May 6 2012 10:00pm

Adler Cracks the Whip! Sherlock: “A Scandal in Belgravia”

The long-awaited return of the popular 21st century Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson hit America tonight with the season 2 premiere of Sherlock titled “A Scandal in Belgravia.” In addition to giving us this splendid image of Benedict Cumberbatch un-ironically rocking the infamous Holmes deerstalker, the hour and a half episode served up a variety of new twists and turns. Most specifically it revealed that this version of Sherlock Holmes not only has a contemporary Moriarty, but the adventuress Irene Adler, too!

Find out who was naked (everyone) and what we thought of the return of Sherlock in our very spoiler-filled review below.

Tons of spoilers! You’ve been warned!

The new episode picks up where “The Great Game” left us: in an empty indoor pool, Jim Moriarty has Sherlock and John covered with the telltale laser-dots of snipers while Sherlock trains a single gun on the plastic explosives lying on the ground between them. Sherlock makes to set off the bomb with a gunshot, but soon Jim gets a phone call. Whatever information the call conveys, it convinces Jim Moriarty to call off his snipers and leave the pool with the knowledge he and Sherlock will be crossing paths again.

The episode then gives us a fun sort of montage both depicting a bunch of Sherlock’s new cases and the link between his growing celebrity and the popularity of John’s blog. Not surprisingly, the blog is good for business and John and Sherlock are getting photographed more often in the papers. (The donning of the deerstalker is used as gag here because Sherlock is trying to hide his face from newspaper cameras.) During this sequence we see John writing up several cases which contain clever nods to the Conan Doyle canon: A case about comic book experts reporting on comic book things coming to life is called “The Geek Interpreter” while another case is called “The Speckled Blonde.” (Referencing “The Greek Interpreter” and “The Speckled Band” respectively.) Of course, the episode as a whole is referencing  “A Scandal in Bohemia” the famous Holmes story which featured the blackmailer Irene Adler.

When the story gets going, we’re properly introduced to Irene Adler. This 21st century version is a professional dominatrix, but also someone who collects compromising photographs of some of her more famous clients. Soon Sherlock and John find themselves whisked to Buckingham Palace where Mycroft Holmes informs them they need to recover compromising photographs of someone who Holmes deduces is a member of the Royal Family. What’s relevant is Irene Adler is not asking for money at first, deepening the mystery. Eventually Sherlock and John confront Irene Adler. She already knows they’re coming, however, and greats Sherlock while totally in the nude. (This nicely references an earlier scene in which Sherlock is wrapped only in a bed sheet while taking a meeting at Buckingham Palace.)

As in the original story, Sherlock uses the false alarm of a fire to deduce the location of the all-important camera phone containing the compromising photographs. But things are more complex than that. Soon, American secret agents rush in on the scene and it seems Irene Adler has more than just compromising photographs in her possession. A lot of people want her dead. Throughout all of this, we get the sense that Sherlock has seriously gotten his feathers ruffled by her and though they briefly work together to thwart the Americans, she eventually turns the tables on him, drugs him, and gets back her cameraphone. During this fracas, Adler also screws with Sherlock’s phone resulting in a custom text-message alert for herself. Whenever Irene Adler texts Sherlock an orgasmic “Mmm-ah!” fills the air. Cute? Sexy? Creepy? All of the above.

Time passes and we witness Christmas in Baker Street. Sherlock is rude to everyone, specifically poor Molly, the girl who works in the police morgue who clearly had the hots for him in the last run of the show. John Watson is wearing a terrible Christmas sweater worthy of Ron Weasley, and Mrs. Hudson declares it to be the only day Sherlock and John have to be nice to her. However, this heartwarming scene is broken up by the news that Irene Adler is dead. Mycroft and Sherlock see a body in a morgue with a face mangled beyond recognition, but Sherlock identifies the corpse as Adler by looking at her body (since he committed her measurements to memory.) Sherlock also believes Adler to be dead at this point because she sent him her cameraphone, something she would never do if she were alive. However, it all turns out to be a scam as Watson is later told by Adler herself that she is really alive. The information on her phone is way bigger than photographs, and the true conspiracy of the story starts to be made clear.

