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S02.E01: A Scandal in Belgravia

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Compromising photographs and a case of blackmail threaten the very heart of the British establishment, but for Sherlock and John the game is on in more ways than one as they find themselves battling international terrorism, rogue CIA agents, and a secret conspiracy involving the British government. This case will cast a darker shadow over their lives than they could ever imagine, as the great detective begins a long duel of wits with an antagonist as cold and ruthless and brilliant as himself: to Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler will always be THE woman.

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Wondering what others think of this episode.  I've seen sites that nominate it as one of the top episodes, but frankly, Irene Adler left me cold.  While I love Mary's dynamic with Sherlock and John, Irene just felt like an interloper to me.  And I hated the orgasmic sigh text alert.  Every time I heard it, I shuddered.

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I know people have some really strong negative feelings about this one. I really like it.

Yes, I like the superficial gloss: the music is especially pretty, the direction is amazing, the costumes are striking, the acting is (per usual) impressive, there are some great exchanges and turns of phrases in the writing, and the attention to detail is amazing. (On that last point, there is a Cluedo board stabbed to the wall of 221B. In the next episode, we learn that Sherlock and John had a Cluedo game take a bad turn. That's fantastic stuff.)

But I also I just find this episode psychologically really dense. There's a lot of themes packed in there that are really fascinating to noodle on. And I'm actually not talking about the main plot (Irene Adler and the access to the sensitive information), but rather how the main characters relate to one another, and what they discover about themselves and each other. (John and Sherlock, primarily, yes, but also Sherlock vis-a-vis Molly and Mrs. Hudson and John vis-a-vis Mycroft.)

I know some feel that it does disservice to a beloved canon story, but there's really a lot of good stuff that I've now spent years(!) appreciating and finding new angles on.

Edited by Peace 47
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I always felt that the folks behind this episode never heard of the saying KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  To me it was a simple plot made more complex to the point that it gave me a headache and I was confused.

 

Did Mycrof want Sherlock to find out what was really on the phone?  If so, why did he get pissed when Sherlock did figure out what was there?  (meaning the flight of the dead).  

 

I did like the actress who played Irene.  One of the things I like about some shows from the UK is, they aren't afraid to cast actresses who look "seasoned."  Meaning actresses who don't look like overgrown girls.  Irene in Sherlock, I could believe as an adventurous.  Irene in Elementary, seemed like a hipster.  Now both actresses may be the same age, but the way they played their parts were miles apart IMO.

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This episode had its moments for me, but frankly Lara Pulver's Irene wasn't the main attraction.  I just felt like they did the character a disservice by reducing her solely to a sexpot.  (Elementary while an inferior series in many ways did I think do a much better take with Ms. Adler and ND is a bona fide badass.) 

 

Sherlock's interactions with the other characters though, were far more entertaining-Mycroft being a control freak mommy, showing concern for Mrs. Hudson, and everything that was going on with Molly.   Though, I do have to say it made me feel more than a bit queasy to see how sadistic Sherlock was being there but of course that was the point.

Edited by Winnief

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...and everything that was going on with Molly.   Though, I do have to say it made me feel more than a bit queasy to see how sadistic Sherlock was being there but of course that was the point.

 

I felt the point was more that he was casually cruel, and then--for a change--noticed that Molly was hurt (I'm sure it helped that she told him so!), and then did his best to fix it.

Edited by rereader2
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I was just rewatching this, and I thought it was her imagining that he saved her before she died. I thought his smile was just his memory of her.  But I really don't know

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IMO he really did save her, because his reaction seems more like he's hugging a secret to himself--he's put one over on his brother.

 

That's how it played to me: Sherlock's private delight at the memory of having saved Irene, and now the confirmation, via John, that Mycroft was taken in. In "His Last Vow," Sherlock's mind-palace-Moriarty tells him that The Woman will cry when he dies. And Moffatt

states unambiguously in the episode's DVD commentary that Sherlock saves Irene.

