary other than make her useful enough and supportive of John and John's complicated relationship to Sherlock. She almost reminded me of El from "White Collar" who is clearly comfortable with her partner having another all-consuming partner and letting it just happen. Which I suppose is okay. I'm not sure if I want more of her or less given who will be writing the last episode. I very much hope that by the time we get to Moffat's closing episode she doesn't get written as a complete Mary Sue.

And finally the BBC show gave us a Moran! He didn't make much of a dent and I'm still not sure if he was acting on his own steam or was he just carrying out Moriarty's last wishes? I wish we had maybe one scene with him actually talking so as to get some information on him. I take it he had nothing to do with John's kidnapping. I'm not sure if others have seen the casting the spoiler that went up awhile ago but the last few shots of the person watching the footage of Sherlock and Mary rescuing John is clearly that person who was cast so I guess that classic!Holmes villain got a bit of an upgrade as this show's series 3 main antagonist.

And now as per my previous Sherlock episode reviews, my likes and dislikes.

Likes:
1) John and Sherlock's reunion - yeah, it was a bit gimmicky and a bit ridiculous but I sort of loved John attacking Sherlock every other shot since I also very much wanted to punch Sherlock's lights out myself. That Sherlock kept hearing John in his ear as he tried to solve cases without him was both sad and satisfying.

2) Sherlock and Mycroft - this episode by far featured some of the best interactions between the Holmes brothers. I loved Mycroft's bitching about having to do field work, him telling Sherlock that John's moved on, them playing Operation!, them playing deduction. Thank you SO much, show, for keeping Mycroft the smarter brother. And speaking of which, Sherlock and Mycroft both believing Sherlock was an idiot until they met other children! That was hilarious and so makes sense.

3) The filming - while perhaps a bit too overloaded with jerky camera shots, I very much liked how the episode looked. Particularly the new Sherlock-vision they've given us. It worked so much better for me than the Mind Palace sequence of last series which made me laugh unintentionally.

4) We Got Tom! Sort of. - Molly's fiance's name is Tom! That's just...yeah...it's...hahaha! I really hope Molly initially thinking Sherlock was asking her out was a momentary lapse and being eager to accept. I really, really want her to move on. Please.

Dislikes:
1) The Holmes Parents - really? REALLY?! Is it at all possible that they're fakes? At all? I mean, the idea of Sherlock and Mycroft having normal parents is...interesting but seems so unlikely to me. Like, seriously unlikely.

2) Fangirl Represent - the two things I hated the most in this episode were the two theories given by Anderson and one of Anderson's group members about how Sherlock faked his death. Particularly the whole Sherlock and Moriarty are gay lovers felt way too close to poking the bear that is the fandom craziness that I very much winced. In general, this show continues to be so guilty of queer-baiting with Mrs. Hudson persisting in thinking John and Sherlock were boyfriends no matter how much John denies it from the skies. Really, why? Why must this still be a thing the show relies on for humor?

3) Sherlock is still a dick - okay, this isn't a real dislike because I go into this show knowing that Sherlock will always be a dick. But I was so ready to murder him myself when he pretended to not be able to shut off the bomb as a joke to John. Fuck you, Sherlock. FUCK YOU.


It's good to see series 3 finally airing. It's been so long I had to sort of stop myself and remember what was canon and what was fanon I'd either made up or read in fic.
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ralucamralucam on January 2nd, 2014 11:00 am (UTC)
Hi, Happy New Year!
I agree with every opinion you presented here. I was so annoyed Sherlock didn't seem capable to just grow up and apologize for real to John, without making a joke of it. I hate it that the show seems to continue to claim that Sherlock is a sociopath, although he clearly isn't, he's just a dick, who was never really required to be a responsible adult.
It somewhat bothered me that apparently Mycroft took care of the snipers targeting John, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade from the very beginning, so in a way Sherlock didn't quite need to disappear, but than again the original Holmes in the books didn't have even that much actual reason to disappear, so I guess it makes it okay (sort of)
And I agree with you that the parents are really weird. Maybe for one son, they would be plausible, but for two? And these allegedly perfectly ordinary people named their sons Mycroft and Sherlock?
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 2nd, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
You're right! I hadn't even considered the strangeness of very ordinary parents naming their children Mycroft and Sherlock. Maybe that's evidence they're not so normal?!
aelfgyfu_mead: Sherlock and Johnaelfgyfu_mead on January 2nd, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
And these allegedly perfectly ordinary people named their sons Mycroft and Sherlock?

Well, either those are family names, or sometimes they pass for normal, and sometimes they don't.

