Television Review: Sherlock (season 2, 2012)

January 15th, 2012 | Tags: , ,

Sherlock, season 2 (BBC, 2012)

Sherlock Holmes: Benedict Cumberbatch
John Watson: Martin Freeman
Year: 2012
Note: a modern re-imagining of Canon

Rating:

Second Season

After the phenomenal showing of the first season, Sherlock is back with a second season, in which Cumberbatch and Freeman once again team up as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. They remain a strong duo, their roles nicely fleshed out and their chemistry still off the charts. While perhaps not as exciting as the first season (although I suspect this has more to do with the excitement of having first received a new, modern adaptation) the second season offers a very strong showing. It is still a delight to watch Sherlock Holmes as a present day sleuth, complete with numerous nods to Canon. The series has become a smash success since it first aired, and will no doubt continue on for as long as the producers/writers continue to make episodes. Bravo on a thrilling second season.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

It has been somewhat amazing watching Cumberbatch come so fully into the role of Sherlock Holmes. He has captured it and made it his own in a way few actors have (I daresay no one since Brett). Holmes of Canon was always aloof, always straining to be the machine he aspired to be, but beneath it all was a strange, subtle vulnerability; and here laid his heart. Cumberbatch depicts this perfectly, his “sociopathy” a perfect mask for the conflicted man beneath, longing for friendship and companionship, but unwilling to yield to the desires of his heart lest they compromise his science. This has always been what makes Holmes a compelling character. It is lovely to see this transpire onscreen from week to week, with an actor worthy of wearing Holmes’ cloak (or deerstalker, as the case may be).

I have gone on at length regarding Cumberbatch’s performance, and what makes him such a perfect Holmes, in my review of the first season, so I will not do so here, but rest assured he gives as transcendent a performance this time around as he did the first.

Martin Freeman as John Watson

Ever have I been, first and foremost, a Watson girl. He is the heart of the Sherlock Holmes stories; because for however much Holmes has a heart (and he certainly does) it is John’s warmth, John’s empathy, and John’s stalwart bravery that allows his readers to care for Sherlock at all. This is true in this series as well, for the people who interact with Sherlock must think him devoid of emotion. It is only through John–through Sherlock’s dealings with John–that he becomes human.

Freeman’s Watson, like the Watson of Canon, is a compelling character. He has found his calling (found his Sherlock and his purpose) and attends to it with everything he has, even at the expense of his personal life. This was a lovely nod to Canon, Watson and his women, none of whom ever measured to Holmes. I confess I was surprised to see Sarah written from the series (as I had expected her to take the part of Mary Morstan) but was quite pleased by their decision to have John remain a “confirmed” bachelor.

There is so much more that could be said about Freeman’s Watson, but it is nothing I haven’t said before. Truly, his is a gripping take on a beloved character.

Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes

I fully intend to skip over several characters, because I have touched on them in my first review, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss Gatiss as Mycroft. I do this because in the first series I was a little on the fence with his take on Mycroft, and while I am still intrigued by the direction they have taken the character, I have managed to fall in love with his Mycroft, if for no other reason than because they have given me Mycroft at the Diogenes Club. I suspect, in what I hope is a long line of adaptations, that Mark Gatiss will forever stand out as the most delightful Mycroft Holmes I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Andrew Scott as James “Jim” Moriarty

Of course, the real star of this season has been Andrew Scott as Moriarty. I wasn’t expecting to fall so thoroughly in love with this Moriarty. I said, in my last review:

…this Moriarty is not a criminal mastermind bent on his own selfish interests. This Moriarty is an escaped mental patient who is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes.

And I had, at the time, hoped we would see more of Moriarty as a master criminal, and certainly these episodes have given us that, but by the time I had finished watching them, I no longer cared that he was a master criminal. I only cared that he was bat-shit insane because it was such an utterly delightful thing to watch.

There is, I suppose, a fine line between insanity and genius, and Scott’s portrayal of a man walking this line was utterly brilliant. I could watch entire series devoted to this character. Well played.

Delightful Elements

There were so many delightful things about this series (and this season) and while most of them I have touched on in my last review, and I will touch on delightful elements and quibbles in each episode, but here I will focus on two overall themes.

First, I shall start by commending the writers on their ability to name episodes. The twists on Canon tales, which also reflect the plot of the episodes, are exceedingly clever. I don’t remember being as impressed the first time around, but this time I laughed delightedly once I pieced together exactly how they had twisted the names. Nicely played.

Second, and probably why most people are here, is the subtext. Or should I say text? It’s certainly a fine line. After having seen Sherlock Holmes 2, I wasn’t entirely certain it was possible for anything to top that film in terms of subtext. I was, apparently, wrong.

There is this underlying theme throughout the three episodes that suggests that John has fallen completely in love with Sherlock. It couldn’t have clearer if they’d stuck a neon sign over his head. Hell, in Belgravia, they go so far as to have Adler suggest as much, never mind the references to John’s bachelor status, and his inability to maintain a relationship (because of his devotion to Holmes). There is the slow, steady process of acceptance he goes through, at first violently objecting to the idea of him and Sherlock as a couple, becoming less and less bothered by it as time progresses until he finally accepts it outright. In fact, had Sherlock not faked his own death (and I expect–read hope–John will be a little miffed about that) I suspect John’s feelings would have come to such a head that he was forced into a confession. I am not entirely certain of Sherlock’s reaction, but it is quite obvious that he loves John. His conversation with Molly in Reichenbach Falls was proof of that. It’ll be interesting to see where they plan on taking this relationship. Certainly if the numerous nods and in jokes are taken into consideration then the writers are at least aware of the potential.

Quibbles

I am half tempted to leave quibbles for each episode, because most of the problems I had with this series were episode specific. There was however one thing that struck me across all three episodes and that was the rapid-fire time shifts. I don’t mind an episode that spans a few weeks, but most of these episodes spanned months, almost an entire year at one point. I think, unfortunately, it rather short-changed us on both character and relationship development.

Episodes

A Scandal in Belgravia

A modern take on a Scandal in Bohemia, in which Sherlock meets and is bested by The Woman. This was not one of my favourite episodes (although, to be fair, SCAN is hardly my favourite story). In fact, I would say it almost ranks on the same level as The Blind Banker. Certainly it is not an episode I intend to watch a second time.

I’ll get into my quibbles in a minute, but let’s talk about what I did like.

I suppose after all the hype and speculation surrounding the pool scene, the only possibly way it could have ended was with an anticlimactically, and, I confess, I laughed. This was an exceedingly clever way of getting out of a very large hole. Also, Moriarty’s ring tone will forever amuse me.

There were numerous other elements about this episode which delighted. The numerous Canon references come to mind (I do so love fan service) as well as the myriad of implications that Sherlock and John are somewhat more than friends. Then, of course, there was Sherlock being stalked by paparazzi (that will never not be brilliant) and Sherlock being Internet famous.

Perhaps we could also touch on Sherlock in a sheet, or even better, Sherlock in a deerstalker (my God, how fantastic!), or perhaps Sherlock’s sock index. Or maybe Mycroft sending a helicopter to retrieve Watson from the scene of a crime. That was nice. And their camaraderie, light and giggling and showing so delightfully how utterly close they have become; what true friends they are.

There was an underlying humour to the episode that I quite enjoyed, and I often found myself smiling, or outright laughing. The not-so-staged fight between Sherlock and John was delightful. I was also quite thrilled by how often Sherlock was shown as an idiot in this episode. He does occasionally need something to keep his massive ego in check.

All in all, there were quite a few brilliant aspects to this episode. And were it not for the treatment of Irene Adler, I suspect I would have loved it.

Unfortunately Moffat has never been terribly good at writing women, and this episode is one of his more spectacular fails on the subject.

Dear, God, did he really equate independent, intelligent adventuress with dominatrix? How is that even possible? And did he really have her fall in love with Holmes? I do not have words for this.

I am to understand the media had been quite abuzz with Adler’s role in the episode, words like misogyny floating around, and we won’t wade into that, but I will say I am tremendously disappointed in this portrayal of Adler. I don’t think I have ever seen a worse one. This episode might have been saved, had Adler simply disappeared (having bested Holmes) but instead Moffat had Holmes save her, taking our independent adventuress turned sex-trade worker (because it was very much implied she slept with her clients) and turning her into a damsel in distress. This, in fact, is exactly why this series lost one of its pipes.

Unfortunately (I say this again) that is not where it ends, because in his infinite wisdom, Moffat decided he ought to have Sherlock at least entertain the notion of being attracted to/interested in Adler.

This after having spent the entire first season carefully crafting Sherlock’s asexuality.

I cannot imagine how insulting this must be to asexuals everywhere.

The queer/asexual/virgin jokes were also in very, very poor taste.

This episode was filled with Holmes/Adler subtext, and it made for an awkward, uncomfortable watching. Were it not for the strength of the episodes which followed, this episode alone would have earned the second season a mere 3 pipes.

I expected better, Mr. Moffat.

The Hounds of Baskerville

Fortunately, where Moffat fails, Gatiss succeeds. This modern take on The Hound of the Baskervilles is as refreshing as it is delightful. The fact that this episode starts with a Black Peter reference pretty much elevates it to instant favourite in my books.

But the thing that makes Gatiss’ episode(s) is his ability to mimic ACD’s leaps of logic, which, when put into Holmes’ mouth, always left the audience astounded and delighted. Holmes’ deduction sequences in this episode were brilliant, and very in keeping with Canon, even when not lifted directly from Canon. That is impressive.

It is hard to pinpoint everything I enjoyed about this episode, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. The genderswaps for Mortimer and Stapleton were a pleasant surprise, and I think helped to very much modernize/revitalize the story. The numerous Canon references thrilled: The bet from the Blue Carbuncle, Holmes standing on the moor, framed by moonlight (although in this case it was sun), the Diogenes Club (oh, the Diogenes Club!), the however improbable speech, and the conductor of light speech! Fantastic.

I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. BAMF!John pulling rank, and everyone and their brother thinking they were together (John’s resignation followed by his reluctant acceptance), the double room, Sherlock meeting a fanboy! This entire episode was fan service at its finest, and for that we thank you Gatiss.

That is not to say the episode was without its foibles, but they were few and far between. I liked the overall premise of the plot, but at times found it a bit unbelievable (glow in the dark rabbits indeed–although certainly this ties in with Canon). Holmes’ breakdown, however much he might have been drugged, was still quite over the top and more than a little embarrassing to watch.

I’m also a little iffy on Sherlock drugging John in order to run a controlled experiment. I confess; it fits with this take on Holmes (Holmes in Canon was not a sociopath, however self-confessed), but it is hard for me to see Holmes running an experiment on John without John’s knowledge. This was not something that would have happened in Canon. Even in Devil’s Foot, when Holmes did have Watson in the room for his experiment, it was with Watson’s full knowledge and permission (and then he apologized profusely afterwards). I’m also not sure I believe that Watson would ever forgive something like that.

There is also the entire “mind palace” scene, which was, frankly, embarrassing. In fact, let us never speak of it again.

Overall, however, this was a well thought out, well put together, at times terrifying episode with more fan service than I knew what to do with. It was delightful, and the final reveal was exceedingly clever; very much in keeping with a Sherlock Holmes story.

The Reichenbach Fall

I officially take back everything I said about Stephen Thompson in my review of The Blind Banker. His modern re-telling of The Final Problem was utterly delightful. It kept me on the edge of my seat, knowing what was coming but utterly curious to see how we would get there. I was not disappointed.

Moriarty is fleshed out as a fascinating character, part evil genius, part madman, obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. He has spun an incredibly clever web in which to ensnare our Sherlock, and while it may appear he has succeeded, I expect we will see that it is Sherlock who, as always, gets the upper hand. Truly, this was a lovely take on what has always been Canon’s weaker, though most important, tale.

What I think I loved most about this episode was the modern translation of Holmes’ fame. Holmes was quite well known in his day, making all the papers, with a loyal base who read Watson’s stories, but nothing compares to the modern media frenzy of today. The paparazzi, the fans, the groupies, the press; it is exactly what would happen were a man like Sherlock Holmes to exist in today’s society. I found this aspect of all the episodes, but this one in particular, compelling.

