Mark Watches ‘Sherlock’: S01E03 – The Great Game

In the third and final episode of the first series of Sherlock, John is relegated a seemingly unrelated case in a trainyard by a busy Sherlock, who is occupied with a set of potential bombings that appear to be orchestrated by the faceless Moriarty. When the two investigations collide, WE WERE NEVER PREPARED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sherlock.

I think it’s too premature to say, as I’d like to see the second season progress in a wank-free manor (or, better yet, have an episode that makes up for “The Blind Banker”!), but “The Great Game” may–may–have washed the bad taste of the previous episode out of my mouth. THIS is Sherlock Holmes. THIS is why I enjoyed those original stories so much. THIS is so terribly exciting that the final ten minutes were so intense that I actually punched myself in the face on accident. No, seriously, I–well, hold on. We’ll get there.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is probably more abrasive than I anticipated initially, as I never thought when I read the originals that Sherlock was that much of an asshole. But now, going back and reading summaries of some of those original stories…yeah, he WAS kind of a total douche at times, wasn’t he? It’s a sign (one of SO MANY in this particular episode) that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat spent time doing their research and being otherwise fantastic about their fannish enjoyment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work. It’s not enough for them to merely reference titles or stories or plots or names. This episode (and the full first series in general) just gets where this all came from. And that’s really fascinating and exciting.

The thing they get right about Sherlock’s character, and what “The Great Game” opens with, is that his mind is constantly seeking out enrichment in whatever form he can find it. The show makes no qualms about having Sherlock just flat out say that he is bored or that people are boring him. And while this may just seem like an attempt at dry humor, I think that on a base level, I understand Sherlock. TO AN EXTENT. And I have to preface that with that qualifier. My own brain only goes so far, and I’m not the type of person to be as rude or forthcoming in the manner that Sherlock is.

I guess….I don’t want to put this in terms of intelligence, because, as I’ve learned over the past year or so, that entire concept is, in and of itself, pretty darn fucked up. What I understand deals more with what I’m interested in, and I think that’s it’s not problematic to say that I understand what it feels like to look at the world in a way that most of the people around you don’t seem to comprehend.

I’ve made jokes in my reviews and on my Tumblr about how I was busy calling people DIRTY RACISTS by the time I was nine, or that my childhood heroes at age ten were Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and how no one understood my ~special and unique interest in the finer things in life~. Which is total and complete bullshit, by the way. I was NOT that special for liking horror literature or for thinking that Black Flag were the greatest band to ever play music on the planet earth or for believing that my ancestors were from Egypt. (I won’t ever get over how ridiculously silly that is, for the record.) It was all about perspective, and I think that’s important to note. In my world out in Riverside, California, where small-town mentality ruled over my peers and their parents, those things I became interested in were so rare that they seemed to suggest that either something was wrong with me or I was existing on another astral plane from the rest of the world.

Total bullshit, again. Just because I loved doing complex mathematics in my head does not mean that my interests were any superior or inferior to those of the people I interacted with at school. Hell, I could have used a friend to tell me to just play some goddamn kickball and stop thinking about angles of rebound. ENJOY LIFE, MARK. WORK ON THAT.

And while there is an element to Sherlock’s character that is fantastical, and it’s precisely that part which I cannot relate to, I remember feeling bored by my friends talking about their new video games or the latest football match on the television or boys and girls and things I just didn’t have an interest in. My boredom, though, wasn’t a sign of superiority, though I probably foolishly believed it to be. My boredom spawned out of loneliness. I wanted someone to share these awesome things with.

What “The Great Game” gives us is the first time that Sherlock feels that he has someone not only on his level, but who understands his level, even if he can’t meet him there. John Watson moves so much closer to Sherlock here, and by the time the terrifying climax arrives, we’ve seen how, in just four and half hours, these two men have grown to respect and care for each other in what is, relatively, a very short time.

It starts off with a bit of awkward defensiveness on the part of Sherlock, who is angered that Watson has revealed on his blog that during their first case, he discovered that Sherlock has an unbelievably poor grasp of astronomy. When Sherlock explains that he only keeps information in his head that he deems potentially important to a case, I actually believe him. I don’t find it to be a facetious explanation at all. Which then makes me imagine what Sherlock’s brain would look like if it were an external hard drive, which then makes me wonder what would be in the “John Watson” folder, and then I imagine it would just be a bunch of fan fiction, and then….

I’m going to stop now.