I have genius family member who sometimes pass for normal and sometimes don't, come to think of it!
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on January 2nd, 2014 01:34 pm (UTC)
On your dislikes, 2: YES. Oh, my gosh, yes! I really enjoyed the episode but hated the representation of us as fen in Mrs Hudson and the fangirl. I was especially angry since I felt like they must have been reading a lot of fan stuff to come up with some of the bits they did, particularly the alternate theories about Sherlock. (I liked the one with the mask on Moriarty; I thought it was very believable as Anderson's version. I was believing it until the kiss, and then I bent over backwards to excuse the kiss as what Sherlock thought Molly wanted.)

I had less trouble with 1: I can believe that Mycroft and Sherlock grew up in their own little world feeling not abused by their parents but just far too different. I have trouble with fanon that has one or both parents abusive or absent. I can easily imagine these as well-meaning parents who were never sure how to cope with their brilliant, anti-social sons.

3. I got really angry at Sherlock. Repeatedly. I'm a bit disappointed that he didn't seem to learn anything from two years away.
Then again, if he spent those two years with an Imaginary John by his side, why would he change? I'm thinking maybe he worked really hard to keep himself from the horror of his life by pretending it was really just the same, and he's still fighting to keep that sameness about him.
We did see some change in his awkward attempt to comfort Anderson with a pat on the shoulder (just before he destroyed him again verbally) and especially his attempt to do something nice for Molly.

Likes:
1. I'm torn between wanting John to get arrested for assault, because it's really not okay, and thinking that if anyone were ever justified in hitting a friend, it's John. It's not just the pretending to be dead. It's pretending to be dead, being a total jerk at the reunion, and interrupting John's proposal without ever realizing it to be a total jerk.

2. YES. I loved their scene at 221B. I was screaming with laughter. I can also believe Sherlock has a lifelong resentment of his brother for making him think he was stupid, when that wasn't exactly Sherlock's fault. (It doesn't entirely gibe with the parents we saw—but they could still be really smart parents, just not as antisocial and insistent on their smarts as the boys.)

3. Yes, I loved seeing the Mind Palace from inside! It just looks kind of stupid outside. I want more of that!

4. I think Molly is almost over her crush, but it was so big, and so much has happened, that she still gets twinges of it from time to time. TOM! I was screaming at that and had to explain to BH why. I hope he's a really nice guy and completely unlike Sherlock in personality.

I like Mary, but I'm a little worried that she'll be too Mary Sue. I especially liked the way she was angry at Sherlock at first but then increasingly amused by John and Sherlock's interactions as they went from the really posh restaurant to the okay restaurant to the deli counter or whatever that was to the street. I think she's a bit of a stand-in for us, in a way I like much better than Anderson's fan-girl: she's angry at Sherlock but entertained and fascinated, and she knows he's (mostly) good for John.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 2nd, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
I have trouble with fanon that has one or both parents abusive or absent. I can easily imagine these as well-meaning parents who were never sure how to cope with their brilliant, anti-social sons.

I could believe that the Holmes parents are not abusive or absent but are also a bit different rather than so blatantly normal. Although, as ralucam pointed out, they did name their kids Sherlock and Mycroft. And they seemed fairly fine with Sherlock faking his death and coming back so perhaps they're not so ordinary after all.

I like Mary, but I'm a little worried that she'll be too Mary Sue.

Given that she veered very close to being Mary Sue in Gatiss' episode, I fear for what will happen once Moffat writes her in the last one.

I got really angry at Sherlock. Repeatedly.

I feel like my feelings about Sherlock are becoming very similar to my feelings for Shawn Spencer and Neal Caffrey in that he has changed a bit but not enough to keep me from feeling increasingly frustrated by the slow development. Sherlock's persistent and most likely permanent quality of being just bad at dealing with people has more or less lost its charm and is now either annoying or upsetting. Particularly given that making his best friend think he was dead and then springing back in the way that he did was beyond "a bit not good."
aelfgyfu_mead: Gusaelfgyfu_mead on January 2nd, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Excellent comparison there: I hadn't thought of Sherlock in terms of those other characters, but you're dead on.

I'm still hoping that Sherlock is not truly unchanged but trying to convince himself and everyone else that he is, which seems a very Sherlock thing to do (to me, at least).
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 3rd, 2014 01:58 am (UTC)
Although, as ralucam pointed out, they did name their kids Sherlock and Mycroft. And they seemed fairly fine with Sherlock faking his death and coming back so perhaps they're not so ordinary after all.

We also have to consider what Sherlock might deem 'ordinary'. There's actually quite a lot of wiggle room there. They might just be extraordinary, but love each other and don't care for adventures, and thus are rather boring to Sherlock.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 2nd, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Uh, rantage warning...

I am mostly in agreement with you. I really liked the sedate feeling of the episode, because I felt that it gave a chance to the characters to interact and gave them space to tell the story. But I also felt it felt a bit fast? Like, too quick in some areas, and oddly edited. My viewing method made it a bit jerky and skippy in places, so it could be that.