Beyond that, however, there is a lovely plot running throughout, one that’s so clever, so well put together that, like Holmes, we spend a good portion of the episode trying to figure it out. And when the pieces do come together, it feels quite obvious, like we should have seen it right from the beginning. How else could Moriarty burn Sherlock’s heart out, save to take away everything that he is–not just his fame and fortune and reputation, but his capacity for further cases. If he is discredited, he can no longer work, and Holmes has always lived for his cases. To add the potential of losing John to that mix; well, Holmes is indeed left with little choice.

Of course, there were dozens of little points that added to the delight of the episode. The Diogenes Club made a reappearance (oh, John, don’t you know the rules?) and of course the numerous references to their relationship status. The homeless network always delights, as does John punching someone in the face for calling Holmes weird. That is not to mention the whole “take my hand” nod to Canon (not to mention the delightful subtext it adds to the series).

Of course, no episode is ever perfect, and this is hardly without its quibbles. I will never, for example, believe that Mycroft sold his own brother out for information. Not because Mycroft isn’t capable of throwing anyone who suits his fancy under a bus (he is) but because he’s not that stupid. There was also a question of how fast everyone (everyone) was to turn on Sherlock. I understand it was necessary for the plot, but it was unbelievable. I also do not understand why John would rush off to Mrs. Hudson when he knows the police are looking for him (also, why would he go to Baker Street and not the hospital?–where he was, incidentally. For that matter, why were there no police there waiting to arrest him?)

I also thought the show-down with Moriarty dragged on for a bit too long. I got twitchy watching it, and one should never get twitchy watching a scene. Granted, I was so stunned by Moriarty’s suicide that I instantly forgot the long wait in favour of flailing over the denouement.

It is, of course, obvious what has happened (how they intend to resurrect Holmes) though I will refrain from open speculation here for those who haven’t pieced it together. Instead, I will simply say that having Holmes watch Watson standing over his grave, saying the things he has never found the courage to say, was quite possibly one of the most touching things I have ever seen. Bravo.

Conclusion

So, while perhaps not as thrilling as the first season (again, largely because by this point it had lost the excitement of a new adaptation) Sherlock’s second season is still well worth seeing. It is a fitting tribute to its source material. It may no longer warrant its six pipes, but it still manages a very firm five, the first episode notwithstanding.

  1. l-girl
    January 15th, 2012 at 23:21
    Quote | #1

    oh lord I think you weren’t the only one eating words about Thompsom…

    Also I REALLY wish Moffat would quit trying to write women characters…. he cant do them well. I have to take some (frankly) embarrassing leaps of logic to save his treatment of Adler, although admittedly that is helped by the fact I hate SCAN (well as much as one CAN hate a Sherlock Holmes story) and am not as impressed by Cannon!Adler as so many feminists seem to think I should be.

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:05
      Quote | #2

      I was expecting to hate Thompson’s episode. I feel I ought to send him a fruit basket as apology. As a writer, I know, too, how hit and miss these things can be, so it was very wrong of me to doubt his competence on the evidence of one episode alone.

      I try to love Moffat’s writing, I do, because there are a lot of things he does really, really well. The thing that he doesn’t do well is women, and I’m not sure why. I’m not even sure Adler’s character can be saved. In what universe does a sex trade working equate a strong, independent woman? Granted, I do agree with your opinion on Canon!Adler. She was an interesting character, but certainly not the pinnacle achievement feminists want to make her out as. The whole episode, though, was just a travesty. Such a shame.

      • l-girl
        January 16th, 2012 at 16:24
        Quote | #3

        … her being a sex worker actually didn’t bug me (it was her falling for Sherlock and needing to be saved that pissed me off)… The type of woman who was trained as an actress (and that was not a proper trade for any kind of lady of morals during that time period), took pictures who could ruin the MALE of the relationship with out, apparently, harming her reputation much, was comfortable cross-dressing… well lets just say the Victorians would have considered her a sex worker, or at least had the morals of one. Remember the Victorians were not the type to spell things out and Watson/ACD was a gentleman writing for the public.

        I will say this about that ep… Moffat got Watson’s reactions down. I have LONG thought that Watson in SCAN believed that Holmes was falling for Adler (silly Watson), and this version showed that wonderfully.

        • admin
          January 16th, 2012 at 16:29
          Quote | #4

          This is a good point, by Victorian standards she was very immoral. That is not to say that sex or selling sex is an immoral trade (I don’t believe that for a second). In fact, had she been cast into the role of sex trade worker by anyone other than Moffat, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but because it is Moffat, I automatically assume he’s making a comment on women. Possibly this is me not giving him enough credit, but his Adler still didn’t sit right with me.

          I suspect the reason we have so much confusion over Adler is exactly because Watson saw something that wasn’t there.

  2. Seriona
    January 16th, 2012 at 00:08
    Quote | #5

    First of all, as a Holmes/Watson fan, this website is my bible. The “decoding the subtext” series are brilliantly written. And the review of the Russian TV show introduced me to the incredibly hot Watson Vitaly Solomin. They say sexuality is a nature instead of a nurture thing. But I bet Vitaly Solomin could turn many straight men gay.

    Regarding your view on A Scandal in Belgravia, I beg to differ. Adler is stunning and there is great chemistry between her and Holmes. The whole episode is witty, sexy, and the actors’ performances are very strong. I did feel bad for the sensitive, vulnerable, and jealous Watson though. After all, this is the episode of “the Woman.” For one time, it is simply not Watson’s show.

    There are hundreds of slash scenes in this season, and among all of them, the last few minutes of The Reichenbach Fall are definitely the most touching ones, resembling the last scene of Brokeback Mountain. BBC’s Holmes and Watson may not have a sexual relationship, but their love is as strong and intense as that between any lovers.

    Thank you again for everything you have written. This is the best website I have come across for Holmes/Watson slashers. I have been reading the canon for the past few weeks and your essays are a great guide.

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:14
      Quote | #6

      If for no other reason than having introduced you to the brilliance of Solomin then this site and all its labours have been worth it. That man is a brilliant Watson.

      As for Belgravia, I suspect Adler fans are either going to love the portrayal or hate it. It’s interesting to see the diversity of reactions. To be fair, if they had changed several aspects of the episodes, I would probably agree with your assessment. I did not like her career, or the assumption that only a sexually dominant woman could “tame” Holmes. Holmes respected and admired Adler for her mind, not her ability to wield a riding crop. I found the sexualisation of Adler as an excuse in for Holmes’ admiration to be in poor taste, and completely contrary to the original story, not to mention mildly insulting to strong, empowered women everywhere. But, this is a touchy subject, and I recognize that my own history will colour my perception of the interpretation. I’m glad some people have been able to enjoy her character as portrayed, and certainly the actress did a fantastic job with the material she was given.

      That being said, I might have enjoyed her character more had she either escaped or died, and not become dependent on Holmes rescuing her. I have never been a fan of the damsel in distress trope, and to see it played with her character added insult to injury. To each their own, though.

  3. January 16th, 2012 at 05:57
    Quote | #7

    Yes! Yes to all of this! I still can’t quite formulate an opinion on ‘Scandal’, but I agree about the rather bizarre leap from actress to dominatrix. I suppose they needed her to be something provocative to explore Sherlock’s sexuality (or possible lack thereof). But they didn’t NEED to do that at all, I will never understand why Irene always becomes the love interest and I found his reaction to her “death” to be very jarring. One day, maybe there will be an Irene/Holmes dynamic that is pure rivalry but I can’t see it happening.

    I do get the impression that Gatiss is the greater fan of the two; his penned episodes always seem to have loving references and interesting takes on the canon. I loved “Hounds”, I thought it was well put together (the Black Peter reference was brill and the UMQRA bit made me laugh, I did wonder if they were going to include the Selden element). Unlike a lot of people, I liked the conclusion. People kept saying what a cop-out the fog was but I don’t know what else they were expecting! It’s not like the hound in the book was supernatural, either. I agree that drugging John seemed a stretch, I don’t know if Sherlock would be that cruel (considering that John could have easily gone into serious PTSD mode from that drug).

    And last night’s episode just had my blood pressure going through the roof, haha. I wondered what you’d say about Moriarty, knowing how you felt about him last series. I don’t think there is really much of the canon Moriarity in Scott’s portrayal but I actually don’t care because he is so unsettling and just outrageously insane that he is a complete joy to watch. Martin Freeman was truly excellent, especially during the final scene at the gravestone and I loved how Benedict showed Sherlock’s distress at the possibility of losing everything, especially John’s trust and loyalty (which, duh, WE all knew that was never going to happen!) But the scenes with Molly I think were very sweet and insightful.

    At the end of the episode, where it goes back to John at his therapists, I could definitely see series 3 taking the next step in their relationship upon Sherlock’s inevitable return. I don’t know if they will but I don’t think it will seem remotely out of place after how that episode played out.

    Anyway, rambling on, my apologies! Another excellent review, always enjoy reading your thoughts as it helps me sort out mine!

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:24
      Quote | #8

      This was something that bothered me greatly about the episode, because they didn’t just use Adler’s career to explore Holmes’ sexuality, they used it to make fun of his sexuality. And that’s not something I can tolerate. There is nothing wrong with asexuality. There is nothing wrong with virginity. And to suggest otherwise shows a great lack of respect for your audience. I think, too, I am always bothered by the assumption that for every man there is one woman who will break all his rules. I would like to see an adaptation where Adler and Holmes were rivals, but nothing more. A female Moriarty, if you will. That would have been lovely.

      Yes, Gatiss comes across as a true Sherlockian, who treats the source material with such reverence. I adore his episodes. I haven’t read others reactions to Hound, but I too liked the fog. I thought it was quite interesting, and a nice way to show Holmes’ fallibility. My only complaint was Holmes drugging John. This entire series plays up the Sherlock as a sociopath angle a bit too much for my tastes, because Holmes was never a sociopath (not even close). He was very careful with the people he loved. He would never have put John in that situation without John’s express consent. It was quite jarring.

      Scott’s Moriarty is so far removed from Canon he’s pretty much an original character, but I was so in love with the character by the end I cried more for his suicide than I did Holmes’. I think, though, you’ve touched on the best part of the last episode, and that was John’s unshakable faith in Holmes, which is so very true to Canon, and showcased here as such an important thing to Sherlock. He doesn’t need John to say I love you. He needs John to say I believe you. I was actually quite put out by how quick everyone was to jump on him as a fraud, and I think if they’d gone that route with John, it would have destroyed the entire series for me. I’m so glad they didn’t.

      And I love Molly. If Holmes has to have a female love interest, I hope it’s her.

      I’ve heard rumours they’re going to explore John marrying, so I expect we’ll see Holmes coming back after John has met someone and moved on. Lots of opportunity for angst. It should be delightful.

      And thank you for your thoughts. I do so love talking about these things. It actually breaks my heart a little that there are only a handful of new adaptations to review these days.

      • January 16th, 2012 at 12:25
        Quote | #9

        I did wonder if they would set someone up with John during Sherlock’s absence. I could definitely see that happening. Although, I guess it would depend on how long the Hiatus is. I like how, in Game of Shadows, you get the impression that barely weeks have passed before Holmes gets in touch with Watson to hint at his survival, because that’s exactly what that Holmes would do; unable to be apart from Watson for any period of time. But this Holmes, I’m not so sure. I find it very plausible that he would stay away for a long time until he can clear his name and be sure that John and the others are completely safe, and a lot can happen in that time. The reunion certainly would be something special (I am still waiting for an adaptation where Watson freaks out on Holmes, maybe throws a punch; I can see Martin Freeman being that Watson.)

        I love talking about all this, too. I don’t know anyone in the fandom and don’t get to discuss it except on here. This is a treasure trove of information because, not only does it cover all the slash elements to such a wonderful degree, but looks at it all objectively and is always interesting. It was because of you that I sought out the Granada series and the Russian series and am very grateful for that. It is a shame that there isn’t more out there to discuss at the moment. Have you read The House of Silk?

        • admin
          January 16th, 2012 at 16:17

          I’m also wondering if John might not write a book attempting to clear Holmes’ name. That would be interesting. But, yes, I’m assuming they’re going to go with Canon and say 3 years, which is rather an insanely long time to let your best friend (only friend) think you’re dead. I honestly have no idea how Watson ever forgave him. I would be thrilled (thrilled) if John punched Sherlock. Thrilled. It always disappointed me that he didn’t in Canon.

