The Sign of Three
The sign of three title card
Vital statistics
Episode Series 3, episode 2
Director Colm McCarthy
Writer Stephen Thompson, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss
Producer Susie Liggat and Sue Vertue
Air date 5 January 2014
Length 90 minutes

The Sign of Three is the second episode in the third series of the BBC series Sherlock, first aired on 5 January 2014. It was written by Stephen ThompsonSteven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and directed by Colm McCarthy. The episode centres around the wedding of John Watson and Mary Morstan, and the murder attempt made at that wedding.


The Waters gangEdit

Waters gang

Two members of the Waters gang.

The Waters gang rob several banks over London, and Greg Lestrade is increasingly angry at the police’s inability to catch the criminals. Wearing clown face masks, the Waters family take all the gold from a bank’s vault. Greg and Sally Donovan wait outside and then decide to move and attempt to arrest them. Greg received a number of texts from Sherlock Holmes asking for his assistance. He travels hurriedly to 221B Baker Street, after requesting maximum back-up. Once in Baker Street, Sherlock asks him to help write the best man’s speech at John Watson’s wedding.

The morning of the weddingEdit

On the day of the wedding, Sherlock dances along to a recording of himself playing a song for the wedding. Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock discuss the wedding, with Sherlock not dismissing the importance of marriage. After forcing her to leave, Sherlock takes his suit from the wall.

In a small room, a man slowly puts on a military uniform. His left arm does not function and half of his face is badly scarred.

At the weddingEdit

John and Mary Watson leave the church for photographs. Sherlock talks with the chief bridesmaid Janine, who jokes about having sex with him. Later, John, Sherlock and Mary greet guests entering the hall, including Mary’s ex-partner David. Sherlock previously met David and told him to stay away from Mary, believing that David still fancied her. Archie, a young boy, runs up to Sherlock and hugs him. It is revealed that Sherlock gained Archie’s favour by showing him pictures of corpses.

The guests mill around inside the hall. Molly Hooper and Tom have a photograph together, as Greg sits and drinks alone. Janine and Sherlock converse again, with Janine getting him to deduce information about possible partners. John says that his sister could not make it, as Major James Sholto arrives. John and his former commander talk about their life since returning from Afghanistan.

Sherlock rings Mycroft Holmes, who has been working out. He asks him to come to the wedding but Mycroft says he will not come. Mycroft warns his younger brother not to get involved, reminding him of Redbeard.

Sherlock's speechEdit

After the guests eat their meals, Sherlock begins his best man’s speech.

A while before the wedding at St Bartholomew's Hospital, Molly confronts Greg about the possibility of Sherlock being John’s best man. Molly later rang Mrs. Hudson about her concerns too. This caused Mrs. Hudson to laugh hysterically, so loudly that John came to check on her.

Sherlock read out the telegrams, with messages from Mike Stamford, Stella and Ted and Cam. Sherlock then tells the guests about the time when John asked him to be his best man. Sherlock says he was flattered and surprised by the decision, though did not say so out loud.

The Bloody GuardsmanEdit

Sherlock goes on to recall the case of The Bloody Guardsman. More than two weeks before the wedding, Mary, John and Sherlock were organising the wedding. Mary got John and Sherlock to go out on a case together, following up on a message from Private Stephen Bainbridge who thought that someone was stalking him. Sherlock and John travelled to Wellington Barracks where they found that Stephen had been stabbed in the stomach. John realised that he was still alive and was able to save him.

Sherlock holmes at the wedding

The guests listening to Sherlock's speech.

At the wedding, Sherlock asks the guests to solve the case. None are able to and Sherlock reveals he does not know either. Sherlock then goes on to tell the story of his and John’s stag night and the case of the Mayfly Man.

The stag night and the Mayfly ManEdit

Before the stag night, Sherlock carefully measured the amount of alcohol so that he and John remained in the sweet spot all night. However in one pub, John added extra alcohol to Sherlock’s drink. After becoming extremely intoxicated, the pair returned to Baker Street. Tessa arrived and told her story to John and Sherlock. She had met a man who apparently was dead, causing her to believe she had dinner with a ghost. They travelled to the flat of the dead man, though Sherlock’s drunkenness meant that he was unable to deduce properly and ended up vomiting on the floor.

The next morning, Greg arrived at the police holding cell to get Sherlock and John out. They both say the evening was awful, with Sherlock lamenting missing Tessa’s case. John and Mrs. Hudson had breakfast together and they discussed her experience with her husband. Upstairs in 221B, Sherlock is messaging Tessa and four other females who had a similar experience. Sherlock realised that the man was taking the identities of recently deceased males. He tries to work out what the man was aiming to gain from his efforts.

The murder attemptEdit

Major james sholto2

James Sholto in his room.

At the wedding, Sherlock says that the Mayfly Man was trying to escape the confines of marriage. Suddenly Sherlock realises that the Mayfly Man was at the wedding, with the aim of murdering someone. He tries to work out who the Mayfly Man is, realising that it is James Sholto because the wedding is one of the rare occasion James is in public. Sherlock informs James and he returns to his room. James says that he will open the door if Sherlock solves the case, upon which Sherlock deduces that both Stephen Bainbridge and James Sholto had been stabbed by a thin knife and their tight belt had bound their flesh together. James considers undoing his belt and hence dying. However Sherlock convinced him not to, saying that he shouldn’t do that to John.

Jonathan small

Jonathan Small.

Greg returns with the wedding’s photographer Jonathan Small. Sherlock explained that he is the Mayfly Man, the brother of a soldier killed alongside James Sholto. He reveals that Stephen Bainbridge’s attempted murder was a rehearsal for the real murder attempt.

Later, Sherlock plays his composed song for John and Mary on his violin. Mary and John waltz together before Sherlock makes a vow, pledging to protect the newlyweds. He also accidentally announces that he believes Mary is pregnant. As all the other guests begin to dance, Sherlock leaves because he has no one to dance with.


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