The Sherlock Season 3 mini-episode “Many Happy Returns” was released today, and it was a doozy. With the UK premiere set just around the corner on New Years Day, it’s almost enough to make us forget that we’ve been waiting two years for this show to come back.
We see exactly how far Anderson has fallen since Sherlock’s death: out of work, slightly grimy, and manically combing through the international news looking for cases he’s sure Sherlock had a hand in. Greg Lestrade is there in the pub with him, assuring Anderson that Sherlock is gone and promising that he’ll try to get his case reviewed. As Greg leaves to visit an old friend, Anderson points out that all the cases show that Sherlock is on his way back to London.
It turns out Greg is visiting John, stopping by to drop off an unedited copy of a birthday video Greg forced Sherlock to make for Watson years ago. John says he’s not sure he’ll even watch it, so of course he immediately pours himself a drink once Greg has left and pops the DVD in.
It’s a Sherlock we’ve rarely witnessed: flustered and a bit awkward. He doesn’t know what to do or say on the video, doesn’t know why John is even having a birthday dinner when all his friends hate him. And while from anyone else that would be quite the dig, John just smiles. Sherlock isn’t going because he doesn’t want to and made up an excuse, which he won’t elaborate on because only lies have details.
In the video, Sherlock says he needs a moment to figure out what he’s going to do, and in echo back to the Season 2 finale, John tells the television, “You could stop being dead.” Sherlock replies with an “Okay,” and the entire fandom has a small heart attack. But then Sherlock settles into his old chair back in 221B, apologizes to John for being so busy and missing his party, and wishes him many happy returns. Sherlock tells him not to worry, though, he’ll be with him again soon. John’s doorbell rings, and the fandom has its second heart attack in less than a minute.
While Greg is leaving John’s flat, he notices a man reading a paper with the sports headline “The Game is Back On!” Anderson knows he’s coming back, we know he’s coming back, and all that’s left is for John to know as well.
Sherlock returns to BBC One on January 1st, and PBS on January 19th.