          I’m not actively involved in fandom myself, so the only time I get to chat is when I post here or when someone emails me. It’s nice, being able to share a common interest. I’m so glad that you were able to discover both the Russian series and Granada through here. It makes this all worth while. I will forever hold Brett in my heart as one of my favourite Holmeses. This is making me nostalgic. I know feel like re-watching my dvds.

          I had heard someone was doing a new Holmes pastiche, though I haven’t read it yet. I also believe someone was doing a graphic novel, but I’d have to double check that. Always love new source material to review, so yay!

          • January 17th, 2012 at 13:15

            I also agree that canon Watson was far too forgiving of Holmes’ deception, I bet Holmes couldn’t believe his luck. I was expecting a confrontation with Law’s Watson but I liked how they ended that as it was (I still suspect there will be words had between them, when Holmes finally shows up, haha).

            It’s stupid but I kind of can’t bring myself to watch the last few Granada episodes I have. I bought the whole set but I like knowing that there are still some I haven’t seen! I got like that with the books too as I got closer and closer to the end. I would have been a mess if I was reading them in the 1890’s/1900’s and not knowing if this was the last one I would get to read or not!

            I was surprised at how much I enjoyed House of Silk, to be honest. I’ve not read a pastiche before so was expecting to find it jarring but it wasn’t too much. Some moments were odd, like reading alternate forename’s of characters but otherwise, I think he got the voices and relationships down very well. It’s much darker than the original stories but not exploitively so. And there is definitely subtext throughout; the whole last paragraph practically broke my heart. I would certainly recommend it, I’d be interested to know what you think of it!

  4. Alex
    January 16th, 2012 at 06:57

    I just finished watching the third episode, and I was very pleased to see that you had already written a review.

    I agree with practically all of your points. There were some rather embarrassing and awkward moments, but all in all, it was an amazing second series.

    Just like you, I disliked the first episode. It wasn’t bad, I thought it had some rather interesting moments. But yeah, the whole dominatrix schtick (and the text signal) was kind of out of place. My first impression was that Moffat was going for a Lady Heather-esque portrayal (I don’t know if you watch CSI, but she was a (rarely) recurring character there and had intellectual conversations with Grissom. And she was a dominatrix. However, she was a bit more low-key about it). What also bugged me, as a lesbian, was her portrayal as… well, a lesbian who suddenly falls for a guy? I mean, of course, she could be bisexual (but she called herself gay), and sexuality is fluid, and were she an actual person, I wouldn’t debate this at all. But she’s a fictional character, and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Also, I just don’t like this “sexually experienced person tries every trick in the book to make the sexually unexperienced person flustered”. It’s awkward and uncomfortable.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the second episode, especially the part where Watson pulled rank. It was so, so awesome. The atmosphere was great.

    As for the last episode, I was jumping up and down in my seat the entire time while watching it, making dramatic gestures when appropriate (right at the beginning, the ending, and a couple of times inbetween.) Moriarity was just awesome, and honestly, at one point, I was almost convinced that he was actually just an actor (not hired by Holmes, of course, but perhaps by the “man or woman behind the man”). I was also kind of surprised that Watson just went back to Baker Street. Also, the reveal that Mycroft had told Moriarity everything about Holmes was also kind of… wrong. It was rather contrived, but oh well, I didn’t care much about it after what happened next. Moriarity’s suicide was absolutely amazing. I had not expected that at all. Also, it was an interesting antithesis to what happened in the movie. There, Holmes took him with him. Here, however, Moriarity made sure that Sherlock would follow him. It was scary and amazing.

    Also, my god the subtext! During their phone call I was expecting one of them to confess. (Well, Sherlock wouldn’t have done it because he wanted John to believe that he had been a liar, which was completely heartbreaking too, especially when he referred to the scene in the cab.)

    I absolutely can’t wait for the third series, and I’m looking forward to reading your review on it.

    • Alex
      January 16th, 2012 at 07:18

      One tiny thing I forgot… similarly to the horrible crow in the first Sherlock Holmes movie, I was kind of annoyed at Moriarty saying “The Final Problem” every 10 lines. (Also, I just realised that I spelt his name wrong about a dozen times. Sorry!)

      • admin
        January 16th, 2012 at 11:33

        That was a little strange, I confess, but after a while I started finding it amuses. We should have made a drinking game out of it.

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:33

      I haven’t seen CSI in years and no longer remember half of what I did watch, so I can’t recall that character, but it would be interesting to know his inspiration Adler. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around why he made her a dominatrix. I was hoping, when I first read they were doing her, that they’d make her a spy, someone Mycroft knew of. That would have been awesome–and would have elevated the character to someone I could have thoroughly enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with sexually empowered women, but I hate the assumption that a woman can only be strong and empowered if she is also sexualised, and that is what I took from this portrayal.

      The ramped homophobia that cropped up in this episode just made me head desk. It was terrible. I can easily understand why so many people were offended by the episode.

      Also, I just don’t like this “sexually experienced person tries every trick in the book to make the sexually unexperienced person flustered”. It’s awkward and uncomfortable.

      Yes. This! Especially because it completely makes fun of Holmes’ asexuality. Can you imagine? If someone did something like this to one of your asexual friends, you’d punch them in the face. I would. How utterly insulting.

      I almost gave this series 4 pipes instead of five, because of this episode. Hell, if I’d had to review on the strength of this episode alone, it would have only gotten 3.

      That third episode, though, reclaimed a lot of lost ground. Don’t get me wrong, I loved their take on Hound, but their take on FINA was just stunning. Yes, there were quibbles, but they were quite easily ignored in the face of all the other brilliance. I will never doubt Thompson again. I like your comment about Moriarty’s suicide being antithesis to the original story. That’s very true, and I hadn’t noticed that until now. Now I’m even more impressed.

      I’m looking forward to the third series too. It’s so lovely to have adaptations to look forward to. I honestly thought I would never see it in my lifetime. Here’s hoping for another three episodes filled with delicious subtext.

      • Alex
        January 16th, 2012 at 13:01

        I can kind of understand where he was coming from. Admittedly, it makes sense for a dominatrix to be someone who knows potentially scandalous secrets about a couple of people. However, I definitely agree with you that it sends a really bad message to sexualise her to that extent. It’s not because it’s wrong to be sexual, not at all, but it feels wrong for this character. I don’t remember SCAN well because I didn’t like it very much, but I think I got the impression that she was portrayed as a worthy opponent. Not because she is a woman, but because she’s intelligent. In this episode, on the other hand, the fact that she is the FEMALE opponent was played up to an almost ridiculous extent, which in turn played up the unnecessarily sexual tension between Sherlock and her. It felt forced, and I think it made her character rather two-dimensional.

        Exactly! So would I. And as you said, it’s especially disappointing after they built up his asexuality in the first season. It was quite delightful to have an asexual character who isn’t constantly joked about. Then this happened.

        I’m just glad that I realised last week that the new series was out already, so I got to watch the second episode right afterwards.

        I absolutely loved the take on FINA. Even though we all knew how it would end, it was still amazingly gripping and quite unpredictable.
        And to add another great moment between the two leads Sherlock called John. I have to rewatch the series, but has he ever done that before? He always texts him, and he could have just texted him “Go back”. Instead, he called. It was a wonderful ending for this season.

        • admin
          January 16th, 2012 at 16:22

          This is true, but by the same token, she could have been made into a rogue spy. That would have been just as interesting, if not more so for the potential Mycroft connection. I read somewhere (and I can’t recall the source) that they hyper-sexualized her on purpose in order to give her a weapon against Sherlock that he’d have no defense for. This bothers me greatly, because it would imply Holmes wasn’t smart enough to see through this; that he was just another typical man. I have no issues with women being sexualized, but to suggest that that was her only strength was somewhat off-putting. The whole thing didn’t sit well with me.

          Come to think of it, I’m not sure Sherlock ever has called John. I’m sure he must have, but not that you mention it nothing’s coming to mind. I’ll have to rewatch both seasons now. I’m sure I’ll pick up on tons of stuff I missed. That would be tremendously important if it turns out he hadn’t. Lovely.

          • Alex
            January 16th, 2012 at 23:21

            I definitely would have preferred her to be a rogue spy. Also, when it first came up that she was a lesbian, I thought that this would mean that she’d only be intellectually interested in Sherlock, which would have been great. I was a bit surprised because at first I thought they were going to ramp up the sexual tension, but this twist gave me hope. For about 5 minutes.

            “This bothers me greatly, because it would imply Holmes wasn’t smart enough to see through this; that he was just another typical man.”
            I’m also quite put-off by that. Furthermore, I don’t see Sherlock as being someone who’d be “intimidated” by a sexual person. Also, it doesn’t only enforce stereotypical gender-roles, but also this anti-asexuality sentiment – that asexual people just need someone to tickle the sexuality out of them.

            They have talked on the phone occasionally, but I think it was always John who’d called. I’ll definitely rewatch the series too, now that both seasons are out.

  5. Dave M.
    January 16th, 2012 at 10:56

    Though I mourn for the loss of the sixth pipe, I must admit that the quibbles were enough that it was, unfortunately, necessary.
    I find this series’ Irene Adler to be quite an interesting character in her own right, and a… unique, shall we say, take on the Doyle’s Adler. But something about her doesn’t sit right with me… (though I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I only had any quibbles with her at all the second time I watched, because the first time I was so excited about more Sherlock that they could have done anything and it would have been a-okay, and I was also more than slightly distracted by how unfairly gorgeous Lara Pulver is.)

    Any and all issues with SCAN were easily made up for by HOUND, though. Asdfghjkl; JOHN PULLING RANK. CAPTAIN JOHN WATSON OF THE FIFTH NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS. YES.
    …Okay, now that that’s out- they took HOUND, which by all means qualifies as a somewhat corny Victorian horror story nowadays, and made it into something so delightfully intense that it has topped Doctor Who’s “Blink” in the “This scared the ever-living SHIT out of me” category. Sherlock doing so much in order to make it up to John after the “I don’t have /friends/” was quite sweet, too- though he then drugged him afterwards, which was, to put it lightly, a Bit Not Good. All in all, though, it was quite frankly a brilliant episode.

    And then there is Reichenbach.
    I was crying in the first two minutes. John at his therapist, trying to choke out the words that he can’t bear to say- it broke my heart. I had to pause, cry for five minutes, and then start watching the rest of the episode.
    I believe we can finally say beyond a shadow of a doubt that John Watson is wholly in love with Sherlock Holmes.
    And I never thought that it would hurt so much.
    I wish with all my heart that John had said “I love you” when he was on the phone with Sherlock at the end, but if he had then the ending would have broken me even more than it did. But. He /tried to hold his hand/. The sound that escaped my mouth when John was trying to get to Sherlock and hold his hand… It was not human. (As for how John didn’t feel Sherlock’s pulse? I happen to have a bit of random knowledge of how to fake one’s death- that rubber ball Sherlock was playing with in the hospital. If you put a hard rubber ball in your armpit and squeeze down on it, it stops the blood flow to the vein in your wrist that people check the pulse on. //random science fact, feel free to ignore)
    The only thing I had a problem with was Mycroft selling out Sherlock’s life story to get Moriarty to talk. Mycroft. Would. Not. Do. That. Urgh.
    The rest of the episode was perfection, though. PERFECTION.
    Special mention must go to Jim Moriarty, who, in series one, I wanted to harm bodily every time I saw him, and now… Mr. Sex indeed. Delightful. And as a Doctor Who nerd I could not help but think of Harold Saxon during the line of “You’re insane!” “You’re just getting this now?” Everything about Moriarty is now amazing, and his suicide at the end made the rooftop scene SO intense.
    And. My god, the phonecall. That was when the tears started, and they did not stop until about half an hour after the episode was over.
    The tombstone.
    Sherlock watching everything John said at the tombstone.
    John at his therapist.
    “Everything that you wanted to tell him but couldn’t… Say it now.”

    …In simple terms, ALL THE FEELINGS.

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:42

      To be fair, having never given anything else six pipes (and that included Brett) I’m surprised the first season managed it. I suspect I was simply so excited by a fresh adaptation that I just started handing out pipes. It was quite thrilling.
      I was actually quite tempted to not watch the rest of the series after that first episode, because it sat so poorly with me right away. I haven’t watched it a second time, because I’m worried I’ll end up hating it even more. I’ve talked a lot in my comments about what I didn’t like about her, but someone above said it best. It was very unsettling to see a highly sexualised person basically harassing a non-sexualised person. It made me very uncomfortable (as I’m sure it did Holmes).

