The “Sherlock” Season 3 mini-episode, “Many Happy Returns,” has been posted online early by the good people at the BBC. Now you can watch Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the short video — the story introduces everything you need for the upcoming season.

While the exact timing of the story is not mentioned, some time has obviously passed since Sherlock Holmes’ “death” at the end of Season 2. A shaggy, obviously desperate man (probably a disgraced police detective) has compiled evidence that indicates the continued survival of Sherlock. That evidence spans the world, from Buddhist temples to European court cases.

But Detective Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) isn’t buying it. He knows Sherlock is dead.

It seems that Dr. John Watson (Freeman) sadly shares that view, even if he really, really doesn’t want to. When Lestrade shows up with an extended version of Sherlock’s birthday greeting to Watson, that becomes very, very clear. The filmed version of the detective mixes in his trademark insulting observation with some actual emotion. And of course there must be a little bit of foreshadowing too:

“I can tell you what you could do. You could stop being dead.” — Watson
“OK.” — Sherlock

The mini-episode ends with two obvious warnings of what is to come. First, Watson emotionally watches Sherlock’s birthday farewell, “Oh, and don’t worry. I’m going to be with you again … very soon.” A moment later we see Lestrade on the street, where a newspaper headline reads “The Game Is Back On.”

“Sherlock” Season 3 will premiere on Jan. 1 in the U.K. and on Jan. 19 in the U.S.

Posted by:Laurel Brown