Sunday, January 26, 2014

"The Empty Hearse" (2014)

Ahhhhhhhhhh.  This episode is... precisely what I wanted.  In fact, it's now my favorite.  Which is a little crazy, cuz it's not the best episode, not the best mystery...  but it's got so much wonderful character development that I could care less about the plot, to be honest.  It's kind of like if I'd written a fanfic story about everything I wanted to happen (okay, I didn't want a near-kiss between two particular characters -- that was someone else's fanfic story.  I don't do slash), and then it magically turned into a real episode.  Is filming a fan's dream episode a good idea for most shows?  Probably not.  Is it perfectly fine for this show?  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah.  (In my humble-as-ever opinion).


How do I love this ep?  Let me count the (non-spoilerific) ways.
I love it to the depth and breadth and height
Sherlock's coat can reach, when I search with all my might
For an ideal hiding place.
I love it to the level of every episode's
Use of character humor to remain light.
I love it devotedly, as Lestrade strives for right.
I love it happily, as John turns from life's lonely roads.
I love it with the passion put to use
For all my favorite shows, and with my childhood's delight.
I love it with a love I seemed to lose
When other shows disappointed me. I love it with the might
Of my smiles, my tears, of all my fan-girlish ways; and, if the BBC choose,
I shall but love it better when they promise me eps with no end in sight.

Yeah.  That much favoriteness.  I'm (re)writing sonnets here, for goodness' sake!  And I didn't even have to wait years for this episode like many fans, since I came so late to the fandom.  I can only imagine how giddy those who've been fans from the beginning must have been when they saw this ep for the first time.

Okay, so on to a bit of spoiler-ific reviewing.

First, this is a thing you probably don't know at all about me, but I have a great fondness for stories that involve torture.  Stop worrying -- it's not a weird sexual thing at all.  I am fascinated by how a character holds up under extreme pressure, how the character's core is revealed thereby.  Doesn't have to be physical torture, it can be terrible mental stress, and this episode has both.  It opens with Sherlock being beaten, but it ends with John convinced he's going to explode at any moment.  The way they both handle those extreme situations rocks my world.  Sherlock remains uber-observational and snarky.  John reveals his courage by telling Sherlock exactly how devastated he was by Sherlock's "death."  It's wonderful, isn't it?  The way the essence of a character is revealed under torture.  Marvelous.

Second, isn't it wonderful how Sherlock's becoming a bit more human?  Reminiscing about childhood with Mycroft (my favorite scene yet), getting annoyed that John isn't recognizing him through his markered-on mustache, smiling a bit when Lestrade hugs him -- I'm charmed.  Between being introduced to the idea of friendship by John and then being away from his usual existence for a couple of years, Sherlock here has grown a lot since we first met him back in "A Study in Pink."  And I can't express how wonderful I find that.  Too many shows (even some shows I love) have characters who really never grow and change over the years.  Not so here.  Sherlock has become more human.  John has become more resilient.  They have changed each other for the better, and I could cheer.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I did.

And John's reaction to Sherlock's resurrection?  So exactly what mine would be.  I'd want to punch the smirk right off Sherlock's face.  Repeatedly.  Beat some repentance into him.  And then I'd probably refuse to have anything to do with him for quite a while, out of some intense desire to hurt him the way I suddenly realize I've been hurt by him.  The big meany!  (And I mean "meany" in the most loving way possible of course, since I can't hate Sherlock Holmes.  Or, rather, if ever there was a version Sherlock Holmes that I hated, he wouldn't be Sherlock Holmes to me.  Okay, that probably only makes sense to me.)

The mystery here is kind of secondary, and I'm fine with that, since most of the time I don't read or watch mysteries so much for the thrill of the chase as because I want to spend time with my imaginary friends.  And I want to see order restored to the universe, which all good mysteries do.  And this fulfills both of my needs from fiction, so yeah, loving it.

As for Miss Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington) -- wow!  I love her!  I love that she digs Sherlock and that they get along.  So full of shiny awesome.  She's level-headed and nice and helpful and non-needy.  Everything I need to truly like a female character..  I hope she's in the next two eps a whole lot!