      John pulling rank will forever be my favourite aspect of this season. My God, he was made to pull rank. I may be a slightly hysterical Watson fangirl, but this thrilled me to no end.

      I was amazed, though, but how they twisted the Hound story into something modern that not only was engaging and fascinating, but terrifying as hell. I confess; I hid under my blankets several times throughout the episode.

      But Reichenbach is the episode that made the season. IT was brilliant, from start to finish. Even my quibbles were miniscule in the face of sheer genius. I loved, loved the episode. I expected, too, to not be particularly moved by it, in part because we knew Holmes would survive and come back, but in part because I’d already figured out his plan so I knew how he’d do it, but then they started crying and the strength of the acting was just so moving I could no longer function. It was breathtaking, and so very, very painful.

      I hadn’t equated Moriarty with the Master, but yes, that is fairly good, isn’t it? I’m a big Doctor Who fan, too, so that will now make me love Scott’s Moriarty even more. I am almost depressed that he has died and won’t be returning for future seasons. How heartbreaking. I’ll have to console myself with the knowledge that at least Sherlock and John will be back. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 18 months this time.

  6. fish eye no miko
    January 16th, 2012 at 11:39

    You know, everyone complains that Holmes saving Adler is bad because it makes her a damsel in distress. MY problem with him saving her is that THIS version of Irene is a pretty horrible person who doesn’t deserve saving. NOT because she’s a dominatrix (I love Lady Heather form CSI, who’s in the exact same business), but because of things like: She lets other women die to fake her death (think abut the implications of SHERLOCK saving her at the end… did he have to kill yet another poor innocent woman her? … there’s a reason I think this is a dream sequence, and will continue to unless the show forces me to think otherwise), blackmails governments, and, oh yeah, she would have made Sherlock, Mycroft, and god knows who else do MORIARTY’S bidding as well…

    Overall, “Scandal” just pisses me off. Even the stuff I might have like. For example, “depressed Sherlock”, an idea I love, is ruined by him being depressed over… a woman he met ONCE? What the hell?

    • admin
      January 16th, 2012 at 11:45

      You’re exactly right; she was not a redeemable character in this. I’m not sure why they tried to make us believe she was. You also touch on an interesting point, because she did not come across as half as clever as she was made to appear. I cannot see this woman besting Sherlock and Mycroft. There really aren’t words to describe how disappointed I was in the episode and the character adaptation.

      So, yes, feel free to rant. It was a rather deplorable episode.

      • fish eye no miko
        January 16th, 2012 at 12:22

        First of all–wow, that previous post of mine… So many grammar errors, typos, etc.. Sorry about that…

        “I’m not sure why they tried to make us believe she was.”

        Exactly! Sherlock comes to rescue her at the end and we’re supposed to be all, “Yay!” WHY? She’s a selfish, treacherous, possibly murderous, a–hole!

        Yeah. Possibly murderous. Can you prove to me she didn’t kill that woman in the morgue? No. You know why? Because once they find out Irene is alive, no one–not even John–gives that woman a second thought! Where did she come from? How did she die? Hell, maybe she made a deal with Irene, so her dying is ok. Or maybe not. WE DON’T KNOW. And the fact that we don’t know, the fact that no one even thinks about any of things I just mentioned, is a problem in and of itself. Some woman died, on Christmas eve (another sign of Irene’s selfishness–pulling this on the 24th. You couldn’t wait a few days? #!*&)–and we’re not even supposed to think about it. I doubt Moffat thought about it… She’s just another disposable woman. (and let’s not even get into her face being messed up [which is fairness, makes some sense], so Sherlock has to look at her naked body to ID her… Oh, God Moffat, just.. God).

        Seriously, this episode… I have, like, ALL the issues with this episode…

        • admin
          January 16th, 2012 at 16:25

          Do you, I’d completely forgotten about that extra woman. I was so busy being incensed by her characterization that it slipped my mind. By, Jove, you’re right. Where else did that woman come from? Granted, she might have used a cadaver, but that’s still body snatching, denying some loved one closure. I actually didn’t get that whole scene, because how would Sherlock ever (ever) make the mistake of wrongfully identifying someone.

          Gah, the more I talk about it, the angrier this episode makes me. I hear you on issues. I have this kind of reaction to a lot of Moffat’s writing. I’m not at all surprised he’s taken a lot of flak for the ep.

          • fish eye no miko
            January 16th, 2012 at 17:18

            “how would Sherlock ever (ever) make the mistake of wrongfully identifying someone.”

            This is the same episode that expects us to believe the guy who can figure things out about you from your thumbs and feet was flummoxed by a woman being naked… “Oh, noes! No clothes! I can’t guess ONE DAMN THING about her!”
            Bull. SHIT.

  7. fish eye no miko
    January 16th, 2012 at 17:43

    Ok, I’ve bitched enough….

    Hound. OH. MY. GOD. This is an amazing episode! So much wonderful Sherlock and John interaction (and surprise!Lestrade! Yay!)! Such great suspense! Such lovely scenery!

    And lots of fun stuff. Sherlock driving was… a shock, really (apparently this was done becasue Martin Freeman can’t drive). John pulling rank and generally being the BAMF we know he is is always welcome. Oh, and for some reason, the pairing of Mycroft and Lestrade is really popular, so the references to “I don’t always do what you’re brother says”… oh, so much material for the Mystrade fans!

    One thing I thought was nice about this episode was how much emphasis was put on Henry. A lot of times the client is kind of forgotten (in fairness, a lot of time they’re dead, so…), but in this one, we see the pain the poor guy’s going through. Hell, he even calls Sherlock out about being an arse to him. And at the end when the bad guy is revealed, it’s Henry that attacks him and reads him the riot act. It was really nice to see.

    But the best thing was the stuff between Sherlock and John… them working together (the “bet” scene was a nice subtle bit–Sherlock mentions a bet and John immediately catches on and even improvises a bit), their general interaction, and of course, the “I only have one” scene. D’awwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    Oh! And…

    “at times found it a bit unbelievable (glow in the dark rabbits indeed”

    You know they’ve done this with cats, right?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14882008

    So… why not rabbits?

    • admin
      January 17th, 2012 at 08:08

      Martin Freeman can’t drive? Wow. That’s surprising. I always pictured Sherlock ordering John to drive him around, so I thought it was odd when he took the wheel, but I guess that makes sense.

      I don’t really follow the fandom, but I am laughing hysterically at the idea of Mycroft and Lestrade. Have they even met? Well, fandom’s fun like that.

      I liked the focus on Henry, too, and it’s very in keeping with the original story, because so much of tale was Baskerville, and not Holmes–he’ll he didn’t even show up until the midway point. It was a great episode.

      And huh. Glowing cats. Who would fund something like that? How odd.

    • JL82
      January 17th, 2012 at 19:29

      There is a lot of Watson / Sir Henry fic too, although I confess I am not a fan of it. If there is any male Sherlockian character I have trouble seeing as gay, it would be Sir Henry. He spends most of HOUN mooning over a woman. (And I guess I have a bias against pairing Holmes and Watson with anyone but each other.)

      • fish eye no miko
        January 17th, 2012 at 20:43

        “(And I guess I have a bias against pairing Holmes and Watson with anyone but each other.)”

        Me, too! I can maaaybe put them in a threesome with Lestrade (esp. the “Sherlock” version. Oh, mama!), but aside from that, yeah, I’m a pretty hardcore Holmes/Watson shipper.

  8. TheTannedOtaku
    January 16th, 2012 at 20:53

    I swear it’s like Richie movies and this series are in a contest to see who can out-gay the other, I can’t but feel we’re reaching a draw…

    • admin
      January 17th, 2012 at 08:09

      Oh, yes, they did a fantastic job of stepping up to the plate. I still think Ritchie won. *g*

  9. GQ
    January 17th, 2012 at 15:54

    Just a few notes on points you made.
    I love your reviews and this was no exception, but I can see we differ in opinion in some ways.

    Belgravia:
    While I am 100% with you on Moffat’s constant accidental sexism, once I had gotten past that I really liked how Adler’s personality was based on sexuality, thus offering a really striking contrast to Holmes’ asexuality (the jokes were in bad taste though. Poor Sherlock). I liked how she was powerful in a way that is still considered to be somehow scandalous in today’s society, just like canon!Adler. But you’re right, as the episode progressed and they pushed a particular facet of their fascinating relationship, I became increasingly uncomfortable.
    Adler makes a parallel about her feelings for Holmes as a lesbian and Watson’s feelings for him as a straight man that I found very intriguing.

    Hound:
    I really /really/ liked this episode, I have to admit. It did seem more fantastical than the others, though, and, although I was at the edge of my seat while watching it, there were few surprises. That was my only issue with it.

    Fall:
    It seemed like you rushed your critique of this episode, but that may just be because I was incredibly moved by it. It was well-paced, funny, /very/ dramatic, and, most of all, a touching love story.
    You hardly mentioned the fall itself at all though, which surprised me. I’d like to know what you thought of it- the lying, the crying, the smiling, the /reaching/?
    It’s still making my heart hurt a little, actually. Heh.

    So, uh… just wanted to share this with you, I guess.

    Thanks for reviewing! You’re great!

    *slinks away*

    • admin
      January 18th, 2012 at 06:07

      I love that everyone takes something different from the series. It’s amazing how much an interpretation can change just based on a person’s own background.

      I suspect, though, that I could have agreed with you if I’d seen Adler’s sexuality as a contrast to Holmes’ asexuality, but I in fact saw an attempt to sexualize Holmes. That’s what bothered me. I also wish Moffat hadn’t equated strong, powerful woman with sex. A woman does not need to be highly sexual to be strong and powerful, and Moffat seemed to suggest this was the only source of a woman’s strength. It irked.

      I did, however, find the lesbian-straight man parallels fascinating.

      I think it’s impossible to surprise when doing Hound. It’s been done so many times (it’s the most popular story to adapt) that there is nothing new under the sun. The story could only really end in one way, and that made every step before quite predictable.

      I wrote my critique right after viewing, which is not what I did with the other two, so I suspect that’s a lot of why it seems rushed. I didn’t touch too much on the fall, because doing so makes me so very angry at Holmes. I cannot swoon over the tears or the near touch, because in the end Holmes still made Watson think he was dead for 3 years, and that makes him such an asshole (regardless of his motives) because, my god, why would you do that to someone you cared about? I have a hard time with FINA, too, for that reason, and it always bothered me that Watson didn’t punch Holmes in the face when he got back in EMPT. I suspect I would have been a good deal more moved if I didn’t know Holmes was manipulating Watson. I’m not sure I can even trust any gesture he made, or word he said. I found it horrible (though true to Canon).

      So, yes, the exact opposite reaction from most people.

      But it’s so great hearing other peoples’ interpretations. It always makes me reconsider my own. Thanks for dropping by.

      • fish eye no miko
        January 18th, 2012 at 06:59

        “I did, however, find the lesbian-straight man parallels fascinating.”

        Frankly, unless it actually amounts to something, it just feels like them trying to justify “lesbian” Irene trying to jump Sherlock’s bones.

        It’s also rather insulting to John. No, Irene, you DON’T love Sherlock the way John does. You CAN’T. You’ve met him ONCE. No way is that the same as someone who’s known him for nearly a year! Not just known him, but lived with him. Who’s watched him be awesome, but also dealt with all of his shit, every day. Seriously, I’d love to see how Irene would deal with Sherlock going through nicotine withdrawal, or shooting at the walls cuz he’s bored, or saying negative things about her to her face? I’m guessing she wouldn’t deal with it as well as John does…

      • January 19th, 2012 at 04:37

        Regarding sexualizing Sherlock Holmes:

        Moffat did what every other male pastiche writer has done: use Irene Adler to prove Sherlock isn’t gay. This is SUCH a pet peeve of mine that I absolutely dread any appearance by her because whatever Sherlock she’s put against will act completely OOC. In this case it also doesn’t make sense considering how Sherlock has been portrayed in this series up to now. In spite of all the ‘they must be gay’ jokes this Sherlock has been portrayed as asexual or with a sex drive so under control he might as well be. So I guess not only did lesbian Irene need to be exposed to virgin dick, asexual Sherlock needed a naked woman to sit on his lap. *sigh*

        • admin
          January 19th, 2012 at 07:56

          This. Exactly.

