Hope you had a lovely New Year’s celebration, whatever it entailed. We had a quiet dinner with friends and watched a Disney movie until it was time to catch the ball drop in Times Square, which was just about perfect for me. New Year’s Day I had a packed schedule of quilting, cleaning, working out, seeing friends, and writing (knowing that what you do on Jan. 1 is what you’re going to do all year–I think I chose wisely!) I guess, under that superstition, I should have washed some baby clothes and changed some diapers, since I will for sure be doing that all year, but I didn’t.
The baby’s room is all finished! It is organized, furnished, and decorated! We spent a good part of the holiday weekend(s) getting that done, which was hard work but lovely to do together. People of the world–when you choose someone to share your life with, make sure they are someone you don’t mind doing menial and difficult tasks with. It makes all the difference to have a partner who can make you laugh as you’re drilling the umpteenth hole in the wall to hang something up…and one who knows to order a pizza when you make a huge mistake and drill an extra-large hole in the wall that needs to be plastered over. (hypothetically of course. I would never do such a thing!)
Anyway, we took a break in time to watch the SHERLOCK Special on PBS, the triumphant return of BBC’s hit series after two years away. Reactions to this episode were highly mixed, more so than previous ones. It also received lower ratings than Season 3’s premiere, although that may have been due to it being broadcast in theaters later in the week–some people may have wanted to have their first viewing experience on the big screen. My review will contain spoilers, so please don’t read any further until you’ve seen it if you’d like to avoid them.
Alright then! If you’re still here, you’ve been warned.
I will say, on the whole, I think I liked it. Watching Sherlock is always such a roller coaster for me the first time I see an ep that it takes repeated viewings to see if I actually enjoyed it. I’m too busy taking things in, searching for clues, and observing sly canonical references (for a really excellent post on these, check out my friend Anastasia’s blog here) to really watch it for enjoyment’s sake. That being said, I think I liked it.
It started out, as Sherlock episodes often do, with a “what the heck is going on?” feeling that I think lasted about 45 minutes. I had no idea why we were in Victorian times. I didn’t necessarily dislike it, but I was waiting for an explanation…knowing Gatiss and Moffat don’t often give them but waiting nonetheless.
There were some great funny moments, like the sign language bit, John saying “the illustrator’s out of control”, Lestrade’s amazing mutton chops, etc. A friend of mine said this show is really a screwball comedy a la “His Girl Friday” disguised as a Sherlock Holmes story, and I felt that was true in this episode. It was (actually literally for Sherlock) kind of an acid trip.
I did not like grotesquely fat Mycroft. I know canonically he’s super fat, and there’s something to be said about Sherlock gambling with Mycroft’s life the way Mycroft gambled with his (by sending him to Serbia) but I honestly think that’s giving the writers too much credit. I think that they were being silly just to be silly and nobody ever tells Moffat no, ever. And sometimes someone should. (I read an interesting article [even though it was a year old] about what a jerk he is and how puzzling it is that he runs two of the most popular TV shows of all time. While I don’t agree with all of it, and I don’t have him as much as the author seemed to, it was an interesting take.)
Come to think of it, a lot of this episode was just gratuitous and silly. The nadir, for me, was the conversation in the greenhouse which was basically a rehash of Chris Pratt’s speech to Bryce Dallas Howard in “Jurassic World”:
“…do you relate to any of those things, Sherlock?” It went on forever, and there was no resolution to it. Why even put it in there if you’re not going to introduce something new?