Sarah is barely in this episode and I hope dearly that we have a much stronger female influence in series two, because this is very much a DUDELY DUDE BROFEST, which is ok because the epic bromine between the two leads is kind of beautiful, but in the interest of seeing ANY female character developed beyond what happened in “The Blind Banker,” I really hope this isn’t the norm. But, like the opening of the last episode, Watson is far away and completely oblivious to what’s happening with Sherlock. In this case, it’s not as simple as a well-managed sword fight. The building across from 221B Baker Street has been blown up, bringing the always-chipper Mycroft to the story as well. Seemingly uninterested in the explosion, Mycroft insists that his brother take on the case of Andrew West (I RECOGNIZE THAT NAME oh Gatiss, you are so clever), a man found on a railroad track with his head bashed in. Oh, and he stole a flash drive with some sort of ~secret plans~ regarding the “Bruce-Partington” missile project. (O HAI, ANOTHER REFERENCE)

Initially, I was kind of peeved that Sherlock was basically like, “LOL, I’M TOO GOOD FOR THIS, TAKE IT WATSON,” only because I love Watson dearly and I desperately wanted him to get the credit he deserved from Sherlock. Just like in my real life, I NEED MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS TO BE VALIDATED WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE FICTIONAL WORLDS. On top of that, the larger case that DI Lestrade calls Sherlock in on is SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING. Why am I such a sucker for the whodunnit style trope where a serial killer or criminal mastermind plots out an elaborate “game” for the investigative mastermind to figure out? Like, EVERY TIME I find them fascinating. But I think we all gravitate towards specific tropes that we enjoy. Why is that? Why do I want the earth to open up and eat people? (THANK YOU, MOCKINGJAY AND DOCTOR WHO) Why do I love meta-narratives so much? Why do I love the Damaged Hero trope? Can we like….TALK ABOUT THIS IN THE COMMENTS? I am seriously interested to see what other tropes or narrative devices you all are drawn to.

Anyway, “The Great Game” is THAT kind of story. In this case, Sherlock is given a replica of the pink phone from “A Study In Pink,” clearly meant as a reference to that specific murder, that plays five Greenwich pips and contains a single photo: the basement in 221C Baker Street. (Oh god, yet another reference: “The Five Orange Pips.” LOVE IT.)

What was initially pretty disturbing to me is that like the “game” discovered at the end of “A Study In Pink,” this entire case is basically created for Sherlock Holmes. And I know that is actually the point, but I didn’t know where this episode would head just fifteen minutes into it. But if you were going to set a trap for Sherlock, this would be the way to do it, wouldn’t it?

Even right from the beginning, it’s obvious that this whole affair is an attempt at a psychological attack on Sherlock. When they find the trainers in the basement of 221C Baker Street, the lab examination reveals a disturbing fact: the shoes belonged to a boy who drowned when Sherlock was younger, in a case where his youth prevented him from making a case to the police. Ok, dude, seriously….RED FLAG NUMBER ONE. Right? But the thing is, I’m glad that Gatiss explores this with Sherlock running full steam into the eye of the storm. His mind is obsessed with this form of intellectual foreplay, and it’s entirely sensical that he would be unable to see the forest for the trees in a situation like this.

But that lab scene is also an example of how Sherlock can be an asshole and it isn’t funny at all. We saw in the opening of the first episode that Sherlock is completely detached from the idea of sexual attraction. (Is it possible that Sherlock is asexual? I think that as long as Moffat and Gatiss didn’t fuck it up, that would be a really awesome story to introduce in series two. I don’t think there are many, if any, positive depictions of asexuals on mainstream television.) When Molly Hooper tries to hit on Sherlock again in the lab, he doesn’t respond, so she brings in her “boyfriend,” IT employee Jim. And while I didn’t find Sherlock’s observations homophobic in intent or anything, the way he disregards Jim so brutally is just….rude. It’s rude. THERE I SAID IT. And it’s not that kind of rude we’ve seen before where we laugh and secretly wish we were as heartless as he can be. This is just fucked up. But…well, it’s all part of the plan. I WILL GET THERE.

So the set-up of the game here is relatively simple: the mysterious criminal kidnaps someone, straps a bomb to their chest, and gives Sherlock clues to an unsolved case that he has increasingly less time to solve than the one before it. With this first one, Sherlock gets twelve hours to determine what happened to Carl Powers, the boy who drowned, or the bomb goes off. Again, like I said, the meticulous nature to which this is all designed is SO OBVIOUSLY A PLOT TO TRAP SHERLOCK. I know that Watson is acutely aware of this, too, and you can see subtle looks on his face throughout the first hour or so of this episode that point to his knowledge of the fact. In this case, he knows that whomever is behind this has essentially set Sherlock loose into his own personal candy store. Sherlock cannot resist a temptation like this. And that’s why I really love how Watson steps in in the way he does here to provide the necessary “NO” when Sherlock needs it most. Of course….Sherlock unfortunately isn’t one to listen as much as he is the one who does all of the talking.

Gatiss does a great job differentiating all five of the bombs, creating unique dynamics and varied cases for Sherlock to solve. Having five repeating parts to the game could have gotten boring real fast for almost anyone else helming the story, but I was impressed how gripping I found this all. The second case, involving a plan to make a man “disappear” so that his wife could collect insurance money and split it with a rental agency, wasn’t something that was specific to Sherlock’s past. Now that would have gotten annoying quickly, too. Plus, it enables him to make a deduction that is quite exciting: This all has to be the work of Moriarty. Who else has appeared to have behind so much of the trouble in his life?

This pattern changes yet again with the third puzzle, in which an elderly blind woman is strapped with a bomb and Sherlock and Watson have to determine why TV host Connie Prince actually died. Not only does this give us some brilliance regarding Sherlock watching television, which…ok, seriously, I would watch 90 minutes of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes narrating the act of watching popular television for the first time. I am dead serious. This better be the plot of an entire episode in series two or this show is dead to me.