        • fish eye no miko
          January 19th, 2012 at 12:17

          “use Irene Adler to prove Sherlock isn’t gay.”

          Yeah, this pisses me off, too.

          Though, frankly, it didn’t work for me… so much of this episode just felt wrong that I didn’t buy any of it.

      • Winter
        February 2nd, 2012 at 03:59

        “in the end Holmes still made Watson think he was dead for 3 years”
        I hope they won’t make this Hiatus as long as that in Canon. Three years is way too much, it’s an unbearably long time…

        “why would you do that to someone you cared about?”
        Ok, I did try to find a reason, even though it seemed like trying to fathom the unfathomable… I had a really hard time trying to decide whether to post this or not, because at times it sounds crazy even to me, but this is the only explanation I could muster.
        I admit it’s twisted and wouldn’t spare him a well-deserved punch but, could it have been a contorted attempt to protect him from harm?
        The point is, he disappeared after his staged death: the only explanation is that, like in Canon, Moriarty may be dead, but his organization is still up and running, and there’s still someone – Sebastian Moran ? – who’s calling the shots, and to whom Sherlock is as much a threat as he was to Moriarty.
        I suspect that, similarly to Canon!Holmes, Sherlock plans to destroy Moran and what’s left of Moriarty’s organization from the shadows.
        There’s a difference, however, between ACD’s stories and this adaptation: I’m still quite new to this fandom and I don’t have such an in-depth knowledge of Canon as you, but as far as I can remember neither Moriarty nor Moran nor any of Holmes’s foes ever threatened to have Watson or somebody close to Holmes killed. (Correct me if I’m wrong).
        Sherlock must have known from the very beginning that Moriarty was going to try to kill him: he himself told him so in ‘The Great Game’ and his reference to a ‘permanent destination’ in this season’s finale wasn’t subtle in the least. The scene between Molly and Sherlock, too, was telling, and as far as I know at that time he didn’t know yet Moriarty was trying to destroy his reputation.
        Sherlock, anyway, had a ‘aha’ moment after leaving Kitty Riley’s. But about what? If I’m correct and Sherlock always knew Moriarty was going to kill him somehow, what did he realize? Could it be that he thought that Moriarty was going to turn against his friends?
        So, Moriarty may be gone, but there’s as much as stake now as there was on the rooftop, because Moran – or whoever Sherlock is currently after – surely knows what his weakness is and wouldn’t hesitate to hurt his friends to get to Sherlock if he knew he was still alive.
        So, the only way to keep John (and Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade) safe was to make sure everybody believed he’s dead for real. He can’t risk getting in touch with anyone – I even doubt his own brother knows he’s alive – lest Moran find out the truth about him.
        As for the reason why he didn’t tell John what he was going to do, maybe the answer lies in what he told him: ‘Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.’ If John had known what he was up to, he would have demanded – rightly so – to be involved, but John has become too important to him to risk his life in this adventure.
        As long as John and his friends believe he’s dead, and as long as the rest of the world believes he was actually a fake (and that, then, there never was a Moriarty or his criminal web, so there’s no need to investigate into the matter), he’s free to try to bring down Moran, and the worst that could happen to him is to get killed in the attempt.
        Anyway, I see your point, and I expect John to punch his lights out when he gets back, both for the heartbreak and for having been kept in the dark, and I’ll cheer when he does. Sherlock has got a lot of explaining to do, that’s for sure, and he won’t get away with it as easily as Canon!Holmes did, I hope.
        I also admit there’s a root problem with Sherlock: he seems to me more closed-up and secretive than the Holmes of Canon, he still has a tendency to act on his own, to deliberatly keep John in the dark.
        Whatever his reasons, I expect this issue to be tackled when he gets back.

        By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for this amazing site and for your wonderful reviews. It was this site, actually, that led me to Sherlock Holmes. I stumbled upon it, thought that it sounded like ACD was worth a try, and got hooked. Thank you.

        • Winter
          February 4th, 2012 at 09:04

          Just a note about what I wrote:

          “There’s a difference, however, between ACD’s stories and this adaptation”
          … besides the fact that, as Holmes stated in EMPT, Moriarty’s associates knew that he was in fact still alive. I assume they don’t in BBC-verse, or they would have used his friends in order to flush him out.

  10. January 17th, 2012 at 23:17

    There’s not a whole lot I can add to this discussion that hasn’t been already said other than a few random thoughts:

    My disappointment with Scandal wasn’t so much about Irene’s profession but that Moffat really missed the whole point of the original story. Holmes has his overly-large ego deflated by his underestimating an opponent because of his foolish prejudice. In SHERLOCK whatever lesson he learned from being outsmarted by her (well, Moriarty really) was undone because he got the last word (like John said he would: “He’ll outlive God to get the last word”) and rescuing her at the end. Thus, massive ego remains intact.

    I have this theory that by letting Holmes be defeated — by a woman, no less! — in his first appearance in the Strand, readers were able to identify with Holmes more easily than if he had never lost and was just an insufferable smarty-pants all the time. She was his first ‘Norbury’ and endeared him all the more to readers for exposing his humanity early on.

    And Adler? Don’t get me started on the similarities between her and the Guy Ritchie Adler (he should demand credit, frankly):

    1. Has unconventional profession for her time
    2. Works for Moriarty
    3. Drugs Sherlock Holmes
    4. Develops a thing for Sherlock
    5. In spite of her intelligence, is eventually bested by Sherlock
    6. Has to be rescued by Sherlock

    And she starts out naked but in control and ends up on her knees (!) shrouded like the Virgin Mary. Yes, I get tired of hypersexuality = independence but at least she was in control of hers. Until she met Sherlock, it seems. I guess his virgin mojo, not to mention those cheekbones and turned up collar were too much for a jaded professional sex worker. Then she ended up a weeping mess. Geeze-louise.

    And Sherlock has a crush on her? Really? He opens up a can of whoop-ass on the guy who roughs up Mrs. Hudson yet the woman who works in league with the man who strapped a bomb on John gets a walk? And yeah, sexuality can be fluid but I can’t believe they pulled the tired ‘all a lesbian needs is some dick — even inexperienced virgin dick will do — to turn her straight’ trope. Feh.

    I know I’m probably asking too much but I do hope that one of these days we get an Irene Adler who has an unqualified win and doesn’t fall for Sherlock. Oh, yeah, we did get that — in 1891!

    In spite of my complaints there is a lot about this episode I loved, like the Christmas party scene and caring!John. I also really liked seeing John and Mycroft working together to protect Sherlock, which is probably why John reacted so strongly to Mycroft’s actions in episode 3.

    I was glad to see how good Hound was and I was the weeping mess by the end of Fall. Martin Freeman needs to clear some more space on a bookshelf to put another BAFTA next to the one he already has. Seriously.

    Andrew Scott almost made me feel sorry for Moriarty. I seldom feel the need to write a fan letter but if I had Scott’s email I’d be composing one right now. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about his Moriarty but he totally won me over.

    And Sherlock was crying — CRYING — during his phone call with John. He knew how much his trick was going to hurt John. Those two really love each other and anyone who says differently is an idiot. And Molly is my new hero.

    • admin
      January 18th, 2012 at 06:18

      Sorry, my response to your comment is below–missed the reply button.

    • fish eye no miko
      January 18th, 2012 at 06:33

      “I have this theory that by letting Holmes be defeated — by a woman, no less! — in his first appearance in the Strand”

      This version of Sherlock actually has been defeated, though. Arguably twice, in the first season–the cabbie talks him into taking the pill and he’s only saved by John shooting the guy. Then in TGG…. yeah… Hell, before SCAN aired, I was annoyed at the idea of getting another season of Sherlock defeated over and over (I was worried FALL would end with Jim getting one over on him again)… d-:

      • admin
        January 18th, 2012 at 06:47

        I confess, watching Holmes get trumped is something I adore, so I would have loved an entire season of Sherlock getting defeated over and over again. But then, I have ever been a Watson girl. I tolerate Holmes merely because Watson loves him.

        • February 29th, 2012 at 14:10

          It was said by some Sherlockian writer back in the mists of time, “We like Holmes because Watson does.” After all, 99.9% of the Canon is filtered through Watson’s eyes.

  11. admin
    January 18th, 2012 at 06:18

    While my problems with the episode remain, that was exactly the problem I had with Holmes rescuing her. Well, that I hate damsel in distress tropes. I keep trying to find a way to justify the episode, but not matter what I do it just leaves me angry. It was bad writing, with bad characterization, and a very bad message. Not to mention extremely insulting.

    Having Adler defeat him in Canon really did make him more human, not just because he was defeated, but because he knew he was defeated and it made him rethink his abilities. It was a tremendous moment of character growth for Canon Holmes. Why they’d completely negate that in Sherlock I don’t know.

    And I’m honestly not sure what’s worse. The fact that she fell in love with Holmes (which she didn’t) or the fact that she worked for Moriarty (completely diminishing the whole powerful, independent woman angle). Oh, the whole thing irks. You also have a good point about the transition from sexualized nakedness to shrouded virgin. I don’t even want to comment on that symbolism. I swear, Moffat should never be allowed to write women.

    Clearly, though, this episode has touched a lot of buttons for a lot of people. It was very clumsily written. I’d hate to be Moffat right now. As a writer, this is the last response you want people to have to your work.

    I hear the Americans are planning a re-make of Sherlock Holmes, also set in the modern setting. I’m not sure why they’ve decided to copy the BBC, but perhaps they’ll write an Adler worthy of the original. I doubt it, but we can always hope.

    I will also add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for Freeman. That man is easily one of the best actors in the business. He’s fantastic.

    You can read my thoughts on the fall scene above (response to last comment) but yes, sadly Sherlock’s crying did nothing but fill me with rage. Not at the writing or the show, but at Holmes. What right did he have to cry, knowing he was going to make his best friend witness his fake suicide? Imagine if someone you loved did something like that to you. Dear, god, it almost makes him irredeemable. But I digress.

  12. fish eye no miko
    January 18th, 2012 at 06:37

    “I’d hate to be Moffat right now. As a writer, this is the last response you want people to have to your work.”

    From what I’ve seen, he pretty much dismisses all the criticism.

    “but perhaps they’ll write an Adler worthy of the original. I doubt it, but we can always hope.”

    I’d love a Holmes adaptation without Adler OR Moriarty, frankly. There are other villains in this canon, people!!

    • admin
      January 18th, 2012 at 06:45

      Milverton! Oh, how awesome an episode would that make?

      • fish eye no miko
        January 18th, 2012 at 07:00

        Indeed!

        My dream line up for next season on Sherlock would be “Empty House”, “Milverton”, and “Copper Beeches”. (-:

  13. l-girl
    January 19th, 2012 at 16:57

    I heard they wanted to write about Watson’s marriage to Mary. I really hope if they do Moffat stays FAR away. Messing up Adler is one thing, messing up Mary (who I love in cannon if for no other reason than she let’s, even encourages Watson in his interest in Sherlock’s cases) is another thing all together. Actually I’d really like Thompson to write that one… the blind banker may have had many issues but I personally adored Sara.

    Speaking of women Watson dates. Did anyone else think what’s her name in Scandal looked a lot like a female Sherlock? Think about it, tall, slender, pale skin, dark hair, good looking in an unconventional way and dresses in simple but elegant clothes and a big black coat…

    As for future episodes I’d like to see what’s his name from the Red Headed League, maybe a series of robberies/forages/other crimes since just the Red-headed League itself wouldn’t work well for a 90 minuet story. (The Red headed League and The Speckled Band were my introduction to Sherlock Holmes and both carry a special place in my heart) … Although if they do that one I demand the date scene and that Watson doesn’t deny that it is a date when pointed out.

    As for the other two stories, well Empty House is a given (esp with the sniper set up) although I do hope they don’t do the courtroom scene and that Watson does punch Holmes, and as for the third… I’m not picky as long as it’s well written I’ll love it I’m sure.

    • fish eye no miko
      January 19th, 2012 at 17:33

      My biggest problem with them dealing with Mary is this:
      Canon Holmes and Watson could sort of have separate lives and still work together, etc. BBC Sherlock and John are MUCH more co-dependent, and Sherlock seems much more selfish than canon Holmes. So while canon Watson could have a wife, John… yeah, as soon as Sherlock comes back, John will be back at his side, and Mary’s gonna have to like it or lump it. Really, aside from delaying their true “reunion”, I see no purpose to give John a wife…

      Oh, and the gal’s name was “Jeanette”.

