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Sherlock gives us a preposterous amount of exposition from John entering a room and handing Sherlock a phone.
We knew it was going to happen anyway, but John shooting the cabbie at that distance, through two windows, past Sherlock's shoulder, with a pistol held in only one hand.
It is with his right hand. John's left handed. Makes sense actually since John's war injury is not in his leg, but his left shoulder.
He also managed to disappear in the two or so seconds it took for Sherlock to reach the window and look out; he then escaped the building and was presumably downstairs waiting for the police to arrive later, looking totally calm, innocent and harmless.
In the unaired pilot, this is even more awesome- the distance is greater, there's an angle, he gets the cabbie straight through the heart, and misses Sherlock by a couple of inches- Sherlock has the cabbie's blood splattered all over his face. John then apparently flees the scene, without being seen by about fifteen cops, to dispose of the gun in the Thames.
In his interview with the mysterious and vaguely threatening Mycroft, John is so apparently unfazed by the blatant attempt to intimidate him that he ignores him to check his phone twice, prompting the annoyed line "I hope I'm not distracting you?". As Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat remark in the commentary, John had no reason to believe he wasn't about to be executed for refusing the bribe. And yet his refusal is spoken distractedly as he's reading a text from Sherlock.
Not to mention this exchange:
Mycroft: Do you plan to continue your association with Sherlock Holmes?
John: I could be wrong, but I think that's none of your business.
Mycroft: It could be...
John: It really couldn't.
Doubles with being quite hilarious - John having the nerve to hit on Anthea, whom he then believes to be associated with a criminal mastermind. Nerves of steel, indeed.
And then for the crowning moment of casual badassery from John in that sequence: on being told he's being "taken home" he comments that he "needs to stop off somewhere first." He doesn't ask, he tells. He still assumes at that point that he's been abducted by a criminal mastermind, but he's calling the shots and using said criminal mastermind's car as his own private taxi.
"A Study In Pink" is one big long Moment Of Awesome for John, really. In the scene with the corpse of the pink lady, the spotlight is on Sherlock's lightning-fast deductions, as well it should be. But that kind of overshadows the fact that John is able to give a cause of death in a ridiculously short amount of time. Presumably he can smell vomit (but no alcohol) on the corpse. He then picks up her hand and examines the fingertips, probably looking for cyanosis, which is the bluish tinge the fingers of an asphyxiated person gets. He's quick to say "probably", but he's never contradicted in his assessment of her cause of death, there or elsewhere in the episode.
In a quiet way, the drug bust was awesomeness from Lestrade. Just for a change, he's outwitted Sherlock, and for a couple of minutes has the usually mouthy consulting detective feeling just a little nervous. The way Lestrade is sprawled out all relaxed and smug on Sherlock's sofa is all you need to know about how pleased he is with himself.
Mycroft has mad stalking skills. In one afternoon he became aware of John, found out that he was a soldier with PTSD who was in therapy, spoke to said therapist, had him followed to a crime scene (probably), definitely followed part of the way back, where he gets his attention by calling every public phone he walks past, then rigs the CCTV cameras to put him in a threatened position, convinces him to voluntarily get into the car with a few choice words, drives him to a secluded location where he's ready with a chair in case John needs it, tries to bribe him, tells him half his life story, psychologically profiles and Sherlock scans him in a way that Sherlock hasn't even got around to doing yet, gives him a reverse-psychology psych lecture, then thoughtfully offers him a government car for a detoured trip back to Baker Street to tell Sherlock all about it. There are pretty much no secrets from Mycroft. None.
This, from Sherlock, after the cabbie points a gun in his face-
Sherlock: Oh, dull.
We later learn that the gun is fake. It's not clear exactly when Sherlock figured this out, but even if he knew from the first half-second he saw the gun, the comment is still awesome.
The Blind Banker
Sarah is on her first date with John, when it suddenly turns into a brawl between Holmes and some Chinese gangsters. John charges in to help, and what does Sarah do? She beats up the gangster with what appears to be a large wooden stick. Bad Ass.
Sarah: I mean, I love to go out of an evening and wrestle with a bunch of Chinese gangsters, you know, generally, but a girl can get too much.
Sarah has another Bad Ass moment. After John answers the door to the kidnappers and is knocked out cold, there's a shot of the kitchen, where he'd left Sarah. Sarah is gone, but the kitchen light is swinging. It's implied she wasn't taken unaware and did put up a fight.
John's greatest Moment Of Awesome from "The Blind Banker" is the end, where he manages to move and trigger the crossbow, thus averting the danger from Sarah and killing Sherlock's attacker in one movement. One movement of his foot. Which was, like the rest of him, tied to a chair at the time.
The fact that he then, while tied up and bleeding on the ground, assumes a second date is going to happen is awesome. Especially when he's right.