Irene Adler’s super badass cameraphone actually contains a secret coded e-mail she obtained from a government official who was one of her “clients.” In Adler’s presence, Sherlock decodes this as information about a specific airline flight, flight 007 to be specific. Mysteriously, he’s given a ticket by his brother for this flight only to find a plane full of corpses. Mycroft reveals the British and U.S. governments had populated this plane full of already-dead people because they knew terrorists were planning to blow it up. More importantly, both governments were planning on letting it happen to make the terrorists think they had gained a tactical advantage. But, the show’s off, because Irene Adler transmitted the information to Moriarty who in turn transmitted it to the terrorists. A super-secret multi-government hoax has been ruined by Irene Adler, and all because Holmes temporarily trusted her. After this deathblow has been served to Mycroft and the government, Adler starts demanding more accommodations or she’ll go public with the other government secrets she’s got in her awesome phone. Cruelly, she asserts she never had a thing for Sherlock and that Moriarty had informed her how to “play him.”

But all is not lost, because our Sherlock knows the truth and realizes Adler did sort of have a thing for him and that the elusive passcode on her phone is S.H.E.R! She liked him after all. Holmes wins, albeit briefly. The episode closes with John and Mycroft meeting in the café below Baker Street where Mycroft tells John that Adler has been beheaded in the Middle East. Both decide to lie to Sherlock about her death and instead convince him she’s involved in a witness protection program in the States. In the final scenes, Sherlock appears to buy this, but then the action cuts to Adler’s execution, and it is revealed that in her “final moments” none other than Sherlock Holmes was there to rescue her.


Ryan’s Reaction:

I’ve got real mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and everyone else in this awesome cast back on Baker Street and delighting the hell out of me. But, I was really irked by the writing decision to transform this 21st century version of the iconic character of Irene Adler into a sex worker. In my view, this was a reductive move and somehow made the character more sexist than her original Conan Doyle incarnation. Her overt va-va-voom stuff also bugged me because we’re told it’s totally throwing off Sherlock’s awesome deductive mojo, which doesn’t really make sense. He looks at her and question marks appear on the screen like in a Looney Tunes cartoon. I appreciate the idea that this version of Holmes may very well be a total virgin, ergo the use of sexuality on him might be crippling, but it comes across a little cartoony. Further, dominatrix stuff and sex for the sake of sex isn’t really edgy, and comes across as pandering here to me. I imagine Moffat thinking, “oh this is what the kid’s like.” Personally, I would have much rather had Adler obtaining her secrets in another, trickier and smarter way, rather than taking her clothes off. Actress Lara Pulver is totally awesome in the role, but the “sexiness” of the character was sort of taken away for me by having her be so in your face about sex. In short, it all came across a little porny rather than interesting. I was also pleased to see Jane Clare Jones from The Guardian making an even more detailed argument on this point.

However, Sherlock is back, which is good. Though I really disliked the characterization of Adler in the story, the story itself was compelling, funny, fast, exciting, unique, while at the same time being perfectly true to Sherlock Holmes. The Christmas at Baker Street scene was excellently done by all the actors, and Mrs. Hudson really shined in this episode. The scene in which we realize the bond between Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock and the important and badass team they make up is bold and touching. Meanwhile, Freeman and Cumberbatch have perfected their chemistry to the point where you could just watch an hour of them bickering and it would be satisfying. The direction and pacing are also exciting, and revelation of what is really going on truly haunting. It also genuinely feels as though the fictional universe of this Holmes has gotten a little bigger with the inclusion of other nations, which is not at all unwelcome. If the Moffat/Gatiss penned version of Sherlock Holmes is truly the new James Bond, then bring it on! But maybe next time, he doesn’t need such a Pussy Galore-esque antagonist. (I mean, at least Pussy Galore was a pilot for crisssakes.)

Either way, the episode was fun, and I’m looking forward to Hound next week!