      • January 19th, 2012 at 19:52

        Word. I see no point in marrying John off. All that will do is force the writer to come up with some excuse why John is ONCE AGAIN running off with Sherlock. It was one thing for a Victorian husband to do so, because men and women really lived seperate lives then, but now? Between a job, possibly kids, and all of the domestic stuff that entails it would be very difficult to justify John’s time away from his family without making him look like a selfish jerk. In the Canon after The Haitus, John moves back to Baker Street and lives a bachelor life for several years before marrying again. I know Moffat has flirted with the idea of marrying John off, but I think once he sits down with Gatiss and Thompson to plan out Series Three, they’ll realize that doing that will create more problems than it’s worth. Now I can see them giving John a steady girlfriend although some of the same problems regarding how he splits his time will still arise.

        • l-girl
          January 19th, 2012 at 20:18

          oh I agree and you forgot one more thing… romantic plots above the UST level all too often detract from a TV show (oh it happens in other forms of media but TV is the biggest offender).

          No if they decide to bring in Mary (and honestly I’d rather they didn’t which I should have said in my first post, sorry) I just ask for one thing, Moffat doesn’t write it cause it will go from a 75% chance of being screwed up to a 99% chance.

          • fish eye no miko
            January 19th, 2012 at 20:46

            IMO, Moffat shouldn’t be writing this show, period. ASiB was a huge mess, and not just because of how screwed up Irene was, and I’d hate to see that happen again, esp. any episode with a prominent female character. Gatiss and Thompson should do the writing from now on, and Moffat can… well, I can’t really say what I want Moffat to go do, but… well, use your imagination.

      • admin
        January 20th, 2012 at 07:55

        Or, John marries during Sherlock’s hiatus, and then Sherlock’s return leads to a divorce. Interesting story that would work with the confines/characterization in the show.

        • l-girl
          January 20th, 2012 at 13:56

          … I need this in my life, esp with a jealous Sherlock (personally I want him to squirm after making John think he’s dead.)

    • admin
      January 20th, 2012 at 07:54

      Oh, man. I would die if they messed up Mary. I love Mary. Thompson did really well with Sara(h)?, didn’t he. Yes, he should write SIGN. Moffat can write EMPT–they are no women in that.

      I love the idea of Watson dating women who look like Homles. Someone’s probably written that fic. I can see him being repressed enough to do that, and then figuring it out too late. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for Mary to be tall, slender and dark haired. Fingers crossed.

      Red would be fantastic. And Dancing Men. And Silver Blaze. Shit, there are so many things I’d love to see. I hope the do them all.

      • Kore
        February 8th, 2012 at 14:03

        Mary, if they write her in, has to be the person who “gets” their relationship, isn’t intimidated by it, and can find a way to fit in as the tertiary party.

        In canon, Holmes compliments her as, iirc, the only person other than Watson who he thinks might be “useful in such work as we have been doing” (Sign of the Four), and is clearly a bit jealous (of Watson, Mary, or both?). I’d like to see Holmes move from resentment and jealousy to an unspoken agreement with Mary that they are both taking care of Watson, each in their own way.

        For Watson, she needs to be someone very different from the many “maybe I can get laid regularly” girlfriends he seems to have gone through. She needs to be someone he trusts (“trust issues”), the way he’d trust someone to stand a watch while he slept.

        Here’s hoping, anyway.

        • admin
          February 8th, 2012 at 14:20

          I’m terrified of what they’ll do with Mary, because I adore the Mary of canon, but the potential to screw her up as a character is astronomical. I’m rather hoping they pull a granada and leave her out, if only so that they don’t ruin her. I have to say, I was so impressed with Guy Ritchie’s take on her. That earned my love.

          • Kore
            February 8th, 2012 at 18:44

            In that case, I may have to see that movie.

            If they write her correctly, and get an actress who is a good “fit”, it could be amazing; if they don’t, I agree, they could really screw up the character.

  14. Tiara
    January 19th, 2012 at 17:28

    I actually truly adored Scandal, and I did love Irene’s part in it. I think this is the only adaptation I’ve seen that I was actually satisfied with how the relationship between Holmes and Irene was portrayed.

    I liked how no one was quite able to put their fingers on how Sherlock felt for her, because it wasn’t exactly love, but fascination, as it was in the books. And I didn’t mind her as a dominatrix – I thought the position suited her character rather well, honestly. In the book, she was a teensy bit of a whore for the sake of power, I’ve always felt.

    The interactions between John and Sherlock were outstanding and adorable, and I found myself just basking in the wake of their fluffy, obvious love for each other. And Mycroft! I adore this version of him so hardcore.

    I was a bit frustrated at points with Hound, but I think that mostly had to do with the fact that the version I was watching kept stopping to buffer, which pissed me off to no end. I did find Sherlock’s freak out performance a bit over the top. Though I do actually agree with how Sherlock experimented on John. He did have the tendency of being a bit of an ass like that, even in canon. Dying Detectve, anyone?

    Overall, however, I found the series abosultely brilliant, perhaps even more so than the first. I was delaying watching The Blind Baker based on your review, but seeing as how I’ve discovered how strongly I disagree with you about Scandal, I think I shall watch it after all!

    • admin
      January 20th, 2012 at 08:01

      Wow. That is a very different opinion from most I’ve heard. I find it interesting how different people took different things from the episode. I can’t of course agree, but it’s a fascinating take on the idea. I like getting the chance to see the episode from the other side, so to speak.

      But, yes, Sherlock’s freak out was embarrassing to watch. It was far too over the top. Again we differ on Sherlock’s experimenting, though the Dying Detective raises an interesting point. For me the difference was John was never in any danger. In Hound he was, because he’s a former soldier suffering from PTSD and was armed. He could have hurt himself/someone quite easily. I can’t see Holmes doing that to him.

      And yes, never allow someone’s opinion to bias your own, my apologies. Clearly we all take something different from adaptations. I approach SH from my own place and my own background, and so my interpretation/enjoyment will be heavily biased. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Blind Baker, actually.

  15. JL82
    January 21st, 2012 at 16:22

    “Tropes” are recurring elements in fiction, or the movies, etc. Tvtropes.org has a whole page on Sherlockian homo-eroticisim in all versions (and they reference us, or rather Decoding).

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/HoYay/SherlockHolmes

  16. Winter
    January 21st, 2012 at 16:55

    Would you mind if I offered my interpretation of ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’? Feel free to delete it if you don’t like it.
    I should warn you that I’m not a native speaker of English, and although I did my best there are probably lots of mistakes.

    Since I had already read the commentary to the episode, I started watching expecting to hate it. Well, much to my surprise, I didn’t. I still find it jarring, but I wouldn’t say I hate it.
    Maybe it’s because by the time I finished watching it, it was two in the morning and I wasn’t exactly clear-headed, or because there’s something dreamlike and eerie about it, or maybe I’m just in denial and imagining things to redeem an unredeemable episode, but I am convinced that, despite the bad jokes, the nakedness and the like it’s not about sex or sexuality, it’s actually about Sherlock’s heart and feelings – but not for Irene, definitely not for her.
    There is, indeed, a sort of connection between him and The Woman, but in my opinion John and Mycroft are wrong to believe there’s something romantic about it.
    I’m also glad he saved Irene’s life at the end. Not that I care about her fate, but I think that it was a very meaningful thing to do for him.
    Sherlock described love as ‘a dangerous disadvantage’, ‘very destructive’, ‘found in the losing side’. Irene made herself vulnerable when she allowed herself to fall in love with him, and ended up losing everything she had worked for. Sherlock, too, made himself vulnerable when he allowed John into his life, as Moriarty knows all too well. It’s John’s name written on Sherlock’s heart, I have no doubt about that.
    ‘I am locked’. Not anymore, I guess, Mr. Holmes.
    As I see it, up to this point Sherlock thought his only choices were either to live like a human machine, never letting his heart ruling his head, or allow himself to feel something, to love someone, and face an inevitable, painful ruin.
    By saving Irene’s life I think he decided there must be another way, that love doesn’t have to be his undoing and that, as dangerous as it is, it’s still possible for him to love and not be crushed.

    • admin
      January 21st, 2012 at 19:55

      I wouldn’t even consider deleting this. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I for one enjoy reading the opinions of others, even when they don’t necessarily match my own.

      Your comments actually remind me of my reaction to Sherlock Holmes 2. I went in, expecting the worst, expecting to hate it, and because it was so far above my expectations, I loved it. I expect, had I gone into Sherlock spoiled (and having read negative reviews) I might have liked it more, because my expectations would have been lower. As it was, I went in with a clean slate, my expectations quite high, and then, when they weren’t met, I was disappointed.

      That is not to say my reaction is the only valid one. Certainly not. But I’m curious to know how much being spoiled changed the viewing for you.

      I do think the episode was filmed as very dream-like, so it wasn’t your two in the morning. A lot of Moffat’s writing is like this actually (it’s very evident in his work on Doctor Who).

      You do, however, paint a very interesting parallel between Irene’s feelings for Holmes and Holmes’ feelings for John. The contrary was quite obvious (Irene’s for Holmes and John’s for Holmes) but I hadn’t considered making the connection between Sherlock and his feelings for John. Rereading what I just wrote makes this sound like a soap opera, but there is some truth in it.

      I also like your interpretation for why he saved her. It actually makes me less critical of the scene. I think, having read this, I shall have to rewatch the episode. Thank you, you’ve given me new avenues to explore. A very well thought out examination.

      • Winter
        January 23rd, 2012 at 15:59

        Thank you, you’re very kind.

        “Rereading what I just wrote makes this sound like a soap opera”.
        Yes, I tend to get cheesy and emotional sometimes. Well, most of the time, actually. Sorry about that.

        “I’m curious to know how much being spoiled changed the viewing for you.”
        It’s difficult to imagine how I would have reacted to ASiB if I hadn’t been spoiled, but I think you’re right. I think I would have been sorely disappointed, almost shocked, for the same reasons you mentioned, from how Moffat wrote Irene (not my favourite character from the Canon, but still one I think deserved more respect that what she got) to the jarring sexualization of Holmes.
        I actually expected, as ridiculous as it may sound now, to find Irene Adler of dubious memory to be Moriarty’s grey eminence, the real criminal mastermind: I thought the Bohemian stationery and the female handwriting back in ‘The Great Game’ had been put there for the very purpose of hinting at her. Silly me.
        But I digress.
        Anyway, I think that I would have been tempted – very tempted – to stop watching the episode, and maybe the whole season altogether.
        In the end, I think I would have rewatched it, trying to find another interpretation, one that would fit better with Holmes’ characterization from season one, because I think it’s ridiculous that Moffat should have thrown it away, just like that.

        • admin
          January 23rd, 2012 at 16:24

          “I actually expected, as ridiculous as it may sound now, to find Irene Adler of dubious memory to be Moriarty’s grey eminence, the real criminal mastermind: I thought the Bohemian stationery and the female handwriting back in ‘The Great Game’ had been put there for the very purpose of hinting at her. Silly me.”

          Oh, that would have been genius. See, this is why fans need to write the show, not Moffat. I would have loved that spin.

    • fish eye no miko
      January 21st, 2012 at 23:52

      I’m not sure why him loving John leads to him saving Irene’s life…?