John Watson finally steps up to the plate with the third case when he goes to visit Connie Prince’s brother, Kenny, and thinks he’s pieced together how Connie actually died. And even though John proves to be completely and utterly wrong, there’s a moment where a smile creeps on to Sherlock’s face because Watson is thinking outside of the box. Maybe Sherlock is proud of John, or maybe he’s just happy to have someone on his side who is willing to entertain absurd notions as solutions. But, as I said in the beginning, it’s another sign that these two partners are growing closer.

(Side note: Why does botulism turn up a second time here? Is this answered? I can’t remember.)

I don’t think Sherlock is an entirely safe show, and the death of Soo Lin showed that even main supporting characters could be killed off, but, up until this point, there was never an overriding sense of urgency to the cases Sherlock and Watson handled. And that’s precisely when I, as the faithful viewer of this particular show, got a little too comfortable with what was happening on screen. It was so fucked that the “killer” would take advantage of the woman here in the third case, but Sherlock solved the crime! It was Raoul who murdered Connie Prince! (Would make out with Raoul, FYI. I am so predictable.) The woman is safe!

And then she starts talking. “It was so soft,” she says, describing the killer’s voice. And in a second, there’s an explosion and her voice is cut off. The killer set off the bomb, since she identified who the man was her set this all up. Twelve people die in the block of flats and Sherlock, always detached from the intricate and “unnecessary” details, remarks that he “lost that round.”

Thankfully, Watson properly calls him out on this:

Watson: There are lives at stake, Sherlock. Actual human lives. Jus–just so I know, do you care about that at all?

Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?

Watson: Nope.

Sherlock: Then I’ll continue to not make that mistake.

Watson: And you find that easy, do you?

Sherlock: Yes. Very. Is that news to you?

Watson: No. No.

Sherlock: I’ve disappointed you.

Watson: Good. That’s good deduction. Yeah.

Sherlock: Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did I wouldn’t be one of them.

UUUNNNNNNGGGGGGGG THE SUBTEXT, IT HURTS MY HEART. One of the best-written bits of dialogue in the entire episode, performed with a beautiful subtlety by both Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s an emotional pain in Sherlock’s voice when he states that he’s disappointed Watson. It’s small and it’s there. And we’ve NEVER seen it before, and that’s because no one has ever given Sherlock quite the respect and attention that Watson has. MY HEART IS SLOWLY CRACKING. Seriously, best bromance or BEST BROMANCE.

The fourth bombing game changes because the context is altered. In every case before this, some sort of murder or disappearance must be explained, and then the killer frees the victim with a bomb strapped to their body. Like I said before, by changing each round, Gatiss not only changes the stakes, but heightens the urgency. We now know that Gatiss is unafraid to allow a bomb to go off, so this fourth case is SHIT GETTING REALER AND REALER. When Sherlock figures out that the man by the Thames was killed by The Golem for discovering an expensive painting being sold at a local gallery was a fake, you can see the satisfaction on his face. That was quick! it seems to say. Except the bomber hasn’t called Sherlock and there’s no indication that he’s done the right thing. Which presents a new terror: If he solved the murder and that’s NOT it, what the fuck is he supposed to do? And despite knowing that the story would have to continue to the fifth bomb, I was still on the edge of my seat during the scene where Sherlock confronts the curator at the museum. Everything happens SO FAST as Sherlock puts everything together, properly figuring out the astronomy link that enables him to determine how the painting is a fake, and the fourth victim is spared a violent death.

AND THEN I AM UNPREPARED FOR THE CURATOR REVEALING THAT THE MAN BEHIND ALL OF THIS IS NAMED MORIARTY. a;sdlkf a;lksdfj ;a;lskdfja s;dfhja a;sdklfjkasdf;lka as;lkdfjasdf;aksdfja

I could probably spend another three thousand words at this point just talking about the final fifteen minutes of “The Great Game.” If there’s anything here to make me forget the racist atrocity of “The Blind Banker,” this episode’s endgame is one of the most amazing goddamn things I have ever seen. HYPERBOLE INTENDED. I love that the residual case that Sherlock clumsily gave to Watson proves to be the key to the entire affair, and that Watson also properly figures out what really happened to Andrew West before Sherlock arrives. From here on out, we see these two completely and utterly in sync, which excites me for what developments their relationship could take in series two.

At this point, having figured out Moriarty’s final game rather easily, he contacts him to give him the missile plans, assuming that this was all organized both as a way to tease Sherlock and to get the plans himself. It’s fitting that Sherlock makes their meeting place the precise spot where the first case occurred: the swimming pool where Carl Powers drowned. Besides being appropriate for Sherlock, there’s so much about this set that injects the final scene with a sense of dread and terror. In a metaphorical sense, there’s so much darkness that occurs at the pool, yet the entire place is drowning in light. The two men who aim to face off each other are also showing all their cards in a brightly lit room that seems to have no shadows. There’s no hiding here. It’s as open as the two will probably ever be with each other.

