It’s not a Sherlock Holmes series without Irene Adler.
A Scandal in Belgravia
Summary: After escaping his first showdown with Moriarty, Sherlock’s fame grows, until he gains a client from inside the Royal Family itself. The anonymous client wants Sherlock to retrieve some compromising photos from a dominatrix named Irene Adler, a.k.a. “The Woman.” Seems like a simple task, except that “The Woman” turns out to be a clever and ruthlessly ambitious blackmailer who baffles even Sherlock’s powers of deduction.
Why it’s ranked here: Do I think changing Irene Adler from a popular American singer to a British dominatrix was a bit…extreme? Yes. Does she stick annoyingly close to Moffat’s usual (slightly misogynistic) formula for female characters? Oh, yes. But while the character’s premise may have flaws, this episode itself does not. It’s a taut, complex thriller with more twists than a stadium pretzel, and it delves deeper into Sherlock and Mycroft’s characters than the show had yet gone without sacrificing any of the story’s intensity.
And yes…I did kind of like Irene Adler. At first, I, like John, just wished she would put some clothes on, but as she got more involved in the story, it was hard not to be impressed at her knack for manipulating even a genius like Sherlock. And when her password was finally revealed at the end, it was hard not to feel sorry for her. I have to give full credit to Lara Pulver and Benedict Cumberbatch for making Sherlock and Irene’s…relationship…believable. I still hope to one day see an onscreen version of Irene Adler who resembles the brilliant, good-natured master of disguise she was in the original stories, but if one must turn her into a love interest for Sherlock, this is the way to do it.
Irene aside, though, there are tons of awesome moments in this episode. There’s the infamous “sheet” scene in Buckingham Palace (“Are you wearing any pants?” “Nope.” “Okay.”)…
There’s the part where Sherlock beats the crap out of an American secret agent for daring to lay a hand on Mrs. Hudson (“And exactly how many times did he fall out the window?” “I lost count.”)…
And then there’s the triumphant, final plot twist in which Sherlock fakes a death for the first time. (“When I say run, you run.”)
There are some sad moments, too. I felt so bad for Molly during the Christmas party scene. I suspect Sherlock did, too, deep down, because he’s much nicer to her after this episode. And Sherlock’s grief over Irene when she “died” the first time was surprisingly touching, because it was so understated, and you could tell it was rather a new feeling for him. I’ll say it again: brilliant performance by Benedict.
Oh, and the violin theme he writes for her is lovely. Yes, there were a lot of great things about this episode. I, too, am SHERlocked.