      • Winter
        February 2nd, 2012 at 03:45

        Sorry for the belated reply.
        Think about ASiB, leaving aside Sherlock’s last-minute rescue of Irene Adler for a moment.
        Her whole life, including many secrets useful for her protection, is in her mobile, protected by a passcode. As long as nobody can get to the passcode, she has the upper hand.
        As Sherlock tells her, she could have chosen any number at random and walked away free. Unfortunately for her, she falls in love (I know her feelings don’t, can’t compare with those between John and Sherlock, but we’ll have to make do) with Sherlock, and chooses his name, something meaningful to her, as a passcode.
        So, apparently, Sherlock’s thesis is proved. If she hadn’t developed feelings for him, he couldn’t have guessed her passcode, but she did fall in love, and lost everything, including her life: far from being a strenght, love and sentiment make you vulnerable, and only holding your heart carefully in check can keep you safe (huh, sounds melodramatic, does it?)
        Saving Irene seems a… say ‘symbolic’ action, to me. It means that, after all, Sherlock believes, or has come to believe, there is a way out, that he doesn’t have to choose between caring and, well, staying alive. It’s a sort of statement of hope that has actually little to do with Irene and a lot with Sherlock himself, because if they are in a sense alike, by saving her he’s acknowledging there may be a way of saving himself, too.
        Now, how does all this relate with John?
        I can’t be 100 percent sure, but as far as I could gather Sherlock, though not heartless, had no emotional bond with anyone until he met John. He changed him, Sherlock started to care and John became, in a sense, his weakness.
        Think about, for example, ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, again leaving the fake death part aside. Killing Sherlock isn’t enough for Moriarty: he wants him to kill himself. Sherlock has no intention of doing it, until Moriarty (who knows what Sherlock’s weakness is) threatens to have John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade killed if he doesn’t.
        It’s Sherlock’s concern for their safety that pushes him onto the ledge and, apparently, kills him… or actually, it would have killed him if he hadn’t faked his death, as he faked Irene Adler’s death in ASiB.
        As long as Sherlock has someone he cares about in his life, he’s going to be vulnerable, that’s beyond question, but ruin and death aren’t inevitable, and his dilemma (either not caring, or dying because of it) is false and, as difficult, risky and possibly heartbreaking as it may be, it’s possible to navigate between the Devil and the blue sea.
        I hope I could make myself understood this time. I’m not not good at explaining myself, I’m afraid, and trudging through English doesn’t help.

        • fish eye no miko
          February 2nd, 2012 at 10:54

          I guess I can see what you mean. I just wish he hadn’t chosen to prove it with someone as undeserving as Irene.

          Wait…
          “as he faked Irene Adler’s death in ASiB.”

          By killing some poor innocent woman. I mean, that IS a possibility we have to deal with if we’re gonna talk about Sherlock “saving” Irene…
          And why is that a good thing?

          • Winter
            February 4th, 2012 at 12:09

            “I just wish he hadn’t chosen to prove it with someone as undeserving as Irene.”
            Amen to that!

            “By killing some poor innocent woman. […] And why is that a good thing?”
            You’re absolutely right. It would be horrible if he had killed some innocent to save her, but I don’t think he did.
            Maybe he tampered with the records, maybe he swapped her identity with that of some poor already executed woman, or found some other very clever way to fool Mycroft, I really don’t know (though I’d like to), but I won’t believe for one second, unless proven wrong, that he actually killed someone who never did anyone any harm just to save a rather despicable person, no matter the reason. Actually I don’t think he’d do anything like that, no matter whose life were at stake.
            He may be troublesome in many respects, I agree, and he may call himself a sociopath, but I don’t think he is.
            If I thought he had really murdered someone in order to fake somebody’s death… no, that would be an unforgivable act, he’d be definitely lost to me, even if he had done it to save, say, John, or Mrs. Hudson.
            What about you? Can you really picture Sherlock Holmes doing something like that, for any reason?

          • Winter
            February 4th, 2012 at 12:16

            “a rather despicable person”
            Cut off ‘rather’ from the phrase above. IA is really a despicable person. Seriously.

  17. Magrathea
    January 22nd, 2012 at 16:51

    You really do know how Sherlock faked his own death?? Oh God, I’d give a fortune to be you for one minute. I have my vague suspicions, too, but they are… well, vague.
    Anyway: thank you very much for the reviews – I’ve been a regular reader of this website for some time, and it’s always a pleasure to see something new. I agree with almost everything you said here, so I wouldn’t detail my opinion further, just wanted to say that a) I love your site, b) thanks for introducing me to the Russian series, and c) and keep writing!

    • admin
      January 22nd, 2012 at 17:00

      I say no, but the truth is it’s only a theory, and there are enough clues in the episode to piece it together (follow the camera, the ball and the truck). It’ll be interesting to see what they end up doing with it. Who knows with Moffat. I’m not actually sure he’s even figured it out. He seems like the type to write himself into a corner.

      And thank you. It’s always delightful to meet new fans (and to introduce people to Russian Holmes!).

      • l-girl
        January 23rd, 2012 at 03:35

        hmmm if it were Moffat alone I’d worry but with Gatiss as well I’m not too concerned.

      • Winter
        January 23rd, 2012 at 16:09

        The ball? I noticed the truck, and followed the camera, but I have no idea what the ball has to do with it… Hmm… I guess I should rewatch it.

        • fish eye no miko
          January 23rd, 2012 at 16:15

          You can put a ball under your armpit to stop your pulse in the corresponding arm.

        • admin
          January 23rd, 2012 at 16:26

          Yes, he’s playing with that little black ball in the lab, and if you tuck a ball under your armpit your pulse will stop in that arm. Even the way Holmes’ arm was splayed so that John could only take his pulse on the one side suggests this.

  18. JL82
    January 28th, 2012 at 19:26

    (Sorry to keep posting on different topics here, but only a couple of the most recent posts are accepting comments.)

    Several years ago, a letter was printed in an advice column from a woman who was very shocked to discover that her husband had had a sexual relationship with his (male) college roommate. The columnist told her she needed to find out if her husband was still sleeping with me, and people wrote in and made the case that “attraction is not necessarily about gender. It’s about the other person.”
    http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20061017

    I think that’s a fascinating idea, and it was how I saw Watson initially – not necessarily attracted to men, so much as just attracted to Holmes. Of course, he does comment on some other guys’ looks, in canon.

    • admin
      January 29th, 2012 at 16:28

      No, that’s okay–I’d open the others to comments, but I get 99% spam and 1% content, so it’s almost too much of a bother (and sadly this will close soon, too–although, if you want, I’m also over at dreamwidth under the name nekosmuse, where you can comment/mail whenever). That’s a fascinating idea, and certainly human sexuality has a million shades of grey. I don’t think there’s ever a right or wrong answer.

  19. Felicia
    February 2nd, 2012 at 22:37

    While I understand some of the anger over Moffat’s way of writing women, I honestly don’t mind his female characters, and considering that Moriarty seemed to be another running undercurrent of the story, making Adler someone who wasn’t quite in the public eye, unless it was dealing with scandals, would make it hard for her to be a full-blown actress – some actresses do get into scandals, but often have problems afterwards as far as working with others or the news is concerned, and while Irene Adler was comfortable with herself, outside of the scandals I don’t think she’d like being constantly followed. I didn’t quite like the ending, but only because it was a bit silly and demanded a lot more suspension of disbelief then some of the other points. The jabs about sex and innuendos were a bit weird, but I’ve heard worst, and from less-exciting people, and in some ways it added to Adler’s character, and speaking as someone who’s new in the “lifestyle” that Adler was somewhat in, I do admit that a lot of people there can be very open about what they do or what they want to do. I will admit I see how and why both are attracted to each other, because Adler and Sherlock are a bit alike, with a few differences, especially in how they handle sex and sexuality, relationships, and how far they’ve moved from what’s made them how they are. John, and especially the instances where John was in danger, helped Sherlock to slowly start to think outside of himself at times, and focus on those who helped him and that he’s helped in some way or another. He still has his ego – he’s never without it – but also he’s not quite as egotistical as he was in the first season, or even the first episode. He tries to get interesting cases, yes, but also I’m guessing his looking at the code was just as much to impress John (again) then to impress Irene. He did, after all, just give her a rather annoyed look for the kiss on the cheek.
    Irene, though, upon meeting John and Sherlock, doesn’t quite have anyone like that. Yes, there’s her secretary, but she’s just that – not really a friend, possibly a lover, but no different to Irene then any others. Sherlock is just someone to throw off and use, as is Moriarty and Mycroft, and she’s confident throughout that she’s played them all to get what she wants. Sherlock, though, had seen the consequences of being over-confident during TGG, and never quite gives up attempting to unlock the phone, even when he learns what happened and was at stake. Her approach, I think, threw him more then what she did, and the fact that he met someone that was similar-yet-different from him. In contrast to how Irene and he interact is how he and John act – Sherlock’s obviously more comfortable around those he considers his friends and family, despite the insults, and knows they’ll help him, as opposed to someone so like him. Irene commented that he never answered her texts at all, whereas with John he constantly texts and talks to, as well as being far more tactile with him then anyone else.
    Yes, I defend Moffat’s women a lot ^^; I like some of his writing and while I don’t completely like all of it, I do think that he writes some of them well. Not all of them, but some.

    • admin
      February 4th, 2012 at 15:55

      You are right in suggesting that Moffat did a good job of paralleling Sherlock with Adler, and that the stark differences between them were largely due to Sherlock having met John. I feel a little removed from the episode now because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that the things that annoyed me have faded to nothing. I’m sure a re-watch would bring it all back, but given my current distance I’m inclined to read your pov and think, yes, I suppose that is true. Your view on Adler actually makes me feel quite sorry for her, which is odd, because she didn’t particularly seem a sympathetic character when I was watching the episode.

      She is rather tragic, though, isn’t she? Clever, but alone, open about her sexuality but with no real emotional connections in her life. It’s no wonder she thought Sherlock a kindred spirit and tried so hard to connect with him. It must have been horrible for her to realize his heart belonged to John. Wow, this has never happened to me before. Nicely worded argument.

      • Winter
        February 5th, 2012 at 04:11

        “Clever, but alone, open about her sexuality but with no real emotional connections in her life.”
        That reminds me of how I felt about him being unable to ‘read’ her naked form. He looks at her and sees nothing. And I don’t think that’s as flattering as it may seem at first glance.
        She didn’t seem to me mysterious or anything like that: she seemed empty, the kind of person that doesn’t leave traces to be read. No surprise he was so bewildered.

        • admin
          February 6th, 2012 at 17:47

          Very good analysis. All this talk though is making her a more sympathetic characte.r I really feel so sorry for her.

      • fish eye no miko
        February 6th, 2012 at 23:03

        If she was trying to hard to connect with Sherlock, why was she so willing to completely screw him over? That doesn’t really make any sense to me.

        • fish eye no miko
          February 6th, 2012 at 23:18

          Ugh, I kinda wish this place had a delete option.
          I’m just having a really bad day, so feel free to ignore that comment…

          • admin
            February 10th, 2012 at 08:07

            I can delete anything you want deleted from my end, but it’s a valid question. There’s no wrong answer in character interpretation/analysis,and I for one like having multiple points of view. It helps me flesh out my own.

  20. fish eye no miko
    February 3rd, 2012 at 00:58

    “The jabs about sex and innuendos were a bit weird […] and in some ways it added to Adler’s character”

    It made her look like a jerk, which I suppose “adds” to the character.

    • admin
      February 4th, 2012 at 15:55

      I was actually more offended by Mycroft than anything Adler said. That and the implied themes, which were entirely Moffat’s doing.

      • fish eye no miko
        February 4th, 2012 at 17:16

        Mycroft’s “How would you know?” comment came after Sherlock essentially called him a “queen” (while he and John were both giggling like school boys). One could argue he was simply retaliating.

  21. fish eye no miko
    February 4th, 2012 at 13:08

    Winter said:

    “‘By killing some poor innocent woman. […] And why is that a good thing?’

    You’re absolutely right. It would be horrible if he had killed some innocent to save her, but I don’t think he did.”

    I don’t either, but as with the woman earlier, we’ve never told. I think that, in and of itself, is problematic. Are we just not supposed to think about it? Apparently.

    “Maybe he tampered with the records, maybe he swapped her identity with that of some poor already executed woman”

    … who looked enough like Irene to fool Mycroft.
    Of course, the idea that they would keep LIVE women who could pass the Holmes’ scrutiny is pretty ridiculous, too.
    There’s always the possibility that Mycroft just flat-out lied to John for some reason.

    “‘a rather despicable person’

    Cut off ‘rather’ from the phrase above. IA is really a despicable person. Seriously.”

    Indeed…

    • Winter
      February 5th, 2012 at 03:30

      “I don’t either”
      I’m glad we agree about whether or not he killed an innocent.

      “… who looked enough like Irene to fool Mycroft.”
      That depends on what Mycroft meant when he said “I’ve been throughout this time”.
      Did he fly to Karachi to identify her (or had the body delivered to London)?
      Did he have a DNA test done on it? Did he rely on the reports of the Secret Service, did he happen to have a mole among the terrorists?
      We don’t know, so it’s impossible to say how Sherlock could have fooled him – if he did in fact fool him, as you pointed out.

