This is spoilery right from the get go. You’ve been warned.
Moriarty may have finally revealed himself last week, but he’s still just a disembodied voice on a cell phone. So no Moriarty face yet, but we did finally see one very important face: Irene Adler’s.
There’s quite a few things in this week’s episode that are classic Doyle references. When describing Adler to Watson, Holmes refers to her as “THE woman” and even goes so far as to lift a line straight out of Scandal in Bohemia. He says, “she predominates the whole of her gender,” at one point. The original text used “sex” in place of “gender,” but this is CBS.
Moriarty is pushing Sherlock’s buttons again, too. As Holmes gets closer to breaking down Moriarty’s criminal ring, it all becomes more personal when Moriarty claims he will clue Holmes in on Irene’s death if he solves the murder of Wallace Rourke.
This exchange is where we get one of the more hilarious terms yet from this series. Holmes calls Moriarty an “assassin pimp” after enduring a rather verbose description of his plan. I couldn’t help but to compare this term to one of Holmes’s original descriptions from The Valley of Fear:
“But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law—and there lie the glory and the wonder of it! The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations—that’s the man!”
I have to admit that assassin pimp has a ring to it that “organizer of every devilry” just never will in 2013.
So Holmes and Watson do the absolutely insane thing and take on Moriarty’s case on Rourke’s murder. Unfortunately, what they find leads to more questions than answers. Private security expert Daren Sutter admits he killed Rourke to avenge his sister’s death from 20 years earlier. Only problem is that Rourke didn’t actually kill Sutter’s sister and was actually in Saudi Arabia at the time. Sutter’s wife had set Rourke up to die because she was afraid her husband would commit suicide if he didn’t avenge his sibling’s death.
I know I’m probably only one of 17 people who actually cares, but who killed Leia Sutter? While I appreciate the idea of a revenge killing for peace as opposed to the traditional revenge story, I was disappointed that both Mr. and Mrs. Sutter end up in jail with no answers about who actually murdered Leia Sutter.
The problem with failing to reveal this is that it caused me to miss the connection Moriarty was making between the Wallace Rourke murder and the big Irene reveal. Perhaps it’s not that tight, but I like when cases get solved and I have to imagine that Holmes would want to know too.
The problem is that Holmes’s mind isn’t clear, because he is singularly focused on solving Irene’s murder. As Holmes and Watson stand at the door of a creepy house in the New York suburbs, they have a moment that reveals the hard truth about why Sherlock Holmes is so devastated about Irene: he needs someone. At the moment, Watson is that someone, yet he can’t acknowledge it in any real way. At the same time, Watson needs Holmes and that’s a seriously dangerous situation for her, as Gregson kindly points out. She’s entirely reliant on him for her career, housing and happiness. But here’s the critical difference: she knows it and he doesn’t.
Perhaps the message Moriarty is trying to send is that the truth isn’t always what it seems. But there’s another way to look at it that goes back to something Mr. Sutter said earlier: a series of facts don’t always equate to the truth. This may be Holmes’s greatest vulnerability.
And that’s why it’s not so shocking that Irene Adler is not in a grave somewhere. In a beautiful and longing scene, Watson and Holmes slowly walk through a room filled with beautiful art, each step revealing a newly restored canvas. Until there’s no more art and just a woman with a brush.
A series of facts: an overdose. An addiction. A body.
The truth: she survived.
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