Which is why when Sherlock arrives, anxious to find out who Moriarty is, I found that I was gripping the bottom of my shirt and repeatedly pulling it down and then rolling the edge up. The tension in the pool room simply fucking HURTS. And when John Watson stepped into the room, I was so flabbergasted by my own shock that I let go of my shirt rapidly and jumped out of my seat on the couch, accidentally punching myself in the face.

My first thought was that Gatiss and company had done something TRULY fucked up: Watson was Moriarty. But that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. Still, that’s the first thought that popped in my head. I quickly realized how foolish this was when I saw how bizarre Watson was acting. Why was he so nervous? Why was he so robotic?

And then John Watson pulls open his jacket to reveal the bomb strapped around his chest and I just started screaming FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK at the television screen. Like clockwork, just as I am completely unable to process what is going on, Moriarty steps into the room.

AND IT’S FUCKING JIM. IT’S JIM. OH MY GOD, MORIARTY WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME. I can’t I JUST CAN’T. Even typing this right now, I have chills. It’s brilliance, utter brilliance, completely unexpected, and immensely satisfying. Moriarty is NOTHING like I could have anticipated, and that’s what makes his appearance here so unsettling.

Casting the USB stick in the pool (BECAUSE IT WAS THAT USELESS TO HIM!), Moriarty reveals how this was all just a ploy to show Sherlock exactly what he is capable of, of how he is able to completely control and trick Sherlock to such a ridiculous extent. That’s what he “wins” in that sense. That’s all he was going for. GAH IT’S SO MALICIOUSLY EVIL AND I LOVE IT.

But I think Moriarty’s threat to “burn the heart out of [Sherlock]” is the most disturbing to me, because death is not what he wants. He wants to destroy Sherlock’s will, his passion, and his mind, which are all intertwined. Still, Moriarty wants Sherlock to know that he also has the means to do this: When Sherlock grabs Moriarty threateningly, his body lights up with the laser points of Moriarty’s men placed around the pool. Moriarty has the logistics to destroy Sherlock, and that’s all he needs to know. And with that, Moriarty walks away.

It’s an incredibly raw moment for the two, but the seconds after Sherlock removes the bomb from Watson’s chest is the culmination of all the character growth throughout series one. You can see the terror in Sherlock’s face, knowing he could have lost Watson at any moment. I’m interested to see where it goes, but Watson himself actually looks….tired. Of course, he just went through a horrifying and harrowing experience, but there’s such a saddening look of relief that crosses his face, and I think it’s a hint to what might develop in series two.


Never prepared in a billion years.


  • God, what a fucking episode. WHAT A STORY.
  • “I’m glad no one saw that.” “Mmm?” “You ripping off my clothes in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk.” “They do little else.” LOVE IT.
  • “Kill you? No, don’t be obvious. I mean, I’m going to kill you anyway, someday. I don’t want to rush it though. I’m saving it up for something special. No, no, no, no, no. If you don’t stop prying…I will burn you. I will burn…the heart out of you.” “I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one.” “But we both know that’s not quite true.” HE’S REFERRING TO WATSON, ISN’T HE.
  • “Look at that, Mrs. Hudson…quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn’t it hateful?”
  • Ugh, since Martin Freeman is in The Hobbit, it’s going to be like a century until series two, isn’t it? GAH.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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306 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Sherlock’: S01E03 – The Great Game

  1. monkeybutter says:

    Why am I such a sucker for the whodunnit style trope where a serial killer or criminal mastermind plots out an elaborate “game” for the investigative mastermind to figure out?

    Because watching the chase is so much fun! I'm with you on that one, and I personally love Action Girls and Anti-Heroes, the latter of which are really overused. What can I say, I like ambiguous morals and assholes (HI SHERLOCK).

    It's an amazing bromance, and I love their interactions in this episode! So much fun to watch, and I really, really want the next season sooner than a century from now. Please. And let them trend towards episodes like this instead of The Blind Banker!

    I can't believe you didn't mention Moriarty's accent. Just…what is that?

    Oh, and I can't laugh at you too much about punching yourself in the face. I have a habit of chewing on my finger when I'm nervous, and then I jerk my arm and punch myself in the nose or cheek all of the time. And is anyone else bothered by pools when there aren't any other people around? It's just seems wrong to me.

  2. Hanah says:

    I did like this episode a LOT, not as much as the first one (Stephen Moffat clearly just OWNS MY SOUL or something) but a huge amount, and obviously infinite quantities more than The Blind Banker. (Which I just typed as 'The Blink Banker' OH DOCTOR WHO OUT OF MY BRAIN!)

    LOVED the Jim-as-Moriarty reveal (although not as much as the moment when I too thought it was Watson for a crazy second of 'OH GOD GATISS AND MOFFAT YOU GENIUSES!' Didn't punch myself in the face though, well done there Mark! Hope it didn't hurt too much!) and the cliffhanger…oh god such cruelty! Think the next series won't be *too* long though, it's scheduled for some time this year I believe. Please say it still is!

