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23 Easter Eggs, References and Tidbits You Might Have Missed In 'Sherlock: The Sign of Three'

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | January 26, 2014 | Comments ()


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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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9. Wedding Telegrams: This is not strictly a UK thing, but it is chiefly a UK thing.
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10. Mind Palace Field Trip: The place where Sherlock breaks down the Mayfly Man case is the London County Hall Debating Chamber. See?
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Oh, sorry, that wasn’t a very good view. See? What better place to have a debate with your inner Mycroft?
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11. Sitty Thing: Drunk Sherlock had a number of fun, drunken names for items, but “Sitty Thing” is my favorite by far.
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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.
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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”?
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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?
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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.”
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16. Woooo-Eeeee-Ohhh: This?
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Is absolutely a reference to this and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
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And for all you hair ruffle fanatics.
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17. Through The Looking Glass: The oversized piece of art seen here…
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…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.
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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.”
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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.
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Then again, Sherlock makes four.
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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.
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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?
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23. Who Leaves A Wedding Early?:
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Who indeed, Mrs. Hudson.
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Who indeed.
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We’ll be back next week for the last Sherlock episode in god knows how long. This about sums up my feelings about that.
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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Steve

    Did anybody else notice the horns behind "thumbs-up" Mary's head?

    Or should I just let it go?

  • Hellboy

    You missed Mary's old boyfriend, dresses the same as well as has the same hair cut at Johnny Lee Miller's version of Sherlock Holmes.

  • pancake_bacon

    Elementary's Mycroft lost weight due to "a spot of leukemia." That story element plays beautifully in the brothers' relationship.

  • I loved how Sherlock took it upon himself to vet the wedding list. And the stag night was funny. Was it a bit contrived? Yes. But I still prefer it to "The Hounds of Baskerville".

    I think part of the problem is that, with only 3 episodes a series, we expect each one to be a homerun. And they're just not going to be. Some will be great, some will be good, some will be average.

  • Stephanie

    Yes! I loved it when he was interrogating Mary's ex. "I'm a high functioning sociopath. With your number." Hee!

  • emmalita

    And the maniacal smile he gives at the end. I loved it.

  • Stephanie

    Yes, it's the smile that really sells it.

  • chanohack

    I love these posts SO MUCH.

  • NotCausingAFight

    This is my least favourite episode of the three, BY FAR. I can't believe how much of the episode was taken up by Sherlock's speech. And as much as I liked the Sitty Thing... thing, the whole Drunk Sherlock scene? Ugh. So bad.

  • Dumily

    I sort of feel like we must have watched a different show. Did you not hear "suicide by meat dagger"?

  • NotCausingAFight

    Ah yes, that part. I seem to remember cringing at how hard that bit was trying, or so it seemed to me.

  • Slim

    No mention of the repetition of "Don't Panic'? The key phrase from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - the most recent film iteration (horrid as it was) starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent.

  • Stephanie

    Also just wanted to say that I am shipping Molly and Lestrade like I'm Fed Ex.

  • Dumily

    Gavin does seem like a really nice guy. I think he'd make her happy.

  • PDamian

    "GREG!"

  • TacoBellRey

    There has been talk amongst the message boards of a Mycroft and Lestrade shipping, affectionately known as "Mystrade".

  • JoannaRobinson

    HARD. CORE. He's married with kids, right? Or did I make that up? If he's not, HARD CORE.

  • Stephanie

    Lestrade definitely was married but I think they had separated. Sherlock mentions in one episode that the reconciliation isn't going to work because Mrs. Lestrade was sleeping with someone else. Not sure about kids. So....we are free to ship him and Molly HARD. CORE.

  • alannaofdoom

    I am ride or die for #TeamWhyCan'tMollyHaveNiceThings so I support this wholeheartedly.

  • Dumily

    I'll admit the mystery itself was weak, but I just don't care. I love everything about this episode. And I would much rather have a flimsy mystery with the absolute best non- case storylines than a still flimsy mystery and non- case storylines that are so boring I can't even remember them. (The Blind Banker, I'm looking into your direction.) Also I've watched the best man speech 5 times, and I still cry. Every. Single. Time.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I admit to falling asleep and missing this last night. We were watching Black Sails and I passed out during a scene in which two men were attempting to beat each other to death. I was that tired, or the show was that boring, or both. Anywho, that link to Elisabeth of Austria was fascinating .

  • Bodhi

    I loved every minutes of it & "sitty thing" made me actually laugh out loud.

  • Allijo

    Oh, I can't wait to see how some of these unhappy tunes change after watching the final episode. I will be cross-referencing all your comments in the recap post next week. Be warned.

  • Patty O'Green

    I loved this episode (I love all three, and have watched them all at least 5 times), but the big plot issue I saw has yet to be mentioned:
    The photographer, who was guilty of almost everything Sherlock described during the wedding, didn't run the hell away! He never flinched, he never snuck out, he never got a call that required him to leave, nothing. And on top of that, he drove back all nonchalant when he got called after the wedding!! That seemed so incredibly far-fetched to me.