There is a large camp of people on the internet who think John and Sherlock, in this particular iteration, are going to end up together and Moffat and Gatiss have known it all along and have been dropping hints. They are called The Johnlock Conspiracy (TJLC). While I don’t agree that it is going to happen (people would burn down the BBC), I DO wonder why M&G spend SO much time talking about John and Sherlock’s sexuality and making gay jokes and generally queer-baiting the audience if they’re not going to do SOMETHING about it. It just gets annoying to me after a while. I’m not amused with the “are they or aren’t they” tension because it just feels like a cruel joke to the audience who is so invested in this pairing. M&G know about TJLC, they know they have a HUGE fanbase who wants it to happen, and they are aware of the lack of GLBT representation on screen and how much it would mean to the community to have a gay version of Sherlock and John, so the fact they keep teasing it with full knowledge of all that just seems spectacularly tone-deaf. Another instance where someone needs to edit Moffat, but his wife is the producer so that’s not going to happen any time soon. *Sigh*
And then there was the women thing this episode. I LOVED Man-Molly, trying to make it in a man’s world (and Sherlock totally missing it). It was a lovely way to include her in the ep and be period accurate. I felt that gesture was nice and appropriate. BUT THEN. But then.
The women in hoods (which looked a little KKK but weren’t white and also the original story “5 orange pips” on which the case was based involved the KKK and so of all the things to be mad about maybe let this one go?) who made a murder-club to…win the vote? Not quite historically accurate. I felt pandered to–like M&G were like “we heard you, whiny women people, so look! We mentioned you! And admitted we’ve treated you poorly! So we made you assassins! Now quit bitching and watch our show.” (I think it’s worth mentioning that one of the only female characters of note in this show, Mary, is also an assassin. I’ve been told Dr. Who has a similar problem–ladies are either wilting flowers or murderers, no in between. Can you come up with another trope, Moffat? It’s wearing thin.)
If it turns out that Sherlock LEARNED something from this (and starts treating women better? I don’t know) than I’ll forgive the sequence. But the “mansplaining the feminist movement” (and equating suffragettes with murderers) really rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed so out of place and a blatant attempt to calm the “hysterical” masses of women who complain about representation in this show.
I didn’t mind the jumping back and forth in time. I bought the whole drugs-made-a-multiverse thing. Once I resigned myself to the fact it had no point and just looked cool, I really enjoyed it! The introduction of Moriarty as Sherlock’s conscience (sort of) was excellent because it means we get more Andrew Scott, and I think it helped develop Sherlock’s character a bit. My husband, who really liked the episode and thinks I’m overreacting about the suffragist bit, says the whole thing was “let’s learn more about Sherlock’s feelings and how he views himself and the world” episode, and he really appreciated a glimpse into his psyche. I guess read that way, the episode was pretty great. (although still weird because why would Sherlock be so fixated on women getting the vote?)
The final battle at the falls was just sublime. I was staring at the screen in slack-jawed wonder. It’s a classic canonical moment, rendered gloriously. I loved John shoving Moriarty at the end, particularly with his “it’s my turn” line. For me, this ep was most successful as an introduction to the multiverse idea–that there are many parallel universes where Sherlock and John will always exist, endlessly living out their adventures in different places and times. And they will be essentially the same, despite costuming and time/place differences. I’ve read a few fanfics that do this concept better (and I think there was a scene in the ep ripped straight from one of them) but I liked the message–that whether it’s 1895 or not, Sherlock Holmes will always be a clever detective and John Watson will be by his side. So the end of the ep was much better than the beginning for me.
Back in present time, there was Mary being brilliant and John being daft, which is NOT the way to make a woman character look smart! She doesn’t have to belittle John to prove she’s important…again, I think I just feel really, really sorry for Moffat’s wife. Because he clearly doesn’t understand or even really like women. The list bit with Mycroft was unnecessary and clearly added because Gatiss is a showrunner and wanted a bigger part. So it ended on a slightly sour note for me, but I will still pumped about the Reichenbach Falls scene so I let it go.
All in all, I think time will tell about this episode. Depending on how the next season goes (next year, most likely…my kids will be in college before this damn show is over) and where the plot of this show fits in will prove how successful it was. It was pretty funny, it looked very nice, and it did have the standout Reichenbach sequence. So, not as bad as the Blind Banker, but not one of my favorites by a long shot.
What did you think, readers? I’ve seen some super strong opinions out there of vastly different polarities. Let’s talk! At length. Please.
See you next Tuesday!! Stay warm out there.