February 4, 2014

Predictable, Sherlock: 5 Things You Should Have Called in The Empty Hearse [review time]

Notice: This is not a safe space. If you haven't seen The Empty Hearse yet, this is a criticism that may contain spoilers. I assume you came here to do more than look at pretty pictures, so if you really wanted to go into The Empty Hearse without knowing a thing about the episode, maybe you should stop Googling reviews and just go watch it already :D

Now, I am not the queen of calling things. I'm not the first person to correctly identify how the plot twists will turn out, and, perhaps particularly as a creator of fiction myself, I'm usually the last person to label something as "predictable." The word itself feels like a shot in my gut whenever it gets used on one of my favorite books, TV shows or movies. I hate it.

As an example, I completely fell in love with the trailer for Now You See Me, a modern "fantasy" (or something) that came out last year to really mixed reviews. Everyone I talked to who had seen it said it was okay, not great, and fell short of expectations. In particular, it was predictable. They all saw the plot twist a mile away and a good half hour before the reveal. And so I didn't go see it in theatres, but waited until way after the DVD release, afraid to be let down.

However, I didn't call the twist in Now You See Me. I thought it was a ton of fun. (Sounds like maybe I should stop talking about it on my Sherlock critique and write it its own damn review!)

So now that I've put enough text between the spoiler alert and the spoilers, read on to see where I called Sherlock predictable.

1. They just wouldn't tell us how he did it.

I'm not going to call it a cop out, but gosh darnit, I knew they weren't going to explain how Sherlock is still alive. Instead, they did something even more brilliant. Those damn writer/creators dramatized a number of different scenarios to explain Sherlock's survival, finding a way to make you believe each one of them and fall for the same trick over and over again while you think you're finally going to hear the truth. But you never do, do you?

It's brilliant, but it's also strategic. You'll notice that each time a plausible scenario was pitched, the audience, whoever it was, whether they believed it initially or not, immediately began to poke holes in the story. The writers of Sherlock haven't given us the chance to poke holes in the "real" story, and maybe they don't even know for sure how Sherlock could have done it, but they've given us just enough material to satisfy us that it is, after all, possible, even if we don't know how.

2. Sherlock found a disturbingly insensitive way to break it to Watson that he lived.

Raise your hand if you saw that one coming. Sherlock's stupid, insensitive reveal lent a comedic tone to what could have otherwise been a really melodramatic scene. It was pretty clever to cast Sherlock trying to make light of the whole thing in his signature alien and anti-social way and Watson interrupting with multiple slapstick routines. Classic. Also predictable.

3. I'm not sure if it counts, but what was with the subway scene?

There's an off switch. There's always an off switch.
It's hard to call it predictable when the show suggests the "twist" to you ahead of time, but come on. Watson pointed out that Sherlock probably already knew how to stop the bomb, and given that you assume the two detectives aren't going to die here, you're inclined to agree with him. Sorry to put words in your mouth. And then, ta-da! There's an off switch. Way too easy.

4. Let's not forget the Serbian prisoner "twist."

It's minor and it's revealed early on, but on the theme of hello, obvious, the long hair didn't have me fooled for a second. How about you?

5. The Empty Hearse was predictably awesome.

There's no need to flatter actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman any more than I already have, but it's their chemistry that pulls the whole show together, and the same plot and writing just wouldn't be the same with another pair in the lead. No way, Jose. The story took a back seat in The Empty Hearse, even if I was scared they would blow up parliament on Guy Fox Day (I wasn't too worried, just made me want to watch V For Vendetta) while Sherlock's relationship with Watson was front and centre. No, I don't mean that they're gay; two straight friends do have a relationship.

I never thought I would like Molly Hooper, but that girl is growing on me the more she grows some spine. I have, however, always loved DI Lestrade, played by Rupert Graves, who was Dominic in V for Vendetta. I wonder if he had bomb-on-the-underground-heading-for-parliament-deja-vu too.

Well, did you get five for five? Are you the master of "calling it" and did you see it all coming? Maybe I'm being too harsh. Somebody should probably put me in my place — that's what the comment board is for!

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