    Also, point number 22? Is that a personal guess, or do you know that somehow?

  • emmalita

    It's a bit spoilery for episode 3.

  • Stephanie

    I loved that their big night out at the pubs lasted all of two hours.

  • Irina

    I know the mystery bit was a little thin, but the jokes really made up for it. Loved this episode to pieces. Samples:

    "He's cluing for looks."
    "Stop smiling." "But it's my wedding day!"
    "Could you whisper?" "NOT REALLY."

  • DataAngel

    "You have to wear the suit."
    "Why."
    "Adults like that sort of thing."
    "Why."
    "I don't know. I'll ask one."

  • PDamian

    The joke I liked, even though it was out of character for Sherlock:

    Maid of honor: "You have your own handcuffs?"
    Sherlock: "Down, girl."

  • idiosynchronic

    This is Steven Moffat - Mary's going to be a complete waste of story, annoying, and won't have the good sense to go the fuck away after we all hate what Moffat has done to her, even though she started out completely amazing and wonderful.

    Yeah, i hope not too, but SM's track record has been pretty goddamn consistent.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Exactly right.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I quite liked the episode. Yes, it was really fluffy, but the dialogue was more sharply written than in the first one and the wedding scenes were good. I feared Sherlock's speech would be really, really embarrassing, but they prevented that.

    The case, however, has a huge plot hole (I might have missed something, though). Who was the nurse who knew Watson's middle name? Just a forgotten plot device?

    Edit: Oh, and all the Mary Watson fans probably will cry out in anger next episode. I know I did.

    And no, that's not a spoiler, just a prediction.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Apparently the nurse had previously seen John's middle name written on the wedding invitation envelope, though I can't quite remember how she was privy to that information either.

    Overall, it was a terrific episode. Drunk Sherlock reenacting the pub crawl from The World's End was great.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Maybe, but how is she connected to the Mayfly Man's plan? If he uses dead men's flats, how did she see his invitation/contract? Did he use the same made-up name in both instances?

  • Rachel Hunter

    The nurse knew Watson's middle name because she worked for the Major and had seen HIS invitation; not the Mayfly man's. That was the connection between all the women, they were all employed by the Major in some capacity and that's why the Mayfly Man targeted them, bit of a stretch on Moffat's part that these women were all conveniently single for the purposes of the plot.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Ah, good. I missed that. Thanks.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    And now I remember why it made sense at the time.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  • annie

    Drunk Sherlock is one of my favorite Sherlocks. And is apparently not terribly different from Drunk Benedict. And how stunning was Mary in her totally cute dress? (I love Mary. Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary.)

  • BWeaves

    I love Mary, too.

  • TacoBellRey

    Saw online that Series four starts Christmas 2014. Four episodes of Sherlock in one year! Outrageous!

  • Maddy

    I loved this episode. I'm glad they got their comparatively weaker episode out of the way on the first one. And now I wish that original quote about Mary was in there, who knew Sherlock Holmes was such a feminist? I expected not to like Mary for some reason, but she's really awesome. Sure, the plot was maybe too neat, but it was so well done that I didn't really care. And drunk Sherlock is the best Sherlock.

  • PDamian

    Aw, geez. I love this show, but this was a substandard episode. It seems that the entire show has taken a left turn into twee-land, what with all the winking and flirting and cute-ness. I like Mary Morstan, and I think she's a terrific addition, but enough with the cozy asides between her and Sherlock, and enough with the jokey scenes between Sherlock and clients. Back to the crime fighting and mystery solving, puh-leeeeeeeze.

    EDITED TO ADD: You know you watch way too much Masterpiece Theatre when an actor shows up on screen and you instantly recognize him from other Masterpiece presentations. Major Sholto (sp?) turned up at the wedding, and I yelled, "Cousin George!" (The Forsyte Saga)

  • Chris U-MacDonald

    you have to understand what all this is leading up to. Watch episode 3 and see if you still think this was substandard.
    I love this season. Sherlock did change over time and this explored it. The mysteries were a part of the canon, too.
    As Sherlock would say, "everyone is a critic." *rolls eyes*

  • BWeaves

    Agreed. I've been very disappointed in this season. It's all "Ain't I clever," but it doesn't prove it's point.

    The Mayfly man plot made NO sense whatsoever. I personally was voting for the guard being stabbed with an icicle. There was enough room for anyone to have shimmied under the shower stall, stabbed him with an icicle, and then have it melt, hence, no weapon.

    If they don't get back to actually doing a real mystery to solve, I'm going to give up on it. I hate to say it, but Elementary is beating the pants off Sherlock this season.

    To me, the biggest easter eggy thing was having Martin Freeman and his partner get fake married, when they are not married in real life, but consider themselves to be.

    P.S. Charles "No neck" Gray will ever and always be my favorite Mycroft. Just the right amount of fat, and enough gravitas to be running the entire country.

  • emmalita

    I have enjoyed this season (though I thought this episode was weak). I do hope, based on the end of next episode that the next three episodes will be more mystery focused.