A rare dual moment of awesome from Sherlock and John: John returns home from a job interview to find Sherlock demanding he pass him a pen (he's too lazy to get one himself and preferred to wait an hour for John to pick up the pen six feet away and give it to him.) John throws him the pen and Sherlock catches it- no big deal, right? Except that John picks it up and throws it to him without looking at either the pen or Sherlock. And Sherlock catches it, despite the fact that he isn't looking at John or the pen either. It's epic- and according to everyone involved, is real, with no camera tricks or special effects. Perhaps a good indication that at this stage of their relationship, Sherlock and John are now perfectly in sync with one another.
For the moment, you can see the epic pen toss here.
John's first day at work at the clinic is an absolute disaster, thanks in part to Sherlock's keeping him up running around London and deciphering book codes for at least two days without sleep. Sarah lets him know she's unimpressed, and agrees that it's "not very professional"- but that she's covered him anyway, and taken "five or six" of his patients. Then John manages to turn what should have been an epic bollocking (and firing) into a flustered date acceptance, simply by being charming. Now that is skill. Old army friend Bill wasn't kidding when he joking calls John "Casanova" in his blog.
Sherlock accidentally knocks the A to Z guide out of some tourists' hands; he then (being surprisingly polite) picks it back up and gives it to them, excusing himself in German, and later goes back to them continuing on in that language. Apart from knowing that "Rache" was German for revenge, nowhere else do we see that Sherlock is, at the least, bilingual (and let's face it, this is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about. He probably speaks seventeen fluent languages.)
It's a bit of a rewind/pause DVD bonus, but John's resume. Apart from some of it being hilarious, (he specifically mentions time management skills, which turns into a Brick Joke that most people wouldn't even see) but Sarah wasn't kidding about him being overqualified for locum work. He refers to himself as simply a 'doctor', but his resume indicates he's not just a GP- he's a trauma surgeon.
Another one for Sarah. She noticed that one of the symbols on the picture was translated even before Holmes did.
The Great Game
Moriarty's MO in a sick, twisted kind of way. He's pretty much a serial killer, except that he's also a criminal mastermind and the killings he organizes are all crimes committed by other people, other murderers with their own incentives. He is only helping them commit the crimes and is adding his own personal touch, but they are all independent murderers and nothing can be traced to him. Also, the fact that Moriarty is so powerful and clever that he is pretty much running the entire underworld of the planet. He is the common denominator in every crime that is committed. Just as all the cops turn to Sherlock, all the criminals turn to Moriarty. And he's a psychopath and is doing it all For the Evulz, but despite being an Ax-Crazy homicidal maniac, he is still the cold and calculating "Professor" we know from the books.
Sherlock working out why the Vermeer was a fake- on a countdown of ten, the conclusion of which could have been the murder of a small child. Bonus points when it's revealed how he solves it... by remembering a line from a presentation that just happened to have been playing while he was getting an ass-kicking from an eight-foot-tall Czech hitman.
John grabbing Jim while wearing a bomb-rigged jacket, screaming "Sherlock, run!". He points out that if Jim's snipers shoot at him, they'll kill Jim as well.It doesn't work, since Jim gets the snipers to train their sights on Sherlock instead. But it's awesome, as well as being a Heartwarming Moment.
From the same scene, and on a similar note. We've so far heard from four of Moriarty's hostages. The first three (the woman, the young man, the old lady) were crying almost hysterically (and who the hell can blame them?) The little boy was frightened and pleaded for help, but was probably too young to really understand what was happening to him. John, on the other hand, is remarkably calm about the ordeal. No whimpering, no tears, no pleading, he just stands there, speaks calmly and clearly, and does what he's told. Of course, he's an ex-soldier, who's served in Afghanistan, and has probably been trained in what to do if someone takes you hostage/makes you into a bomb mule. But it's still awesome, especially when, after Moriarty leaves and Sherlock gets the bomb jacket off him and throws it away, he more or less collapses on the spot. It wasn't that he wasn't scared or stressed- he very clearly was. He just managed to keep control of himself, probably partly for Sherlock's sake and partly as a middle finger to Moriarty's attempts to intimidate him.
There's one moment in particular: Sherlock asks John if he's all right. John remains silent. Moriarty mockingly tells him that he's allowed to talk, and urges "go on." John simply nods at Sherlock. He wanted to give Sherlock an answer, but the hell was he going to talk just because Moriarty told him he could. (He really had no choice earlier but to relay Moriarty's words, but even so, his tone of voice while repeating what he's told to say is the best he can do at the aforementioned middle finger to Moriarty.)
Watch his eyes before he reveals that he's a bomb mule and not Moriarty. He's blinking out SOS so that Sherlock can pick up on it.
The final scene in the swimming pool, was one giant Moment Of Awesome for Moriarty. The guy is freakin' held at gun point, and still manages to be in complete control of the situation.
Moriarty: Well then you could cherish the look of surprise on my face. (adopts a mock lock of shock) Because I'd be surprised Sherlock, really I would, and just a little bit, disappointed, and of course, you wouldn't be able to cherish it for very long.
