BBC One is currently repeating the second season of the hit show Sherlock. That’s great; the more repeats, the better. What’s interesting, however, is the fact that, hidden within each episode, is one word from the title of the season finale of Sherlock‘s upcoming third season.
This week, they aired the first of these repeats “A Scandal in Belgravia”. Hidden within that airing were the letters “H”, “I”, and “S”:
Now, you may recall that, back in August of last year, Sherlock co-creator/writer Steven Moffat teased three words: Rat, Wedding, and Bow. Prior to the series’ second season, Moffat had also teased three words: Hound, Woman, and Fall. Fans correctly predicted that those words corresponded with the subject matter of the episodes in season two. Now, for season three, we already know the second episode, “The Sign of Three”, is being referred to as the “wedding” episode; with that in mind, we can deduce that the first episode, “The Empty Hearse” (based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Empty House”) will be the “rat” episode, and that the third episode will then be the “bow” episode.
Now, given that we have the word “His” and the word “Bow”, speculation is that the third episode’s full title will be “His Last Bow”. Why is that the speculation? Because that is the title of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, of course.
If that is, indeed, revealed to be the title of the third season finale, what could it mean? Well, it’s not going to mean the death of either Sherlock or Watson; that’s for certain. For one, they already did the “death” thing. For two, both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have expressed a desire to continue playing these characters in perpetuity. For three, the show is extremely popular. Given those three factors, they aren’t just going to kill either iconic character off. What’s more, Doyle’s story His Last Bow does not kill either character (spoiler alert for a 96-year-old story). His Last Bow actually sees an older Sherlock and Watson doing their undercover thing on a globe-trekking case which lasts years. Years.
Now, I don’t have any inside information, but I’m going to go ahead and guess this episode, like all the others, will be a somewhat modernized, approximation of the Doyle story it is telling. In fact, not a single episode of the series has taken its title directly from any Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, and no episode has been entirely based on any one Doyle story. To that end, I don’t think we’ll see Cumberbatch and Freeman don any kind of “aged” makeup to look like older men. I could be completely wrong about that, but it just doesn’t seem like the style of this show. Additionally, Doyle’s His Last Bow was published during World War I, and that means it has a ton of themes and patriotic undertones that simply will not be showing up in this series, for any number of reasons. Anyone looking for an exact match with any Doyle story should have learned long ago that Sherlock is not the series for that.
What will Sherlock‘s “His Last Bow” entail (if that is even the episode’s actual title; it will probably be “His Final Bow” or something, just to differentiate it from the Doyle story)? I’d guess this is the end of the BBC series; that’s what it will entail. As much as it sucks to say, that’s what makes the most sense to me. With the careers of Cumberbatch and Freeman continuing to climb, much like Idris Elba’s situation with his character on Luther, they may just not have the time to devote to this show. I think maybe Sherlock and Watson will “retire”, and this will be the final episode that is based on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story; then we may see a situation similar to Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce where they get together every few years to do a new, original, feature-length “episode”, and hopefully that will last until such a time as neither actor will have to use any makeup to look like old men.