'Sherlock' Mini-Episode: Holmes is 'Coming Back' (Video)

The BBC released a seven-minute prequel for the third season of the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring series, which returns in January.
A scene from season 3 of "Sherlock"

The BBC debuted a seven-minute prequel for the third season of Sherlock on Christmas Eve, focused on Detective Anderson's suspicions that Benedict Cumberbatch's famous sleuth faked his death.

Trailers for the third season have already revealed that the show's title character is alive and well, with other characters, including Martin Freeman's John Watson, learning of Holmes' return from the dead after a two-year absence.

The mini-episode, entitled Many Happy Returns, opens with a blond drug smuggler discovered among a group of monks, followed by a discussion between Anderson (Jonathan Aris) and Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) in which the former is convinced that a series of recent events mean that Holmes is still alive. Lestrade remains skeptical, though.

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Among the incidents Anderson lists to support his theory are a murder involving ice cream solved by an inspector in New Delhi and a court case in Hamburg in which a mysterious juror is the only one who believes the man on trial is guilty.

"He's out there. He's hiding. But he can't stop himself from getting involved. It's so obviously him, if you know how to spot the signs," Anderson says.

As Anderson ponders where he believes Holmes has appeared, he realizes Holmes is getting closer to England.

"Just look at the map, though," Anderson tells Lestrade. "He's getting closer. It's like he's coming back."

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Lestrade then leaves and gives Watson a box of Holmes' stuff, including the uncut version of the video message he made for his friend's birthday, in which he tells a man off-camera that he won't be there because he has "a thing," and explains his absence by noting there will be people at Watson's party.

Holmes is then shown recording the birthday message and wishing Watson "many happy returns."

The mini-episode ends with a few symbols implying that Holmes will soon return from the dead.

The short was written by Sherlock producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

Sherlock returns in the U.K. on New Year's Day and premieres in the U.S. on Jan. 19 on PBS Masterpiece.

Watch the full mini-episode below.