He tops it all of by being Dangerously Genre Savvy: He leaves them alone on an impulse, but comes back just a few minutes later, probably realising that Holmes really won't stop prying.
The cliffhanger for season 1:
Moriarty: Sorry boys, I'm so changeable. It is a weakness with me, but to be fair to myself, it is my onlyweakness. You can't be allowed to continue, you just can't. I would try to convince you, but everything I have to sayhas already crossed your mind.
Sherlock: (sniper rifles trained on him and John) Probably my answer's crossed yours. (he points his gunat the bomb jacket lying between him and Moriarty, both of whom stare each other down, as the episode ends.)
How about the quick look Sherlock and John exchange during that scene? Sherlock holds the bomb at gunpoint and is ready to shoot. Still he glances over to John, as if to ask for permission and/or forgiveness. And John just nods. Sherlock not simply shoots but he takes a moment to ask John if he agrees (even though this is a foregone conclusion; John probably can't run and even if he tried, the snipers would get him in an instant.) And John, though terrified and probably still in PTSD, just gives his silent agreement. Doubles with Heartwarming Moment and Tear Jerker.
Even better is that they exchange looks before Sherlock completely turns around. John already knows what Sherlock is about to do.
A small one for Mycroft. When Sherlock asks John about his night with Sarah and the lilo, Mycroft corrects him: "Sofa, Sherlock, it was the sofa." We don't see Sherlock get it wrong much and we definitely don't see him get called out on it.
A Scandal in Belgravia
Moriarty is still being awesome when the cliffhanger picks up where it left off. Not only does he have the stones to answer his phone, at one point he turns his back on Sherlock- and the gun Sherlock has pointed at him. His calling off the snipers by casually clicking his fingers is pretty damn awesome too.
Then we see the phone call was from Irene. Despite the fact that an incredibly powerful and psychotic criminal mastermind has just screamed abuse down the phone at her and threatened to hunt her down and skin her, she's totally unbothered by Moriarty's theatrics and simply gets back to work.
Sherlock solves a case where he never visits the crime scene- however, he interviews the witness in person, along with the investigating officer, and examines the crime scene using wifi and a webcam. Mycroft solves the same case simply by glancing at the case notes.
When the CIA charge down the stairs at Irene's and hold John at gunpoint, his sole comment is "Thank you." (For taking care of the smoke alarm he'd just set off and which Sherlock had told him to turn off.) A few minutes later, kneeling on the floor with a freaking gun to the back of his head, John snaps this at them:
John: For God's sake, she's the one who knows the code, ask her!
That's quite a lot of attitude to give someone who may or may not decide to kill you if you give them trouble.
And of course... Vatican cameos!
Don't hurt or upset Mrs Hudson. Sherlock really doesn't like that. You think for a second that he's going to go across the kitchen table after Mycroft for daring to tell her to "shut up" earlier in the episode. But later when a thug actually hurts her...the viewer is treated to a Sherlock-scan of all of the thugs possible weak points (eyes, arteries, etc)...and there's no doubt know that Sherlock is going to really mess this guy up.
Sherlock: I dislike being outnumbered. It makes for too much stupid in the room.
Sherlock then solves a hostage situation with three armed men with a few snarky remarks, a spray can and a deliciously well-placed head-butt. He even has time to roll his eyes as the gunman lets his guard down to frisk him.
As the man is bound and gagged with duct tape, held at gunpoint by Sherlock, John returns to see a note saying "CRIME IN PROGRESS, PLEASE DISTURB". He races up to the flat and asks what the hell is going on, and Sherlock simply says:
Sherlock: Mrs Hudson was attacked by an American. I am restoring balance to the universe.
Hudson herself turns out to have been faking her distress well enough to fool the CIA, John, and the audience.
And managed to snaffle the phone and hide it from the CIA while they thought she was crying.
John finally getting in an excuse to beat up Sherlock (a season's worth of repressed rage?) and pointing out that he was in the army, and does know how to handle himself. Also, he manages through all that to not break Sherlock's face.
Irene Adler enters the room, completely naked, make-up applied, and Sherlock's infamous scanning system can't make anything out about her. Is it blatant Fanservice? Yes. Is it an excellent way of showing what kind of foe Sherlock is up against? Oh God, yes!
Small and mild-mannered Dr John Watson explodes at Irene Adler, at about thirty paces away, causing her to back down, cross her arms and get defensive. She's a dominatrix, for heaven's sake, strong willed and not easily intimidated by anything.
Irene: What do I say?
John: What do you normally say?! You've texted him a lot!
Irene:... Just the usual stuff...
John: There is no "usual" in this case.
Neither John nor Mrs Hudson so much as blink when the CIA agent crashes into the bins just outside after Sherlock throws him through the window. Heavily implied that both of them, John especially, knew that if they left that guy alone with Sherlock he was in for a world of pain in some way.
The last scene, when Irene is about to be beheaded by a terrorist cell.
Mrs. Hudson: It's a disgrace, sending your brother into danger like that. Family is all we have in the end, Mycroft Holmes.
