Next Sherlock Sunday 5: The Empty Hearse by Mark Gatiss

I’ve been putting the craft topic in the headings of these, but the only thing I could think of this time was “The Dickhead Protagonist” which isn’t really a craft term. The_empty_hearse Lots of wonderful stuff in this episode, but sitting smugly in the middle of it is Sherlock, the Rat Bastard, who has evidently lost every iota of humanity Irene beat into him last year. Bring back the riding crop.

37 thoughts on “Next Sherlock Sunday 5: The Empty Hearse by Mark Gatiss

  1. I know we aren’t discussing this yet, but…

    SPOILERS

    What the hell?

    I’m totally with you on the Sherlock told too many people thing, making John’s suffering meaningless. And Sherlock’s reactions in the poignant scenes with John–how is that emotionally satisfying? I saw an interview with Cumberbatch in which he said Sherlock has regressed a bit in the two years he was gone. Uh, yeah. All I can hope is that the writers are setting up Sherlock for an emotional comeuppance. They did foreshadow that with Watson in this episode, but we’ll see. Watson’s reactions were perfect. We really needed the filter of Watson’s feelings for Sherlock to keep liking the Rat Bastard in this episode.

    0
  2. I have seen all episodes of season 3… and have decided that season 2 is entirely empty… like the hearse. They told a stupid tale for the Hound, they ruined Irene (Really, M., did you READ the story). I loved season 1 and enjoyed season 3, finding it humorous, full of adventure, etc.)… I wish I could unknown 2.

    0
  3. My sister and her husband really like this new Sherlock adaption but I have major issues with it. This episode was really awful-even the way Sherlock decides to ‘unveil’ himself to Watson is cruel. He plays a tasteless joke on him in a crowded restaurant while John is proposing to the woman he loves. I wonder how any of us would react to this situation-scream? throw something? faint? Then Sherlock continues to deny John his feelings or makes fun of him-how can he treat his friend this way and , further, how can John continue to allow this? The absolute final straw was the bomb defusing scene-this was too cruel to be believed. How could he do that to his friend and watch as Watson realizes that he has no future, no wedding, no hope and must find the courage to be brave in a situation that Sherlock has put them both into?!! I don’t know what to call this relationship but it is not a friendship.

    0
  4. Loved John in this. Loved Molly in this. I even liked Sherlock when he was with Molly in this. But every single scene he’s in with John, I wanted to smack him.

    0
  5. When I saw this, I enjoyed it but was bothered by the treatment of Watson. Not only the callas manner in which Sherlock treated him but by his uselessness in the actual mystery.

    Having seen the next two, I can now say there is a reason the creators did this. I have mixed reactions as to the results, but the first episode leads into some amazing scenes between the main characters.

    0
  6. I thought there were a lot of similarities between The Empty Hearse and A Study In Pink, except that I really enjoyed it first time around. I hated it this time because although it’s a new beginning, when we last saw Sherlock he’d had some humanity drilled in to him whereas now he’s regressed to obnoxious, and John isn’t broken any more so Sherlock’s selfishness doesn’t move John’s character arc in an enjoyable and satisfying way. Quite the reverse. John’s moving on and Sherlock’s dragging him back and that’s not fun to watch. Sherlock has regressed in the two years he’s been away, and I thought it was so that the writers can have him ‘re-discover’ his humanity. I wanted to smack Sherlock and John and Mr Gatiss.

    0
    1. That bothered me, too, that everything he’d experienced in “Scandal” made such a brief impression. That plus his cruelty.

      0
      1. It made some sense to me that Sherlock had regressed, since he had been away from the positive influence of John for 2 years, off playing his own game. My expectation of the following episodes is that Sherlock will regain his humanity. I’ll have to wait and see on that. I did think the way he unveiled himself to John was awful (and he deserved to be smacked for that) but not out of character.

        0
  7. I’m not an enthusiast of the Holmes universe in general, so I haven’t seen a lot of it—some of the Arthur Wontner films from the thirties, the Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett series, and some of the Holmes film one-offs. The problem for me with all of the Holmes versions I’ve seen is that the relationship of Holmes and Watson is incomprehensible. The big story question in all of them was why these people were friends. I liked this BBC series from the start because for the first time, the Holmes/Watson relationship made sense. And beginning with “Reichbach Fall” but certainly “The Empty Hearse,” it no longer does.

    0
    1. That’s such a good point. The heart of the series is how much the two men care about each other, how much they’re willing to sacrifice. Sherlock coming back so selfish, betraying that relationship, is a real violation.

      0
  8. ***De-lurking***

    I just watched this episode last night, and I have to agree: What. The. He**? I kept waiting…and waiting…for them to reveal SOME reason (even a stupid reason would have been better than no reason) why Sherlock apparently told EVERYBODY he was alive and well, except John, Mrs. Hudson, and LeStrade (his three “only friends” that Moriarty threatened to kill if Sherlock didn’t jump), but it never came. The last straw was the train. Hadn’t Sherlock already been cruel enough to John? Aaaarrgghh!