But I felt that Benedict did a particularly good job this time around, and I have to wonder if it was change of directors? Like, I felt like he felt more comfortable in the role and was generally more on the ball, and less like he was struggling to find the right level. I wasn't even aware that he was doing that until I saw this episode. I don't know if that's maybe time in the role and feeling like he has it now, but I thought he seemed more natural. And he and Martin's chemistry was excellent.

Now, specific things!

LIKES
1. Yes! I liked the overlay of humour to it, and John's genuine anger. I liked Mary trying to soothe him, as though this was something she'd dealt with before. And I quite liked Mary being a bit of a fangirl of the two of them. She seemed to get a kick out him, which is, for me, a better character trait than jealousy.

I also thought Amanda and Martin had, understandably, excellent chemistry. The scene in the bedroom justified her casting for me. They are cute together. I'd like to know more about Mary, but I am contentedly neutral to positive about her.

2. So much yes. It was everything I ever wanted for them. They do love each other, and it's adorable.

4. I looked over my shoulder a bit at his name to be honest. I'm happy Molly has a fiancee, and I hope he's a good one, but the fact that he's a Sherlock clone rubbed me the wrong way. She's still the butt of a romantic joke. However! Her interaction with Sherlock and his affection for her was pretty much exactly what I wanted, and it was honestly the most natural and sweet we saw Sherlock being this episode. So that pleased me.

DISLIKES

1.I actually quite adored them. I screeched a little when I realized it was Ben's real parents. I mean, who else are you going to cast to be the people who created him than the people who created him? And they are not my Holmes parents, but they are cute and they love their children. I just am so pleased they aren't abusive jerks. I think it works them being ordinary. I can see them having no clue what to do with their gifted children and thus letting them run rampant, and then Sherlock ending up how he is. And why Mycroft feels he needs to parent--because he knows what to do with Sherlock because he was Sherlock.

2. I am not pleased at all with what they've done with Anderson. I felt like he was being punished for betraying Sherlock, when that was a completely logical thing to do. I can see him feeling guilty for driving Sherlock to suicide, but honestly, he was not a bad person for doing what he did. He would have been a bad person not to. Jonathan Aris did a great job, though, despite all that. We've also lost the two person who don't think Sherlock is wonderful in not having Donovan and converting Anderson.

3. This worked for me. I think his complete misjudgement of how John would react was very Sherlocky. I sort of feel like Sherlock was desperately trying to be light about it all because he wasn't light about it at all. And I think he's a bit like Sirius Black coming out of Azkaban. He's been on his own so long, he can't conceive of a world different than the one's he in; the one where John loves him and is his friend and is sitting at home waiting for him to return. For me, the bit on the train was Sherlock trying to make it okay; forcing John to forgive him. It wasn't necessarily being a jerk for being a jerk's sake. He was making John face it and accept it. For Sherlock's sake, not John's. But I felt the motive wasn't malicious, just a bit desperate. It's Gatiss' Sherlock--a man who can't deal with emotions and always chooses the wrong way to try.

Mostly, I am very pleased that none of my fics are strictly impossible now. I think I can work with everything except the Holmes parents, and I'll just handwave that.
aelfgyfu_mead: Sherlock and Johnaelfgyfu_mead on January 2nd, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
1.I actually quite adored them. I screeched a little when I realized it was Ben's real parents.
Oh, my gosh, I feel so dim now! I missed that! I howled when I read that sentence! (Then I went to tell the other two people here.)

why Mycroft feels he needs to parent--because he knows what to do with Sherlock because he was Sherlock.
Yep. And because Mycroft always knows best. I was fascinated that Sherlock said it was more Mycroft's idea that he stay dead!

2. Jonathan Aris did a great job
Yes! But I thought they could have had him convinced Sherlock was alive without having turned obsessive. I wish they had kept him on the force.

Moffatt said somewhere that they couldn't get Vinette Robinson back to play Donovan, which is really a shame. Failing that, I think they should have kept Anderson as a bit of a skeptic.

3. I like your #3 here. I never thought Sherlock was malicious about it, but he IS a jerk. Desperate, though, I"ll buy. I think he spent two years talking to John and did not allow himself to miss him, and he has a hard time with a John who has diverged from his internalized John.

Mostly, I am very pleased that none of my fics are strictly impossible now. I think I can work with everything except the Holmes parents, and I'll just handwave that.
Yay!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 2nd, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, my gosh, I feel so dim now! I missed that! I howled when I read that sentence! (Then I went to tell the other two people here.)

Hee! I saw Wanda Ventham's eyes and I went 'I know her...' and then I went 'holy shit!', and they panned over Timothy Carlton, and I clapped my hands in great glee. I thought they were just random people, but I was very pleased when they turned out not to be. I love Ben's interaction with his family in RL, so I thought he and they must be very proud to work together on his big success. It's very sweet.