    As for favourite tropes…MANY. I also love it when the hero is played with, when there are puzzles in puzzles and everything links together in one crashing moment of revelation that flips everything around and you know NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME. But the trope I love best of all, even though it is ridiculous and cliche and over the top is when someone thinks someone else is dead but actually they aren't. I LOVE IT WITH THE BURNING POWER OF THE RAGE OF A TIME LORD AND A THOUSAND FIERY SUNS AND ALL THINGS WHICH ARE HOT, WHICH INCLUDES MATT SMITH JUST FYI. Something about the complete emotional mindfuck of the person grieving really appeals to me because I'm probably massively sick or something. They are crying and grieving and all 'I should have said this! I should have hugged him one more time! OH THE PAIN' and I am bouncing on my sofa going 'but they're not really dead! They're alive! HEEE!' and it's just brilliant. It's also a fabulous moment for character growth because people start being able to admit feelings (romantic or otherwise) and the happy-awesome moment when they come back is fabulous. One of my favourite examples is from (don't judge me!) The New Adventures of Superman when Clark Kent gets shot by a resurrected Al Capone (LOL THAT SHOW, SO WEIRD) and Lois thinks he's dead but because he's Superman he totally isn't. And everyone at Daily Planet is all traumatised and grieving and writing his obituary and then there's some bullshit excuse for him coming back to life and they're all crying with happy and I JUST LOVE IT.

    Other awesome examples are when Indie goes off the cliff in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' and the brief-but-awesome moment when you think Arthur is dead in the first series of Merlin in the episode with the unicorn (damn can't remember the title) and also when Merlin is dying in 'The Poisoned Chalice'.


  3. Helena says:

    Ohhh my goodness this episode…
    – Andrew Scott as Moriarty. Is it the Irish? Is it the eyes? Is it the pure evil? Or is it maybe the fact that I've also seen him play a gay man in the 1780s, in which he utterly broke and melted my heart at the same time (Garrow's Law, which Mark and everybody else on the planet NEEDS TO WATCH)? Just… unnnnffff
    – Sherlock- SHERLOCK- gets so frantic and panicked after Watson nearly gets blown up that he SCRATCHES THE BACK OF HIS HEAD WITH THE END OF HIS GUN. SHERLOCK, MASTER OF LOGIC. The bromance… it's so beautiful…
    – Series 2 in September, or so I've heard. GOD WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO US MOFFAT.

  4. Sparkie says:

    This episode makes it possible to forget about TBB, just.

  5. echinodermata says:

    Wow, I have so little to say in comparison. But I do know that lots of people have commented about this potential asexual portrayal of Sherlock. Although must asexual characters always be aliens or somehow strange and bad with people?

    Sherlock not knowing how the solar system is set up is really difficult for me to accept, actually. He really doesn't know such a fundamental science fact? Really? At the very least, I feel like he wouldn't dare to be caught out about not knowing basic things, and would learn stuff even if he doesn't find important, just so he can't be called ignorant. But the biology geek part of me is a little amused at how he probably rates biology over physics (at least he doesn't deny germ theory).

    And while I think the ending is fantastic, I'm mostly bored by and pretty passively watch most of the episode. Somehow, I just didn't really care about what was going on in the mystery. Or I feel like this episode would be better as a normal 1-hour episode of television. I guess the pace seems too sedate considering the audience sees innocent people with bombs strapped to them. Maybe I'm always destined to be kind of meh towards anything Gatiss writes (just to clarify I felt this way about the ep before I knew he wrote it).

    But then there's also a fight scene and lensflares, and then counting down, and that pleased me.

    And then the scene at the pool. Fantastic. (Okay, I thought that thinking it's Watson for a bit was kind of stupid myself, but it's very short so whatever.) Freeman does a great job with the nervousness and deadpan (and blinking morse code y/y?), I thought, and then Moriarty was super duper creepy it was perfect. I must say, though, coming from watching so much Doctor Who, I found Sherlock wielding a gun a bit weird. I guess that goes to show how much impact a single show can have on me.

    Seriously, though, Andrew Scott made this episode for me. And props to the writers for Moriarty's characterization.
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    I am definitely planning on watching this show when it returns.

  6. ldwy says:

    I really really liked this episode. Mind games are so intriguing to me. I mean, I'd never ever in a million years want to play one like this, and if I did, I'd lose, but brain teasers and puzzles and wordplay…I love that stuff! So this put me in mind of it. And while Sherlock's a genius and also admittedly rather removed from normal human interactions, I could sort of put myself in his shoes and see how, if I was him, I couldn't help but be massively intrigued by the games.

    And oh geez. Now I need series 2 to come out, because that ending!!!!

  7. buyn says:

    It's like this show is acutally a sexiness contest, and I don't know who to give first prize to. But Benedict definitely would score higher if he didn't have to dye his hair.
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    The End…

    Also, it's a cliffhanger full of BUMBUMBUM

  8. Addie says:

    They start filming series 2 in May, if I remember correctly.

  9. nanceoir says:

    Oh, my god, this episode. THIS EPISODE!

    Seriously, the ending? Such a mean, mean way to end! *shakes fist at Gatiss and Moffat* But so brilliant, too.

