The short and spoiler free version:
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) (warning, love-it-or-hate-it rating)
Best for: Character exploration fans, character-centric fans, Johnlock fangirls
Less so for: Case-centric fans, those who don’t like to see Sherlock’s weaknesses, people annoyed by Johnlock overtones
Overall: Very sweet and heartwarming, lots of love, a sharp Mary, and other humour.
Summary: John gets married. Sherlock is the best man. Also, a potential murder of one of the guests.
The slightly longer version (spoilers):
I will start by saying that I, personally, adored this episode deeply. So much so that if I had written this review immediately after, it would have been as incoherent as the beginning of Sherlock’s best man speech, and filled with the same feeling as the guests’ tearful response. However, whilst I was busy trying not to hug the screen others were quickly beating me to the punch to put a critical blog on one. A while after, having a quick look through said reviews, I felt some of them like a punch to the fangirl gut. I had to conclude that this was a Marmite episode – love it or hate it. But they had a point.
Their point being: There’s not much of a case here – obviously, it’s not the focus of the episode, and the little there was was simple enough. It is not a detective story being told in this episode, and with so few episodes being granted to us, whether the indulgence of the majority of the episode in light hearted humour and fluff is merited is down to your personal opinion. Especially as this is even more emotionally indulgent for the characters than the first episode, which again was lighter on the crime plot side than preceeding series. This leaves only the final episode to pick up the danger, analysis, crime-solving baton and run with it through an intricate web until our heads spin. It is certainly a different episode, more rom-com like in tone than any other episode. Angsty loose ends from the first episode have yet to be tied up, and lack of reference to them was perhaps a good move, perhaps not. Any references to John’s bonfire adventure or the man at the end of The Empty Hearse probably would have been out of tone with this unusual episode.
Even as a fangirl, I have to say that the best man speech was perhaps just a little too much and too long even for my taste. But that is truly where my personal objection ends. Mary was a delight, tricking and playing Sherlock so he and John could have fun. As a character it was always important that she could win our hearts because deserving John, as Sherlock put it, was the highest compliment we can give her, and she needed to live up to that. She more than has. Her insight into their friendship and to Sherlock particularly (making him confess watching napkin folding on YouTube) was funny and lovely to see. We needed a show with a three way friendship like this, and here it is.
The quote I’m seeing referred to a lot regarding this episode is one from the writers saying that it is not a detective show, it is a show about a detective. And I have to say this episode, by far, would be the strongest illustration of that point. A drunk Sherlock, a dancing Sherlock, a jealous, caring, lonely Sherlock – this is an exploration of Sherlock-the-human rather than Sherlock-the-detective. And I think this is a good thing. Sherlock cases – plenty of that in the books. Crime shows? By the dozen. But Sherlock, and the characters in Sherlock and their unique dynamics (along with stunning visuals) are what makes the show stand out for me. Sure, of course we love and want the cases. But I definitely think there was room in all that for an episode like this.
As for the visuals, they were stunning througout. My personal favourite has to be the hilarious drunk Sherlock deductions.
The use of the classic text deduction style also fitted nicely over the wedding guests. I also appreciated the charming brief Irene Adler cameo – nice to know she isn’t forgotten. Sherlock’s ‘mind courtroom’ if I can call it that, was neatly done. The cinematography quality in the show doesn’t relent for a moment, and after the characters, is probably my second favourite thing about the show.
So, perhaps a bit of a sappy episode (could the bromance be laid on any stronger?), but isn’t that rather the point of weddings? The last two episodes seem to have divided the fans. Perhaps under a common threat they will unite again. There is an element of foreboding and Mary definitely has secrets she’s not revealed yet, and the next episode trailer promises danger and another slick villain.
And so, with great anticipation, I await the next episode.