Emily’s Reaction:

Am I a bad person if I say that, despite some well-pointed out problems, I’m not really upset by this episode at all? Maybe. Even so, I was tickled to death for the full hour and a half. Not that all the fun entirely makes up for the dominatrix angle on Adler, but I enjoyed Pulver all the same, who I thought did a really excellent job with what she was given. In the end, I feel that the real issue with her occupation was that it was just plain uncreative. It doesn’t take much effort to say, “well, she’s sexy and manipulative and lots of people fall for her — I know, she can be a BD/SM sexpot!” I did appreciate that she was gay (outside of her attraction to Sherlock, which just made the choice of having her prefer women more interesting), but since it wasn’t explored at all, that was basically a throwaway as well, in addition to adding to the unhelpful “lesbians want to have power over all men” stereotype.

As to the thought that Sherlock has never had sex at all; it’s typical to see the character portrayed as entirely asexual, or asexual with exceptions (Adler usually being the only one), but the idea that he simply doesn’t have the makeup to handle it, and has therefore never tried it, is an emotionally interesting take. Especially when you see how cruelly other people treat him for it in Mycroft’s snide remarks, or Moriarty’s nicknames.

Outside of that, Sherlock has begun putting its fringe characters to much better use, something that practically no incarnation of the stories has bothered to do. The enjoyable thing about figures like Mrs. Hudson and even Lestrade (who has contradictory traits in Doyle’s stories) is that they have very little characterization whatsoever, making them open for a great deal of interpretation. And we’ve all seen the silently-suffering Mrs. Hudson, or the scolding irate Mrs. Hudson, but when have we ever seen the loving, saavy Mrs. Hudson who’s braver than brave and would do anything for her dear lodgers? Where has this woman been all my life? She’s spectacular.

The further exploration of the Holmes brothers’ relationship in this case was handled with a deft, if at times chilling, hand. We start to get a greater picture of that family bond, the sense that Mycroft raised Sherlock, and might even be responsible for foisting this “don’t care about people, it doesn’t help” attitude on his little brother. We see people handling drug addiction the way they would in the modern world: whereas Watson simply berated Holmes’ use of cocaine in the original stories, we get to see Mycroft calling John, informing him that it’s a “danger night,” that he can’t leave Sherlock’s side. We know that John and Mrs. Hudson have raided the flat before looking for Sherlock’s hidden stashes. (We also now know that Sherlock has a sock index. Of course he does.)

And even with all the damaging parts to these relationships, we see that Sherlock — without wanting or intending to — is building himself a family of sorts. That’s what I’m invested in. Can’t wait to see what next week brings.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on on January 5, 2012.

Ryan Britt is the staff writer for He eliminates the impossible and replaces it with a gin and tonic whenever possible.

Emily Asher-Perrin is the Editorial Assistant for She hopes that she, too, will one day have a heirarchy of dressing gowns.

Ty Margheim
1. alSeen
It wasn't her sexuality that was confounding Sherlock. It was that she had removed anything about her person that would let Sherlock deduce anything.
2. Lande4091
THANK you asSeen! How on earth the reviewers missed this key point is beyond me. If they knew anything about Sherlock at all both the original and this more recent interpretation then they would know that he derives much of his information by the clothes, jewellery, etc. a person has on their person. This focus on the fact that Adler was a dominatrix is frankly unnecessary and franky smacks of the need for Americans to be PC at all times. Boring! The original Adler was quite seductive within the context of times that Doyle wrote this version was simply an update. Big deal. It happens, they exist, she does on her own terms and it clearly didn't demean the character. Stop squirming at it, it's annoying.

Excellent, excellent episode!
Ty Margheim
3. alSeen
The entire second series is fantastic.

Just sit back and enjoy the shows. Stop being all "movie criticy" and watch them like real people do.
Jon Rosebaugh
4. inklesspen
Why do you claim that a dominatrix is a sex worker?
Kevin Stafford
5. Kevinaught
Irene Adler is, at her core as a character, a power broker. Her sexuality is both an aspect of her power and a cloak that conceals it (she is never truly naked until the moment Sherlock finally pierces her game...her game is her true clothing). Her real power lies in the fearless cleverness of her mind. Which is where the real attraction lies for Sherlock. Like any good magician, Adler gets you to focus on the movements (both blatant and subtle) of her sexuality, while her 'free hand' works the magic trick(s).