    Rewatching the episode last night, I literally got goosebumps during the scene in front of the painting, when Sherlock's figuring out the astronomy thing while the poor kid on the phone is counting down. And then for the actual ending, I had to put my knitting away and focus on the show. SO GOOD.

    If "The Blind Banker" dampened my enthusiasm for the show (if? IF?!), "The Great Game" really ramped it all the way back up again.

    Oh! When my sister and I watched this on PBS a few months ago, she saw a scene and then had to make this:

    <img src=""&gt;

    (Yes, she's much better at giffing than I am, and I revel in her skills.)

    I seem to recall talk that part of Martin Freeman's Bilbo deal will allow him to make more Sherlock episodes soon; I certainly hope that's true because I could use more TV like this and "A Study in Pink."

  10. @sthomson06 says:

    I had the exact same reaction to the pool scene (I didn't punch myself, but I totally splashed a drink all over my couch).

    I'm so enthralled with the actor who plays Moriarty. Cumberbach has so much presence on screen, I didn't think anyone could top that!

  11. Mark says:

    Series 2 will be broadcast in Autumn this year, I believe. Considering The Hobbit will likely take 4,000 years to film, I'm not sure if series 3 will turn up in 2012, BUT IT DAMN WELL BETTER, YOU HEAR ME BBC/JACKSON?

  12. Valerius Maximus says:

    I finished watching this episode for the first time only a few hours ago, and my reaction consisted of much head exploding and pausing to have a nice quiet freakout without losing dialogue.

    Once I was done, I watched bits again, because WHY NOT, then I went and searched youtube for amv's. I have not stopped since. I LOVE YOU INTERNET.

    Also, in the astronomy place, with that one lady, the video that was playing…that voiceover sounded an awful lot like Peter Davison. Can anyone confirm it was him, or am I just hearing things?

    Also Lestrade reminds me of my geology professor. I will now pay even closer attention in class. 8)

  13. Radagast says:

    "Ugh, since Martin Freeman is in The Hobbit, it’s going to be like a century until series two, isn’t it? GAH."

    Actually, Freeman managed to get a promise from Peter Jackson that he could get time off this summer to film Series 2.

    It probably helps that Moffat knows Jackson (having written the first version of the first script for the Jackson/Spielberg 'Tintin' project). Don't you love a small world?

  14. monkeybutter says:

    Oh, oh, oh, and? I love Mycroft. I always have. His name alone is fantastic. I'm a little too giddy about this episode and review to keep my thoughts straight!

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  15. lizvelrene says:

    For one brief shining moment I was hopeful that Moriarity would turn out to be a woman.

    And that would have been wonderful. Because the whole thing about Sherlock Holmes is he has no time for romantic nonsense cause women are dumdums amirite? And to make his nemesis and intellectual equal female would have been SO INTERESTING.

    But no, it turns out to be this guy. And he was so underwhelming too. Moffat, I am disappoint.

  16. psycicflower says:

    ’Look at that, Mrs. Hudson… quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn't it hateful?’
    Oh Sherlock. You’re like a moody teen.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"> See also annoying brother by playing violin.
    It’s great to see Mycroft and Lestrade back. I loved Donovan advising John on hobbies to take up rather than working with Sherlock. I also love the fact that Sherlock keeps a severed head in the fridge.

    I really love that John gets to investigate and do a bit of deducing of his own in this episode. From Sherlock asking him to examine Carl Power’s runners to letting him investigate Mycroft’s case, it shows a level of respect and trust on Sherlock’s part. I also like that while John likes and respects Sherlock as well, he’s not afraid to call Sherlock out when he has to.

    ‘There are lives at stake Sherlock. Actual human lives. Jus-Just so I know, do you care about that at all?’ ‘Will caring about them help save them?’ ‘Nope.’ ‘Then I'll continue to not make that mistake.’
    I really like how Sherlock doesn’t care about the victims. Yes it comes across as a bit heartless but as Sherlock says, what good does it do him. If you look at it from Sherlock’s point of view it’s completely understandable. It’s much easier to be impartial and concentrate on the problem at hand then devote any thought to the victims. It’s all about solving the crimes and beating their mysterious opponent. Of course he learns at the end it’s a bit different when it is someone you know and care about in that dangerous situation.
    ‘I'll burn the heart out of you.’ ‘I have been reliably informed that I don't have one.’ ‘But we both know that's not quite true.’

    The pool scene is brilliant. I love Moriarty. He’s a match for Sherlock and organised but equally he’s spontaneous and a little bit frenzied and temperamental. You can never tell what he’s going to do next. It’s a serious situation and yet he veers between treating it with levity and seeming amused with the whole thing. He played Sherlock perfectly and isn’t even afraid when John has him by the neck or at the very end when Sherlock is pointing the gun at the bomb. He just smiles. I really hope we get lots more of him next series.