    I’ll keep watching, because it’s still amazing acting, and because I keep hoping they’ll redeem themselves, but it was disappointing, to say the least.

    ***Re-lurking***

    0
  9. IMO, it just gets worse as the season progresses. Staying spoiler-free, there are some attempts at redemption (read: fan baiting) in the *next* episode and I was a bit cheered up (though wary) throughout the episode, but now that I have finished the series, I may be ruined for this show.

    Sherlock Holmes: Man Without Consequences.

    0
  10. I think this is vanity script writing because it’s just an excuse for Benedict Cumberbatch speak and speak and speak, which in and of itself, is exquisite. This is twisting down into a character issue, true, very similar to what happened to the House character. Holmes is like a child that refuses to accept the unconditional love of Watson and therefore tests it constantly, over and over. Molly is smart enough to ignore it which dilutes it’s cruelty in a way. Holmes does finally honor Watson at the end of his speech because he says what I believe is something Watson needs to hear (and ties into his ptsd history). From a mystery script point of view, I loved it with all it’s zany twists and turns. I found it a very funny episode.

    0
  11. Are we talking about this today or is this the intro for next Sunday? I don’t want to get ahead of myself again. 🙂

    FWIW, I really enjoyed this episode. I buy lock, stock, and barrel Sherlock’s regression (he does what he does because *he* always knows best, everyone else be damned, that’s been consistent throughout the series) and he’s been gone for 2 years without John, et al to keep him on a path of growth; his confusion when John doesn’t welcome him with open arms; the fact that John DOES NOT welcome him with open arms. Yup. I’m in. Sherlock needed Mycroft and Molly and his thugs to pull of the Fall – I bet his thugs were the ones tagging “Sherlock lives!” all over London afterwards. (grin) John and Lestrade and Mrs Hudson were all left in the dark for their protection, *as Sherlock saw the need for it*. Let’s remember, this guy keeps decapitated heads next to the cheese, so he’s not playing with a full deck to begin with. And then there’s… everything else. I’m good. Actually, I didn’t love the “mystery” in this one. I thought it was a really weak premise to bring him back to London and the resolution was a little “wtf” for me.

    Trudy above mentioned House. LOVED House, or at least the first few seasons. House is very publicly known to be the “medical” Sherlock Holmes. She said, “Holmes is like a child that refuses to accept the unconditional love of Watson and therefore tests it constantly, over and over.” This is SO TRUE, of both House and Sherlock. It’s been a while since I’ve read most of the Doyle stories, but I always wondered, too, why they were even friends. I think Moff’tiss’s Sherlock gives the first salable solution/key – Sherlock needs Watson to be human and Watson needs Sherlock for… that joie de vivre. The fact that Watson is whole enough to move on without Sherlock and Sherlock backslides… makes it so much more interesting because now John has the upper hand, whether he understands that or not. Relationships change, especially long term ones.

    0
  12. I agree that this episode was not well done. And that’s frustrating because they could have done so much with it. But all those “how it was done” blooper reels – well, that’s how it felt – took up time that should have been devoted to story. And it’s not like we got a definitive answer to how it was done, so it was just frustrating. Then Sherlock, who is supposed to be so smart, just popping back into John’s life again. I think that’s what bothered me the most because it was such silly behavior in the restaurant. The same with the “there’s a switch” bit. He can be cruel, but it’s usually because he considers most people inferior and not worth the effort of being nice. But he’s not usually mean just to be mean, and that was a let down.

    It does occur to me though to wonder how else they could have had him come back. Keeping in mind that he is pretty clueless about the right way to interact with people, and how hard he find it to admit that he needs people in his life at all. I guess it kind of fits that he’d mess that up, too. But the switch thing really does bother me.

    One of the ways this series really does differ is in the expection that Sherlock should arc at all. He doesn’t in the books, so maybe we should adjust our expections.

    But I did enjoy many parts of it. Lestrade giving him a big hug, and his parents! So there were a lot of good bits that made it worth while.

    0
  13. I agree with so much of what others have said here about the problems with Sherlock’s behavior in this episode, I don’t have anything new to add. Except that no one has conveyed my level of LOATHING for the restaurant scene where Sherlock presents his resurrection to John in that silly, contrived, pranksterish way, and my LOATHING for the final prank Sherlock pulls on John in the underground train-bomb… which was so revolting that I really think John should cut Sherlock out of his life after that unforgiveable prank.

    0
  14. “I’ve been putting the craft topic in the headings of these, but the only thing I could think of this time was “The Dickhead Protagonist” which isn’t really a craft term.”

    Isn’t there some craft term for “you must make your central character at least somewhat sympathetic, or else the reader will not bother to stick around”? Only more concise?

    0
    1. He or she can be unsympathetic as long he or she is fascinating. Macbeth, for example. Or Red in The Blacklist.
      But Sherlock wasn’t fascinating in this, he was annoying. They took a good character and made him petty and smug. Grrrr.

