Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Irene (to Sherlock): “Look at those cheekbones. I could cut myself slapping that face. Would you like me to try?”
I’d almost have difficulty in actually believing that it’s been nearly eighteen months since the last episode of this show but considering that it was borderline impossible to escape from the constant press and award nominations/wins, it almost feels like no time has passed at all. So, has the wait actually been worth it?
Judging from the sheer confidence of this opening episode, I’m gonna say yes. While I’m not of the belief that fandom has of Moffat paling with Doctor Who and shining with Sherlock, it’s hard to deny that he’s flourished with this show and this opening episode indicates quite clearly, it’s going to be another good year for Moffat.
Last season ended with a cliff hanger of Jim Moriarty threatening both Sherlock and Watson’s lives and resolved it in a simplistically cheeky manner. Moriarty more or less decided that today wasn’t a good day for his new friends to die and promptly took his leave, so that Irene Adler could dominate proceedings.
I had a sneaking suspicion that whenever Moffat got around to writing for Irene that there would be something akin to River Song and I was certainly right about that. In fact, most of Irene’s one liners almost feel like dialogue that Moffat hadn’t gotten around to using with River but they’re put to good use here with Irene’s banter with Sherlock and virtually everyone else she came into contact with.
I’m not sure if making her a lesbian dominatrix on top of the fact that she had a certain amount of dangerous intelligence is where I would’ve gone with the character but dramatically, it worked rather beautifully with the character. I am however sure that some fans are not going to love Moffat’s audacious-ish take on “the woman” though.
Lara Pulver is a bit of a dividing actress though – she had some great moments on Robin Hood before she was made into a one dimensional villain and True Blood savagely underused her but here, she’s absolutely on fire and is more than a formidable match with Benedict Cumberbatch as well.
Irene’s deceit though did nearly cost her life at different occasions but the end scene where a certain someone came to her aid was definitely welcomed by me. While it might be good to use the character sparingly, I do hope that this isn’t the only time she is actually used within the series.
As for the rest of the episode, it feels like checking off a list – the story with the Coventry experiment worked reasonably well enough and it’s certainly going to be interesting to see where Moriarty goes next, considering that he helped Irene along the way as well as making himself known to Mycroft.
And this is my only problem – I feel like a bastard for saying this but I actually don’t like Mark Gatiss’s portrayal of the character. I mean, he’s a good actor but his performance was seriously underwhelming compared to nearly everyone else’s and I found myself being largely annoyed with him more than anything. If anything, I’d actually like John to stop listening to Mycroft and preferably sooner than later.
As for Sherlock and John, I do think they’ve gotten a rather interesting rapport going on with each other and Benedict and Martin Freeman do play off each other superbly. Even Irene picked up on their relationship as well but then again, she is almost as clever as Sherlock. It was also nice that the show showed more moments with Mrs Hudson and Lestrade as well but less of love struck Molly would be nice too.
- Seriously between Sherlock and John, of course John’s blog should have the most viewers. I think I’d be put off by Sherlock’s sense of importance to follow his one.
- Jim Moriarty has a Bee Gees song as his ringtone? Well, it’s better than his Ice Man and Virgin nicknames for Mycroft and Sherlock.
- A mobile phone instead of a photograph of Irene – good call, Moff. I also liked that Irene’s Twitter page was the whip hand as well.
- Chronology wise, a lot of time passed in this story. We had Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
For an opening story, “A Scandal In Belgravia” pulled me right back into the mix. I enjoyed the first season and while I’m not as fanatical about the show compared to others, this episode alone certainly whetted my appetite for “The Hounds Of Baskerville” and “The Reichenback Fall”. A brilliant way to open 2012.
Rating: 9 out of 10