Okay, I've gone on and on long enough, haven't I.  And I promise to post about something non-Sherlock in a day or two.


  1. YES! I'm am glad you liked the episode as much as I did! The character development was beyond in the episode. I never knew that so much fan-service could be packed into one episode, and since I had to wait so long, seeing everything that I possibly wanted to see (minus the thing you mentioned) was unbelievable. I was smiling and laughing so much throughout the episode my face literally started to hurt, no joke.

    Did you know the actors that played Sherlock's parents are actually Cumberbatch's parents? Just an interesting fact.

    I agree, Amanda Abbington was an excellent Mary. She was so good in the episode, and despite not having much screen time, she really made an impression.

    Basically, my overall thoughts is that the episode couldn't have been any better, even if the mystery was lacking, because the characters are my favorite thing about the show anyway.

    Since everyone has seen the episode now, I will hopefully post my review of the episode in a couple of days.

    Fantastic review, I enjoyed reading it!


    1. :-D We had to pause it many, many times so we could laugh and not miss dialog. Also had to rewind the scene with Mycroft and Sherlock talking about meeting other children. Our new favorite thing to say is, "Ghastly!" with the precise Mycrofty emphasis.

      And yes, I did know those were BC's parents -- picked that up on Pinterest a few days ago.

      I look forward to your review!

  2. This episode is an absolute joy to watch. It's hilarious, moving, wonderful and I loooove your review :) To be really, really nitpicky I have to admit that I would have liked for Sebastian Moran to get some dialogue in the episode. His character is basically an evil John Watson in the Arthur Conan Doyle story - in the same way that Moriarty is an evil Sherlock Holmes - and I'm quite surprised that Mark Gatiss didn't want to explore that. But honestly I love this episode so much that it seems wrong to nitpick it!

    1. I knew it! I knew that was Col. Moran! Had to be, since he's the villain from "The Empty House" and Holmes is always calling him the second-most-dangerous criminal in the canon. Awesome.

  3. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE IT! :) I'm so glad you liked it, you're making me happy. :)

    1. Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! It's up for free here at if you live in the US.

  4. Hehe, what a great review! You're so clever, writing a review-poem!

    Unfortunately I wasn't so fond of this Sherlock episode (or series for that matter). I actually just posted about it. But I do agree with you that Mary Morstan is really great character. She's 'way cool' for lack of a better description!

    1. Yes, I started reading your post and was like, "There be spoilage here!" I'll read it all after I've seen the remaining 2 eps. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it! But not everyone can like everything, nor should they.

  5. I LOVE how we're ISFJs and would both beat Sherlock to a bloody pulp for his deceit, repeatedly! This really is a fantastic episode, but they each keep getting better! The episodes this season build on each other so brilliantly. My favorite is the 2nd one this season and I can hardly wait to see what you think of it!

    And Mary Morstan is AWESOME!

    1. Hee. He deserves it! Oddly, I'm not as mad at him for tricking John into thinking they're going to blow up. I think because Sherlock was previously going crazy afraid for John's life, and that he realized then just how much he really cared about John, and so here he's almost trying to see if John really reciprocates those feelings. It's not at all like when he tricked John in "Hounds" just as an experiment to test a theory.

      Very excited to see the next two!!!

  6. He he he... yes, this episode was BRILLIANT. I loved how different theories of Sherlock's survival was shown throughout the episode... almost as if to compensate for all of the different theories that fans had invented while they had to wait for Season 3. :)

    1. Definitely. This was the ep in which the showrunners openly declared, "We are listening to our fans! We know what you've gone through while waiting for this." Absolutely delightful.

  7. Best episode ever! I loved this sooo much! i love that Mary accepted Sherlock, and how john reacted! Ok, when Sherlock kept trying to show john he was alive...i died laughing. best scene ever!

    1. Yes, this is one I can merrily watch over and over. And I'm sure I'll do so in the years to come. Delightful!


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