Sherlock Recap: Toast With the Most

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sherlock-recap-watson-mary-weddingGiving a best-man toast at a wedding is no easy task, but it’s especially hard when you’re a misanthropic detective with an “international reputation” — and one of the happy couple’s honored guests is being targeted by a murderer.

That was exactly the dilemma faced by our titular hero in “The Sign of Three,” the mind-bending (and decidedly bittersweet) second episode of Sherlock‘s fantastic (albeit painfully fleeting) third season.

Also tricky? Recapping a labyrinthine episode with multiple overlapping cases, timelines in constant flux, characters harboring enigmatic agendas and murderers who can walk through walls and make their weapons of choice magically disappear. That said, I’ll do my best to pithily break down the action:

PRE-WEDDING JITTERS | We kick off with an amusing intro in which beleagured DI Lestrade misses out on being the one to arrest an elusive bank-robbing gang because he’s responding to an emergency text from Sherlock — who, it turns out, just needs help with his best-man toast. Soon after, though, we move to Watson and Mary joyously exiting the church as husband and wife, Holmes extending his detective services to help the maid of honor (a delightful Yasmine Akram) select the right hookup partner, and one of Watson’s oldest, most reclusive friends, Major James Sholto (whose military career included a tragic case in which an entire group of training officers was killed), arriving at the last minute. Of course, multiple flashbacks then begin to fill in the anxieties leading up to the big day, especially Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson each filling Sherlock’s head with the idea that Watson will somehow abandon him post-nuptials. (Methinks those tales shook him a little, despite his brave front.)

WATSON POPS THE QUESTION | Sherlock’s toast kicks off with a flashback to the hilariously stilted moment in which Watson asked him to serve as Best Man — a moment that left the great detective’s brain full of thoughts and ideas, but the rest of his body in a state of stunned silence. After this recollection, however, the speech rounds a bend on two wheels, the resulting screeches causing fits of panic among the guests. “A wedding is, in my considered opinion, nothing short of a celebration of all that is false and specious and irrational and sentimental in this ailing and morally compromised world,” Sherlock shares, somehow slipping in that the position of vicar was merely invented as “a career opportunity for the family idiot.” Mercifully, the Best Man zags back to the “funny stories” portion of his chat, and that’s where our central mystery begins to unfold, with the telling of the tale of “The Bloody Guardsman.”

WHY WE LOVE MARY (REASON NO. 7,214) | Whether for Sherlock’s sake, Watson’s sake, or out of sheer recognition that one shouldn’t lose one’s identity in a relationship, Mary insists Watson find a case for himself and Sherlock to pursue in the week leading up to the wedding. (No, Sherlock making serviettes in the shape of the Sydney Opera House cannot be deemed as a good use of his time!) And so, we move on to…

THE BLOODY GUARDSMAN | Holmes regales the wedding guests with the case of a private in Her Majesty’s household guard — aka one of those fellas in the tall, fuzzy, black hats who stand stock still while tourists snap their photos — who writes to he and Watson fearing he’s being stalked. By the time our duo arrives to chat with him, he’s been discovered having bled out in a shower. As Sherlock demands that the officer in charge let him scour the crime scene, Watson discovers the dude is (whoa!) still alive. Still, the question remains: How did a murderer enter the Private’s locked shower stall? And how did the weapon (and the perpetrator) magically vanish from the scene? No, Molly’s beau’s theory about a “meat dagger” doesn’t really hold up even under the most cursory examination, but then again, Sherlock himself admits to the audience that even his expert mind never cracked the case. (Talk about burying the lead!)

THE TIME WHERE THE SHERLOCK THEME GOT A DUBSTEP REMIX (SERIOUSLY, IS THAT DOWNLOADABLE SOMEWHERE?!) | Sherlock hilariously turns to Molly for help in planning how to get Watson tipsy (but not wrecked) on a pub crawl through every street where they’d found corpses (complete with stopwatch timing and careful measurements of every drink and potty break). (Also, bully for Molly for her “and we’re having quite a lot of sex!” response to Sherlock’s queries about her finacé.) After a mere two hours (and some sneaky shots added to the beer by Watson), our BFFs are back at 221B, playing “celebrity,” and then taking on a client who’s convinced the man she dated — who never called her back even to break things off — was a ghost (seeing how, she later discovered when visiting his apartment, he’d died before their date). Holmes compromises the intergity of, well, something by vomiting on the dead man’s carpet — and Lestrade winds up having to spring him and Watson from a night spent in the pokey.

