Sherlock Explained: “The Sign Of Three”

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Sherlock is about to face his toughest battle yet. No not a terrorist attack. Not even a new Moriarty-like villain. Instead he is facing the trails and tribulations of being John’s best man. Composed mostly of flashbacks, this episode can seem a little confusing – what Sherlock episode isn’t – but we’re going to break it down as always so that you can understand everything that’s going on. Finally, we’ll touch upon a few other points that have been evolving this season.

The Water’s Family:

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This brief little intro doesn’t really have much story importance aside from setting up how difficult it is for Sherlock to write this best man speech. Comedically, Lestrade – who is about to make an arrest he has been working on for 2 years – drops everything and shows up at Sherlock’s with an entire swat team. Hopefully one of them can help with the speech.

John’s Commanding Officer:

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Major James Sholto was John’s old commanding officer whom became a recluse after countless death threats against his life. While leading patrol in Afghanistan, him and his men were ambushed.  When Sholto was the only one to come out of the attack alive, many accused him of abandoning his men and leaving them to die.

The Wedding: Preparations, Interrogations, and Celebrations:

Sherlock instantaneously folds a slew of napkins into the Sydney Opera House. Nervous much?

Sherlock instantaneously folds a slew of napkins into the Sydney Opera House. Nervous much?

From flashbacks we see not only how Sherlock is utterly taken back and – for the first time – speechless by John’s asking him to be best man, but also how he handles all the wedding tasks. From threatening Mary’s clingy ex boyfriends to bribing a child with gruesome photos, it’s all a very unique way of approaching the special day. Mary seems to think Sherlock is going through all this because he’s afraid of their wedding changing their dynamic so he wishes it would just be over with. To aid in this matter, Sherlock becomes almost like their wedding planner, going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everything is perfect.

Once the big day has arrived, Sherlock struggles to understand the whole wedding ritual. From not knowing that the focus is supposed to be on the bride and groom to not understanding why people teared up and started crying during his speech – speaking of which…

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“High functioning sociopath, with your number” Sherlock corrects when one of Mary’s ex’s calls him a psychopath.

 What starts as the most random, self indulging best man speech ever – a speech in which he not only insults everything from love and marriage to God and traditions – actually becomes one of the most heartfelt speeches of all time. Sherlock offers himself up as a truly awful human being who has been saved all because of John, someone he will spend the rest of his life protecting and trying to replay him for all that he’s done. In order to illustrate their time together, Sherlock offers up a slew of random crimes they’ve solved together to highlight John’s greatest qualities:

The Best Man Speech (Part 1): The Bloody Guardsman

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The first case Sherlock and John went to solve during wedding details was referred to as “The Bloody Guardsman” in which one of the Queens guardsman feared for his life. Private Bainbridge had caught Sherlock and John’s help after he noticed he was being stalked by someone both on and off duty. After sneaking in – and getting caught – Sherlock and John learned that Bainbridge had just been found dead after coming back in from guard duty.

Sherlock borrows a hat and marches in time with the other guardsmen to sneak past the window.

Sherlock borrows a hat and marches in time with the other guardsmen to sneak past the window.

While in a shower locked from the inside, Bainbridge suffered a stab wound but the assailant and weapon were no where to be found. Whereas there was no answer to this mystery, the point of it was to highlight John’s skills as a doctor. Sherlock assumed the man was dead, but in fact he was still breathing. While Sherlock was only focusing on solving the crime, John was focusing on saving a life – which he did.

The Best Man Speech (Part 2): The Mayfly Man

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The next case was poorly timed as it occurred after Sherlock took John out for a murder themed pub crawl in celebration for his wedding. Sherlock had even gone to Molly to figure out how much they could drink within a certain time span so that they wouldn’t get completely wasted/hungover. With John sneaking in some added shots, everything didn’t really go according to plan. 

After only being out for two hours, they return home to find a new client who believes she went out with a ghost. Sherlock later deduces that this man was assuming the identities of men who lived on their own and just died. By taking their names and using their now vacant apartments, he could have his string of one night stands. Thus making him a ‘mayfly’ – only living for a day

John and Sherlock wake up hung-over in prison.

John and Sherlock wake up hung-over in prison.

This story was to highlight to the wedding guests that John has a sense for stating the obvious. He isn’t so concerned with a huge conspiracy, but rather can see the detail that most people can completely over-look.The detail that is sometimes staring them in the face. The other reason for this story was the overall hilarity of seeing Sherlock completely over the top wasted and thrown in jail for drunken disorderly.

The Wedding Plot:

Irene Addler makes a brief cameo in this episode, clearly still very much on Sherlock's mind.

Irene Addler makes a brief cameo in this episode, clearly still very much on Sherlock’s mind.

While offering up his final toast, Sherlock realizes that the initial woman from The Mayfly Man case knew John’s middle name, Haymish. It took years before Sherlock had discovered his middle name, and the only other person who knew was Irene Addler when John said it out loud to break the sexual tension between her and Sherlock in their initial meeting. The woman could have only known the middle name if she saw John and Marry’s wedding invitation – only about 100 were sent out.

The Mayfly Man clearly targeted these woman in order to try to find out information about the wedding, but why and – more so – for what purpose. Sherlock knows something criminal is going to happen at this wedding so he decides to keep his best man speech going while he tries to figure out who The Mayfly Man is and whom he is after.

At first trying to determine whom the Mayfly Man is, Sherlock then decides to find his intended target.

