Sherlock returns for third season after long hiatus

Photo Courtesy of PBS

Two years after the finale of Sherlock’s Season Two aired, the much-anticipated Season Three has broadcast in the U.S. as part of PBS’s Masterpiece series.

Created by Mark Gatiss and Doctor Who’s Stephen Moffat, the show follows a modern-day version of the great detective Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and his companion Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman, The Hobbit) as they solve crimes in London.

The first two seasons chronicle the meeting of Holmes and Watson and several of their most famous cases featured in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, including “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “A Scandal in Bohemia.”

Season Two’s finale, “The Riechenbach Fall,” ended with a cliffhanger that caused an immense stir with the show’s fans, resembling the reaction to Doyle’s “The Final Problem” in which Sherlock and Moriarty allegedly plummet to their deaths over the eponymous Reichenbach Falls.

The dramatic ending left the world wondering how Sherlock would return. The two-year hiatus from the show was excruciatingly painful for fans and set the Internet atwitter with a wide variety of fan theories.

On Sunday, Jan. 19, the Season 3 premier “The Empty Hearse” aired on PBS, more than two weeks after the episode aired in the U.K., with almost four million viewers watching.

The episode begins with Sherlock’s return to London after spending two years dismantling Moriarty’s network. Most significantly, John now has a girlfriend named Mary Morstan, played by Amanda Abbington, who is Martin Freeman’s partner in real life. Sherlock interrupts John’s proposal to Mary.

This new season of Sherlock is exceptional. The writers have creatively incorporated nods to its dedicated fans to the extent of lightly making fun of their fanaticism.

For example, “The Empty Hearse” features several outlandish and extreme theories of Season Two’s ending, mocking the elaborate theories discussed in YouTube videos and lengthy blog posts by fans.

The addition of Abbington’s Mary to the series incorporates a quaint, adorable commentator on Sherlock’s and John’s relationship. At the same time, Mary holds her own with the guys. Mary and Sherlock get along rather well; both appreciate the other’s love for John.

Abbington and Freeman’s relationship in the show is rooted in their off-screen partnership, providing a natural feel to their onscreen dynamic.

Overall, one cannot help but love Mary and it will be interesting to watch her relationship with Watson and Sherlock develop in the finale, “His Last Vow,” and possibly in the unconfirmed fourth season.

The finale, airing Sunday night on PBS at 10 pm, features Lars Mikkleson (The Killing) as Charles Augustus Magnusson, a despicable newspaper owner who appears to know compromising information about the most important people in the world.

Last season’s Moriarty left big shoes to fill as a suitable, and insanely well-acted, counterpart to Sherlock. Hopefully Magnusson will be comparably evil and mentally challenging to the world’s greatest detective.

This finale is guaranteed to be as surprising as the second season’s cliffhanger and is sure to have viewers reaching for their shock blankets.