Writer Guy’s Analysis #2:


The Sign of Three

David: “They’re right about you. You’re a bloody psychopath.”
Sherlock: “High functioning sociopath. With your number.”

To be very honest, I never really liked the old Sherlock Holmes books. I always found Holmes extremely infuriating, and the plots simply ridiculous…

Of course, I am more of an Agatha Christie fan anyway…

What did get me interested was the Sherlock Holmes movie, with Robert Downie Jr and Jude Law. The street-smart, insane portrayal of the world’s favourite sociopath definitely piqued my interest.

However, this is definitely my favourite version of the character, and this particular story is very my favourite among them all, the reasons for which are as follows…



This is the first thing you need to know about this series. Unlike the books and the earlier movies and TV shows, this one is set in modern London, and it works perfectly!

It really shows you that despite the passage of time, the true heart of that city has remained intact.


The plot is generally based largely on the original stories, which retain their essence despite the time jump.

Some critics has pointed about that the series in general, and this episode in particular, focus too much on character development, often at the cost of the compactness of the plot.

However, in an episode 90-minutes long, I do not see why that is a particularly big deal.

In this episode, the major plotline is, obviously, John and Mary’s wedding and the subsequent reception, and the events that transpire as the evening progresses. This is all set in the present day, in the venue of the wedding/reception.

This is frequently punctuated by short flashbacks that lend context to seemingly mundane events occurring in the general timeline. The flashbacks may date back as far as 18 months before the wedding, or be as immediate as the previous day, with the location varying throughout London, or maybe throughout England.


There are three primary segments of narration used in this episode; one could argue four, if they consider the brief inclusions of newspaper clips, online chats and John’s blog as Epistolary voice, but it simply does not reveal enough information to justify a separate discussion…

The three primary narratives are as follows:

1. General Timeline:

Point of View: Third Person (Varies)
Voice: Subjective (Sherlock)/ Objective (others)

Unlike the books, Watson does not serve as the narrator in this series, which in itself is a major shift. This allows for a more dynamic plot structure.

One thing that makes this series special is the way Sherlock is portrayed making his observations and deductions. This minimises dialogue and intensifies the plot.

2. Flashbacks:

Point of View: Third Person (Varies)
Voice:  Subjective (Sherlock)/ Objective (others)

These work pretty much the same way as the rest, save for the location and the timeline.

The way these two timelines intersect throughout the episode plays a major role on its overall tone and impact.

3. Mind Palace:

Point of View: First Person (Sherlock)
Voice: Stream-of-Consciousness

Now, this is my favourite part of the series, partly because I love being inside people’s heads. And the best part about this technique is that it can actually be employed in real life, though probably not to the same degree.

Another highlight of this segment of this is the portrayal of Mycroft as Sherlock’s voice of reason, which as a younger brother, I can vouch for.


All said and done, this is, in my opinion, the true USP of this series. Benedict Cumberbatch makes the best Sherlock I have ever seen. Yes, he is still obnoxious, but there is still something truly endearing about him.

Martin Freeman’s Watson is elevated beyond the dull roles of being the narrator and the foil, to an actual factor in the plot, making an adventure of two men.

And with the addition of Amanda Abbington in Season 3, the dynamics continue to shift, as her character gained more importance in the story. However, for some reason, I cannot shake the feeling that she will die soon… I hope she does not, but I think she will…

Mark Gattis’ Mycroft is definitely exceptional, serving as the perfect elder brother one could get, in a world otherwise just full of goldfish, and Andrew Scott absolutely rules as Moriarty! Yeah, I had to do that…

Even apart from these, all characters have phenomenal depth, and bring something unique to the table, thereby making even their minor roles memorable.

One should note that a very large portion of the cast and the crew are either related, or have earlier worked together, which all contributes to its success.

Okay, that is probably all, for tonight…

In next week’s post, we take a look at some of the secondary, but important nonetheless, components of fiction writing.

The week after that, we analyse the first Agatha Christie book I ever read.

So, see you soon…

Thank you…


Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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