    Also, it’s ending there?
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Random side note of no real importance: I remember people talking about Moriarty’s accent when this episode first aired so I’ll just say that yes, in the pool scene when he drops his act and his voice settles into his normal one, that is an Irish accent. It’s just one of the average Dublin accents, from the south side if you want to get a bit more precise. I do laugh a bit every time I see people complaining about what a terrible Irish accent it is when it’s Andrew Scott’s own natural accent and sounds perfectly normal to me but I suppose I’m not sure how much people outside of Ireland encounter the various accents.

  17. Hermione_Danger says:

    I DON'T EVEN KNOW. I am terrible with non-American accents (haha America-centrism!). Is it, like, Scottish? I can't even…it changes throughout his speech! What even……

  18. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you Mark. House and Wilson have the best bromance on television but what's interesting is that House is also heavily influenced by Sherlock Holmes.


    When this episode ended I definitely went, "Wait what? WAIT WHAT? DID I MISS SOMETHING? THAT'S IT?????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

    Tropes that I'm a sucker for… hmmmm. I love it when someone who we've assumed to be bad/evil turns out to actually be "good" (Sirius Black), or vice versa. Turncoats are awesooooome.

  20. monkeybutter says:

    I have nooooo idea, but haven't watched Sherlock in months, and his accent is the most vivid thing in my memory. It's like some…messed-up, face-chewing mid-Atlantic thing. Fits him beautifully, though!

  21. Hotaru-hime says:

    After reading your review I really want to play four-square. Let's play four-square Mark- I will be in San Francisco sometime in late April.
    Anyway, to this episode! I like that it pretty much starts out with an explosion. I'm a big fan of exploding things in television and movies, no doubt due to my early exposure to such things with Terminator 2, but hey, going off track.
    Watson, dear Watson, is simultaneously annoyed and intrigued by Sherlock and I found it interesting that he would actually take that case, but I found it more intriguing that Sherlock wouldn't. Then I wondered why Mycroft couldn't solve it when he's really supposed to be smarter and then my head started to hurt and I decided to passively watch the episode.
    Which was really quite brilliant. I enjoyed it immensely but I was really offended by the scientist/morgue girl's (does she have a name? She does, I'm sure, but I don't remember) boyfriend who Sherlock proclaimed was gay due to several stereotypical mannerisms or ways of dress. Felt like annoying stereotyping and then I was mad because OH MY GOD WHO DRESSES LIKE THAT IN A PROFESSIONAL ATMOSPHERE, GET THEE TO A DEPARTMENT STORE.
    Of course, when that guy turned out to be FUCKING MORIARTY my mind exploded.
    But the blood spatter on the train tracks!!! UGH I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT, FAIL IN MY BRAIN.
    Fuck, this series! I can't even.
    But I'm really glad the BBC picked it up for a second season, even if it is only for three episodes.

  22. When the episode ended, I actually shouted "YOU BASTARDS" at the tv.

    Luckily, I was the only one in the house. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? WHO ENDS JUST LIKE THAT? WITH NOTHING. Not even the confirmation of a second season. WHO?

  23. Kyle says:

    About tropes we like: my favorite type of work is characters studies, like Sherlock or even Doctor Who and Venture Bros. I’m a fan of character interaction.
    As for tropes, I like when things are a certain way for the majority of a series or movie and then in the third act EVERYHING GOES DIRECTLY TO HELL. Examples- buffy mid-season two or evangelion after episode 18. And toy story three.
    Anoter tro

  24. psycicflower says:

    Irish Dub here and it is Irish. It's a Dublin accent, one from the south side. Doesn't even sound like it's influenced by living abroad.

  25. Sada says:

    That whole last 10 minutes I LITERALLY COULD NOT KEEP STILL, so I'm surprised I didn't punch myself in the face too. All flail-y arms and silent OMGs and giggling like an insane person. I love love love this episode and all it chose to be. And a big highlight was getting to meet Moriarty, and him being completely above and beyond my expectations. Bless Andrew Scott.

  26. jackiep says:

    It's a Northern Irish accent (for the most part) to my ears. Specifically from his accent he'd most likely describe himself as being from Ulster, not Ireland. (See many Centuries of history since 1688 as to the distinction, as far as it matters to those involved).

  27. azurefalls says:

    I don't know if this is remotely true, but apparently Freeman/Watson blinks out SOS in that pool scene, in morse code. WOULD BE AWESOME IF TRUE.

    Anyway, yeah, this is pretty much just one of the most epic storylines (and bromances) of anything ever on television. Moffat, SOMETIMES you really do make me adore you.

  28. knut_knut says:


    I do have to say though, I HATE this version of Moriarty. HATE HATE HATE

    I feel like he was going for John Simm as the Master but just turned into this jumpy, randomly shouting man. Not a fan. AT ALL

  29. ldwy says:

    Why am I such a sucker for the whodunnit style trope where a serial killer or criminal mastermind plots out an elaborate “game” for the investigative mastermind to figure out? Like, EVERY TIME I find them fascinating.

    Oh, haha, me too. I love these. The mind games. ALWAYS FASCINATING AND ENTERTAINING.

    My first thought was that Gatiss and company had done something TRULY fucked up: Watson was Moriarty.

    BAHHHHHH me too!!!! I was like no wayyyy he can't be the bad guy I LOVE HIMMMMMM.

