Playing with a story structure by jumping timelines is confusing enough and mostly used when there are holes in the story or to explain the inexplicable. The newest thing, next to extensively shifting timelines, BBC overwhelms by adding sequences of different imagined realities of Sherlock to thicken the plot. If it was not for the great acting and buzz of the show, people would trash Sherlock for being incomprehensible. In Sherlock’s case the 3rd season has become just a tricky mind game to keep viewers engaged. It forces viewers to be the sleuth of the story line not how to solve clever crime(s). Actually, in this 3rd season crimes are a ruse. The 1st episode focused on the variation of a theme of how Sherlock faked his death. The 2nd episode was a simple and convoluted reveal about how to kill someone with a spike in a belt. In the final and 3rd, Johns love uses the most far fetched way to ask Sherlock for help by attempting to kill him. Having the audience trying to understand the story telling weakens even with those simplistic plots, because viewers are expecting more that is simply not there and the “wow” factor of season 1 is gone.
Subconsciously, we know we have been tricked into a goose chase without the goose. Filmmakers can’t just rely on superb acting skills and we know the best can’t save a bad script. Solution: If you don’t have an intricate story at least make us aware with B&W dream scenes (producers have done this before) to give clarity. To explain a character, I would use refined emotional intelligence knowledge, instead of showing us what he/she is imagining. I love Sherlock 1 & 2 but season 3 is not about the viewer, but instead written to elevate BBC’s Sherlock brand minus the viewer in mind. If BBC will invest in good stories instead of just focus on the actors this show has still life left.