DVR Weekly: Sherlock Special

PBS’s airing of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s Sherlock. Three episodes over three weeks and now it has come and gone. So let’s talk about them shall we?

Keep in mind there will be spoilers.

Just to frame this a little: I did decide to wait for the PBS airing of the episodes rather than just torrenting the episodes, so a lot of this information has been floating around since January when it originally aired on BBC. While I am a fan of the character of Sherlock Holmes, my only experience of the original Arthur Conan Doyle writings are from teleplay adaptations on PBS and Guy Richie’s 2009 adaptation. Hit the jump to start reading about this series’ episodes.

Episode 2.01 – “A Scandal in Belgravia”

This can easily be called the Irene Adler episode. The episode begins with a recap of Watson and Sherlock’s meeting with Moriarty from the first series. We also get a peek at a few other mysteries which can be read at the AR site of Watson’s blog. The episode also gives some early hints of Sherlock’s burgeoning fame which becomes even more important in episode three. And then, the real fun begins. Sherlock and Watson are whisked away to Buckingham Palace to receive a new case from Mycroft. Irene Adler (now a dominatrix) has some compromising photos of a British royal which Mycroft needs retrieved. The interactions between Sherlock and Adler are tense and interesting. Adler definitely feels like a character who is able to play with Sherlock on a level that not many are able. Moving beyond their initial interaction and past the source material’s adaptation, we witness continued “flirtation” until Christmas, when Sherlock retrieves the camera phone Adler had been using for protection. Sherlock sees this as a sign of her death and soon enough sees her body. We get a brilliant scene between Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss that shows the brotherly charm of the Holmes family. As the new year rolls around, Watson is abducted by Adler’s people. Yes, I said Adler’s people. She has faked her death, but now she needs the phone back for her protection. Watson forces her to reveal herself to Holmes, who had followed Watson. Upon Holmes return to Baker Street, he finds several CIA agents who we’d met earlier are in search of their phone. They’ve also made the unfortunate mistake of mistreating Mrs. Hudson. Holmes retaliates against their leader, Neilson, through a window. Several times. Adler soon appears at Baker Street to enlist Sherlock’s help cracking a code which she had gotten from a member of the Ministry of Defense. Sherlock manages to do so. This information is then forwarded to Moriarty who lets Mycroft know his plans are foiled. Mycroft and the Ministry of Defense had managed to crack information from terrorist cells and had intended to fake a plane attack to mislead said terrorist cells.

This episode gives us many great interactions between Sherlock and his supporting cast. This version of Irene Adler definitely seems to be more of intellectual equal to Sherlock than Rachael McAdams version in the recent films. We also get a hint at how much Sherlock truly does care about the others in his life like Mrs. Hudson and Watson.

Episode 2.02 – “The Hounds of Baskerville”

Sherlock is trying to kick his smoking habit, and he gets very cranky whilst doing so. Luckily, Henry Knight appears at his door requesting the help of THE Sherlock Holmes. Henry Knight has been a featured story and somewhat of a local legend in Dartmoor for witnessing his father’s death by other-worldly “hound”. Holmes takes Henry back to Dartmoor and experiences the same dreaded encounter as Henry. However, he lies about the encounter to Henry. Upon returning to the local tavern, Holmes reveals to Watson his experience with fear and doubt. Watson attempts to reassure Holmes, but the two fall into an argument which leaves Watson insulted and Sherlock unsure of his own sanity. The next day, Holmes attempts to apologize to Watson as only he can. The links also start falling into place for Holmes as he realizes that the reason Henry has used the dated term “hound” is due to the use of an acronym, H.O.U.N.D.. H.O.U.N.D. being a defunct experiment that is being resurrected by another scientist working at nearby M.O.D. facility, Baskerville. After testing his theory on Watson, Sherlock takes Henry, Watson, and Lestrade (joining the group following his vacation) back to Dartmoor to address the situation. The hallucinogen from H.O.U.N.D. is being used at Dartmoor in aerosol form via the fog. The paranoia from the hallucinogen begins to take hold as the episode’s villain, Bob Frankland, appears. Sherlock’s theory is put to question when a hound does appear, but it is resolved to be a result of a combination of the hallucinogen and feral dog that had been own by the local tavern.

Just like in the first series, this middle episode is light on the Moriarty, but he still makes his appearances. First, as fear-induced illusion, and then, he appears in an interrogation room. He is released from said interrogation room by Mycroft. I enjoy these respites from intense Moriarty driven story. Again we see Sherlock interacting with his supporting cast that allows us to see how much he cares. The apology scene is the truest example. We also get a hint of how truly manipulative Holmes can be when he tests his theory on Watson by putting him through a nightmare of his own.

Episode 2.03 – “The Reichenbach Fall”

Holmes and Moriarty’s relationship come to a head. We open with Moriarty committing the crime of the century. He breaks into the Bank of London and Pentonville Prison while he manages to get to the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. He allows himself to be captured and put on trial. The star witness is the now famous Reichenbach hero, Sherlock Holmes. Despite the evidence against Moriarty, the jury finds him not guilty. You don’t have to be Sherlock to know that Moriarty pulled some major strings. Following the verdict, Moriarty pays a visit to Baker Street and speaks at length to Sherlock. And the downward spiral begins. The US Ambassador’s children are kidnapped and the only person able to figure out the mystery in time is Sherlock Holmes. This leads to Sgt. Donovan (remember her from Ep. 1.01?) to suspect Holmes as the culprit. Holmes and Watson are arrested, but they escape custody while cuffed together. The pair find a reporter who has earlier wished to get the exclusive interview with Sherlock. She reveals that she has uncovered the truth: Sherlock has been the mastermind behind all of the crimes and Moriarty was in fact a role played by actor Richard Brook. The reporter is going to release the story and prove Sherlock a fraud. Sherlock begins working on something with Molly Hooper, while Watson finds out Mycroft’s involvement in these events (he’d supplied Moriarty with Sherlock’s life story while interrogating him). Sherlock and Watson are waiting for their next step at St. Bart’s Hospital when Watson gets word that Mrs. Hudson has been shot. He rushes off while Sherlock stays behind. Sherlock takes this time to confront Moriarty on the rooftop. The final twist: Moriarty has planned Sherlock’s fall from grace, and the only ending he will accept is Sherlock’s suicide which would cement the story of fraud. In good order, both Moriarty and Sherlock meet their ends. John witnesses Sherlock’s suicide. Watson is devastated by the turn of events and has since returned to his therapist, a strong bookend to series one.

Andrew Scott’s portrayal of Moriarty is truly inspiring. Any actor’s chance to portray insanity is a strong indicator of their abilities and Scott excels. The themes of friendship that have been played up this season is truly brought to a head in this episode. The modern setting also is being utilized so well in this series. The final scene with Watson at Sherlock’s grave is touching and heart-felt. We get an amazing, emotional performance from Martin Freeman. I look forward to seeing what Gatiss and Moffatt have in store for Series 3.

Wait what? Series 3? Yes, there is bound to be one. Sherlock has faked his death. (By the way, great timing from the bicyclist and the stake-bed truck.) I am also rewatching the episode to understand how Moriarty could have faked his death, but we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, I Believe in Sherlock Holmes.

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