?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
01 January 2012 @ 11:46 pm
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia review  
Welcome back, everyone! Can I just say that I love how this episode aired not less than 12 hours ago and already I see fics up in reference to it? It's awesome!

The short, non-spoilerish review: I liked parts of it and hated parts it which is typical for me and a Moffat-penned script. But whatever issues I have with this episode does not dampen my excitement for this show being back.


I feared what this episode might be in Moffat's hands given that it was the update for A Scandal in Bohemia which was the one and only story to feature Irene Adler, who famously was the only person to ever defeat Sherlock Holmes in a game of wits. I've never liked Moffat's treatment of female characters so I braced myself. And I can't say my fears were unfounded.

But first the things I enjoyed...

I'll give props to Moffat for writing a pretty well-conceived plot that was like a Russian nesting doll of motives. And my congrats to Lara Pulver who gave a spirited performance as Irene Adler, particularly in light of some of the material she got saddled with. The banter between Sherlock and John is as hilarious and strangely touching as ever. And I also liked the (dare I say it?) brotherly moments between Mycroft and Sherlock. It's so clear despite all the prickliness between them that Mycroft genuinely loves his brother. Not sure if I can say the same thing for Sherlock to Mycroft but we saw Sherlock's softer side this episode with his treatment of Mrs. Hudson and also John.

In fact, this episode was like a huge evidence list of how Sherlock is in fact not a cold-hearted bastard. He behaves like one at times but has apparently learned when he crosses certain lines. His verbal skewering of Molly at the Christmas party and then his subsequent apology seem to be signs that perhaps living with John has made him a bit more human. As much as I wanted to punch him in the face for humiliating her AGAIN, his apology seemed genuine and he actually looked rather chastened.

The main complaint I have is exactly what I feared would happen which is the poorly conceived characterization of Irene Adler. I didn't like that Irene was re-imagined as a high level dominatrix prostitute. I didn't like that they casually threw in that she was gay but didn't actually follow up with it by any means. In fact, I sort of worried if Moffat writing her as stating she was gay but ultimately falling for Sherlock was some sort of unconscious sentiment on his part of "lesbianism can be cured by the right man!" But that's just me thinking off hand. However, the single worst offense Moffat committed was his change of the ending. He altered the one thing that distinguishes Irene Adler: in the update she does not defeat Sherlock. In fact, she needs his help in order to escape with her life which to me is like the biggest slap in the face for a character who in her original incarnation defeated Sherlock Holmes with such effortless style and grace. The fact that Moffat had Sherlock beat Irene and have her actually BEG Sherlock for help at the end continues to support my belief of Moffat's complete inability to do a female character remote justice. And to add insult to injury, Irene got help from Moriarty to execute some of her original plans which further undermines her character.

So while this episode had some nice moments, I actually rank it the lowest of all the episodes so far due to the complete redux of the ending which assassinates Irene Adler's place within the Sherlock Holmes canon. However, since I also didn't like Moffat's other episode, I don't despair for this season as a whole. Next week is Gatiss' The Hounds of the Baskerville!

And now for some quickfire likes and dislikes:

Likes:
1. Sherlock gets John to punch him - I always enjoy it when they reference John's soldier training. Plus, this totally answers who would win a physical fight if Sherlock and John went at it.

2. Sherlock can't do his Sherlock-vision on Irene - I loved this. Even though it gave me false hope.

3. Secretly BAMF!Mrs. Hudson

4. The fact that even the CIA knows that John is Sherlock's BFF - I wasn't surprised or anything but it was interesting to see that they knew turning the gun on John was the fastest way to get Sherlock to cooperate.

5. Mycroft's incredibly morbid solution to the Coventry Conundrum - it was so creepy and just so Mycroft.

Dislikes:
1. John and Sarah are no more - NOOOOO! Man, I so wanted them to make it. And John's latest girlfriend (now ex) was just...no. Just no. Perhaps they're making the way for their version of Mary Morstan in the future?

2. Sherlock once again humiliates Molly - I mentioned this already above but it bears repeating. Can we please stop the Molly-abuse now?

3. Oh, joy. MORE slow motion - if I had it my way, every time a director chooses to do a slo mo sequence, he loses a finger.

4. Sherlock and the deerstalker hat - Sherlock's indignant attitude of the photo being on John's blog was sort of funny but the actual way it happened felt too much of the "nudge nudge wink wink" variety of humor.

5. Irene's phone password - sher-locked? REALLY?

Tags:
 
 
 
polyphony1polyphony1 on January 2nd, 2012 09:30 am (UTC)
A Scandal in Belgravia
Absolutely agree with you - in this ep. Irene Adler lost everything that made her The Woman to Sherlock Holmes in CD's original story. A pity, because all we gained from it was sensationalism and an excuse to drag Sherlock out of his sexual comfort zone (if indeed he has one). I also felt that the "Sherlock exploring his emotional life" theme dominated rather too much at the expense of, in particular, Lestrade and to a degree Watson too. On the positive side, the development of Mycroft as a character was spot-on and very nicely done by Gatiss.
Hate to say it, but for me Louise Brealey's Molly was a shining star; her humiliation and her confusion at Sherlock's apology were so nicely done.
Oh, and I couldn't agree more about "Sher-locked" - Irene's a professional woman not a fangirl. That sounds to me like Gatiss and Moffat having a laugh on the train back from Cardiff...
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 2nd, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
Re: A Scandal in Belgravia
Irene's a professional woman not a fangirl. That sounds to me like Gatiss and Moffat having a laugh on the train back from Cardiff...

YES. This is exactly why the password felt off to me. It didn't seem like something Adler would actually use but something a fangirl would giggle over and use.

Louise Brealey's Molly was a shining star; her humiliation and her confusion at Sherlock's apology were so nicely done.