I deeply admire the foil that Moffat & Gattiss setup for Sherlock here. She is certainly not without her flaws as a character, but she strikes me as a perfect fit.
6. euphbass
Definitely an American reivew (obviously) - you feel the need to refer to a swimming pool as an indoor pool! :D

Anyway, if you're in it for characterisation and Sherlock's relationships with those around him, you're going to love this series, especially the last episode. It is quite excellent.

Also, I'm surprised no-one has brought up the issue of whether or not Sherlock really was there to save Adler in the closing scene, or whether it was wishful thinking on his or her part...
Shelly wb
7. shellywb
Moffat said in an interview (and unfortunately I don't have a link) that Sherlock was really there at the end.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
8. tnh
This focus on the fact that Adler was a dominatrix is frankly unnecessary and frankly smacks of the need for Americans to be PC at all times. Boring! The original Adler was quite seductive within the context of times that Doyle wrote this version was simply an update. Big deal. It happens, they exist, she does on her own terms and it clearly didn't demean the character. Stop squirming at it, it's annoying.
Irene Adler's role as a dominatrix is a complex and potentially problematic element in this episode. Ryan and Emily discussed it in those terms. There's nothing "PC" about their analyses -- nor could there be, since a consensus PC opinion on the subject doesn't exist.

Furthermore, making Irene Adler a high-end dominatrix is not a straightforward update of Adler being "quite seductive" in the original stories. Give Moffat and Gatiss the credit they're due. Their Irene Adler is engaged in a peculiar and complicated profession which requires real intelligence plus the ability to make deductions on the fly from small clues, and which has an oddly large number of similarities to what Sherlock does as a consulting detective. That goes considerably beyond a "simple update" of Conan Doyle's sexual adventuress.

AlSeen @3:
Just sit back and enjoy the shows. Stop being all "movie criticy" and watch them like real people do.
No. You don't get to read long analytical critiques of dramas, then criticize the authors for writing them. If you don't like that style of criticism, don't read it.

You also don't get to privilege your own TV-watching habits as those of a "real person," and Ryan and Emily's as something less authentic. I know lots and lots of real people who watch Sherlock the same way Ryan and Emily do. I think it's probably best if we agree that we're all real people who happen to have different tastes in the way we watch TV.

Inklesspen @4:
Why do you claim that a dominatrix is a sex worker?
Why is this a problem? Describing a dominatrix as a sex worker is about as controversial as describing a bricklayer or finish carpenter as a construction worker.

"Sex worker" is not a euphemism for "prostitute". It's someone who works in the performative end of the sex industry, including strippers and erotic dancers, photography models, phone sex operators, and dominatrixes and other roleplaying specialists.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
9. tnh
Shellywb @7:
Moffat said in an interview (and unfortunately I don't have a link) that Sherlock was really there at the end.
I've read that too, though I don't have a link for it either.

I'll argue that it's made evident in the scene where Mycroft tells John Watson that she's dead. At that moment, we see Watson swallow hard. Now, we've already seen him react once to news of her death, and that's not how he took it. What he's reacting to in the scene in the cafe is the realization that Mycroft doesn't know what really happened. This means Watson is suddenly aware that he's matching wits with Mycroft, which is enough to make anyone nervous.

Watson then goes upstairs and a bit quizzically tells Sherlock the version of the story he's heard from Mycroft, which Sherlock takes in good spirits. That reaction would be out of character if Sherlock didn't already know what happened to Irene Adler. He'd have pounced on the story and interrogated the alleged facts. That Sherlock takes it the way he does tells us that he already knows what became of her, and that he's reasonably pleased about it. Thus, what Watson's actually telling him is that he's succeeded in pulling the wool over Mycroft's eyes.
10. StrongDreams
Small comment, I loved Irene's referring to Moriarty as a "consulting criminal."