      0
  15. I think Sherlock was jealous and “punishing” John for moving on and loving Mary. I don’t think the men are in love in a sexual way, but John is one of the very few human beings Sherlock loves. I don’t think Sherlock realizes there is enough love to go around and childishly needed to test John to make sure he still loved him. I also think that Sherlock, (minor spoilers) having never lost anyone he loves but his dog, could not GRASP that John would be this upset. He seemed genuinely confused. Then again, I am viewing this as an Aspy and I know I have unintentionally hurt people because I did NOT know what I was doing COULD hurt them emotionally. I mean, I know not to fake my own death, but I don’t understand other parts of the social contract. Also, having seen all three (because my husband is a god and we have Google chrome) I think Sherlock “proves” that he really does love John in that John’s happiness is more important to Sherlock than … shit I can’t talk about because mega spoilers.

    0
  16. Well, I saw “The Sign of the Three.”
    They shouldda left him dead. “His Last Vow” is going to have to be supernaturally good to make up for the first two.

    0
    1. Hee!! I know. This season feels VERY disjointed- there’s been a lack of cohesion and a feeling of “Hah! Aren’t we clever?” In the writing. The strong leaning toward humor this season feels inappropriate and off the mark. It’s starting to feel like “Frasier-Now With Mysteries!”

      Plus I hated his parents in Hearse. I do NOT see Sherlock and Mycroft being raised by people like that and turning out the way they are. It pushed me out of their universe altogether.

      0
      1. I agree. They went with ordinary parents because that would be funny, but there is no way you’d get two boys as brilliant and as damaged as Mycroft and Sherlock if you had average parents. Mycroft trapped at Les Miz was funny, but everything else was just a too-obvious grab at comedy.

        I’m also not buying the I-love-to-dance Sherlock who is also the I-have-no-emotional-connection Sherlock, or the Sherlock who is so miserable to John in both episodes with the Sherlock who has the grace to deliver that emotional speech. Cumberbatch must have gotten whiplash trying to keep that character cohesive.

        0
        1. Sherlock’s parents are Benedict Cumberbatch’s real-life parents, just as John’s wife is Martin Freeman’s real-life wife. They’re all good actors but it just adds to the feeling of in-joke on the part of the writers.

          0
          1. And it really knee-caps the characterization. Fine, use the Cumberbatches, but make them distant and controlling and intellect snobs. Unless the Cumberbatches aren’t actors, in which case, hire actors and save your character.

            0
          2. I saw clever and vain scriptwriting in this episode. And to see the writing and acting craft elements – I do believe that’s a no no. It’s knocking us out of the story. It seems to me they wish to push the ever fascinating talents of Benedict beyond who the character of Sherlock is. And the popularity of the show because he is in it is pushing this and why the are getting away with cheap characterization ploys.

            0
      2. Frasier–Now With Mysteries! indeed. Or you what has just come to mind? A delightful Kevin Bacon comedy, late ’80s or early ’90s, called THE BIG PICTURE. He plays a promising young filmmaker who’s gradually seduced by Hollywood (but it’s a fun comedy, rather than a masturbatory melodrama)… until finally, he finds himself sitting in the office of a bored, rude studio exec and trying to remain on salary by pulling every idiotic idea out of a hat that he can: The three co-eds are… in a beach house! But they’re… stewardesses! And they’re… GHOSTS of stewardesses! MUSICAL ghosts! And so on…

        0
    2. Oh, yes. I watched it last night, and I kept thinking, “Is this EVER going to end?” Which isn’t a good thing. I swear, it felt like it lasted at least three hours.

      I’m also irritated with all the mixed-up chronology. It’s like someone learned a new storytelling technique — flashbacks and, as someone upthread said, “blooper reel” insertions — and now they’ve got to use it all the time. It’s classic in mysteries to have an expository flashback at the end, like in Monk’s “this is how he did it” scenes, but this episode’s flashing here, there and everywhere just annoyed me.

      0
      1. I agree. Unless you’re playing with time for a specific effect–Out of Sight is the gold standard for me on that–just stick to chronological storytelling.

        0
  17. I don’t have a big problem with the way they had Sherlock break the news of his aliveness, because the original was just as bad IMHO. In public was particularly stupid, but he didn’t know that John was planning to propose that night. The Jeremy Brett version did have Holmes seem uncomfortable as he “explained” why he hadn’t told Watson before, which was warmer than the original story. This one could have used some of that.

    I also buy some regression on Sherlock’s part. I didn’t take S as mean, so much as awkward because he know he’s can see he’s off base, but not how to fix it (having lacked J’s coaching for 2 years) so he goes to his (unfortunate) “making light” solution. I don’t like it but I don’t find it unbelievable.

    The deal breaker for me was S pretending he couldn’t stop the bomb, making J think he was going to die, etc. No excuse for that one.

    Also, too much techie swoops through the subway and such, which I found distracting and which did not add anything.

    0

Comments are closed.