Mycroft: Oh, shut up, Mrs. Hudson.
Sherlock and John:MYCROFT!!
(cue Sherlock and John staring down Mycroft)
Mycroft:(awkward smile) A-Apologies.
Mrs. Hudson: Thank you.
Sherlock: But do, in fact, shut up.
After letting him walk all over her for the entirety of last series and most of the episode, Molly calling Sherlock out on his constantly humiliating her and getting a apology from him. A good, heartfelt one at that.
How Sherlock wins in "Scandal in Belgravia". Irene has just handed over her list of demands to Mycroft, has delivered a Hannibal Lecture that completely humiliates Sherlock and is about to leave when Sherlock interrupts.
Sherlock: Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.
Irene: Sentiment? What are you talking about?
Irene: Oh dear god. Look at the poor man. You don’t actually think I was interested in you? Why? Because you’re the great Sherlock Holmes, the clever detective in the funny hat?
Sherlock: No... because I took your pulse. Elevated. Your pupils dilated. I imagine John Watson thinks love’s a mystery to me, but the chemistry is incredibly simple and very destructive. When we first met, you told me that a disguise is always a self portrait, how true of you, the combination to your safe – your measurements. (Holds up her phone) But this, this is far more intimate. This is your heart, and you should never let it rule your head. (He starts entering digits) You could have chosen any random number and walked out of here today with everything you worked for. But you just couldn’t resist it, could you? I’ve always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.
Irene: Everything I said. It’s not real. I was just playing the game.
Sherlock: I know. And this is just losing.
He holds up her phone. The password reads: I AM S-H-E-R LOCKED.
For us male tropers and fans out there, John's attempt on making eye contact with naked Irene Adler. Many of us wouldn't be able to keep our focus on her eyes for 5 seconds, yet John manages to do it longer than us. Bad Ass, thy name is Dr. John H Watson.
The Hounds of Baskerville
The "Mind Palace". Sherlock doesn't know who's prime minister or that the Earth revolves around the Sun but he reserved a spot in his mind palace for an Elvis song.
Between Sherlock stealing Mycroft's identity and John awesomely pulling his Captain's rank, the two of them get themselves invited into a top secret military base and spend 20 minutes doing an "inspection" before they're figured out. Even when they are figured out, John in particular coolly just keeps pretending everything is normal. He starts scolding a Major about the paperwork he's going to have to fill out.
This cannot be emphasized enough: John Watson, who up until this point in the show has proven a spectacularly bad liar, pulls rank to get himself and his friend shown around a top-secret military base - and does it so effectively that even Sherlock himself merely shuts up, sits back, and watches him work.
What's so awesome about what John does is exactly as you point out: he's a horrible liar, so not one word out of his mouth during the whole tour is a lie. He introduces himself using his real name, real rank, and shows his real and valid military ID. He never claims they're doing a "spot check", he simply asks the corporal if he's ever heard of one, etc. He even works around Sherlock's lies by addressing him as "Mr Holmes". "It'll have to go in the report"? There certainly had been a mistake somewhere, and that two unauthorised people, one a civilian, managed to con their way into Baskerville was certainly going to have to go on somebody's report.
When they first meet Dr Frankland, who asks who they are, John goes for his wallet again. It's not as if he pulled rank the first time on an impulse and promptly realised it was a bad idea- he was prepared to keep doing it if it prolonged their visit to the base or made them seem more legit. And although he can't pull rank on the scary angry Major, he's the first to approach him as they exit the lift, refusing to let the guy intimidate him (and he's intimidating everyone at this point.)
Sherlock himself is pretty awesome in this scene, especially when he starts channeling Mycroft and coolly demanding to be called "sir".
Another thing about the abovementioned scene. John looks carefully at Corporal Lyons, who has yet to identify himself. He then can hardly wait for the corporal to finish speaking, and cuts off Sherlock before he can begin. He Sherlock scanned Corporal Lyons! Perhaps not as well as Sherlock himself could, if he knew what he was looking for, but John has military experience. In only a few seconds, he clearly saw: young, lower rank, skittish (he practically fell out of the jeep) easily intimidated (Sherlock ticks him for not calling him 'sir' and he freaks out a tad.) As far as John saw, this translated to "will be easy to con into letting us look around the place, the second he realises I outrank him." He was right.
Not true. The Corporal identifies himself right away, "Corporal Lyons, security". John didn't need to Sherlock scan the CPL to know he outranked him. Besides, to any military, the rank on the chest is dead giveaway. No need for John to jump through mental hoops.
Mycroft apparently putting a phone call to Baskerville to get Sherlock and John unrestricted access to the place for 24 hours. Baskerville is so secretive that the government doesn't even do inspections on it. The mind boggles as to what exactly Mycroft did or said to make it happen.
