Though the U.K. has already gotten the chance to see the new episodes of the acclaimed and obsessed-over BBC show Sherlock, the episodes start to hit American TV Sunday night. So if you're going to settle in to watch the first episode—"The Empty Hearse"—for the first time Sunday, or if you're preparing for your second (third or fourth) viewings, here's a preparation guide.
Re-watch "The Reichenbach Fall"
The brilliance of Sherlock episodes is that for the most part they stand alone as what are essentially mini-movies—each episode is about an hour and a half long. That said, whether you're a die-hard fan or a newbie it's imperative that you watch the final episode of season two, "The Reichenbach Fall," before settling in for "The Empty Hearse."
Specifically, you are going to want to watch (and re-watch and re-watch) the last fifteen minutes. It's hardly a spoiler anymore to reveal that Sherlock took a suicidal plunge to save his friends from an attack planned by consulting criminal Jim Moriarty, who had just put a gun in his own mouth and fired. (Got that?) Much of the first episode deals with Sherlock's return to the living—or at least return to the living in London at least—and the show tackles the question of how exactly Sherlock did it with bits of humor, fan service, and (we think) honest explanation. (Big "we think" on that last one. See: this tweet.) Before Sunday, you're probably going to want to brush up on your how Sherlock survived theories. And remember chances are he didn't survive via TARDIS, though don't rule that out. You might also want to pay close attention to the circumstances surrounding Moriarty's death. Just saying.