Sherlock: Season 3, Episode 1

The Empty Hearse (19 Jan. 2014)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Reviews: 47 user | 31 critic

Mycroft calls Sherlock back to London to investigate an underground terrorist organization.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Howard Shilcott
Bonfire Dad
Trixiebell Harrowell ...
Zoe (as Trixiebelle Harrowell)
Lovelace Akpojaro ...
Reporter 1 (as Lace Akpojaro)


Two years after the devastating effects of The Reichenbach Fall, Dr John Watson has got on with his life. New horizons, romance and a comforting domestic future beckon; but, with London under threat of a huge terrorist attack, Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. It's what his best friend wanted more than anything, but for John Watson it might well be a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. If Sherlock thinks everything can be just as he left it though, he's in for a very big surprise. Written by BBC

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery



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Release Date:

19 January 2014 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Two of the clients that come to visit Sherlock Holmes are a stepfather and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter is concerned about the sudden disappearance of her on-line admirer with whom she had regular contact. Sherlock deduces that the stepfather had been using an avatar on the internet to keep tabs on his stepdaughter's actions. This is a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's short story 'A Case Of Identity'. See more »


Sherlocke's tombstone appears to have changed locations between this episode and the series two finale. In the latter, the tombstone stands somewhat isolated, in front of a huge tree, with no more tombs around. In "The Empty Hearse", however, the tombstone stands behind the tree, in the middle of an opening, with several other tombstones around. See more »


Mycroft Holmes: [analyzing a hat] This is a chullo, the classic headgear of the Andes. It's made of Alpaca.
Sherlock Holmes: Nope.
Mycroft Holmes: No?
Sherlock Holmes: Icelandic sheep wool. Similar, but very distinctive if you know what you're looking for. I've written a blog on the varying tensile strengths of different natural fibers.
Mrs. Hudson: I'm sure there's a crying need for that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the credits, individual letters are coloured red. Together they spell Weng Chiang. See more »


References Frasier (1993) See more »


Do You Hear the People Sing?
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel
English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
[Played during Mycroft's telephone conversation with Sherlock]
See more »

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User Reviews

The Empty Hearse - an explosive opening episode in what is promising to be the most action-packed season of Sherlock yet!

It ended with a bang. Or, rather, a quick drop and a sudden stop - one that sent fans and critics alike reeling and demanding more, more, more. And this past New Years Day 2014, the two- year-long wait finally ended for millions worldwide as the infamous Consulting Detective returned to London with a theatrical flair that can only be described as, well… Sherlockian.

In many regards, the latest and newest installment of BBC's smash hit, Sherlock (2010 - present) did not disappoint fans worldwide - and why would it? Finally, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) are back to embark upon more exciting and thrilling adventures! This is the moment that we've all been waiting for! Yet, this first episode - while exciting - did have a few shortcomings that made it less than what some fans might expect.

When a TV show opens its door to the fandom world - i.e. Tumblr - and brings it into the fold of its own plot, it often risks laughing at itself, becoming a pantomime of the speculations, theories and obsession that have propelled it forward - in short, it risks lessening itself by approaching and enveloping the - sometimes, frankly alarming

  • fan world. Yet, somehow, Sherlock avoided this entirely, carefully

balancing itself on the knife's edge of playful, poking jokes which Sherlockians will probably die over, and that the average viewer can appreciate in the grander scheme of the episode's overall and surprisingly cheeky nature. The fact remains that no one listens to their fans better than Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, and, while some fans might find offense in their references to the, again, frankly alarming Sherlock fan-base, being toyed with was actually quite enjoyable.

The laughs weren't too far behind in regards to this episode, either. Again, "cheeky" is the word for this script - as perhaps are the words, "confident," "smart" and "clever," as Gatiss once again shows off his prowess as not only a co-creator of the show, but a writer as well.

One thing that no one had to worry about for this new series is the superb acting. Benedict Cumberbatch is simply flawless as Sherlock Holmes, supporting an argument that he is, in fact, the best actor to have ever portrayed the sociopathic, genius sleuth. Martin Freeman once again shone as a modern John Watson, showing a wide array of emotions simultaneously. And fans who were worried about the introduction of John's romantic interest, Mary Morstan (played by Amanda Abbington, Martin Freeman's real-life partner) have little to fear. Mary is as charming, brazen and clever as we could have possibly ever hoped for. Though only shown sparingly in this episode, she's sure to become a fantastic character in the near future, one that will not only add to the plot, but help shape a wonderful, new dynamic for this new series.

The plot itself was, overall, very intriguing. From the get go, the audience is immediately thrown back into the excitement and adventure that makes Sherlock exactly that - an adventure unlike anything television has seen before. This new series is sure to be a unique experience.

However, somehow, the plot was very convoluted and sometimes choppy and jaggedly presented for those that couldn't catch every single word of dialog being presented. However, after my second viewing of the show (after my disastrous first attempt at a live stream), I could completely comprehend the plot of "The Empty Hearse" and its implications towards the later episodes. It's truly a masterpiece - yet one that was initially confusing. Yet, despite its many pros, there is one crucial con to "The Empty Hearse" that made it less than what many fans have been expecting - the relationship between John and Sherlock.

Again, it's been two years since Sherlock's faked suicide, and it's been only days since he's been vindicated of all of the charges that had been brought against him, thanks to one "Richard Brook." Somehow, the thrill of the new plot took away from that developing reconnection, and their struggle to reconcile after many years of hurt and loneliness. Again, we understand - Sherlock is an adventure, a wild ride through the twisting alleys of London, filled with danger, excitement and deductions galore. And, again, "The Empty Hearse" did not disappoint in this regard. Yet, the one thing that this episode should have been about - John's forgiving Sherlock, their friendship - was not touched upon enough. After a third viewing (yes, a third), I could see the small hints towards the larger picture, but they were vague and barely noticeable for those who weren't looking. If not for the fantastic performances by Cumberbatch and Freeman, Sherlock and John's character arcs would have been completely lost in the grandeur, the danger and the thrill.

Perhaps this crucial shortcoming has to do with the restrictive time set for Sherlock episodes - ironic, seeing as they're practically feature length films. Yet, an extra half hour would have been enough to help bring this absolutely vital dynamic to life. If not that, then taking away some of the action would have helped - it certainly would've helped clear up some confusion with the intense and rapidly moving plot line.

All in all, however, "The Empty Hearse" was an explosive opening episode in what is promising to be the most action-packed season of Sherlock yet. And its hints towards a greater danger for not only London, but Holmes and Watson, give a glimpse into the new, exciting plot that Gatiss and Moffat have lined up for Sherlock fans globally. I was only slightly disappointed with this opening episode, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

24 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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