ABOUT THAT GHOST | Sherlock follows up on the “disappearing date” case by visiting a chat room of women who are convined they, too, have dated a ghost. (How cool was that construct of our detective in an ampitheater mimicking the interplay of his online conversations?) Sherlock finds a quintet of women with a common thread and determines they’ve all been duped into one-time-only dates with “the Mayfly Man,” who uses the address of recently deceased bachelors as his “home.” But WHY, he wonders. “You’re missing the obvious, mate,” explains Watson. “Because he’s a man.” And probably a married one, at that. (Let’s just say this tale creates some awkward toast moments about the “suffocating chains of domesticity.” Yeesh.)

A SHOCKING REALIZATION | As Sherlock is relaying the story to the wedding guests, he remembers that their original client used Watson’s full name: John Hamish Watson. And he remembers that Watson never tells anybody his hated middle name — except for the 100 or so folks who got his wedding invite. All those duped women, they worked for one man. And one of those women, she somehow laid eyes on Watson’s wedding invite. A coincidence? Probably no such thing. And as Sherlock ponders the possibilities, there’s the voice of Mycroft in his head, throwing around terms like “criminal intent” and “extraordinary lengths.”

HOW IT WRAPS UP | “Who would you murder at a wedding?” Sherlock asks aloud. “And who could you only kill here?” As he begins to ponder those questions in relation to the Mayfly Man, he also thinks back on his Watson Wedding checklist. “Plan.” “Rehearsal.” And he realizes that the case of the Bloody Guardsman was a rehearsal for the murder that’s about to go down. The victim has got to be the infamous Major Sholto, who lives in a remote, undisclosed location and wouldn’t normally be seen in public. And finally, as the Major locks himself in his room with a gun, ready to take on his murderer (whoever it is), Sherlock’s brain unlocks the case. Both the Major and the Bloody Guardsman wore military uniforms with tight belts worn high on the waist. The killer practiced on the guardsman by stabbing him through the back of the belt — a wound that only became painful and potentially fatal after he removed his uniform, released the pressure on the wound, and the blood began to flow. And while the Major then insists it’s his time to die, that he just wants to take off that belt and exit stage death, Holmes appeals to his fellow social outlier: “We would never do that to John Watson,” especially not on his wedding day. All that’s left is finding out whodunnit, and Sherlock sends Lestrade to retrieve the just-left wedding photographer for a little questioning. Turns out the dude is a brother of one of the recruits killed under the Major’s watch. And he would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids our titular crime-solver

AND BABY MAKES THREE? | The case closed, and the Major off for medical attention, the reception resumes with a bride-and-groom dance and a public vow from Sherlock (who doesn’t do vows, and won’t again after this one) to always be there for “all three” — er, two — of ‘em. Stepping away from the mic, he apologizes to Watson and Mary for his slip-up, but then explains that Mary’s sudden increase in appetite, change in taste perception (she hated the wine she’d ordered and loved just months prior) and recent morning sickness meant she had a bun in the oven. (Bonus points for this all occurring as “Oh What a Night” played in the background.) It’ll all be fine, Sherlock tells them, considering all the practice they’ve had with a baby like himself. But then, alluding to Mrs. Hudson’s cautionary tale about how her own now-estranged BFF left her wedding early, Sherlock dons his signature coat, leaves the sheet music for his ceremonial violin solo in an envelope and heads into the night.

Does he believe marriage — or more importantly, a baby — will change the nature of his crime-solving partnership? Is he just not that enthralled with the idea of watching drunk relatives do the “Electric Slide”? Whatever the case, let’s hope we solve his state of mind in next week’s (gasp!) season finale.

“They were right about you: You’re a bloody psychopath!”
“High-functioning sociopath. With your number.”
Holmes, correcting one of Mary’s ex-boyfriends after revealing to the bloke that he’s done a full background check and determined he’s still in love with the bride

“John says he’s the most unsociable man he’s ever met.”
He is? He’s the most unsociable?”
Sherock, expressing outrage as Mary describes Watson’s pal Major Sholto

Previous commander suggests I have a current one.”
Watson deftly picking up a telling adjective in Sherlock’s discussion of the groom’s friend and former commanding officer

“The best and bravest man I know, and on top of that, he actually knows how to do stuff — except wedding planning and serviettes. He’s rubbish that that.”
Sherlock, in a sentimental mid-toast moment