The awesome implication being that Mycroft could, and probably did, simply use his position and say something along the lines of "because I said so", and that this was enough to completely turn Baskerville upside down so that Sherlock and John- neither of whom have any official role or position that would justify them being there- have the run of Baskerville. The government doesn't inspect Baskerville because it's so hush-hush, but Mycroft can get on the phone and say "You're going to let my civilian, amateur detective brother and his ex-serviceman friend into Baskerville to do some undisclosed snooping around that's apparently connected to a 20 year old disappearance, because I said so. Thanks."
Sherlock demonstrating that his observational skills still work a charm, despite his being terrified and drugged. Especially when, the next day, he remembers the random sequence of morse code letters that John rattled off once when he was apparently not listening.
Meta-Awesome for the sheer fact that Benedict was able to say it. That entire scene was so dialogue-dense that when Mark Gatiss wrote it, he actually wrote "Sorry, Benedict" in the margin of his script. The fact that Benedict was able to do it all in the long shot they wanted was absolutely impressive for people who know about acting and TV production.
John chatting up Louise Mortimer. Despite having already had a rough night of it and not being in the mood, he approached a strange woman and convinced her to get drunk and chatty with him. She completely catches him out lying about being an "old friend" of Henry's; he so charming in admitting it she apparently doesn't care. She also apparently doesn't care that he's "trying to get her drunk", though she seems (understandably) to think this is more to do with John trying to pick her up than it is to do with getting information out of her. It's heavily implied that the only thing she's really cross about is finding out that the guy she was probably planning on sleeping with later is apparently gay. Poor John. He was so close...
In the last scene, Lestrade is the first of all of them to get himself together enough to shoot at the hound. He fires three times, but all shots miss. Then John fires; at least one of the two shots he fires hits the hound square, despite it being lit only by torchlight and everyone there being absolutely terrified (which, along with the fact that what they were seeing was technically a hallucination, has got to affect one's judgement somewhat). He later shoots the hound again, twice, and at least one if not both of those shots connect. Without using a torch this time, and at some distance, he hit a moving target in the dark. While he was drugged. Bad Ass.
Not to mention, he shoots the hound with a gun that isn't his. Guns are very unique and Henry's is a completely different make and model to the one John usually uses. He's only been holding it for a minute or two and hasn't even had a proper chance to look at it, but he adapts and makes the shot anyway.
Despite his terror earlier on that afternoon, John seems less freaked out than anyone else here- probably because unlike the incident in the lab, he has a clear escape route and a weapon.
Not to mention, when the hound first makes an appearance and everyone is pretty much packing collective death, John turns around and politely asks Lestrade "Are you seeing this...?" When Lestrade nods, he says "Right, he [Lestrade] is not drugged, Sherlock, so what is that?" In that moment of high terror, it's John who's able to use a process of elimination to deduce that the hound is real. He's right. Somewhat.
When you think about it, John's reactions while locked in the lab are pretty awesome. He's not just terrified, he's been drugged to be terrified. He's got absolutely no control over the levels of fear he's experiencing. Instead of becoming paralysed and totally irrational with fear, instead of going into a meltdown, he does everything to get himself out as rationally and calmly as possible. He's able to fully explain to Sherlock where exactly he is, that he wants out now, and then is able to go on to explain what he's apparently hearing and seeing. He's able to judge that the cage is probably the safest place to be in the entire lab. This is extra awesome when you remember that the original purpose of the drug was specifically as a weapon that would render enemy soldiers completely unable to fight or defend themselves; and the awesomeness is squared, cubed, and hypercubed when you recall John's existing post-traumatic issues. John Watson may be the baddest Bad Ass who has ever lived.
Not only that, he got the H.O.U.N.D. drug from a small airtight room where it'd been leaking for a good long time. Sherlock and Henry, by comparison, got a much lower concentration since the stuff in the fog was allowed to disperse. No wonder he was so calm when the hound finally showed up. It was a lower dose than what he'd first been introduced to.
The Reichenbach Fall
Major awesome from the terrified little boy, who while being kidnapped had enough presence of mind to write in linseed oil on the wall and use it to leave a trail, which is pretty much the only reason he and his sister were found and rescued. Unfortunately, it's possible that the criminal who looks like Sherlock did that as part of Moriarty's orders to take advantage of Sherlock's Complexity Addiction (and in some writings of Hansel and Gretel, they leave a trail of breadcrumbs for themselves).
Even more Fridge Awesome from him if such a thing exists. In the classic Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, Hansel is clever enough to see that the witch is fattening them up and takes precautions against her, outsmarting the witch before throwing her in the fire. No way the allusion to Hansel and Gretel is a coincidence. Yet the first time we see the two in the factory, they're munching the sweets like crazy. Why? It's only been a day or so since they were kidnapped, right? Probably because that boy, that brilliant boy who loved detective and spy stories, and left a message for the police to follow, saw through Moriarty's plan, and realized that candy from strangers was a bad idea, but the girl wouldn't have it. Possibly the only way to save her, was to eat the majority of the candy himself so that she couldn't have any (when the police enter, all they find of the piles of candy are wrappers). If this is true, then the boy saved the girl from a death trap that Moriarty himself devised.
