Holmes BBC

Sherlock s02e01

Friends, let us discuss Sherlock season 02 episode 01 behind a cut, where spoilers may be safely spoken.

"A Scandal in Belgravia". This tells us several things at once. Need we list them? Probably not. We don't get there immediately, however. First we dispense with the Moriarty cliffhanger with pure bathos, and the hook that Adler is involved somehow. With Moriarty? Apparently. Then we're teased by a series of case fragments, blogged about by Watson with titles that are all plays on Holmes short stories. The scriptwriter know we know this, and are assuring us that they understand the starting point from which they are about to wander quite well indeed.

… Well, she's certainly an "adventuress". Um. Also she's skeletal, jeez, chick, eat a sandwich. And that is the most squeamishly hysterical twist on the Injured Vicar Ploy from the original story that I have ever seen. This script's Adler is one step up on the original story's because she has him sussed. But really, this profession Moffat has given her is a bit lurid. Is he attempting to go for the same associations Victorians would have had with a woman on the stage who had affairs with royalty? Can't suss it out.

Moffat & Cumberbatch have both said in interviews that this script is about Holmes and love, and it certainly is. It's about the Holmes brothers and love as well. There's a lot here about their relationship and what's inside their heads. Holmes is roused to rare ferocity when Mrs Hudson is threatened. Watson punches Holmes in the face when roused. Watson is also proven to have more of a relationship with Holmes than with his string of dates.

Lots of great twists along the way to the final set up. Then I'm left thinking it's falling a little flat. Moriarty, really? Why? We haven't believed until now that she was evil in any way. In love with him? Really? Why? Watson, who knows him best, finds "punch me" to be the subtext in a lot of Holmes's conversation. Doesn't she like chicks? I liked her better when she was ruthlessly and successfully vamping him.

I preferred the ACD story ending, in which Adler heads off a complete victor to the life she was planning for and keeping herself safe for. However, ACD does clean her up: she's virtuous now! It's okay for her to win! Moffat doesn't feel the need for her to change who she is. But in his version her victory is mixed, because Moffat can't, for some reason, allow Holmes to lose. And he really ought to have allowed him to lose all the way.

Now Mycroft losing? I have a harder time with that idea. He's supposed to be smarter. But he is indeed fooled at the end. He makes quite certain that she's dead and concocts a cover story to comfort his brother. He assures Watson that only Sherlock could have fooled him, and Sherlock wasn't there. And our final twist turns that on its head. But it detracts from Adler's skill by making her reliant on rescue by Holmes, about which I'm mixed. Okay, he respects her enough to be there in the first place. Excellent, great, WTF is she doing being captured by terrorists? What in her previous lifestyle would make us believe she would be in circumstances like that?

A misstep in the script, if you ask me. But it wasn't accompanied by many other missteps. Quite a lot of fun, overall. I was pleased. The text overlays never became heavy-handed. The script was parsimonious (seemingly unimportant early elements mattered later). The meta-techniques in the direction were pleasing. I am looking forward to the second episode: hounds!

I continue to be terrified of the fandom for this adaptation.

What did you think?

Music: Am currently stuck on an uplifting trance classic: Andy Blueman, "Everlasting".
  • Current Music: Everlasting (Emotional Mix) : Andy Blueman : Sea Tides
I'm of really mixed feelings about this episode. I couldn't even watch it in one go. The beginning felt too choppy, too "aren't we clever". I really need to rewatch.

Not that I expect a rewatch to help me with the end any better. :P
The pool scene was... weird. I laughed, but it was weird. The string of in-jokes about ACD that followed is one of the things I enjoy most about this adaptation overall. The writers are just as crazy about the original Holmes as I am! They make jokes expecting me to get them!

The ending... I just don't know. I still don't like it, though I don't think it's the OMG More Proof that Moffat is Sexist thing that Moffat-haters from Who fandom want it to be.
I really enjoyed this. I saw the same missteps you did, but overall it was clever, enjoyable, and had most of the same great qualities as the first series. The time lapse over the course of the episode was a bit jarring in terms of character development, so I hope the hounds give us a simpler interlude with Sherlock, John, and company.

Are you caught up on New Who? Did you think that there were a ridiculous number of similarities with "The Wedding of River Song", or was that just me? I finished this and seriously, the parallels just started leaping out of the woodwork. I too am slightly terrified of fandom--especially with that huge flashing neon invitation to crossover fic right there.
The similarities make me suspect we're seeing Moffat's id just a little bit. Irene Adler & River Song are the women of his secret dreams, at least in some parts. It is an interesting id, far less annoying than some we've seen on display. (I do not join the masses in castigating Whedon for his. I also like weak-looking women who are secretly super-powerful. And gender-swapped character tropes. Love those a lot.)
I enjoyed most of it, though like you, I thought the end bit was a bit flat compared to the rest.

I just love that John and Sherlock have tons more chemistry just sitting next to each other saying nothing (in Buckingham Palace no less!) than Sherlock did with Irene.

The fandom for this adaptation grew rather quickly. I read a lot when the first series ended but then lost interest quickly. There are some good fics out there, it's just a case of finding them.
The Buckingham Palace sequence thing killed me. Mycroft & Sherlock sniping at each other, with some real nastiness in it at moments. The relationship between the brothers is complicated! They know each other's weak spots. And then later on, Mycroft will go out of his way to be protective of his brother. And Sherlock will make sure his brother doesn't lose to Moriarty, despite everything.
1) Am v. disappointed IA didn't win. That is in large part the point of IA; that's why she's the woman. She wins and she's a better person than the illustrious client. ("quite a different level to your majesty," oh, burn!)

2) I totally agree with your comment on twitter about the painfulness of BC's fake!violinplaying.

3) I think 32 is a very generous estimate of the actress' bust measurement.
I haven't seen season 2 for some reason PBS hasn't aired it yet. So thanks for the sneak-peek! :)