At first trying to determine whom the Mayfly Man is, Sherlock then decides to find his intended target.

Sherlock manages to covertly text Lestrade to lock the place down while also warning John that something is going to happen by saying “Vatican Cameos”. ‘Vatican Cameos’ is a WW2 term used to alert soldiers than a non military figured entered a base armed, and everyone knew to duck. We originally saw this back in the Season 2 episode “A Scandal in Belgravia” when Sherlock opened Irene Addler’s safe that was rigged with a hidden gun.

Finally, Sherlock deduces that the intended target is Major Sholto who came out of hiding to attend this wedding. All the women The Mayfly Man had courted were members of his personal staff and by targeting them he could try learn about his whereabouts but only could learn of the wedding. Sherlock warns Sholto while Archie – the little boy Sherlock bribed with crime scene photos to be in the wedding – asks Sherlock if the ‘invisible man with the invisible knife’ from The Bloody Guardsman story could do it.

Sherlock, John, and Mary arrive at Major Sholto's room and beg him to unlock the door.

Sherlock, John, and Mary arrive at Major Sholto’s room and beg him to unlock the door.

Realizing that this changes everything, Sherlock rushes off with John and Mary to Major Sholto’s room. With the pressure on, Sherlock has no choice but to solve how it happened here and now. The murders are connected. A small blade was inserted through the belt, a belt worn so tightly above the waist that you wouldn’t even feel the blade. When the belt was removed, it would no longer keep the flesh bound together thus creating a delayed action stabbing. If Major Sholto removes his belt, he will bleed to death.

Though at first thinking of removing his belt and accepting his fate, Sherlock convokes Sholto that accepting his death at John’s wedding isn’t the right time. With the day saved all that is left is ‘who did it’. The last minute photographer was in fact The Mayfly Man, whose brother was one of the men killed in Afghanistan with Major Sholto.

Mary – Ever In Control:

Whether its tricking John and Sherlock into thinking they’re tricking each other to get back to solving cases or coming through in a pinch when Sherlock can’t remember what room Major Sholto is staying in, Mary has very quickly become a powerful character. Add this all in with her spying the skip code in text messages and other clues from last episode, we know there is more to Mary than meets the eye. We’ll have to wait and see just what her ‘secret’ is that she is ‘lying’ about.

So Sherlock thinks that he was helping Watson out by taking him out to solve crimes, while Watson thinks he would be helping Sherlock if he took him out to solve crimes. . . Mary, you sly devil you. You're amazing!

So Sherlock thinks that he was helping Watson out by taking him out to solve crimes, while Watson thinks he would be helping Sherlock if he took him out to solve crimes. . . Mary, you sly devil you. You’re amazing!

Another interesting moment was during the ‘Telegrams’ portion of the best man speech:

To Mary, lots of love poppet, oodles of love and heaps of good wishes, from Cam. Wish your family could have seen this. – Cam (sp)

We don’t know who Cam is, but we can clearly see the effect this message has on the bride. She becomes shaken almost as though she’s seen a ghost from the past. Could this be a hint into what she’s hiding? Who in the world is Cam?

The Sign of Three:

This new dynamic between Sherlock, John and Mary is quite amazing. Mary not only holds her own, but also is able to blend in quite nicely with our two main characters. So when this episode was entitled “The Sign of Three” – not to be confused with “The Power of Three” an episode from Doctor Who which Moffat’s is also currently in charge of – I assumed it would be all about the dynamic of these three.

Sherlock gives John and Mary the shocking but joyous news.

Sherlock gives John and Mary the shocking but joyous news.

More or less, I was right but there was one bombshell that we didn’t expect. As Sherlock reveals to Mary and John at episode’s end, Mary is most likely pregnant. Sherlock knows this will change the dynamic of their group, thus making the baby John and Mary have to look after … an actual baby. There’s no way the baby will be around for the next episode, but it certainly lends well to amazing future moments. Just imagine Sherlock around a child. It will either be the most adorable or the most awkwardly funny thing ever.

Humanizing The Holmes Brothers:

Oh Mycroft

Gotta watch that figure Mycroft lol

Unlike past episodes, this season we’ve really been getting a closer look at both the Holmes boys and their dynamic. Whether its Mycroft sitting as judge in Sherlock’s mind or seeing Mycroft exercising, we’re seeing much more of the brothers lately – in more ways than one.

This episode certainly painted Sherlock in the most human way yet – drunk off his rear. While seeing Sherlock wasted was by far one of the funnies things ever, it was just as sad seeing his reaction after he told John and Mary that there will be a baby on the way. At first joyous, he realizes that means there will soon no longer be a place for him in their new life seeing as they will have an actual child to take care of.

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Don’t they make a cute couple? I think they’d make a cute couple.

Adding to this, we’ve seen Sherlock and Janine get a sort of – dare I say it – chemistry going. After his realization that John and Mary might be too busy for him in the near future, he looks towards Janine only to find her talking with some guy. He seems disappointed and walks out of the wedding all by himself, the celebration still going on.

The god-like Sherlock we knew in the first two seasons is gone. He is no longer the impervious detective. Even though he didn’t die, we now know he can. He is after all only human. This season has continued that idea: being drunk and hung-over, feeling alone, and missing someone you loved from his past (Irene Addler in this case). How many times have we all been there? Making Sherlock just like us isn’t a matter of belittling him, but rather showing what we can all be.

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