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TV Waffle - Sherlock (Season 2)

A look back at the second season of the hit BBC show.


Series two of Sherlock continues the adventures of the world's most famous detective, as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dr. Watson, who is played by Martin Freeman.  Paralleling the first series, the second consists of three 90 minute episodes, the first of which premiered on May 6th of 2012.  Since this is a later season I will be following the normal practice on my Fantastic Television blog of going into some spoiler heavy territory so continue reading at your own risk.  Like my series one review, I will be covering each of the episodes individually.
A Scandal in Belgravia begins exactly where the cliff hanger from the previous series' The Great Game left us. The situation is resolved in a rather novel, and considerably less violent fashion than one would suspect, thanks to the intervention of one Irene Adler, who ends up being the focus of the story.  She is not only an intellectual equal to Holmes but is actually a touch smarter than him.  Irene is a collector of information in the form of other people's secrets that they would prefer not be made public.  It turns out she has information on one of the royal's sexual predilections so Sherlock is actually "hired" by the British government for this case. Irene is a great character, remarkably brought to life by Lara Pulver.  Unfortunately, things end up not working out that well for Ms. Adler, which isn't surprising when, as Sherlock put it, you are taking on his first client to have its own navy.  The other problem is that her information, which is her source of income, is also her ultimate weakness in that once it is gone, her leverage disappears with it.  Ultimately, A Scandal in Belgravia is a story about the relationship that develops between these two super-humanly intelligent individuals, which differs considerably from the more normal relationships of us common folk.  The events in this episode take place over a span of months, and one side note that I found entertaining was the throw away references to other classic cases during the course of the story that were slightly renamed original Holmes stories ('The Speckled Blonde', indeed).
Similar to the first series, the second story, The Hounds of Baskerville, is the weakest of the three, although much stronger than The Blind Banker in my opinion.  The mystery is solved largely out of thin air but that really isn't the focus of the story.  Instead, this is a character development episode for Holmes.  We see Sherlock completely out of his element and confronted with a situation where he is forced, for what is apparently the first time in his life, to question his own senses.  This shakes him up at first but he is ultimately able to overcome his fear by a rather unique bit of self-therapy.  Unfortunately, this “therapy” requires him to subject Watson to a rather terrifying, but totally non-hazardous, sequence of events in a way that ends up being humorous in an extremely dark sort of way.  As one can imagine, this whole ordeal also pushes his relationship with Watson dangerously close to the breaking point.
The final episode, The Reichenbach Fall, is a truly amazing piece of television that would easily be on my top ten list of best episodes where I ever to create such a list.  Surprisingly, to me at least, it was written by Steve Thompson, who wrote the first series episode The Blind Banker.  This involves a revenge plot by Moriarty driven at Sherlock like a runaway freight train.  Ironically, this ultimately has nothing to do with Holmes directly but is initiated by actions committed by his brother, Mycroft.  Again, we see Holmes attacked at his core as James sets a series of events in motion to ultimately discredit the detective as a fraud. Moriarty goes so far as to claim that he doesn't even exist and, is in reality, an actor hired by Sherlock to play the role of an arch-nemesis created by Holmes' himself.  The gaslight plot is ingenious and horrifically well executed and leads to another cliff hanger in the form of Holmes' apparent suicide.  The Reichenbach Fall is television at its absolute best.
The second series of Sherlock is a beautifully executed piece of work.  While episode quality is still a little variable, I found it considerably less so than the first series.  Fans of mystery dramas would be remiss in skipping this series.



Nick Sauer
For more from Nick, visit his site, Fantastic Television

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