Sherlock – ‘The Blind Banker’

This week, Sherlock Holmes and his faithful colleague Dr John Watson have to decipher the mystery behind codes, ciphers, murders and smugglings.

The Blind Banker has a lot to live up to. Last week’s episode, ‘A Study in Pink’ enthralled viewers and very nicely set up the world that Holmes and Watson inhabit. This week, there was less background needed, therefore more focus could be given to the narrative itself. Sadly, this is where the episode faltered.

The idea of people being killed in a room locked from the inside is one that has been around for years. It is not enough to carry a 90-minute episode alone. Yes, there are two narratives that need to meet in order for the episode to continue, but these lack the suspense and excitement of the previous episode, perhaps because there is little to be established, and 90 minutes is just too long for this kind of a show.

The episode is carefully constructed however, and as Holmes and Watson race across London, gathering clues and solving the mystery, the audience is just as involved as they are. There are several lingering shots at the beginning of the episode that act as clues to what will happen at the end. It is this, along with the case of mistaken identity that was delicately set up, that lends weight to the episode.

There was loads of room in the episode for Holmes and Watson to further their relationship. While Holmes still seems to be a closed book, Watson began to forget his painful memories of his time in the military and move on with his life. Watson manages to get himself a date with Sarah, a fellow doctor, and although all does not go according to plan, when he suggests another one, Sarah doesn’t say no. There is a little of Holmes’s history shown in the form of his old school mate Sebastian, who hints that Holmes was always a master detective. There are also some great moments where Watson beats Holmes to a clue, laying the groundwork for Holmes’s dependence on Watson.

The two leading men are still wonderful. Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson both engage with their characters fully, and there is enough background given to them to allow them to do this. The decision to write Holmes as an asexual sociopath was the making of this character and Cumberbatch seems to relish the role he has been given and throws himself into it wholeheartedly. It is a little disappointing that Watson’s military career is just brushed aside, especially since it was given such a strong focus in the first episode, but his character being firmly established as heterosexual, against the more ambiguous Holmes, paves the way for some comedic moments in the future.

Sadly, Moriarty is still not shown. The story could have benefitted greatly from a sinister presence lingering in the background. Instead, we only encounter Moriarty at the end of the episode when the baddie assures him that she will not reveal his identity. Of course she won’t. Moriarty is hardly likely to allow her to live, now is he?

Overall, the episode is strong. For any other TV show, this would be an outstanding episode, but since ‘A Study in Pink’ was so strong, ‘The Blind Banker’ had a lot to live up to. The episode lags in the middle, and it needed more tension, but this second episode proves that ‘A Study in Pink’ was not a fluke, even though it struggles to match it.

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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