Yes! But I thought they could have had him convinced Sherlock was alive without having turned obsessive. I wish they had kept him on the force.

Yes, this is what ticked me off. Guilty but ultimately convinced in the long run that Sherlock is real would be fine by me. Obsession is just not Anderson, not with the level of antagonism he had toward him.

I knew that Vinette was filming a television pilot, so I knew she wouldn't be back. But I do hope we get someone to challenge Sherlock's free rein a little. Not to say 'you're not real', but just to say 'hold your horses, let's be reasonable about letting the non-policeman do all this stuff'.



formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 2nd, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'm happy Molly has a fiancee, and I hope he's a good one, but the fact that he's a Sherlock clone rubbed me the wrong way. She's still the butt of a romantic joke.

I completely fail at observation as I totally missed the first time that Tom is a Sherlock clone. Now knowing that, yes, I do wish they'd move on from keeping Molly as the butt of a romantic joke. But I also wish they'd move on from queer-baiting so there's that.

I screeched a little when I realized it was Ben's real parents. I mean, who else are you going to cast to be the people who created him than the people who created him?

Again, observation!fail for me as I missed this as well. I think I'm just not the right audience for this type of stunt casting. In particular for this episode mainly due to all the fandom-referencing they did that having BC's real parents just felt like another nudge-nudge, wink-wink from the showrunners that I don't really like.

Still, these are the same parents who named their kids Sherlock and Mycroft and seem pretty blase about their son faking his death and coming back so they might not be as ordinary as they seem.

I am not pleased at all with what they've done with Anderson. I felt like he was being punished for betraying Sherlock, when that was a completely logical thing to do.

Yeah, I felt terrible for Anderson and was annoyed that Lestrade seemed to agree with the notion that it was somehow Anderson's fault that the drove Sherlock to suicide. It wasn't because Anderson was doing his damn job. The fact that it became a media circus is not under his control.

It wasn't necessarily being a jerk for being a jerk's sake. He was making John face it and accept it. For Sherlock's sake, not John's.

I agree that Sherlock wasn't doing it JUST to be a jerk. I guess I'm at this point where it feels like John doesn't deserve this level of crap anymore. But then again he persists in putting up with it so it's his choice and being Sherlock's long-suffering friend does provide him with something. But I largely spent this episode wishing for once Sherlock wouldn't put his needs above John's but I think that's just me wishing for impossible things.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 2nd, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
In particular for this episode mainly due to all the fandom-referencing they did that having BC's real parents just felt like another nudge-nudge, wink-wink from the showrunners that I don't really like.

I can totally see why you feel that way, but for me I think I like to see it as the show being a family affair, if you know what I mean. We had Ben's ex on the first season, and Gatiss' husband on the second season. One of Moffat's kids. Two of the showrunners are married. Less stunt casting, and more having fun and bringing in your loved ones to have fun with you.

Yeah, I felt terrible for Anderson and was annoyed that Lestrade seemed to agree with the notion that it was somehow Anderson's fault that the drove Sherlock to suicide. It wasn't because Anderson was doing his damn job. The fact that it became a media circus is not under his control.

Yes! Precisely. I feel like this is very much a Moffat 'my hero is perfect, no one is allowed to not like him' move.

Although, speaking of Lestrade, his little moments were lovely. I just loved his hugging Sherlock, like he always sort of believed that he could come back from the dead, despite evidence to the contrary. He didn't have a lot to do, but that moment made me remember why I love him. That, and the mini-episode. I hope he gets a bit more to do in the next two episodes.

But then again he persists in putting up with it so it's his choice and being Sherlock's long-suffering friend does provide him with something.

I was actually a bit proud that he didn't go running right into Sherlock's arms again. Canon!Watson pretty much shrugs and joins right back in. John had to be dragged in again. He was on his way to talk to Sherlock when he was kidnapped, and that accelerated things, but he wasn't ready to forgive until he thought it would be his only chance to. Given a normal situation, I think we might have seen John take a longer time to come to terms. Sherlock forced his hand. And I'm not quite convinced Sherlock wasn't feigning amusement at John's reaction. I think he was a bit desperate and relieved it worked.

And we did get some sign of growth. Sherlock quietly whispered to Molly that the step-father was pretending to be the client's boyfriend, and seemed to be a bit disgusted by it. Old Sherlock would have gleefully shouted it out. He made an awkward attempt to comfort Anderson. He worried that Mycroft was lonely. He let John go off with Mary with no sign that he disliked her for getting in the way. He was lovely and kind to Molly. He didn't comment on Molly's fiancee to her face.

I think I read an interview with Benedict where he describes Sherlock as having regressed a little for being away. So, hopefully, we'll see him get more on track in the next episode.

No promises for Moffat's episode, though. But I am so freakin' glad Thompson is handling the wedding.