Life lessons I learned from 'Sherlock' season 3

Mustaches, mind palaces, and matchmaking: Crave's Bonnie Burton shares what she learned from season 3 of the hit BBC series.

There's more to Sherlock Holmes than his sharp observation skills and a mind palace full of facts.
There's more to Sherlock Holmes than his sharp observational skills and a mind palace full of facts. BBC One

The "Great Detective" is more than just a giant brain covered by a mop of brown hair and the occasional deerstalker hat. While it may seem like he's in control of every situation and everyone in it, Sherlock Holmes still manages to learn a few valuable life lessons in the latest season of the hit BBC show "Sherlock," and they're lessons we can all benefit from.

Here are some tips I gleaned from "Sherlock" season 3, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which fans can watch in its entirety for free at PBS.org.

As you may have already deduced, there are many spoilers ahead, so stop here if you haven't seen the show yet.

Make friends who have medical training
Faking your own death, solving crimes using forensics, and even being slapped back into reality from spending too much time in a drug den... all these require a special kind of friend like forensic pathologist Molly Hooper. Very few of us need friends with access to high-powered microscopes, DNA testing machines, restricted chemicals, and a spare corpse to fake our own deaths with, of course. But having a doctor like John Watson in your group of friends could prove to be handy. Doctors can be much more useful than looking up health issues online. After all, a real doctor can at least diagnose that you have the flu rather than that rare rainforest disease WebMD convinced you you've contracted.

Bored children love a good mystery
When Sherlock is tasked with helping Watson and Watson's fiancee Mary Morstan assign responsibilities to various members of their wedding party in "The Sign of Three," we not only see Sherlock set Mary's ex-boyfriend straight and impress the bridesmaid, but we also witness the socially awkward detective actually bond with a small child. Archie, an inquisitive little boy in the wedding party, might be bored with his wedding duties, but he's quickly impressed by Sherlock's forensic photos of maggots, dead bodies, and beheadings.

It's not too shocking to discover that kids love gross things like insects and severed heads, but we also see why Archie gives Sherlock a hug on sight. Sherlock treats young Archie like a short adult. He doesn't just let Archie see disgusting photos, he also takes the little boy's suggestion seriously when solving a murder mystery during his best-man duties. Sage advice when dealing with any children -- challenge them and you won't be disappointed.

Sherlock may not have the best interpersonal skills with adults, but he treats children like grown-ups eager for a challenge.
Sherlock may not have the best interpersonal skills with adults, but he treats children like grown-ups eager for a challenge. BBC One

Beer experiments could cloud your judgment
Gathering clues and deducing connections are useful skills, and if you're Sherlock Holmes they're so commonplace they've become muscle memory. But the powers of observation, even at Sherlock's genius level of intuition, can be clouded by numerous pints of beer. It's amusing to watch Sherlock collect information at a crime scene while inebriated. To be fair, the endless pints were part of a clever but boozy experiment to determine how much alcohol he and Watson should ideally consume during his bachelor party, complete with a bar fight and silly party games. But always remember that when you're a few pints in, you're not as sharp as you think you are.

If you do crazy things, prepare for crazy theories
In season 2 of "Sherlock," dominatrix Irene Adler faked her own death to protect herself against her adversaries, and to fool Sherlock into helping her. All she needed was a body and fudged DNA results. Sherlock needed a bit more than that. To fool Watson, who was watching him jump from the hospital roof, Sherlock needed physics, a bungee cord, prosthetics, and a body double. Or so we thought. Not only did the long hiatus between seasons 2 and 3 spawn numerous Sherlock death theories online, the first episode of season 3 -- "The Empty Hearse" -- made fun of the more extreme theories involving everything from famous British mentalist Derren Brown to fan-fiction-worthy scenes of Sherlock kissing both Molly and a rather giggly Moriarty. So remember, if you want people to know the truth about you, tell them yourself; if you'd rather have them making up wild stories, just wink.

One of the many theories on how Sherlock faked his death involved this squee-worthy kiss between Holmes and the girl who mattered, Molly Hooper.
One of the many theories on how Sherlock faked his death involved this squee-worthy kiss between Holmes and the girl who mattered, Molly Hooper. BBC One

Observant friends make perfect matchmakers
In "The Sign of Three," Sherlock awkwardly acts as best man at Watson's wedding, giving one of the most tear-jerking wedding speeches ever on TV. But we really see Sherlock excel when using his abilities to deduce which groomsmen and other male attendees are suitable for dating. The lesson? Perceptive friends come in handy for those of us looking for love. They can help us weed out the soul mates from the hookups and train us to start paying attention to others' body language and social cues to deduce when we're not getting the entire story from someone special. After all, if we don't take a closer look at the subject of our affections, we could get crushed by disappointment and heartache. Like, um, Janine does.

Mustaches aren't for everyone
At the start of Season 3, we see Watson with a mustache and not much explanation. Is it for Movember? Is it from post-Sherlock-stress syndrome? Mrs. Hudson thinks it ages him. Sherlock mocks it. Even Watson's fiancee hates it. Luckily for Watson, fans found it so endearing there's a tea named after it. However, Sherlock (even with Cumberbatch's chiseled cheekbones) can't pull off a John Waters-esque mustache drawn on his face as a last-minute disguise to fool Watson before revealing that he is, in fact, alive. Moral of the mustache? Not everyone is meant to wear facial hair like a badge of manly honor. If all else fails, ask your loved ones if they honestly worship your whiskers.

A mind palace can save a life, maybe even your own
As a memory technique for recalling facts, people, places, and events quickly, Sherlock turns to the "mind palace," a memory technique invented by the ancient Greeks. We've seen it in action many times as Sherlock delves deep into the recesses of his mind to make connections between clues that astound everyone from villains to vixens. But in season 3, he uses his mind palace not only to find a killer at Watson's wedding, but also as a place of sanctuary after being shot in the episode "His Last Vow." Personifications of his brother Mycroft and of Molly Hooper talk him through how to fall, react, and stay alive after being shot.

While not everyone needs to be critically wounded to create a mind palace, it can come in handy as a way to visually store memories and useful information. This could be a great technique to study, whether you memorize the "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" in case you need to defuse a bomb -- or just want to remember every joke on "The Big Bang Theory."

The biggest mystery of season 3 isn't how Sherlock faked his own death, but why Watson was sporting such a giant mustache.
The biggest mystery of season 3 isn't how Sherlock faked his own death, but why Watson was sporting such a giant mustache. BBC One

 

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