Other fans may or may not agree with me, but I think "The Empty Hearse" was definitely worth the two-year wait! It was worth it for John's reaction to Sherlock's resurrection alone, which was better than anything I could have ever imagined. Lestrade's reaction too, for that matter. I had to rewind and watch it again because it was beyond adorable. And I'm entering into spoiler land. I'd better insert a cut.
My brain is so busy squeeing that I'm not sure if I'm even forming proper sentences. I think I'll just list some of the things I loved about this episode. First of all, I thought this was a great modern take on "The Empty House". Okay, obviously it departed quite a bit from canon, but it paid homage to many elements from the original short story. One of my favourites was the old patient who John was convinced was Sherlock in disguise. Great reversal on the old bookseller disguise from "The Empty House," only this time it's a man with a dirty DVD collection who isn't Sherlock, rather than Holmes disguised as the old bookseller and completely fooling Watson. I'm glad they brought in Moran. I'm still not sure how I feel about the exploding train plot, though I guess it counts as an attempt on Sherlock's life as Sherlock was on the train when the bomb started counting down. They did have a Sherlock double, though it was used in the Sherlock version of "The Final Problem" and was a corpse rather than a wax dummy standing in the window of 221B. Speaking of "The Final Problem," I was thrilled when John started reciting that famous speech of Watson's (e.g. "...the best and wisest man whom I have ever known"), even if he later made Sherlock promise not to tell anyone he'd said it.
I'm not sure why people were giving Amanda Abbington such a hard time. I thought she was wonderful as Mary Morstan. She was funny, smart and actually liked Sherlock, even though he had acted like a complete bastard. I love the way she told Sherlock that she would bring John around and actively encouraged John to forgive Sherlock and renew their friendship. That is very canon Mary Morstan. She knew her husband needed to be involved with Holmes's cases and never stood in the way of that. Saying all that about Mary, I thought Mrs. Hudson's reaction to John's news about his almost fiancée was absolutely priceless. Like the Johnlock shippers, she just can't accept that Sherlock and John aren't together, even when John loudly insists (repeatedly) that he's not gay. Oh, another moment that made me howl was when Sherlock admitted that the clients he kicked out of the flat were actually his parents. His disappointingly ordinary parents. I had to rewind and watch it again to see if what I'd suspected was true. It was. Sherlock's parents were, in fact, Benedict Cumberbatch's parents, Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton.
Okay, I'll just finish off with the references I noticed. I'm positive that there were at least two quotes taken from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, though, at the moment, I can only remember the one. The Sherlock Mrs. Hudson actually quotes Mrs. Hudson from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes when she says, "I'm sure there's a crying need for that". Damn. I really wish I could remember the other quote they threw in. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more than two given Gatiss and Moffat's love of the film (which I totally get). Anywaaaaaay, moving right along, I loved the reference to "The Blue Carbuncle" with Sherlock and Mycroft's examination of the woollen hat, not to mention Sherlock's almost fond observation that Mycroft is lonely. Is he trying to set Mycroft up with Lestrade? I could be imagining things, but I get the feeling (and have had the feeling since "A Scandal in Belgravia") that Lestrade is into Molly given that he wanted to know if Molly would be Sherlock's permanent assistant and if she was serious about her Sherlock clone fiance. And I'm wandering again. Uh...Oh! Liked the reference (with a modern twist) to "A Case of Identity" and the very clever nod to the famous Giant Rat of Sumatra with the Sumatra Road Station. I'm assuming that Moran was the giant rat. *g*
I'm sure there's more I could say, but my brain is still trying to process everything I just saw. I have a feeling that I'd have to watch "The Empty Hearse" multiple times to get everything, so EXCELLENT job, Mark Gatiss. You've made me an extremely happy fan!