      “I think that, in and of itself, is problematic. Are we just not supposed to think about it? Apparently.”
      Thank you so much for sharing your opinion with me about the matter. I have to admit that, before your comments, I took for granted Sherlock had somehow managed to fool Mycroft by providing him with false information – no bodies involved.
      The idea that he might have used a corpse hadn’t even crossed my mind until you mentioned the possibility. You made me think about it and I confirm that the very idea that he might have murdered an innocent woman goes against everything I learned about him in two seasons. He comes across as flawed, definitely far from perfect, but not as a predator, a potential cold-blooded, calculating murderer: he just doesn’t show the absolute lack of empathy towards strangers he’d need to be one.
      Of course, this is just my opinion, your perception of him may be completely different.
      By the way, what’s your opinion as to why Sherlock saved her life at the end?
      Look, rereading what I wrote in my previous posts I realize I must have come across as foolish, rude and insensitive. I hope I didn’t offend or upset you. If I did, please accept my apologies.

      • fish eye no miko
        February 5th, 2012 at 10:37

        Winter said:
        “I took for granted Sherlock had somehow managed to fool Mycroft by providing him with false information – no bodies involved.”

        You don’t think Mycroft would have wanted to see a body? Especially after Irene’s previous “death”?

        “By the way, what’s your opinion as to why Sherlock saved her life at the end?”

        I don’t really know why. I’ve heard it’s, “Oh, because he really felt something for her”, but… why? There was nothing special about her, despite claims otherwise.

        Oh, and how did she end up in Karachi? Instead of, ya know, a prison cell? She pretty much sneered at Mycroft and said “I have you by the balls, so do what I say, bitch”… and he LET HER GO? Because maybe some Middle Eastern stereotypes would kill her and that’s some sort of justice? BULLSHIT!

        • Winter
          February 8th, 2012 at 16:52

          “You don’t think Mycroft would have wanted to see a body?”
          You’re absolutely right. I would have. And a headless or otherwise disfigured body would have aroused my suspicioun.
          Really, that last sequence leaks like a sieve. I wish I could just forget it.

          “Oh, and how did she end up in Karachi?”
          Whatever the reason, it didn’t seem the safest place for her to hide. You’d expect her to choose her hiding place a little more carefully.
          For all that I know – and I’m putting this forth just for fun, don’t take me seriously – she might as well had been working for Mycroft for some reason, under the promise of protection for her afterwards if she complied, when she was caught.
          At least that might explain: why the heck she was in Karachi in the first place; how Sherlock managed to fool Mycroft (he didn’t; he might have recovered her with Mycroft’s knowledge); how he learned she was in danger; and why, apparently, someone was taking the trouble to videotape the execution with a handheld camera.
          Seriously though, the more I try to make a sense out of it, the more absurd it seems.

          • fish eye no miko
            February 8th, 2012 at 22:09

            Winder said:
            “Really, that last sequence leaks like a sieve. I wish I could just forget it.”

            Yeah, just… EPIC FAIL.

  22. fish eye no miko
    February 5th, 2012 at 10:38

    Whoops, forgot this:

    Winter said:
    “Look, rereading what I wrote in my previous posts I realize I must have come across as foolish, rude and insensitive. I hope I didn’t offend or upset you. If I did, please accept my apologies.”

    No, no worries. (-:

  23. JL82
    February 5th, 2012 at 19:18

    I just finished reading yet another send-up to Sherlock Holmes and those who obsess over him: The Barker Street Regulars, but Susan Conant. Her amateur-sleuth’s, Holly Winter’s, primary obsession is dogs, but in this case, she teams up with a couple of Sherlockians who imitate The Master’s methods. Baker Street Irregular types that they are, they seem convinced of Holmes’ infatuation with Irene. And when Holly’s kind of ignored by her boyfriend, she remarks that the lack of a sex life didn’t do Holmes any harm. (Of course I wanted to shout, “But don’t you see! He had one with Watson!”) The book includes characters named Irene, Gloria, Scott, Hugh, Robert, Simon, and such. I kid you not. Holly concludes from Watson’s obedience and loyalty that he was in fact a dog. For this character, that’s only a slight stretch of her usual obesssion. And I would agree he sometimes seems to act like one.

    • admin
      February 6th, 2012 at 17:46

      Oh. My. I don’t even have words. Kudos to you for sitting through that. I would have set that aside about a chapter in. Eeek.

  24. JL82
    February 6th, 2012 at 18:54

    “Through that” What exactly? The Baker Street Irregular motifs? The obsession with Irene? The thing about Watson being a dog didn’t come until the very end.

  25. Jessica
    February 6th, 2012 at 20:48

    Hi i love all of your reviews and your subtext they make reading all the books that much more fun. I was just wondering if you’ve seen the movie Sherlock Holmes Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer and if you could write a review of it. I loved it myself and would love to hear what you think of it.

    • admin
      February 6th, 2012 at 21:25

      I shall add it to my list. I’d actually thought I’d written a review for it, but it seems I haven’t. I haven’t done Christopher Lee’s films either… Thank you for pointing out my oversight.

    • Jessica
      February 6th, 2012 at 21:57

      nevemind on that one the movie took a swan dive half way in to it turned out being really bad on top of being really long.

  26. Jessica
    February 6th, 2012 at 21:59

    i guess the plus is there’s a good bit of Holmes and Watson stuff.

  27. Nessa
    February 9th, 2012 at 11:15

    I love your reviews and this site,I really do.Can I live inside your brain?

    “There is this underlying theme throughout the three episodes that suggests that John has fallen completely in love with Sherlock.”
    THIS.My thoughts,exactly.

    Have you read Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye?It’s one of my favorites pastiches.And did you know they’re making a new Sherlock Holmes series in Russia?Four years ago,I wouldn’t have dreamed of “Hearing Sherlock everywhere”!As a passionate fan,I’m living happy days.

    And because I do believe in Sussex:
    http://bookishadventures.tumblr.com/post/15925654586/formerlyanonymous-at-least-we-have-sussex
    It’s from Bending the Willow:Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes,by David Stuart Davies.

  28. JL82
    February 13th, 2012 at 18:41

    admin : Oh, the thought of them keeping bees. It’s so utterly romantic.

    I think Exploits of Sherlock Holmes has them both living on the bee farm in their retirement years.

  29. Kore
    February 24th, 2012 at 22:11

    Something I don’t think anyone has mentioned – “confirmed bachelor” is a euphemism for gay. Which explains why it so annoyed Watson when he read it in the papers in RF.

  30. JL82
    February 27th, 2012 at 20:14

    What does RF refer to?

    • fish eye no miko
      February 28th, 2012 at 13:44

      “(The) Reichenbach Fall”

  31. Seriona
    March 3rd, 2012 at 02:52

    How long does it take before someone becomes your best friend, you habit, a dispensable part of your life? I bet Sherlock would say less than 18 months and he could prove it. He already did.

    “Sherlock doesn’t follow me everywhere” said John in Scandal when he was taken to the power plant to meet Adler. Immediately we saw Sherlock did follow him as usual (and as sneaky as usual). Sherlock also followed John in Great Game to the railway’s investigation. Since which part of John’s journey? “From the beginning.” Even after a fight/domestic, Sherlock would watch John’s back from the window (Great Game) or text him (Hound) within five minutes (how eager he was to break the ice).

    We know that Sherlock is all about work and not an easy person to be distracted from work, yet we saw our workaholic could not keep his eyes off John even when he was in the middle of a lab test solving the kidnapped children case. Molly pointed out to Sherlock, “You look sad when you think he (John) can’t see you.” It was good to see that Sherlock had a sensitive soul. I believe it’s the only reason that he did not want to ride with John in a cab in Reichenbach. In the cab when Sherlock knew John was not looking, he looked really sad and depressed.

    In the second season, Sherlock could hardly finish a sentence without using the word “John.” Sometimes he mentions John in the middle of a speech for no reason that the subtitle person does’t even bother to include the meaningless (or meaningful) calling in the subtitle. Sherlock called John when he woke up from weird dreams. He called John when he came back to reality from deep thoughts. Even when it was a discussion of love between him and Adler, Sherlock would say “I imagine John Watson thinks love is a mystery to me. But…” John was not even there. What’s the point of mentioning him in the context? Could Sherlock survive for five minutes without thinking about John? (I bet Sherlock would say: Can’t just turn it on and off like a tap.)

    Even after Sherlock “died,” he followed and watched John. Our detective quitted smoking, yet found his new addiction. And this time, he wouldn’t be able to quit, no matter how many nicotine patches he uses.

    • admin
      March 3rd, 2012 at 19:20

      Oh, certainly I think Watson became all of that well inside 18 months. Now, of course, this series played with time a lot this season, so everything got a little fast-forwarded (actually one of my chief complaints) but in the first season we clearly saw Sherlock and John go from strangers to life partners inside of 4 months? It was quite short.

      I do rather enjoy the possessive/almost stalkerish aspect of Sherlock. It’s very in keeping with the source material, because Holmes was very protective/possessive of his Watson. It was lovely. It worked well with the last episode, too, as you say, because we really get to see just how attached Sherlock is to John, and just how devastated the thought of losing him leaves Sherlock. It was heart breaking.

      I’m amused by how often John passes Sherlock’s lips. Especially when John isn’t even around, like he’s simply become an extension of Sherlock and Sherlock expects him to ALWAYS be there. This neediness/dependency I didn’t see much in canon, but I find it an interesting take on a modern Sherlock Holmes. Also, it’s believable.

      I suspect Sherlock will spend the next 3 years (if the series leaves it that long) following John around London until it’s finally safe to come out of hiding. I’d love to see them explore Holmes the stalker in the opening of season 3.

  32. Jairo
    March 3rd, 2012 at 15:32

    Hi, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your website. Especially the rec for the Russian ones. I got to be snarky with my husband (a Russian native) over the fact that he hadn’t shared these with me even though he apparently loves them too.
    I agree with your take on SiB – why can’t Irene be an opponent not a love interest! Granada did a decent job with that I thought, better than most at least. It’s like watching Spock on ST-TOS have yet another fling. It only works when they’re acting out of character. But of course this means that they then downplay the one person who loves them despite their flaws and without idealization, in this case of course that is John. But from a subtext point of view I thought it brought a lot of attention to Sherlock’s view of John.
    In particular two scenes the one where Irene and John meet in the factory. It is partially filmed from Sherlock’s point of view (the black framed shots) and most of his attention on John. But what does he see? He sees John livid in that way that he only gets about Sherlock. He is furious at Irene for her lies, refuses to help her and demands that she inform Sherlock she is alive. He hears John try fruitlessly to deny his how he feels about Sherlock- I think Irene had the last word on that. I think this really threw him a bit. This of course is followed by a warm domestic scene after Sherlock beats up the CIA agent. Sherlock wishes John a Happy New Year and in response to John’s questions “will we be seeing her again?” he just starts playing Auld Lang Syne for John, who sits down in the chair to watch him. There’s several of these moments that make this episode palatable for me.
    Last comment, you are so right about not needing Mary. This Watson, so lovely and fleshed out, is so broken the abandonment is that much more crushing. Unlike Canon he doesn’t have a wife or a practice. He has a complicated co-dependant relationship with a man who has left him with nothing.

    • admin
      March 3rd, 2012 at 19:14

      Hello, and thank you so much. Oh, the Russian series is just lovely, isn’t it? One of my all-time favourites.

      One of these days I will see an adaptation in which Irene is not played off as the love interest. You’re right, Granada did a fairly good job, but I think it could have been taken even further. Although, I will certainly agree Irene in SIB did create some interesting parallels with Sherlock/John. Still, she’s such a fantastic character; why pigeon hole her into Sherlock’s love interest?

      I yet to re-watch the series (time constraints I’m afraid) but I think I’ll have to pay attention to the nuances between them the second (actually, it’ll be third) time around. I found myself distracted because of my irritation, so I’m certain I likely missed something. I did catch the significance of the factory scene, and the Auld Lang Syne scene, but I’m sure there are others that escaped my attention.

      I love Mary, I really do, and I don’t mind her factoring into adaptations, but I’m glad they decided to explore what Sherlock’s “death” would mean to a single John who now essentially has no one. It’ll be interesting to see what they do next (will they marry him off?). This series is shaping up to be quite suspenseful in that respect. These characters have taken on new life.

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