We’re in the home stretch now…
The Great Game
Summary: It’s a slow month for crime-solving, and Sherlock is bored. That is, up until an anonymous benefactor starts sending him “puzzles” to solve–a series of seemingly unrelated crimes all around London that Sherlock must get to the bottom of in a steadily-decreasing number of hours. Oh, and if he doesn’t, the mysterious “benefactor” will detonate an unwilling suicide bomber in a crowded area.
Why it’s ranked here: Because this episode is INTENSE. So many mysteries! So much deduction! So many ominous count-downs! It’s all fantastic. And the scene where the villain makes a little kid count down over the phone, and Sherlock has to find evidence for his theory before he gets to “zero”? Most stressful 10 seconds of my life. The fight with the Golem in the planetarium was also really intense…not to mention surreal and trippy.
This one also establishes several of the most iconic aspects of the show: the smiley face on the wallpaper, Sherlock’s ignorance of the solar system, John’s blog, etc.
But what makes this episode truly memorable is….this guy.
I love Sherlock‘s take on Moriarty because it was so radically and completely different from what I was expecting. We’ve firmly established his evilness long before he appears, what with the whole “targeting children and old ladies” thing and the creepy “talking with other people’s voices” thing. We’ve also established his status as a criminal mastermind who controls a ridiculously effective army of minions (how else do you kidnap someone, cover them in explosives, park them in the middle of a busy street, and train a couple of snipers on them without anyone noticing?). And there are hints that he shares Sherlock’s darker tendencies (“Why does anyone do anything? It’s because I’m bored.”). Kidnapping John and talking through him was just the creepy icing on the villainous cake.
And then we hear his actual voice–“I gave you my number; I thought you might call”–and this short, young, high-voiced Irish guy, he-who-was-previously-known-as-Jim-from-IT, walks in and starts hamming it up like there’s no tomorrow. He’s not a cold, calculating professor like his literary counterpart. He doesn’t look or sound threatening. He IS absolutely off the deep end (which makes it appropriate that he chose that particular side of the pool for his entrance), and he does have snipers hiding in the wings the whole time, which helps with the intimidation factor.
But the creepy thing about Moriarty is that, once we actually see him, he’s a lot like Sherlock. While Sherlock displays his massive ego through rapid-fire speech and big words, Moriarty displays his by being overly dramatic and cracking bad jokes. Sherlock cures his boredom by solving crimes; Moriarty does it by arranging them. They’re both masters of disguise…so much so that neither even needs an actual disguise. (Did you ever have the slightest suspicion that Molly’s gay boyfriend was Moriarty? Because I didn’t.) They’re both, supposedly, sociopaths with no human connections, although Moriarty can tell that’s “not quite true” of Sherlock. They even wear similar suits. This meeting was a glorious set-up for all the others to come.
And then there’s that first, horrible cliff-hanger. I had to wait a year to find out how they got away from the pool, and I joined this fandom late. It’s like they’re TRYING to drive Sherlockians crazy! Oh wait, this is Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Yep, they’re definitely trying.