I could be wrong of course, but if I'm right, it's both clever and cruel. We had all this build-up in the previews and even going back to the cliffhanger from TRF to think that this was all going to be about Sherlock coming home and things getting back to normal, only it wasn't and he didn't. We still don't know how he survived or even why -- I'm not even sure Sherlock fully realized what was going on behind that decision. And even more fundamentally, I'm not convinced Sherlock has ever come home, certainly not to anything resembling the home he left. And while Mrs. Hudson is right, it's wonderful to see him in his chair again, it's also horribly incomplete with the other chair standing empty. And even more so with it tucked away into some attic. There's a sense I think that Sherlock is still clawing his way back to his old life. Which fits, somehow, given in the Doyle story he's three years away whereas for us series three is only set two years after the Fall. But us fans waited quite a while (well, I only waited eight months or so and that was long enough). It's natural to want him back, and I think the longing is both what has the fandom a bit fractured at the moment but also (I really, really hope) it's creating a hunger for what's coming next that will pay off.
But still, it's like Jacob and Rachel and Leah. If you don't know the story, Jacob is one of the Genesis patriarchs, Abraham's grandson and father of Joseph of the Technicolor Dreamcoat. He basically tricked his brother out of his blessing as the elder son and had to run away from home to avoid getting killed. He fell in love with his cousin Rachel (not that unusual in the culture) and since he can't offer any kind of bridal settlement, he agrees to work for his uncle Laban for seven years to marry her. And marry her he does, but because brides were veiled in that culture he doesn't discover until after the wedding that he's actually been tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah. "It's the custom that the older sister not be wed before the younger," etc. - stinks to be Jacob, but if you'll work another seven years I'll still let you marry Rachel.
(Actually, Jacob demanded his right to marry Rachel and Laban hems and haws a bit, says "well, you're a good man, I know you, and it's better that Rachel marry you than someone else, so I'll do you the favor of letting you work the additional seven years. Because, you know, I like you." It's one of the funnier bits of the Bible especially when taken in light of the tricks Jacob pulled on his own brother.)
But getting back to Sherlock. It feels very much like we're Jacob just after that first wedding. We've worked and waited, we've made our vows, we've finally pulled back the vow, and the only thing staring back at us is this man:
But it's okay. Really. He'll even let us wait two more years to get the thing we were promised and really were kind of counting on. You know, because he likes you.
Scary thing #1: that's the best case scenario.
Scary thing #2: I'll still be tuning in. More than that, I'll be waiting anxiously and speculating over every scrap of news. At least there's fanfic.