John Watson punches Lestrade's boss for disrespecting Sherlock. And is promptly arrested for it.
And the actual punch is never shown. It simply cuts to the commissioner walking around with a broken face, blood streaming from his nose, and John being slammed up against the police car beside Sherlock. This leaves the audience able to fill in the gap with as awesome a scene as they like, from John getting in one good shot to him straight-up going crazy and attacking this guy.
Watch John's body language right before the scene cuts: He goes from "passive, but alert" to "right cross incoming!" just before the scene cuts. The blow would have landed literally half a second later. If you've ever been taught how to properly throw a punch, the next shot was no surprise at all (but no less delicious).
Mycroft has gone from commandeering every CCTV camera in London to hacking the ATM that John tries to use.
When John finds out that it was Mycroft who gave Jim Moriarty all the information about Sherlock, he gives him a lengthy piece of his mind that is the owning of the century. He's so taken aback that he even falters and struggles to explain himself:
Mycroft: I never inten- I never dreamt-
John: This- see, this- is what you were trying to tell me, isn't it. "Watch his back, 'cause I've made a mistake."
Sherlock faking his own death when he jumped off a building in full public view was pretty damn awesome. However it was done.
Kudos to Molly for her heavily-implied role in it. All that time spent being the butt of his jokes, and in the end he couldn't have done what he needed to without her.
And double points to Sherlock for choosing her. When Moriarty is listing John, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade as targets he says they are "everyone." He never suspected Sherlock would trust Molly so no-one was watching her.
Moriarty hacking into the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison simultaneously, underscored by Gioachino Rossini's La Gazza Ladra. The hacking part turns out to be a magnificent subversion by its own later, but the greatest moment is when the police arrest him, finding him sitting in the Queen's throne in the Tower, wearing the jewels, completely nonchalant.
Moriarty: No rush.
This exchange when Sherlock realises that he can force Moriarty to call off the snipers:
Moriarty: Nah... you talk big... Nah, you're ordinary, you're ordinary, you're on the side of the angels.
Sherlock: Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them.
This is probably the first time throughout the episode, that Sherlock has Moriarty cornered, and while it does prompt Moriarty to commit suicide so that there's no other way to save the others, it's good to see Sherlock gain the upper hand, if only for a few moments.
The "Sir Boast-A-Lot" broadcast from Moriarty, sent directly into Sherlock's cab. The broadcast makes Sherlock freak the hell out, get out of the car and start demanding answers from the driver. The driver turns around and reveals himself to be Moriarity, in the flesh. He smiles, tells Sherlock "no charge" and drives off. Not only does he manage to rattle Sherlock's cage, something that assuredly does not happen every day, but he drives Sherlock, his arch-enemy, around in a cab without the slightest bit of fear. Moriarty is officially a Badass.
At one point in the rooftop confrontation, Sherlock grabs Moriarty by the coat collar and shoves him perilously close to the edge of the four storey building. Moriarty simply blinks in surprise and lets go of Sherlock's arms, holding them out as if to signify that he's truly lost the plot now and isn't even particularly concerned if Sherlock throws him off a building. Grabbing onto something to prevent yourself from falling is a really hard instinct to override. Moriarty may seem as if he's erratic and unpredictable, but he has amazing self control.
The Empty Hearse
In order to save his brother, Mycroft learned Serbian in a couple of hours.
That shot of Parliament exploding. Just in Sherlock's head, but it's still quite impressive.
Sherlock and Mary take a motorcycle to get to John when they find out he's in danger. Sherlock doesn't stick to the roads. Mary doesn't complain once, knowing that saving John is more important than good driving etiquette and trusting that Sherlock knows what he's doing.
Before that, Mary figuring out that the texts she receives after John's kidnapping are in code and deducing what they mean.
Sherlock owning Mycroft with the Deductions game. Technically Mycroft wins the game but Sherlock has the moral victory. He knew all along the man wasn't necessarily isolated, he just wanted to bait his brother into explaining it.
Sherlock: Anyone who wears a hat as stupid as this isn't in the habit of hanging around other people!
Mycroft: Not at all. Maybe he doesn't mind being different. Doesn't mean he has to be isolated.
Mycroft: I'm sorry?
Sherock: He's different, so what. Why would he mind? Why would anyone mind?
Mycroft:[realising what Sherlock is implying] I'm not lonely, Sherlock.
Sherlock figuring out that the bomb probably has an off switch somewhere. Sherlock only figuring that out because John has the presence of mind to make Sherlock look for information about bombs in his mind palace even though Sherlock doesn't think he has any useful information at first.
Sherlock, chained, bloodied, and beaten, manages to deduce his torturer out the door.
The first and third ideas tossed forth (not the second) about how Sherlock survived the fall.
