Totally, Completely, and RIDICULOUSLY OBSESSED with Sherlock, Pt 2:
Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, raving about Sherlock like a lunatic. That sounds about right. Again, I want to remind you, if you have not watched Sherlock yet and intend to, DON’T read this. There is absolutely no way to talk about this show without giving away too much, and these are MYSTERY stories after all. It’s no nearly as much fun if you know what’s coming. So, once again, if you haven’t seen this show yet, you can watch season 1 on Netflix streaming and season 2 on PBS.org (but PBS only has season 2 on their website for a limited amount of time, so you might want to get cracking).
As for me, I just caved and bought the DVDs on Amazon so I could watch the series again straight through, even if PBS gets rid of their videos. Also, I want to show it to my mother and she doesn’t like watching things on the computer, so the DVDs will be useful.
And just to prove how obsessed I am, I also bought the Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows movie on Wednesday and watched it straight through twice. And I’ve got a new hobby browsing through Sherlock fanart on DeviantArt. Yeah, I’m pathetic, I know. But that’s okay, I’m used to it by now.
So, let’s get down to business, shall we?
Next episode: “Hounds of Baskerville” –
Now, anyone who knows anything about Sherlock Holmes knows that The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It’s the third of the four novels Arthur Conan Doyle wrote along with the short stories about Sherlock Holmes. Basic premise of the original novel: When Charles Baskerville, a baronet, is found dead on his estate of an apparent heart attack, his doctor James Mortimer fears that the only heir, Henry Baskerville might be the next to die. It is revealed the Charles Baskerville believed in the legend of family curse that claimed a hellhound would kill all of the Baskerville family in retaliation for the death of a girl several generations ago. Sherlock Holmes is called in to find out what really happened to Charles Baskerville, investigate the mysterious threatening letters Henry Baskerville has received, and decipher the truth behind the reports that a gigantic hound has been seen out on the moor.
In this modernized version of the story, Mark Gatiss has written something AWESOME. (Also, apparently Mark Gatiss the co-creator is the series is also the actor who plays Mycroft Holmes! Why didn’t I notice that before? WTF is wrong with me?) In this incarnation, Henry Baskerville is a man who suffers from severe PTSD after seeing his father killed by a gigantic hound as a child twenty years ago. He has been convinced by his therapist to return to the moor where his father was killed in order to jog his memories and prove to himself that he didn’t really see a monster. However, when he goes he find enormous paw prints and is convinced that the monstrous hound is still there. So he goes to Sherlock for help, who does not at first seem interested, until he learns that the moor is near Baskerville, a top-secret military facility where all kinds of scientific experiments are reported to take place.
Mark Gatiss takes a somewhat convoluted story about a pair of greedy people trying to literally scare a man to death in order to inherit his wealth, and turns it into a crazy awesome story about genetic experiments, the moralities of science, coming to terms with truth, AND greatest of all – Sherlock dealing with self-doubt and fear for practically the first time ever.
And Sherlock is definitely the highlight of this episodes (well, okay, all the episodes, but you know what I mean), because in one scene he is convinced that he has also seen the monstrous hound, even though he knows logically it cannot possibly exist. He is actually afraid, and begins to doubt his senses, which practically never happens. He takes it out on John more than a bit, which was part-sad, part-funny, but it was just so fascinating in terms of character development to witness Sherlock having to deal with doubt and fear even though he constantly claims to be in perfect control of his emotions. The scene in the inn, when he’s sitting in front of the fireplace and freaking out (those of you who’ve seen it know the scene, I’m sure) was fantastic!
Of course, I felt REALLY bad for John in that scene too. When John says that, as a friend, he’s worried about Sherlock, Sherlock shouts at him, tells him he has no friends, and to leave him alone. It was SAD, damn it! I just wanted to jump into the tv and hug Martin Freeman. He’s just so damn adorable and likable! Gah!
Ahem… anyway… yes, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were wonderful as always in this episode (I am more than little in love with both of them), and they had a chance to stretch their emotional ranges a lot, which was a joy to watch. This is especially true for Benedict Cumberbatch, obviously, since he had to show Sherlock afraid and shaken, but still arrogant and sharp-tongued as ever. But Martin Freeman has this fantastic scene inside the Baskerville labs, where he thinks the hound has gotten loose inside and he’s locked in with it. I love the way he tries so hard to stay calm and in control, but eventually completely panics and calls Sherlock to help him. His voice cracks because he’s freaking out so bad, and it’s so funny! And then it turns out that Sherlock was doing it all as an experiment, while he watches it on a CC-TV, and that made it even more hilarious.