  • Three_nineteen

    That's interesting, because over on AV Club Elementary fans are saying the reason it is better than Sherlock is not because of the mysteries, but because the former has Sherlock growing and changing as a character while the latter does not. It seems that this series is trying to show Sherlock growing and changing, but the majority of people don't like it much.

    Note: I watch and enjoy both shows, and don't necessarily agree with this view. In fact, I think I'm very much in the minority because for me the third episode this series is the weakest one, and lots of people have been praising it .

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I think the thing with the third episode is it has a lot of fairly clever plot twistiness, as well as what is a fairly important action taken by Sherlock as a character. That action, though, is one I would've placed at the premiere of the season as a component of how Sherlock faked his death, not at the end of this season where it ultimately has no real impact, considering how things finish.

    But yeah, I expect the praise is because it's really fairly clever and all, and there's kind of a big bad and essentially it feels a lot more like a proper episode than the previous two do. But that said, it only feels that way; it has very little actual concrete mystery or anything else going for it. And again, the thing Sherlock does at the end? That doesn't work for me there-- it's shock theater when it could've been better deployed elsewhere.

  • Linda Lupos

    I don't mind Sherlock growing and changing as a character (I do like Elementary better than Sherlock!), but Sherlock's way of doing it seems so... self-congratulatory somehow. "Oh look aren't we being funny." To me it comes off as playing to the fans rather than to the characters (see also all the theories and fanservice in 3.1). Plus I hate how Sherlock is always, ALWAYS the superior one and they let him get away with it because ~he's Sherlock Holmes~ (I haaaaaated the stunt he pulled with the bomb in 3.1). In Elementary, Holmes is still an arrogant asshole but he faces consequences for it and people only give him so much leeway. He gets to be an insufferable genius, but only to a point.
    I liked episode 3 when I was watching it, but in hindsight I started noticing the flaws. I wonder what the reactions will be next week. :)

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Though Elementary is indeed way better than people give it credit for, I thought last night's episode compensated for the lack of an intriguing mystery by telling a wonderfully staged character centric story around John getting married and how Sherlock was coping with it, which was dramatically bittersweet as was shown by his conflicting speech at the wedding.

    And the montage alluding to "the elephant room" and "the poison giant" cases was one of those gags that made me burst with laughter by how silly and brilliant it was.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Because of the character stuff, this really is my favorite episode of the set. The mysteries are a little awkward, but I can kind of buy that A) these two mysteries would have sufficiently challenged Sherlock that they might have remained unsolved (they're less clever enough to stump him than they are scant enough on evidence to do so) and B) that nevertheless Sherlock's subconscious might have connected them under the radar and sort of led into it. At least, that's the explanation I need to come up with to justify this season's absolutely rampant, and otherwise unnecessary, deviations deep into the Holmes mind palace.

    I get that it's a bit of a fanwank, but considering I'm still pretty dissatisfied by this series as a whole, I think it makes it kind of acceptable. Like, I still have deep issues, but I think this is one that is somewhat explicable. Kind of. Ish.

  • BWeaves

    And I would have been happy with a one hour character study, but what we got was 1 and 1/2 hours with 2, count 'em, 2, ridiculous mysteries that tied in directly to the wedding. The Mayfly man made no sense at all and took up a lot of time. The guard stabbing also made no sense and shouldn't have tied into the wedding either. I felt it all dragged.

  • Jim

    Thank you because I felt the same thing - that it was a 45 min episode they had to stretch over a 90min frame and a few holes opened.

    That said, Ep3 was an "ok, all is forgiven" for me.

  • Emm82

    Sorry to miss the point but I have to ask - what's Masterpiece Theatre?

  • Steve
  • Emm82

    Ah, ok - Thanks both :)

  • PDamian

    Oops, sorry. What BWeaves said. If you're of a particular age, and a dedicated public television viewer ("public TV" -- the non-profit TV network supported by the US federal government and many charitable trusts), you're all about Alastair Cook and the "Rondo" by Mousset. Check this out, beginning at about the 1:31 mark:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

    And if you're familiar with Masterpiece Theatre, you'll find this screamingly funny:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

  • BWeaves

    It's the PBS (Public Broadcasting System) network's show that airs posh British shows in America that don't air on BBCAmerica. Downton Abbey also airs under the Masterpiece heading, as did The Forsyte Saga. It used to be hosted by Alastair Cook, who would take a minute to explain what you were about to see. After he died, they've used a variety of different hosts, who don't take as much time to explain things. Last night, I don't think there were any hosts. Just a bit of voice over introducing the show.

    I remember seeing an interview with Micheal Kitchens when Foyle's War was being aired on Masterpiece Theatre. He said he liked how Masterpiece did it, because the host explained some of the 1940's WWII stuff that was going on, and put some of the plot points in perspective, as to why the characters did it one way and not another. He thought that made the show more enjoyable compared to how they aired it in England, which was they just aired it like any other show.

  • emmalita

    Egg chair sitty thing was my favorite, but then I matured and grew to love death skull deaded thing more.

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