Moriarty finally reveals himself as the first ‘series’ of Sherlock wraps up. Well, can we really call three measly episodes a series?
The Great Game sees Moriarty – now known as a ‘consulting criminal’ – teasing Sherlock to solve a series of crimes in quick succession. His motivation? Members of the public were kidnapped, strapped to significant amounts of semtex and made to phone Sherlock, being Moriarty’s voice to keep some distance between them.
And Holmes fairly whizzes around London, mopping up crimes where previously none were thought to exist. A television presenter dead from a tetanus infection turns out to be a murder, committed by her brother’s jealous lover. A dead security guard whose body washes up on the shore of the Thames turns out to be a clue to an attempted art swindle.
Each time, Sherlock is given a vague clue and a deadline. But it’s his casual disregard for the terrified messengers, who are often alone with a bomb-filled jacket and a laser-sight focused on the explosive. Holmes is focused on the riddles in front of him. It may be right to say that he can do nothing for those people, but is he totally heartless or ruthlessly pragmatic?
And what does the fact that he’s stored a severed head in the fridge say about him?
Compared to last week’s relatively inexplicable The Blind Banker, the pace of The Great Game was much faster, but easier to keep up with. My one niggle was with the fake Vermeer – why would a painter have chosen to include signs of a supernova from an obscure period in history? If the painting was supposed to avoid suspicion, then why include that detail at all, unless the supernova was a feature of the painting, and then it would have been easily detected by any art historian exposed to the work.
I thought the entire episode did a great job of setting Sherlock up as untouchable. From his impromptu grammar lesson with a criminal at the beginning (demonstrating his mastery of language) to Watson and Lestrade patiently waiting for him to reveal the latest text from the killer, Sherlock is always ahead of his companions. Well, except where the solar system and light entertainment are concerned. There’s even that gloating scene where Sherlock wraps up another crime and walks away congratulating himself, “I am on fire!“
Which leads us on nicely to Moriarty. Well, Sherlock’s nemesis, or his greatest match? The world’s only consultant detective meets the world’s only consultant criminal. The ying to his yang, blah blah blah.
For a brief, horrifying moment, we’re led to believe that Watson’s actually Moriarty. He arrives at the swimming pool venue where Holmes arranged to meet the killer/Moriarty. A brilliant moment, I spent the next few seconds wracking my brains – was Watson absent when those communications came through? Could it be? But then how would a second series play out. And just as I was dismissing the notion, I spotted the wiring and the flashing light.
The stand-off between Sherlock and the real Moriarty was rather enjoyable. OK, there was some comment on him being too Graham Norton, and he might have been a little hard to take seriously. There may be some weight in that accusation. But I loved how it turned out that Moriarty had been around Sherlock earlier in the episode without the detective realising.
Now, we have a cliff-hanger that involves Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty and a jacket made of explosives.
I’m looking forward to the resolution of that, whenever we finally see a second series. If I’m honest though, Sherlock Holmes never really appealed to me, and I’m finding myself cooling a little bit on the series. It’s difficult to say what the issue is. Maybe it’s the 21st Century setting. Maybe it’s the fact that the more complex the crimes become, the more chance there is that a plot hole will appear. Like the Blind Banker episode, with mysterious persons allowing Watson to glimpse symbols on a wall, then mischievously painting over the wall when his back is turned.
Maybe it’s just that I’m aware that Hugh Laurie currently plays the best Sherlock Holmes on TV, in a modern setting, with far better one-liners.
Am I being too picky? What have you thought of Sherlock’s first series?