23 Easter Eggs, References and Tidbits You Might Have Missed In 'Sherlock: The Sign of Three'
Previously: 25 Easter Eggs and References You Might Have Missed In ‘Sherlock: The Empty Hearse.’ Now that you’re all caught up on last week’s episode, here are 22 easter eggs, references and tidbits for the BBC Sherlock episode “The Sign Of Three” which was not at all based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “The Sign of the Four.” This article only contains spoilers for and discussion of this, the second episode of season/series three. Be a lamb and refrain from spoiling the season finale in the comments. By the by, if you already know all of these facts, well hark at you. A regular Sherlock Holmes you are.
1. A Way With Kids: It should be no surprise that Sherlock has a knack with young Archie in this episode. In the book rather than a “homeless network,” Holmes runs The Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street kids.
2. Way WAY Back: At one point Sherlock tells Archie that if he guesses correctly there’s a headless nun in it for him. This is an allusion to a scene in the unaired pilot in which Sherlock asks restaurant owner Angelo to fake throwing him out on the street. He does so by referencing the headless nun case.
3. The Poison Giant: Sherlock makes references to a number of his past cases with John during the Best Man Speech. This one refers to the “The Sign of the Four” in which the antagonist, Jonathan Small, has an accomplice who is a ‘small’ man who fires poison darts from a blow-pipe. Jonathan Small, for the record, is the name of the photographer/assassin in this episode.
4. Sholto: Major Sholto is another character from “The Sign of the Four” though he dies before the action of the story begins and he is, actually, a friend of Mary’s father. But he was a Major! So that one thing is the same!
5. Cause of Death: There are a lot of elements that beggar belief in this episode. Are you really telling me that the two main cases Sherlock chooses to mention in his speech end up being tied to the big mystery at the wedding?!! ARE YOU REALL-sorry. Okay but the oddest thing, by far, is this cause of death. The short stab and the long shock. Would the guard Bainbridge and Major Sholto really not feel the blade go in? Would their belt really keep them from bleeding out? I don’t know the answer, medically, but it all bears a fun/macabre, historical resemblance to the assassination of Empress Elisabeth of Austria who was stabbed and survived until they removed her corset.
6. I Cannot Congratulate You: In the episode, Sherlock’s unwillingness to congratulate John in his speech ends up being a cute rhetorical gambit. In the book, however, Holmes says he cannot congratulate John because in marrying Mary he is taking away her potential to be a detective.
Holmes describes Mary thus: “I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met, and might have been most useful in such work as we have been doing. She had a decided genius that way.” We can all agree, after watching her run both Sherlock and John, that Mary is capable of anything.
7. Slipped Into A Slipper: In the Doyle stories, Holmes “keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece.” We’ve seen him do the bit with the knife before. In this episode we see him jam a handful of cigarettes into a slipper.
8. Good Old Mike: Mike Stamford is mentioned several times in this episode. You remember Mike, don’t you? He introduced Holmes and Watson. Shame the show couldn’t spring for him to be at the wedding. Sending a telegram doesn’t really seem like Mike’s style.
9. Wedding Telegrams: This is not strictly a UK thing, but it is chiefly a UK thing.
10. Mind Palace Field Trip: The place where Sherlock breaks down the Mayfly Man case is the London County Hall Debating Chamber. See?
Oh, sorry, that wasn’t a very good view. See? What better place to have a debate with your inner Mycroft?
11. Sitty Thing: Drunk Sherlock had a number of fun, drunken names for items, but “Sitty Thing” is my favorite by far.
12. A Transparent Excuse For Spandex: The Mycroft Holmes of literature is known to be quite fat. “His body was absolutely corpulent, but his face, though massive, had preserved something of the sharpness of expression which was so remarkable in that of his brother.” In the CBS show Elementary the slender Welsh actor Rhys Ifans plays Mycroft after gastric bypass surgery. Here we see series co-creator Mark Gatiss on the treadmill and concerned about his tum.
13. Holmesian Limits: In “A Study In Scarlet,” Watson draws up a list of Sherlock’s strengths and weaknesses. Under “knowledge of politics” Watson writes “feeble” which may explain why TV Sherlock doesn’t know England has no king. But what explains his lack of knowledge about Madonna? Does that fall under “Astronomy: Nil”?
14. What’s In The Box?: In the books, the matchbox that Holmes makes reference to contains “a remarkable worm, said to be unknown to science.” Is that what was in Macellus Wallace’s briefcase? Remarkable worms?
15. Vatican Cameos!: Is both an unwritten adventure mentioned in Doyle story “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and a callback to last season’s “A Scandal in Belgravia.”
16. Woooo-Eeeee-Ohhh: This?
Is absolutely a reference to this and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
And for all you hair ruffle fanatics.
17. Through The Looking Glass: The oversized piece of art seen here…
…is obviously a reference to Sherlock’s most famous accessory. Sorry, what? The hat? Okay, second most famous access-the pipe, you say? Third most the-THE COAT? Fine. Whatever. Rank it how you like.
18. Ice Cold: One of the most pompous and weird things Sherlock says in his wedding toast? That’s a near quote from the story “A Scandal In Bohemia.” Ahem: “All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position.”
19. The Sign Of Three: The reason for the minor title change (they’ve almost all been tweaked a little) becomes clear in the third act when Sherlock deduces that Mary and John are expecting.
Then again, Sherlock makes four.
20. Hamish: This is an obscure bit of Doyle trivia. Because, as we discovered last week, Mary once calls John “James” in the Doyle books, famed British mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers speculated that the “H.” in “John H. Watson” was “Hamish” a derivative of Seamus which is, in turn, a derivative of James. Too clever by half, but this is a fun little nod to Sayers.
21. A Waltz For Mary and John: This lovely bit of music was composed by Michael Price and David Arnold. Price is the show’s regular composer.
22. C.A.M.: One of the telegrams read at the wedding is from “Cam” or “C.A.M.” or Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Big Bad of the season. Did you see Mary’s face?
23. Who Leaves A Wedding Early?:
Who indeed, Mrs. Hudson.
We’ll be back next week for the last Sherlock episode in god knows how long. This about sums up my feelings about that.