The critically acclaimed and extremely popular Sherlock television series premiered on the BBC in England in 2010 and later it would be broadcast on PBS in the United States. The crime drama series was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and was based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories but the clever twist was that it was set in modern times. The series ran for four seasons for a total of thirteen episodes and starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. In this post I would like to discuss the second episode of the third season when Watson marries Mary Morstan (played by Amanda Abbington who at the time was the real-life partner of Freeman).
The “Sign of Three” episode opens with Detective Lestrade (Rupert Graves) in the middle of making the arrest of some illusive bank robber only to be interrupted by Sherlock who is desperately asking for his help. It seems that he is struggling not only in dealing with the upcoming marriage of his close friends but the more pressing matter of writing a speech for the wedding reception. Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs), Sherlock’s landlady, doesn’t help Sherlock’s mood when she tells him that Watson’s marriage to Mary will change the personal and working relationship between the two flat mates. This idea is repeated by Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (played by the co-creator of the series, Mark Gatiss)
In keeping with the main premise of the series, there are several crimes for Sherlock to solve during this episode and the first is the case of “the Bloody Guardsman”. A guardsman is found presumable dead from a stab wound with no weapon to be found and no other evidence to indicate what happened. Since Watson served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Afghanistan he would often offer Sherlock his medical option on criminal cases and in this instance the sharp-eyed Watson detects a pulse on the victim, requests an ambulance and thereby saves the man’s life.
The second case is “The Mayfly Man” in which a women comes to Sherlock for his help in a mysterious situation in which she returns to a man’s apartment a few days after a dinner date only to find out that the man in question had actually died several weeks earlier. After further investigation Sherlock, has come to the possible conclusion that the case was actually one of a series of crimes involving an unknown man taking on the identity of several different deceased men. The man meets and then seduces numerous women by luring them to the vacated homes of the dead men. By the end of the episode both these cases will be linked and resolved.
Meanwhile, on the day of the wedding Watson is very excited to find out that that his friend Major James Sholto (Alistair Petrie) is able to attend. After serving in Afghanistan, Sholto had come under intense scrutiny after he lost several soldiers under his command and the unwanted media coverage resulted in him receiving numerous death threats which sent him into seclusion. Special Note: Since some extent the plotlines of the TV show “Sherlock” are loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, the writers have used the name of Sholto in reference to a character in original story called “The Sign of Four”.
As the evening progresses Sherlock comes to the sudden realization that a serious crime is about to be committed and someone at the wedding will possibly die. Through a process of elimination Sherlock deduces that the person is Sholto who has left the reception to return to his room. Ultimately Sherlock solves the mystery by linking both the “Bloody Guardsman” and the “Mayfly Man” cases. It seems that the wedding photographer was a brother of one of Sholto’s soldiers that were killed in Afghanistan. He was the Mayfly man that used the women to gather information on Sholto and he was also involved in the guardsman case in which he “practiced” the method that he would ultimately use in his attempt to kill Sholto.
Then, as the episode comes to a close, Sherlock has also deduced that the new Mrs. Watson is expecting a child. But as the reception continues Sherlock starts to feel uncomfortable, suddenly awkward and very alone as his friends and wedding guests seem to be enjoying themselves and the final scene shows him leaving building and walking into the night.
Ideas and suggestions inspired by John and Mary’s wedding
When planning a wedding there are many customs and traditions to include during the ceremony and reception. In the Sherlock “Sign of Three” episode viewers got to see John and Sherlock at the stag party, the beautiful wedding ceremony and reception sites, Sherlock’s rather unusual toast to the newlyweds, the special first dance waltz that Sherlock composes for the bridal couple and Mary’s lovely wedding dress.
John Watson’s stag party
One of the more rambuctous traditions of a wedding is the stag party (known as the bachelor party in the United States). Often the party is planned by the best man and usually takes place a few days before the wedding and will frequently involve drinking and entertainment. In the “Sign of Three” episode, Sherlock consults his friend Molly Hooper (played by Louise Brealey), who is a pathologist at a local hospital in London. She helps him to calculate the exact amount of alcohol that Sherlock and John should consume that would make them tipsy but not falling down drunk. The night of the stag party Sherlock and Watson visit several bars where they drink 437 milliliters of beer at a time from special tall cylinders to keep track of their alcohol intake but despite these efforts to remain somewhat sober the pair becomes very intoxicated. As luck would have it, that night they are called by Detective Lestrade to assist in a case and the results are rather hilarious as Sherlock and Watson try to solve it in their drunken state!
Sherlock television show wedding venues
Selecting the ceremony and reception sites is one of the most important decisions for a wedding since it will set the tone for entire event. In the “Sign of Three” episode, the wedding ceremony of Doctor John and Mary Watson was filmed at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sneyd Park in Bristol and the wedding reception at the Orangery at Goldney Hall located at the University of Bristol in the village of Clifton.
St. Mary’s Church in Bristol was designed by the architect John Norton and built between 1858 and 1883. In the Sherlock episode viewers will only see the exterior of the church and the bridal party is briefly shown exiting from the main entrance which is located at the base of the church tower.
The Orangery at Goldney Hall is located in Clifton Village was built in1724 and originally featured a glass roof which was later replaced with tile. Perhaps the most charming aspect of the site is the long room with several French doors that open directly out to the gardens. Nearby there is also a water canal and a grotto constructed with over 200 different types of shells and quartz crystals. In 1953 the property was given by the Goldney estate to the University of Bristol. The Orangery was used effectively as the setting for John and Mary’s wedding reception in the “Sign of Three” episode.
Sherlock’s best man speech
Customarily at the wedding reception, several members of the wedding party will give speeches honoring the bride and groom. In the “Sign of Three” episode Sherlock begins his much anticipated best man speech. He startles the guests with his rather harsh views on marriage, insulting many of his friends gathered in the room and then he finishes the speech in a surprising and sentimental way.
Sherlock’s special “Waltz for John and Mary”
Often adding personalized elements to a wedding add character and interest to a wedding celebration. As the “Sign of Three” episode comes to a close, Watson and Mary take to the floor for their first dance as a married couple as Sherlock picks up his violin and plays a special song written for the occasion, perhaps Sherlock really does have a bit of a romantic heart!
Mary’s wedding dress
Finally, one of the most important items that a bride will select is her wedding dress and once again the selection will reflect her personal style. The dress worn by the character of Mary Watson (nee Morstan) was made by Jane Bourvis, a London designer that specializes in the style of the 1920-30s. Mary’s dress features antique silk and satin embellished with lovely lace, tulle and beautiful embroidery.