“I think you’re a popular choice at the moment, dear.”
Mrs. Hudson, responding to Sherlock’s query — in the midst of his verrrrry long toast — about who one might want to murder at a wedding

“I wish you weren’t…whatever it is you are.”
The Maid of Honor, expressing her delight in Sherlock’s waltz instructions (and other charms) as well as her reservations about the many reasons he’d never go for it

“Brilliant, ruthless and almost certainly a monomaniac — though in fairness, his photographs are actually quite good.”
Sherlock, summing up the murderous photog’s work

What did you think of this week’s Sherlock? Was your mind blown by the way the central cases intersected? If Sherlock were your best man, how would you rate his toast? Sound off in the comments!

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Comments (56)

  • Another priceless quote:
    Janine to Sherlock “Do you always carry Handcuffs”?
    Sherlock “Down Girl”

    Comment by ladyhelix – January 26, 2014 09:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ha. Yeah.

      Comment by Britta Unfiltered – January 26, 2014 10:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ah, now if only this site could stop recapping and start actually reviewing episodes…

    Comment by Alan Martins Rodrigues – January 26, 2014 09:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I guarantee you that there are 500 reviews of this episode out there. Go find them and read them.

      Comment by uh huh – January 26, 2014 10:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I have, actually, but this is my go-to website regarding tv shows (for now) and I wish it tried harder on its recaps, as I’m sure it has the potential to make great actual reviews instead of just plain stating what happened, is it that wrong?

        Comment by Alan Martins Rodrigues – January 27, 2014 03:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • What was it that Einstein said? – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

          Comment by Sara – January 27, 2014 07:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Dear god…..I believe this had to be the most perfect episode on television ever!

    Comment by Alichat – January 26, 2014 09:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree ~ totally perfect!

      Comment by Carol C – January 27, 2014 06:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You haven’t watched the season finale yet. That one is truly epic

      Comment by John – January 27, 2014 10:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This has been my absolute favorite episode of the entire show — I want a full size poster of the two of them sleeping on the stairs… Go to the British news sites though — they HATED — jeez, their comments are just viscious! The people who beat Hitler apparently not big fans of sentiment. Huh. Go figure.

      Comment by Viv – January 27, 2014 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “He’s cluing for looks.” Another great line.
    I really enjoyed this episode…hope to see Benedict do more comedy, he was really funny and how does he remember all those lines!

    Poor Sherlock he knows he is losing John.

    Comment by Linstro – January 26, 2014 09:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The amount that I yelled when I realized the guardsmen that was stabbed was Dean Thomas from Harry Potter woke my parents up from their sleep. Whoops?

    His speech had me both cowering in embarrassment and then crying because it turned so sweet. What a wonderful episode.

    Can’t believe Molly stabbed Tom so hard one of the tines of the fork flew off.

    Comment by iammusic – January 26, 2014 09:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Me too! And that kid Alfie Enoch turned out incredibly handsome!

      Comment by Jen – January 27, 2014 04:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved the reveal of Mrs Hudson backstory with her criminal ex-husband. That was both hilarious and kinda sad.

    I enjoyed seeing Sherlock and John on their really short and very drunken stag do. They should get drunk more often.

    The speech though very Sherlock-like also had heart and showed how much Sherlock had come to love and respect Watson not only as a person but as a friend.

    Comment by Alexia – January 26, 2014 09:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Cumberbatch playing a drunk Sherlock was hilarious! Love both he and Morgan Freeman (kidding- Martin!). Was very funny when we saw ‘two hours later…’ LOL Loved the show after it’s season one airing in the states and talked about Benedict back then – people said ‘Benedict Cumber-who?!?!’ Now EVERYONE knows who he is – and I am thrilled – because we can see even more of him. The entire cast is pitch perfect to me.

      Comment by tan7 – January 27, 2014 05:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “If I try to hug him, stop me.” “Certainly not!”
    “Though in fairness, he’s a drama queen too.” “Yes, I know.”
    “It later transpired that I’d said none of this out loud.”
    “Crime scene!” **Raises hand for a high five**
    “John, you have endured war and injury and tragic loss……so sorry again about that last one….”
    “John…wake up. I want…. The game is……something.” “…..on?” “Yeah, that that!”

    Comment by Alichat – January 26, 2014 09:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great episode. Sherlock’s Best Man speech was priceless. Also loved the scene where John asked Sherlock to be his best man; and the scene where Mrs. Hudson told John about her husband. Lots of great comedic moments, but also very touching. Loved it!
    Another quote: ” and the other …is a dickhead.” by Watson on the park bench.