On a meta level, the creators came up with an absolutely brilliant solution to explain how Sherlock survived his fall. Since no explanation was going to be sufficient or believable by anyone considering the ridiculousness of the scenario, the creators just went, " Fuck it, we'll throw a BUNCH of theories and leave it ambiguous!"
The Sign of Three
While everyone's busy trying to solve the murder of a guardsman, John realizes that the man in question is still alive and manages to save his life.
John taking charge of the (attempted) murder scene at the barracks is one of his most badass moments that doesn't involve getting violent. After taking Major Reed's insults he finally gets him to shut up, sends the sergeants scurrying to follow his orders, and saves Bainbridge, who would have died if John hadn't gotten Reed to back down from arresting him. It's so fantastic to see Captain John Watson, MD in action and Martin Freeman brings such authority to the scene, he even gets an awesome little speech:
John: Major, please. I'm John Watson, Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers, three years in Afghanistan, a veteran of Kandahar, Helmand and Bart's Bloody Hospital.Let me examine this body![Sergeant releases him] Thank you. [He takes off his jacket and gets to work]
He then proceeds to shout orders at the other soldiers to call an ambulance when he realises the man is alive as well as instructing Sherlock to act as a nurse.
When he gets the impression that Sherlock is in danger, Lestrade immediately summons all the back-up he can get. We never get to see all of it, but it includes multiple sirens and a helicopter. It turns out to not be necessary, but it was still awesome.
Janine the bridesmaid definitely wins points here. At first it seems like she's yet another average person Sherlock will belittle and brush off, forgetting about her for the rest of the episode. Not only does she brush off his brush off, but she almost immediately buddies up with him and carries on like they're old friends. By the end of the episode he smiles at her, flirts back, and demonstrates his love of dancing for her. There's a lot to be said about someone who can make Sherlock Holmes comfortable enough to do that.
Mary gets a small one. When Sherlock and John leave the reception to go after Sholto, John tells Mary to stay there. It takes Mary about three seconds to pretty much go "sod that" and go help Sherlock and John.
We get to see how clever Mary really is and why John must have fallen for her. Like John she has a much better sense of human nature than Sherlock (she tells John not to break down Sholto's door because she's already figured out Sholto has been convinced not to let himself die, even though she's just met him and can't see him) but like Sherlock she's an excellent manipulator, though in a positive way! She convinces both John and Sherlock separately to come up with a case so they can help each other de-stress, she can see through Sherlock's fibs ("I'm not John"), she can push him in the right direction to solve a case, and the two of them are comfortable with touching each other, which is a big deal. Like John she seems quite ordinary, but you have to be pretty special in some way for Sherlock Holmes to consider you a friend.
Even if he was a complete bastard, and even if he wasn't the most memorable villain on this show, the Mayfly Man's plan to infiltrate John's wedding was one of the most ingeniously simple schemes that we've seen so far here. He needed to slip into a private wedding and commit a murder under the noses of two private detectives and a whole gaggle of Scotland Yard cops, then slip out again without a trace. And he almost pulled it off. How? He posed as the wedding photographer. Wedding guests always ignore the photographer, and the photographer is the one person that never shows up in any wedding photos.
His Last Vow
John expertly disarms a knife-wielding junkie and sprains his arm. No, not breaks, sprains. He then saves his drug-addicted neighbor from himself.
Watson: I'm a doctor, I know how to sprain people.
Throughout that entire scene Watson is as sarcastic and unthreatened by his attacker as humanly possible. Sherlock's definitely rubbed off on him.
John was usually cool and sarcastic in the face of danger (a slight exception would be The Great Game when he was wearing a semtex vest, had snipers trained on him and he was worried about Sherlock, but even then he was more collected than any of the other hostages). When he and Sherlock barely knew each other and he thought Mycroft was a villain straight out of the movies, John only betrayed his anxiety when Mycroft got up close and personal about his [not] shaking hand.
John: I'm asking you if you've seen Isaac Whitney and now you're showing me a knife. Is it a clue? [Wiggins gestures for him to get the fuck out] You doing a mime?
Wiggins: Go! Or I cut ya!
John: Ooh, not from there. Let me help. [Steps closer] Now, concentrate: Isaac. Whitney.
Wiggins: Ok, you asked for it. [John wrenches Wiggins' arm and drops him in 5 seconds; he squats next to Wiggins and speaks in a low, confident tone. It's more than a tiny bit sexy.]
John: Right. Are you concentrating yet?
Wiggins: You've broke my arm!
John: Nope, I sprained it.
Wiggins: It feels squishy! It supposed to feel squishy? Feel that!
John: Yeah, it's a sprain. I'm a doctor, I know how to sprain people. Now where is Isaac Whitney?
Wiggins:[Cowering] I dunno! Maybe upstairs?
John: There ya go [pats him on the leg], wasn't that easy?
Wiggins: No, it's really sore! Mental, you are!
John: No, just used to a better class of criminal.
Wiggins deducing expertly that John is bored with domestic life based on the creases in his shirt, despite never being trained and also high.
