The trajectory of BBC's Sherlock has been nearly as fascinating as the show itself, and why not? Thanks to the long years between episodes, we get all sorts of time to contemplate it, along with every other aspect of the show. But as we move through the opening months of the third inter-season hiatus, one has to wonder what this one will bring. Each has its own unique characteristics, to be sure.
Hiatus One began with a cliff-hanger, but nothing we worried too much about. The show was still exciting and new, was picking up fans like crazy, and still a beautiful child we were waiting to see grow up. Kind of the A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four of its run, despite the details from that latter tale showing up much later.
Hiatus Two was some full-grown Sherlock, the "Adventures and Memoirs in The Strand Magazine" period, probably the most popular phase the of the Holmes cycle. It starts with Irene and ends with Moriarty, just like those stories did. And even though it didn't totally cause us to think Holmes was dead at its end, the "how did he do it?" factor raised the bar for the second hiatus as high as it could go.
Having hit Canonical pressure point so hard in season two, not only did Hiatus Two start off with the frenzy of the Holmes Survival Theorists, it sent the fans running to the original Canon faster than anything in decades, as they looked for clues as to what the show's creators would do next. That aspect of Hiatus Two is probably the gift that will keep on giving to the cult of Sherlockiana for many years to come.
Hiatus Three, however, comes after the "Holmes returns from the dead" phase. This is The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Return of Sherlock Holmes period. Some fans think the stories have changed too much from those glory days before Reichenbach. We know The Valley of Fear and His Last Bow period is coming, as Moriarty and the East Wind are both foretold, so to speak. But we don't have that powerful cliffhanger of Sherlock Holmes's death this time, just the promise of more Sherlock to come.
Will we all be a little more jaded toward the teasers and clues this time around? Will the fandom numbers show signs of attrition? (Though how one counts such things, I'll never know.) We're definitely entering a different phase of this Sherlock-cycle. And who even knows what that great X-factor called fandom might come up with in the remaining months (and months, and moths) of Hiatus Three. There could yet be a twist or turn that no one sees coming.
Given Sherlock's schedule, however, it is a show defined by its absences as well as its presence, so we shall definitely see.