    Comment by Anna – January 26, 2014 09:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Watson: “How was that?”
    Sherlock: “Surprisingly not bad.”
    After Sherlock forgets about the eyeball in his tea and takes a sip.

    Comment by uh huh – January 26, 2014 10:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Something about Sherlock trying to read all those blurry, hard to read clues in the room when he was drunk and dizzy just had me howling. That was a good moment. This was my favorite episode of the series so far. Not a single boring moment here. Thrills and chills all the way through, and a lot of laughs.

    Comment by Britta Unfiltered – January 26, 2014 10:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oh god yes! I rewound just to read those again. I think he called the egg shaped chair a “sitty thing”!

      Comment by Alichat's – January 26, 2014 11:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The best part by far of any absolutely wonderful episode. If Sherlock and Watson weren’t really drunk, then they both play drunk incredibly perfect.

      Comment by Andrea – January 27, 2014 06:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think my favorite part was hungover Sherlock and John in the jail cell.

    John: Can you whisper?
    Lestrade: NOT REALLY!

    Comment by Erin – January 26, 2014 10:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oh, Lestrade was definitely loving it! (And so were we, too!) Who’d have thought our boys were such lightweights? And how often does Lestrade get to have one over on them? I suspect there were sneaky cell phone photos taken that night…

      Comment by Evenmoor – January 27, 2014 08:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “I’m not John, Sherlock, I can tell when you’re fibbing.”

    Comment by Winter – January 26, 2014 10:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • For me, the best line was, ‘Mister Holmes, you are going to be incredibly useful.’

    The best scene was the scene Britta Unfiltered mentioned, where we see the bursts of images that we usually get when he’s collecting and assessing clues, but they’re out of focus and the items he’s cataloguing are referred to as ‘doohickey,’ and ‘thingamabob.’ Priceless!

    Also, I want to see ‘The Case of the Elephant in the Room!’

    Comment by Sheldon W. – January 26, 2014 10:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Fabulous. Although I kept wanting someone, anyone, to say afoot!

    Comment by Lecholls – January 26, 2014 11:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It was pretty good but not my favorite. A bit too manic. I did enjoy their stag party…lol

    Comment by DV – January 26, 2014 11:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved the part when Mary and John duck in the kitchen for about 30 seconds and come back out to find Sherlock surrounded by about a dozen opera house serviettes, to which Sherlock says “it just sorta happened” or something to that affect, watched it when it was on a few weeks back in the UK. Fantastic direction, plot and editing though, best episode to date in my books, hopefully it doesn’t take 2yrs for them to make more!!

    Comment by Nichole – January 26, 2014 11:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I feel robbed this season. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the “reunion” of John and Sherlock last week, and I was laughing at all the antics this week. But all the deductions and cases of the past 2 seasons are missing in the comedy and the season is just too flipping short to overlook what makes Sherlock Sherlock. Mark Gatiss has written in too much Mycroft. I want the case where we’re going to find out that Molly’s fiancé is a sociopath. And how long will we have to wait for another season of Sherlock? I hope they continue the series. Don’t tell me not to watch it I feel like complaining about it–I love the boys; it just doesn’t feel like it’s really Sherlock this season.

    Comment by Tahonia – January 27, 2014 12:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I hear you. I love the bromance and the one-liners and the relationships, but the show did seem a little light on actual case mystery to be solved. It seemed more like a tribute to the Johnlock fans, than a murder mystery.

      Comment by TvPeong – January 27, 2014 02:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • May be the single best moment in TV history. That was fantastic. I mean WOW.

    Comment by Matthew Weber – January 27, 2014 12:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved finding out that Martin Freeman’s real life wife/partner is Amanda Abbington aka “Mary”. No wonder their chemistry is so perfect. I really like her addition to the cast and I wasn’t at all sure I would. Great episode overall. The toast even had me tear up a bit just like the guests.

    Comment by Leigh – January 27, 2014 12:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The fuzzy hats are called bearskins

    Comment by Isobel – January 27, 2014 02:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And it’s Beefeaters that wear them.

      Comment by Walrus – January 27, 2014 02:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There better be some Emmy love.

    Comment by Walrus – January 27, 2014 02:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The work and artistry which goes into these tv movies is just staggering. No other show presents such rich detail,humour and intelligent writing and the chemistry between the leads is just peerless. Long live Sherlock.