There’s also a little part when John gets to use his army training, and pulls rank on the military base as he and Sherlock are pretending to be inspectors. We don’t get to see the soldier-y side of John very often, and it’s always a pleasure, because John is completely bad-ass in those moments.
And the plot of the episode was absolutely awesome. I tip my hat to Mark Gatiss for making the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles into something new and exciting and clever. It fit the times, it fit the characters, it kept enough elements of the original story to satisfy all of us old-school fans, and it was just plain COOL.
And now – drum roll please – we come to thing we’ve all been waiting for, the big season finale, the epic episode of epicness: “The Reichenbach Fall” – (THERE ARE SO MANY SPOILERS IN THIS YOU WILL PROBABLY WANT TO KILL YOURSELF IF YOU READ IT BEFORE YOU WATCH THE EPISODE)
“The Reichenbach Fall” is based off the Sherlock Holmes story “The Final Problem,” one of the most famous stories and the one of only two stories in which Moriarty makes an actual appearance. As you may have noticed from some of the comments I made on Facebook and Twitter, this episode was MIND-BLOWING. Just… just… MIND-BLOWING. I can’t even…! Gah!
Okay, okay… deep breaths.
It opens with Sherlock becoming a minor celebrity as he helps solves higher-profile crimes, with higher-profile clients, and with the media and paparazzi taking notice and following him around. While the title of the episode comes from the Riechenbach Falls (the waterfalls from which Sherlock Holmes falls to his apparent death in the original stories), in the context of the episode it comes from the name of the famous Turner painting he helps to recover, after which the press call him “The Reichenbach Hero.” His growing fame apparently irks Moriarty, however, who (in order to get his attention, among other things), breaks into The Bank of England, Pentonville Prison, and the case where the Crown Jewels are kept – ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Like I said, MIND-BLOWING. The scene, as he dancing around in front of the Crown Jewels and pressing buttons on his cell phone to open the prison, is hilarious and fantastic. And then he climbs into the case with the jewels, sits on the throne, puts the crown on his head, and just SITS THERE waiting for the police to show up.
I mean, MY GOD, the man is INSANE.
All of this leads up to the main point, though, which is that Moriarty is slowly and subtly poisoning everyone against Sherlock, so that one a couple children are kidnapped, all the evidence could be construed to point to Sherlock. And Sherlock and John go on the run.
In an interview, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss claimed that they thought they’d actually gone one better than Doyle himself had, in their version of The Final Problem. This is, of course, the height of hubris and probably said at least partially in jest, but honestly – THEY’RE NOT WRONG.
Sherlock’s brilliance turned against him? Sherlock made a fugitive? Moriarty’s perfect revenge being the destruction of Sherlock’s legacy? Totally and completely BRILLIANT.
It was nice to see Lestrade trying to stay on Sherlock’s side even though the rest of the police force has turned against him. And, of course, John is the only who completely believes in him, and stays with him, and even goes on the run with him. Would we have it any other way? Of course not. It was also fascinating when John realized that Mycroft is the one who gave accidentally gave Moriarty all the ammo he needed against Sherlock, as Moriarty uses bits of truth and his abilities to fake records and change identities, to make it look as if Sherlock has fabricated Moriarty as a fall guy to cover up the fact that Sherlock is the real perpetrator of all the crimes he attributes to Moriarty. And then he tells Sherlock to kill himself. Or Moriarty will kill John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade.
BRILLIANT! And, okay, I sound (and feel) a bit like Sherlock when he’s admiring a particularly clever crime rather than lamenting the evil of it, but SERIOUSLY. BRILLIANT.
I mean, my God, Moriarty in the books is a genius, but all he’s really after his money. In the movies, it’s the same thing. He’s not crazy at all, just very greedy, very smart, and very willing to hurt people to get what he wants. But in THIS series, Jim Moriarty is NUTS. Seriously, seriously NUTS. And it is AWESOME. (I have thing for really crazy villains – The Joker and Knives from Trigun are the first two that come to mind – the whole chaotic evil alignment category. I LOVE IT.) Anyway, I was a bit unsure about Moriarty in “The Great Game,” but this episodes won me over completely.
