Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

Sherlock (BBC1), Series 2, Episode 1

*Spoilers*

Well that certainly cleared the New Year hangover. No chance to doze through that episode as the brain had to be on full alert.

So it began as it had been left off eighteen months ago, with Sherlock and Holmes and Moriarty (Plain Jim from IT) at the swimming pool with a ticking bomb. How would Sherlock get himself out of this one? Well he didn’t. But, of course, we knew he wasn’t going to die because we have three 90 minute episodes to see the New Year in. Instead, Moriarty was called away with a proposition and scampered off. Confused? Yeah, you, me and Watson all were.

Roll titles. While Moriarty has gone back to lurk in the shadows, Watson and Holmes got on with their day jobs. Cue a montage of various clients coming to ask for their services and Holmes rejecting all the boring ones. Watson’s blog, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength with 2000 visitors a day. Holmes and Watson have become an internet sensation, and are even approached by comic-book geeks and photographed wearing a deer-stalker hat. Ha. Ha. After about 15 minutes of such intro, including a case about a dead hiker, we finally get into the good stuff.

Sherlock is apprehended by some men. Who are they? Why they work for the Queen of course. He works this out by the state of their shoes, and the corgi scratches on their shoes and trousers. Mycroft has called Sherlock and Watson to Buckingham Palace because there is ‘A Woman’ who has incriminating photos of a princess. The Woman is Irene Adler, a professional dominatrix, and Sherlock agrees to get hold of the photos after nabbing a lighter off the other person there who works for the Queen.

Irene Adler, though, is expecting Sherlock as she’s been getting photos of his movements. He arrives with a bruised cheek courtesy of Watson. She greets him totally naked. After some flirty banter, Holmes sends Watson out to trigger the fire alarm. That points him in the direction of her safe but what is the combination? Adler said she has already told him. Well, after some Americans with guns, led by the camp leader from Beaver Falls, apprehend them, Sherlock works out that the code is 32-24-34. The safe has a hidden gun on the catch though and this disarms the Americans while Sherlock nabs the camera phone.

Not for long though as Adler drugs Sherlock and escapes with the phone after being totally impressed, oh gosh, by Sherlock’s brain. She later returns his coat (which she had used to cover up) and sets his phone to moan everytime she sends a text. And she starts sending him a lot of flirty texts.

Fast forward to Christmas. And a present from Irene Adler. It’s her phone. But why has she given the treasured camera phone to Sherlock? Because she knows she is going to die. Sherlock goes to identify a dead body with a bashed in face but with a 32-24-34 body. So she has left the camera phone to him but it is locked and needs a 4 letter/number combination.

While Sherlock plays his violin and muses over the combination, Watson is summoned by Mycroft’s advisor to an abandoned warehouse. But it’s not Mycroft. It’s Adler and she’s not dead. She faked her own death. Watson makes her text Sherlock to let him know she’s alive. But he had also followed Watson anyway and sees for himself.

After the Americans come to 221B Baker Street and tie up Mrs Hudson in order to find the camera phone, and a nice ‘bit’ when Sherlock captures them, Adler returns again. She unlocks the camera phone to show Sherlock an intriguing code that she took from someone who works for the Defence. Sherlock cracks it in as long as it takes Watson to lift his tea cup. It’s a code for an airflight, a 747 flying from London Heathrow to Baltimore the next day at 6.30pm, that will have a bomb on it.

But while Sherlock is congratulating himself on his superior brain, Adler is texting someone. Who? Moriarty of course. Cos she was the one who called him away from the swimming pool. Moriarty then texts Mycroft. Why? Because he was the one who was going to blow up the plane and yet now knows that the Defence knew this. Mycroft Holmes and his government people had been arranging to set up the plane with already dead people so that the terrorists (Moriarty) would not know that the government had been intercepting his messages and knew how to get to him. They would let him and the world think that the terrorists had blown up a plane of living people. But they would have only killed people who were already dead. And then the next time they would catch Moriarty before he did any real damage.

Mycroft apprehends Irene Adler and the camera phone but she has lots more secrets on the phone that Sherlock still hasn’t managed to unlock. After disappointing us all that she had only been using Sherlock because of Moriarty, Sherlock finally works out the code for the phone. And that Adler did always fancy him too.

Mycroft takes Adler away. But not for long. In the coda to the episode Mycroft and Watson talk and discuss the murder of Adler by terrorists in Pakistan. Watson asks if she could have faked her death again but Mycroft says there’s not a chance. But there was a chance. Because we see that Sherlock was there and helps her escape. So Adler is still alive and out there. And Sherlock is happy.

Nice to see Molly, the morgue gal back. Una Stubbs excelled as the landlady Mrs Hudson. But the star of the show was Lara Pulver as Irene Adler. No waif-like Rachel McAdams needed here, but a real match for Benerdict Cumberbatch. Her accent was a bit like Anna Friel, or maybe my mind was playing tricks on me as I was thinking about the new BBC advert for their ‘original programming’ this year. Anyway, Cumberbatch proved again to be a really good physical actor, especially when he was rolling around after waking up from Adler’s drugging. And Martin Freeman is great as a ‘straight’ actor without mugging to the camera.

Nit picks:

  • I wish Irene Adler hadn’t had to explain to Watson about the safe combination. Even I had worked out the digits were her measurements after Sherlock put them in. It would be nice not to have so much exposition.
  • The Americans were a bit useless and far too easily disarmed.
  • How can Sherlock work everything else out but not that Molly fancies him?
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13 Responses to Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

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  4. Tim says:

    I noticed the “You looked sexy on Crimewatch” text at the time – it flashed before our eyes but it was the funniest line of the episode.

    On your last point, I don’t think Sherlock is incapable of realising that Molly fancies him, it’s just that he chooses not to bother. A big part of his ability is that he focuses on what is important to him and ignores everything else. Molly’s feelings for him are irrelevant to his ability to solve cases, so he doesn’t waste energy on it. The scene at 221b which ends with him flipping the present tag to reveal his own name was excruciating to watch – because we all knew it was coming the moment he started – but also encapsulated Holmes perfectly.

    Lara Pulver was brilliant as Irene Adler – every scene with Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely sizzled. Hopefully the slightly contrived coda means we will see her again, maybe next year.

    My thoughts on the episode are here:
    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/01/02/sherlock-a-scandal-in-belgravia-review/

    • I see your point about Sherlock’s ‘boredom’ of the Molly case – I hadn’t thought of it like that before; it just felt unnecessarily cruel and also so obvious, even for someone not looking for the clues and especially for someone of Sherlock’s intellect.
      I’m sure Lara Pulver/Irene Adler will come back next year – assuming there’s another series of course!

      • Tim says:

        I think it’s nailed on that there will be another series. Great UK overnight numbers (close to 9m, so final figure will be close to 10m), plus series 1 was a huge international hit. So it’s not just us who love the show!

        Cruelty and aloofness are key elements of Sherlock’s character. In some ways it is his ability to detach himself from emotion which make him such a unique detective.

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  7. Sherlock says:

    Does anyone know a way to get that same lock Adler used for a Samsung Galaxy II or the new Blackberry Bold?

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  10. CupidsDelite says:

    You may have been able to decipher her code after you saw Sherlock put it in, but remember, Watson was on his knees with a gun to the back of his head.

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