Despite her character being constantly put through the ringer, Louise Brealey has always done an admirable job playing Molly. It says a lot that she manages to retain some dignity despite the scripts doing their damndest to try and strip her of it.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson giggleawanderingbard on January 2nd, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Man, your review and my review are essentially the same review. Great minds?

Yeah, not big on Irene's handling at all. I'll be interested to hear Moffat's explanation on the commentary, if he does one for it. He's the one writer I would not want handling Irene.But I thought Lara Pulver did a great job with what she had. I liked that she was sort of Irene Adler playing a character called Irene Adler, like every time we saw her there was a new layer to the person.

The gay thing confused me too. I think it worked on the level that in today's society a princess involved with a woman is more scandalous (unfortunately) and if it were a prince with a woman. And I could have happily believed Irene was bisexual (which I did, up until she said she was gay). I know that occasionally people of either sexuality can fall hard for a member of the same/opposite sex (I remember Stephen talking about having a huge crush on Rowan Atkinson wife, much to Hugh Laurie's amazement for example), but yeah, it did come off as a bit weird.

And a double boo on Sarah and John's break-up. If they are making way for Mary, she better be damned awesome and created by someone other than Moffatt.

But what I really love about the series is the main characters interaction and that was wonderful written, so I was pleased overall.
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on January 2nd, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the line that was thrown in of Irene saying she was gay just felt pointless because it never was used for anything in terms of characterization or plot.

If they are making way for Mary, she better be damned awesome and created by someone other than Moffatt.

Please god, let Gatiss or Thompson write her. PLEASE.

But what I really love about the series is the main characters interaction and that was wonderful written, so I was pleased overall.

Yes, the main character interactions were great so I'm eagerly rubbing my hands at the thought of two more episodes heading our way!
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Sherlock shockawanderingbard on January 3rd, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
Please god, let Gatiss or Thompson write her. PLEASE.

I vote for Thompson, since I think he created or at least established the voice of Sarah, who I really liked. I haven't read "The Sign of Four" to know what Mary is like as a character. But iBooks has the entire Conan Doyle oeuvre for free, so I'm working my through on Dad's iPad. Hound is next, in prep for next week. I've read some of the short stories in the past, but it's so long ago I can't remember most of them.
aelfgyfu_mead: Sherlockaelfgyfu_mead on February 3rd, 2012 01:32 am (UTC)
The characterization of Irene, and finding out that she was Moriarty's pawn, just made me go AAUUUUGGGGHHHHH a lot. It does not help that I recently rewatched the Brett version of "A Scandal in Bohemia" and really liked it, and the BBC version suffers terribly by comparison, especially where Irene herself is concerned.

On your Dislikes:
1. I echo your "NOOOOO!" The now ex-girlfriend (who must have given him that horrible jumper—one even I can't love! The sweater, I mean, but the girlfriend too) was just kind of mean. Surely she understood that John's best friend had just learned that someone he cared about had died? That trumps plans for the evening. (Then again, that John thought she had a dog when she didn't, and that he thought offering to walk her dog was the greatest thing he could do for her, shows that he wasn't very invested in the relationship either!)
I'm wondering about Mary Morstan too.

2. "Reichenbach" made me feel much better about Molly and how the show treated her.

5. Man, that was terrible. I won't go for Irene falling for Sherlock, and I certainly won't go for the password!

Likes!
1. I always knew that John could take Sherlock. The scene was cracky, it was over the top—and I enjoyed it thoroughly anyway. Have to watch again sometime, even if I skip parts of the ep!

2. Sherlock is partly stymied because Irene isn't wearing anything! I thought that was hilarious! Most of the tells he gets come from clothing!
I also loved the way John came into the room and just went "missed something" and then asked Irene to put something on! It never occurred to Sherlock, whose brain seemed to be shorting out!

3. Mrs. Hudson rocks. Smarter than the CIA!

4. I fear the entire world knows the way to get Sherlock to do something is to threaten John. I hope most of them realize that they may not live to regret the mistake, especially after what happened to the man with the gun in that scene!

5. Yes! Very Mycroft. It's hugely problematic; I can't imagine it working for more than one flight, actually (big bloophole). But it shows how his mind works.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on February 3rd, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
Eeee! You finally watched them! Hurrah for the Sherlock DVDs!

Surely she understood that John's best friend had just learned that someone he cared about had died? That trumps plans for the evening. (Then again, that John thought she had a dog when she didn't, and that he thought offering to walk her dog was the greatest thing he could do for her, shows that he wasn't very invested in the relationship either!)

It's so clear that John really wasn't into the relationship. I still want it to be Sarah. But perhaps if they did do an updated Mary Morstan she'll be so awesome it'll take away the sting of Sarah's departure. Gatiss and Moffat did say that eventually they'd like to deal with John marrying and moving out.

I also loved the way John came into the room and just went "missed something" and then asked Irene to put something on! It never occurred to Sherlock, whose brain seemed to be shorting out!

I liked how Sherlock immediately did his Sherlock-vision on John right after he couldn't get a thing from Irene. It was almost like he was thinking, "Is my brain BROKEN?" and had to test himself to feel reassured that no, it was still working.
aelfgyfu_mead: Watson plotaelfgyfu_mead on February 3rd, 2012 01:12 pm (UTC)
I'm really trying, but I'm having trouble imagining how anyone could be more awesome than Sarah!

"Is my brain BROKEN?"
Totally! I felt a little bad for Sherlock there, but I was almost too busy laughing at him to feel it.
tommycruisestommy50702 on December 8th, 2014 03:40 am (UTC)
I like this show but did that guy really get killed by a boomerang?
tommycruisestommy50702 on December 13th, 2014 02:45 pm (UTC)
The entire second series is fantastic.