@tnh, you think Watson knew the truth? I'm not convinced, I think the conversation with Sherlock afterward would have gone somewhat differently.

I'm also not totally clear on Mycroft's position here. Why did he allow Watson to borrow Irene's files? Was it just narrative causality (Moffat needed a way for Sherlock to get the phone back) or was it plamnned out -- Mycroft lent Watson the file specifically because he knew Sherlock would take the phone -- and if so, why would Mycroft want Sherlock to have it?

(And speaking of the phone, the phone in Mycroft's file would have been the one taken from Irene 6 months previous. The phone she was using in Afghanistan would have been a newer one. Why did the phone in the file have Irene's last text on it? Plot holes or am I overthinking?)
Ryan Britt
11. ryancbritt

I stand by my thoughts about the Irene Adler depiction not working for me on various levels. Mostly, it just doesn't work FOR ME.

However, this Irene Adler is better than NO Irene Alder, so I'll take it. Lara Pulver is also an awesome actor. (I put her on our list of women to play a female Doctor on Doctor Who!)

I will also totally cop to being an American, and a critic. :-) And yes @6, I grew up in Arizona. Indoor pools were rare. Outdoor pools are everywhere!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
12. tnh
Heh. I didn't notice "indoor pool" either until Euphbass pointed it out. I also have to stop and think about it before I can remember that you have to refer to sheep herders as shepherds when you're writing for a general audience.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
I'm curious on the usage of the generic "swimming pool" vs more specific "indoor pool" and "outdoor pool". Would indoor swimming pool be preferred or in non-US does pool usually imply indoor?

For example, just this morning, in Rochester Minnesota, I was removing the maple seeds from our outdoor pool.
14. yenny

Throughout the episode, Irene had two phones. She doesn't use the one with all the information stored on it to send texts. After all, it would be rather awkward to keep your primary phone in a safe a lot of the time, no? It can be a bit hard to spot since the phones don't really look different, but consider: she sends Sherlock a text telling him she's not dead on New Year's Eve because she's trying to get her phone back. That makes it pretty clear there are two phones involved--she has one and Sherlock's got the other.

Also, when Sherlock is going through all of the texts he got from Irene at the end, he's actually looking at his own phone (his received messages and the one sent text from New Year's Day). If you look carefully, you'll see that he puts Irene's phone in his pocket after John gives it to him and then picks up a phone from the table (his own) to look at the texts. And in any case, as I said above, the phone from Mycroft's file on Irene wasn't the one she used to send texts anyway.
15. StrongDreams
@14, thanks. I am still left to wonder why Mycroft decided to allow Sherlock to keep the (now decoded and empty) spy phone, and why he used Watson to get it to him.
16. yenny

Well, I don't know why Mycroft did that, but I can guess why Steven Moffat did. In the original short story, "A Scandal In Bohemia," the King of Bohemia offers Holmes money for solving the case (even though Irene got away), but Holmes asks for Irene's photograph instead. Sherlock's keeping the phone as a momento is an homage to that.

If I had to guess, I would say that Mycroft gave John the file to show Sherlock because he thought Sherlock would want to read it to confirm the story about the witness protection program. Since Sherlock knew that story was a lie, however, he didn't feel the need to see the evidence or whatnot his brother had concocted for him. As for why he let Sherlock keep the phone, perhaps it was out of sentiment (despite his pretending not to care). After all, he made up the witness protection story to spare Sherlock's feelings, so letting him keep a now empty and relatively unimportant phone if it makes him feel better isn't a huge deal.
Joe Romano
17. Drunes
I wish I could explain myself better than this, but I lost interest in Sherlock near the end of Season 1. With high hopes I watched last night's episode, but find myself exactly where I was before. There's something about the "whole" that's just not clicking for me. If I see the next two episodes, fine. If not, that's fine, too. The funny thing is that I had the same sort of feeling about Dr. Who. Maybe it's Moffat's writing that I've grow tired of. Just curious if anyone else is wondering what all the fuss is about.
18. Jazzlet
In the UK a swimming pool would always be assumed to be indoors unless explicitly called an open air pool. And at that an outdoor pool would likely be called a lido.
Troy Lissoway
19. Troylis
I prefer to think that Mycroft deduced that Sherlock saved Adler. The oddly specific line that only Sherlock could have faked a death so perfectly? And why else send up Watson with a story that makes no sense and files that Sherlock's not supposed to keep? He's sending Sherlock the phone as a gift.