    Comment by RD – January 27, 2014 05:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thus far, my favorite Sherlock episode! I thought last week’s scenes of John hitting Sherlock were funny, but their drunken scenes last night were hilarious. Love, love, love this show!

    Comment by Lorie – January 27, 2014 05:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I so wanted Molly to chase after Sherlock in the final scene.

      Comment by Lorie – January 27, 2014 06:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Me, too, though I’m glad she didn’t. She thought about it, you could tell, but she didn’t and good for her.

        Comment by Leigh – January 27, 2014 08:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Agree…..but I like that they kept that character thread going…..that Molly is the one who sees him and understands what he is feeling when he thinks no one, particularly John, is looking.

          Comment by Alichat – January 27, 2014 10:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The part with the kid, I enjoyed that.

    Comment by Cathy – January 27, 2014 05:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Haha yes!! “If you get this right there’s a headless nun in it for you.”

      Comment by Allie – January 27, 2014 07:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • When his mother asked about the photo, and he said beheading, I roared with laughter. Just love this show.

        Comment by cathy – January 27, 2014 12:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hysterical!!

        Comment by tan7 – January 27, 2014 06:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved Sherlock’s mental interaction with The Woman: “And the Woman, she knew. God knows where she is…. Out of my head. I’m busy!” I was wiping tears away at that point!

    Comment by Lady K – January 27, 2014 08:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wouldn’t class Sherlock as a misanthrope. More of a high functioning sociopath, IMO.

    Comment by Stormy – January 27, 2014 08:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i wish that Watson didn’t get married, and now their expecting a baby. How can Watson
    leave the family to solve crimes with Sherlock. It changes their relationship.

    Comment by JACKIE – January 27, 2014 09:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The ending was so perfect–Sherlock left the party because he knew he was witnessing a world he, at least momentarily, wanted to become a part of, but in the end, couldn’t. He understood that while he could go through the motions of being socially average (being somewhat successful in the act), in the end he would always be alone. And preferred it that way.
    So he turned up his collar against the night and strode off into the darkness, leaving the party behind to return to his true self.

    Comment by Itwasadarkand_Stormy_Night – January 27, 2014 09:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • New to Sherlock and loving it. What a marvelous show! I could easily become addicted. But how can it be the season finale is already here? Did it not just start? Wah!

    Comment by geezlouise – January 27, 2014 09:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “You’re not a problem solver, you’re a drama queen!”
    Loved, loved this episode. Almost made up for last weeks episode. I see they’ve switched the order. Seasons 1&2,the middle episode was the weakest. I think season 3 we will find that this was the strongest.
    Why no Lestrade on the stag?

    Comment by Andrew – January 27, 2014 09:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved it! Again outstanding performances by Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. Thanks to those two the stag night was brilliant television. Clueing for looks, I have an international reputation, Am I a vegetable, the game is something, who of you is Sherlock Holmes,,, John asking Sherlock the question is going to be one of my favorite Sherlock moments. The end of the best man toast was so perfect. Just like John I simply wanted to hug Sherlock.

    Comment by Abby – January 27, 2014 12:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The little boy was one of my favorites. Especially when he piped up at the wedding and reminded Sherlock of the Mayfly Man. Also, he was precious.

    Comment by Jaime – January 27, 2014 01:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Favourite part of the episode was Sherlok calling Mrs Hudson Hudders. That just cracked me up!

    Comment by Tina – January 27, 2014 02:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And when she Mrs Hudson storms out at beginning of show, saying to Sherlock ‘I really am going to have a word with your mother.’

      Comment by tan7 – January 27, 2014 06:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Absolutely brilliant!! I feel like each episode blows me away and I really really loved sherlock’s speech. Also really love Mary so much! She’s a fantastic addition. Can’t wait till the next episode!

    Comment by charlotte – January 27, 2014 07:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • While the case was a little predictable, it really wasn’t the point of the episode, and it was woven throughout in such a clever way that I forgive its faults. The episode was hilarious and truly heartfelt and Sherlock’s speech was absolutely perfect. While Mary Watson is an established part of Sherlock Holmes, I was nervous about the affect of introducing the character in this interpretation. I was foolish to be. She is a perfect addition. This show is practically flawless. I can’t wait for next week and I am dreading the longer wait until the next series!

    Comment by murley – January 30, 2014 12:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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