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It's been a long wait for "Sherlock" fans. An entire year just for three episodes? Of course, it helps to think of it not as three episodes of a TV show, but rather three feature-length movies; by that comparison, this show's production rate is screamingly fast.
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First things first: How did Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) survive the fall at the end of Season 2? Well, according to one theory, it involved a bungee.
Don't look for him entering the X Games quite yet, though; it turns out that's just one of many wild conspiracy theories going around.
In fact, Sherlock's currently in a Serbian prison dismantling, as he has for the past two years, Moriarty's criminal empire. His brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) retrieves him because there's a bigger threat: An underground terror cell plans to bomb Parliament (on Guy Fawkes Day, no less — "Remember, remember the fifth of November"). So after a haircut, a shave and, of course...
... our man's back on the case. In case you're wondering, an authentic replica of Sherlock's Milford coat goes for about $2,200. Not that that's all you'd need to become a master detective, but it helps.
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Next, he'll have to re-recruit Watson (Martin Freeman), who's had two years to grieve and is preparing to marry his girlfriend (played by Freeman's real-life love, Amanda Abbington). It goes about as well as you'd expect for a friend telling another friend that he'd been faking his death for two years.
Well, that wasn't too bad —
It has been two yea—
OK, now things are fine between them. Mostly. It'll actually take a little nudge from Watson's now-fiancée to straighten things out. Sherlock sizes her up quickly enough.
Unknown persons kidnap Watson and attempt to set him on fire. The assailants are never discovered — tabled for a later episode, presumably. More importantly, though, there are more theories as to how Sherlock survived!
There are 452,000 Google hits for "Sherlock Moriarty kiss," in case that's not enough for you.
Sherlock's "just so… ordinary" parents drop by for a visit, and the detective takes on Molly, the morgue worker who helped him with the suicide ruse, as a surrogate Watson for a day to thank her for the help. Like Watson, Molly has moved on. Once infatuated with Sherlock, she's now engaged… to someone who looks exactly like Sherlock.
He eventually realizes that their "underground terror cell" is literally underground. The plotters have hijacked a subway car, filled it with explosives, and placed it directly under Parliament. Holmes and Watson rush into the tunnels and find the bomb, only to realize that neither one knows how to disarm it.
The stress of the situation takes us to a flashback where, perhaps, we learn the real explanation behind Sherlock's fake suicide. Turns out, it's only slightly less ridiculous than the bungee theory, involving dozens of co-conspirators, a body resembling the detective, a squash ball crammed into his armpit, and one of these:
Back to the subway car, and of course Sherlock knew how to defuse the bomb; he just wanted to get Watson worked up so he would cave and forgive him for the two years of lies. Highly-functioning sociopaths: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.
The episode ends with Sherlock doing a little caving of his own: donning the loathed deerstalker cap given to him at the end of Season 2. Now that's what you need to be a master detective.
Next episode, we'll find out which Sherlock finds harder: solving an unsolvable murder, or giving the best man's speech at a wedding... Watson's wedding.
"Sherlock" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on PBS.