Also, loved the scene of the Holmes brothers in the morgue. Two alien beings watching humans expressing grief…
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Jazzlet@18:Thanks. Hence the term "lido deck" on cruise ships, probably.
21. Eugene R.
I have a reaction similar to the one expressed by Drunes (@17) to this episode of Sherlock, particularly with the parallel to Mr. Moffat's Dr. Who. I think that I am not responding well to the attempts at manipulating the various old/new strands within the show that Mr. Moffat wishes to employ, as clever and creative as they may be.

Sometimes the episode seems a bit forgetful in its eagerness, such as giving us a wonderful shout-out to a dean of Sherlockiana, Vincent (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) Starrett with a quote from one of his poems ("It's always 1895") ... which left me wondering why avid blogger John Watson had not noticed for weeks (months?) that the "hits" counter on his blog had not changed. Other times, the episode seems to be trading on past associations unfairly, as having us view Irene Adler as The Woman in affectionate terms (see whacky hijinks escape epilogue) ... without considering too deeply where she obtained a body-double corpse with severe head trauma.

Worse, it even plays the same game with Sherlock, having us accept him as The Love Detector based on his reading of Irene's physiological responses ... but also having him turn into Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory by missing all the cues from Molly's infatuation. It would be possible to explain that learning from his mistake with Molly, he then deciphers Irene's feelings. But, I did not see any evidence that the character was making that connection. If we make it for him, I fear that we do so out of our own reliance on knowing the Sherlock of Conan Doyle's stories, who does not exist in Moffat's universe. Yes, it is wonderful to play games with the Doyle story titles (which similarly "do not exist"), but it is a bit unfair to get us to emotional invest in a character who is portrayed as jarringly romantically naive and yet wise in "the chemistry of love" without showing how that would be consistent. If I am sympathetic to the Moffat Sherlock and his awkward travails with social interactions, then I am less accepting of the savvy "mentalist" who can pierce Irene's playacting. Or for that matter, that Irene could (or would) give herself away so readily, being unable to maintain her earlier unreadable ("????") state.

Perhaps it is a matter of degree. Conan Doyle fans like to play "the Great Game", pretending Holmes and Watson are factual, not fictional, and then coming up with all kinds of explanations for the various inconsistencies or omissions in the original works. I find myself doing a bit too much playing of the Game with "A Scandal in Belgravia", for reasons that seem gratuitous. Your mileage may vary.
Joe Vondracek
22. joev
@tnh: Well said. For a moment there, I was concerned that I'm not a real person. :/

alSeen@1: Yeah, I thought this was made pretty obvious by the juxtaposition of Sherlock's inability to read the unclothed Adler with his deductions about Watson based on Watson's clothes.

Loved Sherlock's and John's protectiveness of Mrs. Hudson, and their snapping at Mycroft when he made his rude remark to her. I actually would have liked to have seen a bit more of the banter between Sherlock and John that was present in the first series, but I suppose that had to be sacrificed for the interactions between Holmes and Adler.

The ending felt a tad forced; we're supposed to believe that Mycroft, who we know keeps tabs on Sherlock, is unaware of Sherlock having left the country and traveled to the Middle East? That seems highly unlikely. Which suggests that he actually knows the truth, and what's really happening there is that he's using John to let Sherlock know that he knows.

Overall, I enjoyed this outing very much, although I felt that they were trying in earnest to titillate the viewers some. I got a trace feeling that the show's creators are a bit too aware of their own success and are in danger of falling into the "look at how clever we are!" trap.
23. James Davis Nicoll
What I thought this episode was most notable for was removing from Ms. Adler the doleful burden of being a strong, independent figure in favour of making her a minion of Moriarty on one hand and a hopelessly smitten Sherlock worshipper ultimately dependent on him for survival on the other. The part where Moffatt made her gay so she could crush on Sherlock in spite of her orientation only made the episode that much more special.

