TV REVIEW: Sherlock Season 2 Episode 1 – A Scandal in Belgravia

Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr Watson (Martin Freeman) are sent by Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) to investigate a potential case of blackmail that threatens to topple the monarchy. The duo find links between the case and the CIA, the British government and a beautiful but dangerous woman named Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) who is as ruthless and brilliant as Sherlock himself.

We have been waiting patiently for new episodes of Sherlock for over a year. I say ‘patiently’, but some of us have missed the show far too much. The first season grabbed the attention of viewers around the world, and we have been crying out for more.

We were left on a cruel cliff hanger with Sherlock facing down his mysterious adversary Moriarty (Andrew Scott). The Mexican standoff quickly comes to an end, leaving Sherlock and Watson free to get involved with a new mystery.

This cliff hanger left audiences screaming at their TV screens in frustration, and almost everyone had an idea of how the scene was going to play out. It’s a pretty safe bet that no-one saw an intervention from the Bee Gees coming…

Lara Pulver turns up the sexual tension in her role as ‘The Woman’ or Irene Adler, a noted dominatrix who is in possession of delicate information abut one of the royal family. Adler takes Sherlock on from the moment she meets him; she arrives to their meeting naked, and the flirtation between the duo continues. This notion of love or attraction may seem alien to Sherlock to begin with, but he soon falls foul of the cunning woman’s charms, and we see a new side to the inscrutable consulting detective.

Although Sherlock and Adler appear to be on opposite sides, it becomes clear that the detective has a respect for The Woman; she plays the game almost as well as he does. While the mystery is intriguing, what is more interesting is the interaction between Sherlock and Adler. When the episode finally comes galloping to an end, the audience is left wondering whether Sherlock was ever really duped, or whether he was playing the game on all levels. Sherlock was criticised in the past for lacking a protagonist with compassion, but Sherlock’s involvement with Adler shows us another side to the character and succeeds in cracking the cold veneer built up around Sherlock. Also, he apologises to someone who his brusque nature offended. Progress indeed.

The new episode of Sherlock has done something we were afraid it may not be able to; topped the episodes that have gone before. The writing is absolutely top notch and, as usual, has the audience solving the mystery along with Sherlock and Watson. The interactions between the characters are both funny and touching, and Sherlock himself has not lost any of the stubbornness and eccentric charm that made us love him in the first place. The quirky visual touches are still there; text messages are displayed on screen and a mystery is solved through Sherlock and Adler’s collective imagination. There is also the addition of slow motion, which may or may not be a concession to Guy Ritchie’s version of the character. Whatever the case, it is used well – and only once – which gives the scene the right kind of action and leg work.

This is the episode of Sherlock that the audience – and the character – deserves. While the cliff hanger comes to a soft end, the following story ramps up the tension, the mystery and wraps this new version of the character in his creator’s words. No mean feat. Sherlock continues to surprise and captivate in this excellent follow up to a greatly surprising first season. We are just happy Sherlock is back on our screens, we could not have hoped for such an enthralling episode.

More please!

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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2 comments

  1. A great episode. Lara Pulver’s turn as Irene Adler is perfect, and her chemistry with Benedict Cumberbatch really makes the story sing. In many ways she beats Sherlock throughout the story, being one step ahead of him at every turn and using him as a pawn to uncover the 747 plot, but it was a shame the resolution required her to have feelings for him and then require a standard damsel-in-distress rescue. Nonetheless, a very strong character and one we will hopefully see again next year.

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/01/02/sherlock-a-scandal-in-belgravia-review/

  2. SnazzyO /

    Excellent Review! I love the points you mentioned:
    – total misdirection w/ the cliffhanger resolution
    – the “game” b/w Sherlock and Irene. I could discuss this one for a very long time. I think it was played on so many levels and so many “fronts”.

    I’d like to give a special mention to three great fan shout-outs:
    – cutting yourself on BC’s cheekbones – hee
    – the whole bromance but not gay continuing theme
    – the DEERSTALKER!
    I know there was more but I’ll have to rewatch to give a proper shoutout.

    Contenders for smartest moment:
    – Giggling detectives at Buckingham palace
    – Bee Gees and the exchange regarding taking the call
    – Moriarity blowing a raspberry at his text words
    – The discussion of “scale” and criteria for when Sherlock actually goes to the crime scene

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