And then there’s the ending. OMFG. Now, I’ll admit, I have a hard time figuring out what to make of Sherlock’s little phone call “suicide note.” Obviously, when he tells John that the accusations are true and he’s a fake, that’s the lie, but what about the fact that he’s getting choked up? Is he really getting emotional, or is that part of the act for John’s sake? And then again, even though he knows he has to “kill” himself to protect John and the others, why doesn’t he TELL John that’s the reason, rather than claiming that he really is a fraud? I suppose it could be to spare John the thought that it’s John’s fault he’s dead, maybe? And why demand that John watch him as he jumps? (I am again assuming that everyone still reading this has seen the episode already, so don’t blame me if I’m ruining anything.) My initial thought is that Sherlock wants John to be a witness, to be able to say definitively that yes, Sherlock did jump from that roof, yes, he saw it with his own eyes, yes he’s certain that Sherlock is dead – thus, insuring that Sherlock can fake his death in safety. But it still seemed a little weird – and cruel, to make John watch it.
And John’s face!
(both gifs from this Tumblr page – thank God for gifs!)
His expressions in that moment were pretty brutal. But it was just as bad later on at the cemetery, when he asked Sherlock for one last miracle, to not be dead. OMG! I nearly cried (it takes quite a lot of work to actually get me to cry, but my eyes did sting a little). Martin Freeman does such an amazing job conveying powerful emotion without going overboard. No screaming, no bursting into tears. He speaks quietly, just starts to get choked up, and then he does that soldierly stoic thing, suddenly straightens up and turns on his heel away from the grave as if he was in uniform, and walks away. And my God, it was hard to watch!
So, now I get to wait probably a year or more for the next season to come out – which is RIDICULOUS, by the way! They aren’t even starting production until NEXT January. WTH? And I have so many questions! I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how Sherlock faked his death. We know he enlisted Molly’s help, who probably found a body in the morgue that could be a replacement for Sherlock. But when did the switch take place? Because as far as I can tell, Sherlock really was the one who fell from the roof. It doesn’t LOOK like he threw a dead body off. Though maybe they did something in that shot to trick us. It’s hard to tell. But they don’t just show that scene from John’s point of view on the ground, they show it from Sherlock’s, up on the roof, as he leans forward and lets himself fall. It really does look like its actually Sherlock falling. So then, okay, there’s a moment when John is trying to reach the body and he is hit by a man on a bicycle (which yes, I’m definitely assuming was planned) so he’s not the first one to the body. So maybe the switch happened then? But then we’d have to assume that Sherlock actually landed, in which case even he managed to survive he would be a mass of broken bones and there’s no way he could moved that quickly. So I go back to the switched-before-the-fall thesis, though I’m not convinced that’s possible.
Then there’s the fact that in an interview, Moffat claims that “there is a clue everybody’s missed … So many people theorising about Sherlock’s death online – and they missed it!” (from this article). So, I’m flummoxed. (Also, I have never used that word before in my life! Cool!)
Then, of course, we have to wonder HOW THE HELL Sherlock is going to clear his name. AND what happened with Moriarty? Is he really dead? I’m guessing he is, but its not outside the realm of possibility for him to have faked his own death as well. I’m also DYING to know how long Sherlock will be gone. In the books his faked death lasts for THREE YEARS. Honestly, if the writers do that to John I may break the tv (or my laptop, whichever), because that would be CRUEL! Really REALLY cruel.
And now we’ve come to the end. This post is ridiculously long, and I should probably cut it in half again, but I’m not going to bother. If you’ve stuck around through the whole thing, I’m impressed and grateful. And if you haven’t actually watched the series yet and you read this, well, I pity you, because you just took half the fun out of the experience of first-time viewing. But you should go watch the series anyway. SERIOUSLY. Now I’m going to shut up. See you folks later!
I leave you with one last image of John, sitting with his therapist a month after Sherlock’s “death,” looking quietly, stoically heart-broken. It’s about the same way I feel having to wait for a year or more until the new episodes appear (except I’m not stoic at all…).