After he's terrified Sherlock's fans into leaving, Mycroft turns to John:
Mycroft: I hope I won’t have to threaten you as well.
John: Well, I think we’d both find that embarrassing.
Sherlock pushing Mycroft up against the wall, after he mouths off. Though he was high at the moment.
Sherlock deducing in three seconds precisely how to fall in order to maximize his chances of survival after being shot by Mary. Having minimized the chance of bleeding out, he then focuses on happy memories of his childhood dog Redbeard to counteract fatal shock. Finally, he claws his way up from being clinically dead, apparently restarting his own heart through will, purely to protect John.
It's a scene implied but not shown, but... Sherlock escaping hospital despite being seriously injured after being shot by climbing out an (at the least) second storey window.
After you see all the stunts Mary pulls off, remember that she's pregnant at the time. That's one Badass assassin.
Obviously, what Mary did when confronting CAM wasn't good, but the image of her wearing a black knit cap on her head, a bulletproof vest over her pregnant stomach, and holding a gun is awesome. Pregnant Badass, indeed.
Mary flips a 50p piece in the air and shoots a hole clean through it. Looks like she's an even better crack shot than her husband. And remember Sherlock deduces her as short-sighted...
Combined with some Fridge Logic is this: Mary successfully deluded Sherlock for months. Think of it, Irene only managed to stall his Sherlock Scan somewhat with her nudity, he still made the right deductions about her by the end of the episode. Moriarty fooled him with some carefully-planted false signs, but was only in his presence for a few minutes and was out of Sherlock's focus most of that time. But Mary - first Sherlock applied to her an unusually thorough Sherlock Scan that failed to uncover the truth and then she lived in his presence for months. They were seeing each other and having interactions on a regular basis while she knew what Sherlock is capable of. And she still managed to hide the truth well enough that he didn't even had any suspicions. That was probably the most impressive feat someone like that was capable of.
Sherlock resisting his pain and staying up long enough to reveal Mary's identity to Watson, all the while running low on Morphine.
Sherlock completely undoing all of Magnussen's power and protecting Mary by calmly taking John's gun and shooting him in the head.
Sherlock managing to live in a drug den without even being noticed.
When Janine visits Sherlock in the hospital, she tells him, "This must be paradise - they actually attach the drugs to you." While she's there, he ups his morphine dose. After she makes this comment and leaves, he lowers it.
"Did you miss me?" Yes, Jim. Yes, we did.
Though he gets shot for his trouble, you have to give it up to Magnussen for being one of the few villains (possibly the only villain) to genuinely outsmart Sherlock. Sherlock's plan was to give Magnussen Mycroft's laptop full of state secrets, knowing that it had GPS on it. This would allow Mycroft and his men to track the laptop to Magnussen's compound where, upon finding him in possession of illegally obtained state secrets, they would have legal cause to search the rest of his house and find his underground vaults full of blackmail material. It would have worked perfectly except for one little wrinkle: There never were any vaults! Magnussen simply has a memory to rival that of Sherlock's own. The "vaults full of blackmail material" are his own version of Sherlock's "mind palace". He just got Sherlock to hand him over classified information for nothing!
Although one could argue that revealing his memory palace also exposed its painfully obvious weakness (i.e. the threat of blackmail evaporates the instant Magnussen dies) was incredibly stupid of the man.
In addition to Sick Burns, it would seem that making pants-crappingly terrifying Threats is another Holmes Trait. It must bee seen to be believed.
Mycroft: That name think you may have just heard? You were mistaken. If you ever mention hearing that name in this room in this context, then I guarantee you, on behalf of the British Security Services, that materials will be found on your computer hard drives resulting in your immediate incarceration. Don't reply, just look frightened and scuttle.
John mentioned in one of his blogs that the sniper could've been Moran. It's possible he's right.
John's blog describes this incident in "The Geek Interpreter". What ISN'T awesome about:
Which is why Sherlock and I ended up, dressed as ninjas, fighting a comic book geek in Soho.
The sheer amount of real world people saying "I believe in Sherlock Holmes."
There's a map. And this is only the people that managed to get onto Google Maps, which is hardly a fansite.
In this blog post, everyone immediately tells a troll saying Sherlock was a fake to piss off.
In "Many Happy Returns," Anderson, of all people, has successfully pieced together Sherlock's involvement in mysteries all around Europe AND concluded that he's on his way back to London.
The show only does three episodes a series, and in four years there have been just three series. It's the creators' decision. Now look at the results.
The 2014 Emmys, where after two seasons of being bridesmaids but the never the bride. Sherlock had a sweep. Steven Moffat won for Best Screenplay for a TV Movie or Mini-Series for "His Last Vow", Benedict and Martin won for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie of Mini-Series (becoming the first pair of actors to play Holmes and Watson to win major awards and on the same night), as well as Emmys for Editing, Cinematography, Best Music, and Sound Editing. The only two it didn't get were Best Director and Best TV Movie (admittedly there was some pretty tough competition from HBO and FX.)