It’s been a longer-than-desirable wait between seasons two and three of the BBC’s hit Sherlock, but that will change when the min-series returns to the small screen overseas this October (followed by a PBS premiere in early 2014). The show made its ‘Con debut at the 2013 International Comic-Con in San Diego, so as to provide fans with something to tide them over while awaiting the new episodes (not to mention, a resolution to the cliffhanger ending for the S2 finale, “The Reichenbach Fall”).

The lineup at the Sherlock 2013 Comic-Con panel included the series’ co-creators, executive producers and head writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (the latter also plays Mycroft on the show), in addition to co-producer Sue Vertue. Moderation duties for the panel were handled by Entertainment Weekly contributor James Hibberd.

After the show-runners had taken the stage, the audience in Ballroom 20 was treated to recorded messages from Sherlock leads Martin Freeman (John Watson) – who’s been preoccupied with pickup shoots for the second and third Hobbit movies over the past few weeks – and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes), another extremely-busy fellow.

Freeman, who was in full Bilbo Baggins makeup, gave his regards to the Comic-Con crowd and revealed that he’ll be filming the final episode of Sherlock S3 later this month. By comparison, Cumberbatch’s video was quite playful, with the actor expressing faux-shock that people are interested in a BBC series. The latter also began to explain how Sherlock survived his fall during the S2 finale – after claiming that Star Trek Into Darkness had left him tired of keeping secrets – by re-enacting the event with stuffed toy monkeys (albeit, his signal dropped out before he could finish, much to the Ballroom 20 crowd’s delighted furor).

The Sherlock panel did not include a proper trailer for S3; however, those in attendance were treated to a scene from the second episode of the season (titled “The Sign of Three”). That episode – as has been suspected for a while now – will show Watson getting hitched on the show, in keeping with traditional Sherlock Holmes cannon. Indeed, the scene in question involved Sherlock playing the role of his boyfriend devoted colleague’s best man for the wedding; what resulted was the sort of character-based humor and heartfelt feeling that one would expect from such a scenario.

In addition, the panel attendees addressed (or danced around) several questions and provided some new information, with respect to S3 and the future of Sherlock in general:

  • No one provided an answer to the mystery of how Sherlock faked his suicide, but Gatiss indicated that it is possible to deduce the solution based on clues in the S2 finale. He added, “There are only so many ways that one can survive a fall off the roof. There is no black magic.”
  • Moffat claimed that, although there is an explanation provided for Sherlock’s trick, the really interesting element at play in S3 is the emotional impact that Sherlock’s actions – coupled with Moriarty’s suicide – has on not just his relationship with Watson, but also his brother, larger family, and friends (well, in Sherlock’s case, “friends”) in general.
  • Despite speculation to the contrary, Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is very much dead and will only make an appearance as a corpse, nothing more or less.
  • The first episode of S3, titled “The Empty Hearse,” is loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Empty House,” but will deviate significantly in terms of plot.
  • Not everyone is formally onboard for a fourth season of Sherlock just yet. However, because Cumberbatch – who revealed that there are tentative plans for S4 earlier this year – is ready to come back, the show-runners indicated that there is good reason to believe it will happen.
  • Moffat was adamant: no romantic relationships for Sherlock in the future, be it with Molly (Louise Brealey) or anyone else (sorry Sherlock/John shippers).
  • Gatiss admitted that he would love to adapt Doyle’s “The Red-Headed Wig” story, while Moffat said he’s always wanted to do a Sherlock episode based on “The Speckled Band.” Could we see their interpretations of both stories in S4…?

Sherlock Season 3 will air on the BBC sometime in Fall 2013, followed by its premiere on PBS Masterpiece in (presumably) the first quarter of 2014.