As you might suspect, "Dr. Who"/"Coupling"/"Sherlock" writer-and-mastermind Steven Moffat is a fan of mind games. Last weekend at the Edinburgh TV festival he appeared in a panel with fellow "Sherlock" co-creator Mark Gattis, producer Sue Vertue, and Professor Moriarty himself (actually some dude named Andrew Scott) to drop a trifecta of clues about what we can expect from the three new 90-minute Holmes episodes coming in fall 2013. Moffat's clues were:
Intriguing! This isn't Moffat's first foray into television cryptology; at the onset of Sherlock's second season he gave us the code words "Woman," "Hound," and "Fall" to tease at episodes based on "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and "The Final Problem," in which detective Holmes' luck turns sour at Reichenbach Falls.
In hindsight, Moffat's first volley of clues didn't stray far from the literal. Speculation about season three's clues has, so far, followed a similar blueprint. Here's what we've deduced:
- Could be a reference to the story-within-a-story Sherlock alludes to in Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" (please say there are vamps in ssn 3). At a point during his investigation of alleged bloodsuckers Sherlock turns to his hetero life-mate and says, "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson ... It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared." Perhaps now the world is finally prepared enough. Or, more abstractly, maybe we're talking about a "rat" of the mobster slang variety: a scoundrel, a dirty traitor. Could we see Sherlock or Watson pegged as traitors to their country, to a cause, to each other?
- Speculation on this clue's meaning so far has revolved around "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor," a story in which the bride of a notorious nobleman goes missing at their wedding reception. We'd much rather see Sherlock and Watson finally tie the knot, consummating the bromance that drives the series.
- Since we're only getting the text interpretation of this code word, its pronunciation and meaning remain elusive. It could be a bow like a curtsy, or curtain call, which feeds rumors that this episode will focus on "His Last Bow," a spy story set during WWI that is uniquely told from a third-person narrator and not John Watson. It could also mean bow in the sense of "bow and arrow," because archery is so hot right now and, let's be real, who doesn't want to see Benedict Cumberbatch loosing arrows into some sexy vampire's forehead?
Now it's time to put your goofy detective caps on and tell us: what do you think season three of Sherlock has to offer? Filming starts in January, so get those theories frothing.