This week‘s episode felt a bit like an interlude after the first few episodes of this season have either broadened our horizon by giving us backstories of Joan and Sherlock, or by connecting contemporary issues with their line of work. Although all the main players were there and some allusions to the beginning on the relationship between Joan and Sherlock were made, it fell somewhat flat compared to the other episodes of season 2 (and season 1, too, I felt).
The episode begins with Joan buying an animal skull for Sherlock because he is bored and she wants to amuse him, while promising her friend to figure out who her one night stand from last year is. Slightly affronted by being considered a private detective of that sort by her friend, she nevertheless agrees, and tries to draw Sherlock into the ‘case’ as well. Sherlock reacts by dragging Joan to the morgue to actively look for a case, by playing chess against the pathologist to win his right to dig through the number of corpses – and he notices a corpse with a tattoo usually connected to the Russian mafia/mob (well known to those who have watched Eastern Promises or similar films). Joan explains that the man was killed in a bike-accident, but Sherlock finds that he must have killed someone judging by the wounds on his hands. A somewhat strange search for a body – and therefore a case – ensues, which repeatedly leads to Sherlock telling people to their face that it’s very inconvenient for him that they are alive.
While we all know what it means when Sherlock is bored – and drugs are out of the question for this version – we can understand where he is coming from, but I must admit that Sherlock’s behaviour wasn’t quite as funny as the writers doubtlessly meant for it to be; especially since it did not come across as sarcasm, but as something he absolutely meant. For both the canonical Holmes and this particular reincarnation it seemed quite uncharacteristic.
The plot takes a while to unfold and, although deductions are made, they seemed a bit useless and served more to show off than to actually solve the case which was fairly unexciting in the first place. The final twist, including a rather malicious trick by the Met to force the woman behind the chain of murderous events to a confession by making it seem as if she blew the whistle on a mob boss and potentially threatening her life, seemed smart as the first glance. however, the writers did not think this through, considering that the Russian mob is notoriously (fictionally speaking of course, I do not claim to be an expert in these matters, but we’ve all seen Mafia films) active inside and outside of jail while her reason to act the way she did was, in context, understandable, and the threat to her life seemed even more crude. On the plus side, the idea to turn around the search by starting with a murderer and looking for the victim gave the episode an innovative touch.
It was, overall, a rather unexciting episode which came across as if the writers were regrouping while creating a case which could possibly, with a lot of squinting, remind one of “The Adventure of the Red Circle”, but which didn’t hold up to the previous episodes. Tension between Sherlock and Joan was added by Sherlock admitting that he was the one who slept with her friend, wrapping up the proposed first case of the episode and his admission that he used to follow her around when she started to work for his father – a break in trust which seems to upset Joan (though Sherlock apologises and Joan ‘gets him back’ by lying to him about her friend’s intentions) but which will probably never be talked about in future episodes.
I, personally, was disappointed by the episode, and dearly hope that the show will pick up pace again and not throw potential character development out of the window in favour of half-hearted attempts at humour. For me it was definitely the weakest episode of this season.
I studied British Studies and Egyptology at Leipzig University and I am currently finishing my Ph.D in English Literature, which I also teach at uni. I spend most of my time reading, drawing and, occasionally, writing. I adore travelling; both because I love to see new places, and because wherever I travel there are usually friends waiting for me. Apart from that I am a huge movie geek and I cannot exist without music. Sherlock Holmes has somewhat taken over my life; but thankfully that works out just fine, considering I can also teach it in class. It beautifully connects my hobby with my job, and I am incredibly thankful for that.