It’s finally back. Sherlock returned on January 1st, 2014 for it’s 3rd season of 90 minute episodes with The Empty Hearse. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return in their respective roles as Holmes & Watson with Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes. Gatiss also wrote the episode, inspired by “The Adventure of the Empty House” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the episode follows Sherlock Holmes’ return to London and reunion with John Watson, along with an underground terrorist network. Amanda Abbington guest stars as Mary Morstan, John’s fiance and assistant at his practice.
It is now two years after Holmes faked his death in the incidents of The Reichenbach Fall, in order to protect the people he loves. The opening scene shows a version of how Sherlock might have faked his death: by jumping from the roof with a bungee cable, bouncing back and entering the building through a window, where Molly stood waiting for him. While Sherlock absconded, members of his homeless network put a mask on Moriarty’s face so that he would look like Sherlock, and then dragged the body onto the street to the spot where Sherlock would have landed and sprayed him with fake blood. All while this happened, John was lying on the ground, his vision obscured, having just been hit by a cyclist, who was in on the plan. Derren Brown then appears and hypnotises John to give the others extra time to plant the body; this however is shown to be a conspiracy theory of Anderson. Holmes is caught by soldiers in an eastern European country and is sneaked out by his brother Mycroft, who is one of a handful of people (including their parents & Molly) who know that Sherlock is still alive. Mycroft tells his brother that he is to return to London in lieu of a threat of terrorist attack.
Sherlock must now go and meet John, who is at a restaurant planning to propose to his girlfriend Mary, when Holmes disguises himself as a waiter with a thick French accent and visits John’s table a couple of times before he notices who he is. Sherlock reveals his fraudulent death who fuelled by anger, hits him more than a few times while the former tries to explain (in one of the funniest scenes ever). As Watson will not join him, Sherlock enlists Molly to assist him in the case of an underground skeleton behind a desk containing a manuscript: “How I did it” by Jack the Ripper, revealed to be a fake planted by Anderson (now a conspiracy theorist, driven by guilt over his role in Sherlock’s defamation) to lure Sherlock out of hiding. At the end of his work day, John decides to go and see Sherlock but is drugged and kidnapped by unknown assailants. Mary receives a text telling her covertly that John has been kidnapped by unknown assailants and will die if he isn’t rescued in time, along with a location. Sherlock and Mary come to his rescue on a motorcycle, and manage to drag him out of a pyre on which a Guy was about to be burned. Sherlock & John then join forces, after Watson has recovered and briefly met Sherlock’s parents, to investigate the terrorist plot. They discover that a key figure in the plot is a politician named Moran, who with his organisation plots to blow up the Houses of Parliament during an all night sitting on the Fifth of November (Bonfire Night), to vote on an anti-terrorism bill.
Near a never-used Underground station, they manage to find an Underground carriage that was earlier seen disappearing with Moran on it, and find that it is rigged with explosives. Sherlock manages to defuse the bomb by turning the off-switch, but not before making John believe the bomb can’t be defused, causing him to panic and reveal to Sherlock how much he has missed him, to his later embarrassment In between Sherlock is seen visiting Anderson and revealing to him how he faked his death as part of a plan to round up Moriarty’s network. Sherlock tells Anderson that he and Mycroft had anticipated thirteen possible scenarios that could happen on the roof. Each possibility had a code name and a plan of action attached to it. Sherlock however, had not anticipated that Moriarty would kill himself. Sherlock then uses the code name “Lazarus” to let his brother know that his death would have to be faked. His homeless network shuts down the entire street and gets to work. John, who had no idea about this is in the cab headed towards the hospital. When John came, Sherlock made sure he stood at the right spot so that his view of the lower half of the building was blocked. The homeless network and Mycroft’s people set a large inflated cushion which allowed Sherlock to fall on safely. The people rushed to pull the cushion away and Sherlock ran to hide. Then, Molly who was near a window threw a body double on the ground.
John, who had rushed to the scene, only saw a glimpse of the body before he was intentionally knocked down by a cyclist which stalled him and allowed Sherlock to take the place of the body double and put a squash ball under his armpit to momentarily stop his pulse. The people that surrounded him then poured blood around and on him to further make the illusion, thus allowing Sherlock to fake his suicide. Anderson is unimpressed by the tale and becomes increasingly agitated when Sherlock leaves when he looks away for a few seconds, suggesting that Sherlock wanted to drive Anderson further into guilt and self-doubt by making him think the conversation never took place. Anderson questions whether that is actually how Sherlock could have done it. John asks Sherlock who abducted him and why, questions to which Sherlock has no answers yet. In the ending scene, a silhouetted figure with blue eyes wearing glasses is observed watching footage of Sherlock and Mary rescuing John from the fire.