  

 

Thinking about Sherlock's triumph...throughout the episode, Sherlock is like a very showy grandmaster playing three games simultaneously: with Irene, with Moriarty and with Mycroft. He very nearly loses all three, and the final results vary widely. With Irene he goes on to score a clear, cold victory. With Moriarty, the game is suspended (and then later resumed). The game with Mycroft -- the one that starts and finishes the episode -- ends with three very different acts of kindness: Mycroft and John to Sherlock, and Sherlock to Irene.

 

Mycroft's kindness costs him something: deigning to meet with John in the cafe, confiding in him, seeking his advice and leaving the choice in John's hands. John's kindness crosses with his candor and impartial honesty, even with his sense of duty to his (unacknowledged) commanding officer. Sherlock's kindness has by far the greatest consequence: Irene lives when she would have died. Yet In comparison to the sober conversation between the two adult men in the cafe, Sherlock's thrilling gesture also comes across as schoolboyish, part chivalry and -- fittingly enough -- part brigandry.

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On 2/8/2015 at 3:54 PM, rereader2 said:

IMO he really did save her, because his reaction seems more like he's hugging a secret to himself--he's put one over on his brother.

I am rewatching the series and yes, I am sure he saved her.  On first watch, I missed a significant clue. When John asks Mycroft if he is sure Irene is dead, Mycroft responds that yes, he looked thoroughly into it this time and then says something along the lines of It would take a Sherlock Holmes to fool him -- and it did.

 

Was Irene on the other end of the phone with Moriarty - thus they were spared so Sherlock can break the code?  That was my first thought when they had the little flashback sequence but it was such a short conversation that I was a little unsure. 

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6 hours ago, ElleMo said:

Was Irene on the other end of the phone with Moriarty - thus they were spared so Sherlock can break the code?  That was my first thought when they had the little flashback sequence but it was such a short conversation that I was a little unsure. 

It's not made clear, but I made that assumption because (IIRC) the next shot was of Irene hanging up her phone to go back to a scene.

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I'm currently binge-watching this series, and I have to say that I absolutely loved this episode. (Btw, to be upfront, I haven't had the chance to read all of the short stories by Sir CAD that form the foundation of this series although I've read a couple of them, which might give me a different impression than readers; I've wanted to buy them forever, but I have to prioritize my purchases these days, unfortunately). Irene Adler was amazingly done, imo. I love Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Freeman as Watson, and wasn't really excited when the episode began and they pushed in what felt like a love interest for Sherlock--since I hate when shows do that in general--but I felt she was so well-written and so well-acted, that I could get behind it. (Someone above criticized the character as being a sexpot, but I didn't really get that impression, tbh--but I haven't read the story to compare it to. I'm only saying that I wasn't really focused on the sexuality of the character much at all, since I was more enamored with how she was setup as an equal to Sherlock intellectually and how their relationship felt like a chessmatch.) The scene with Mycroft at the end cinched it for me. (And I have to say the reveal at the end of Sherlock saving her was one of the sweetest things.)

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On 2/11/2017 at 0:54 AM, TheGreenKnight said:

(Btw, to be upfront, I haven't had the chance to read all of the short stories by Sir CAD that form the foundation of this series although I've read a couple of them, which might give me a different impression than readers; I've wanted to buy them forever, but I have to prioritize my purchases these days, unfortunately). 

You should be able to get all (or most of) the Sherlock Holmes stories free on Project Gutenberg--legally!

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This is one of my favorites. Personally I'd put it just below TRF but I definitely think this was Moffat's best episode. And the music's so pretty. (Also Sherlock in the sheet.)

I loved Irene and her connection with Sherlock. The intellect, the intrigue, that draw to each other but is different to how they see other people. And I like to think Irene didn't really lose in the end. Not because she was rescued, she didn't expect to be - "Goodbye, Mr. Holmes" - but because now Sherlock let sentiment rule his head.

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This is my favorite episode as well,and I am glad to hear that everybody thinks that Irene is alive  and well and whipping herself into a frenzy.  I adore her.  She can do anything she wants to me, twice! 

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