Seriously, while Moffat's Sherlock is in general overrated and wretched, this episode is up there with that dreadful Yellow Menace episode from Season One as especially bad. It read like it was written as revenge on some woman who rejected Moffatt, written so the protagonist could get the triumph in fiction Moff was denied in real life.

1: Yeah, the recent movies do that too. In defense of the writers, they could no more imagine an independent, successful woman than I can pee molten U235.
24. Hatgirl
There were so many great moments in this episode - Violin playing! Brother banter! Ash trays! Christmas jumpers! Affectionate defenestration! But the Adler fiasco has become my predominant memory of the episode.

I've never understood the convention in the spin-off books/tv/films
to have Adler attracted to Holmes. The entire sodding point of the
original short story is that she is trying secure a happy life with the
man she loves - who isn't Holmes.

Moffat's version manages to misinterpret the character even more than usual. In the original short story she is The Woman to Holmes because she outwitted him, and continued to live her life on her own terms. In this TV episode Sherlock outwits her and she lives a life of fear and misery until he saves her. I loved the episode as a whole, but I really disliked what they did to Adler's character. She lost the game.

On the plus side, this mess has distracted me from SqueakyMoriarty issue *shudder*
25. lopeg
As a real person, I have actually been trying to make justifications for the "Adler fiasco" to my fake friends for months now. And while I think that Ryan and Emily's critiques are very articulate, they are similar to the ones I've been arguing against (to both my fake friends and to, admittedly, myself). And after all of this discussion here involving sex-workers,what it means to be an "independent women", indoor swimming pools, etc... it seems to me that Hatgirl, in the end got it right, and actually convinced me of this episodes flaws. Of course! Part of the brilliance of the Doyle's Adler is that she does in fact snow Holmes and then leaves. She gets everything she wants and what she wants does not happen to include Sherlock Holmes. All the sex worker stuff aside - I think it's less relevant than Hatgirl's point. The fact that Holmes ends up rescuing Adler, that she becomes a mere damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by Holmes (both physically from terrorists and emotionally from a broken heart), is far less interesting and cut-throat than Doyle's version. All that said, it still made for pretty thrilling television - and any real person would agree.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
26. tnh
Lopeg, I enjoyed the episode tremendously, but I have to insist that James Nicoll and Hatgirl are real.
27. James Davis Nicoll
must concede I frequently fail Turing tests.
Dave Bell
29. DaveBell
We mustn't forget that this tells us what Mycroft is capable of. And Sherlock cares enough to risk his neck for Irene Adler. There's so many moments in this episode when we see Sherlock does care about some people, even if his response is not entirely civilised. I suppose it's possible that it was Moriarty who arranged the fake-Adler corpse, or maybe Sherlock is enough like his Brother that he can shrug off that aspect.

It's complicated.

As will become apparent, some of these things matter. This episode sets up some people Sherlock knows he can rely on, and calls into question his relationship with his Brother. Who might be helping Sherlock when he really needs that help?
30. John Seven
I didn't like Pulver here anymore than I did on Robin Hood, where she played a very similar role with the same obviousness. The dominatrix stuff might have been more tolerable if played by a more interesting actress that was against type, perhaps Ruth Wilson or Nikki Amuka Bird or someone else - someone who could add something unexpected and not cliched to the role.

Also, I did not buy for a second that Sherlock could escape the watchful eyes of Watson or Mycroft long enough to go help Adler escape at the end. Strains credulity.

This episode was okay, but with glaring weaknesses. The following two episodes are much better.
31. Angela Joy Allison
Can anyone make out the title of the book that John Watson is reading while awaiting the return of Sherlock from the morgue on Xmas Eve?
32. Paul Luchter
What do the texts say thats croll down the screen (Adler's phone) when Sherlock looks at it. The last text says Good Bye Mr Holmes.

But what does all the rest say?

Of course, Holmes saving her is just her last thoughts, not a reality (in the fiction we watch)

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