    My second thought was that he simply knew Sherlock wayyy better than Sherlock thought he did, and deduced that Sherlock hadn't given the memory drive to Mycroft, like he said he did. That he knew that Sherlock was going to confront the criminal and he went too. To stop him? To help him? Because he was scared Sherlock was kind of idolizing this mastermind and would really truly give him the dangerous government secret plans? (Because I was scared of that…)

    And then, like you, I noticed how strangely he was moving. But it didn't fully dawn on me until I saw him reach to his lapels to start opening his coat. Then my face fell off.

    Moriarty is NOTHING like I could have anticipated, and that’s what makes his appearance here so unsettling.

    Same here. He seems truly unhinged. I feel like he's utterly brilliant, and also amoral (from what we've seen…Sherlock is almost there, but not quite, I don't think). Which is a dangerous combination for a villain. That's what makes him so scary. I feel like he'd do anything. If Sherlock is a high functioning sociopath, then Moriarty is a high functioning sociopath with nothing to reign him in, or so it seems so far. {I'm a little worried about using ablist language after reading all the comments and dialogue yesterday, because I know that I'm lucky to be very healthy and able, and am definitely still learning about these things. So please let me know if I should be saying this in a better way.}



    "If you don’t stop prying…I will burn you. I will burn…the heart out of you.” “I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one.” “But we both know that’s not quite true.”

    I agree with your thoughts on this, Mark, but I also took it a step further in my interpretation. I kind of talked up above about how I think Moriarty and Sherlock are frighteningly, terrifyingly similar. But my view of Moriarty so far is that he's literally amoral. I don't believe this is the case with Sherlock (and it seems, neither does Moriarty). Despite the rather revolting quote about the ease with which he can choose to ignore that an apartment block of people were killed during a game he was involved in…I don't think he's the same as Moriarty. I don't think the relationship we've seen built with Watson would be possible were that the case (Totally agree with you thereeeee Watson and Sherlock = BEST BROMANCE EVER). Serious again, for a sec. I wonder if, as this show continues and if it continues far enough, the potential Sherlock has to become like Moriarty will be developed as a risk and a danger and a struggle. Mycroft even said something, in A Study in Pink: "Interesting, that soldier fellow. He could be the making of my brother. Or make him worse than ever." So I feel like the possibility of Sherlock's developing one way or the other is already there, below the surface, in this version.

    So to get back to my point (haha, ramble ramble ramble), I think Moriarty sees this also. Sees that they're similar and that the difference is that Sherlock has a bit of a heart. And I think Mycroft means, on one level, that just as he manipulated Sherlock right into his hands here, he could craft Sherlock into something like himself.

    I dunno, these are my crazy ideas. We'll have to see if they even pan out a little, but I figured I'd share.

  30. jackiep says:

    What an ending. "Ripping my clothes off in a public baths" indeed! And so many lovely moments. Sherlock actually has paid a price for being so mean to Molly (the whole lipstick / no lipstick manipulation earlier indicated that he knew theoretically how it all worked and was happy to use it to his own advantage, without caring for how Molly might feel o the issue). Actually poor Molly, she is in love with Sherlock and ends up being taken for a ride by a bloke who just wants to get back at Sherlock!

    Mycroft and Sherlock together sitting in the ruins of the living room both deducing at a glance that Watson hadn't spent the night in Sarah's bed (just Sherlock needing a double take to assess exactly where Watson had spent an uncomfortable night).

    Trivia bit, voice of terrified kid was Steve Moffatt's son.

  31. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I've been looking for this for a while now and I finally found it again.

    Image should be linked to the Tumblrer(?) who made it.

    <img src="; border="0">

  32. Araniapriime says:

    If you look closely at the swimming pool scene, when Watson repeats Moriarty's words to Sherlock you'll see he's blinking: three short, three long, three short. … — … Morse code for SOS. It's what they tell soldiers to do if they're ever captured and appear on a terrorist-hostage video where they can't communicate verbally.

    Watson is the total BAMF package. Nerves of stainless steel.

    Oh, and he and Sherlock are SO VERY DOING IT LIKE HOT GAY BUNNIES. <3 <3 <3

  33. ninjac8 says:

    Has anyone seen Sherlock's blog and John Watson's blog ? They are left on cliff hangers too and it just blows my mind!

  34. masakochan says:

    I still remember hearing that after this episode was done airing- Mark Gatiss tweeted "Thank you for all the lovely swears."

  35. NyssaOfTraken says:

    Most of what I remember of this episode is the final pool scene. I didn't accidentally punch myself in the face, but I certainly felt as if *someone* had. And ending with a cliffhanger is so not fair!

    Now, if only Mark Gatiss could produce something this good for Doctor Who, I would be a very happy bunny.

    As for the question about tropes, I can remember the very first I came across that word…it was right here on the Mark Watches blog. So I can't say I've ever thought about it. I might get back to you.

  36. Goldensage says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. I called that the TV presenter got killed with botox – I KNEW the TV was a clue.

    And I yelled and screamed at the ending just like everyone else.

    And I kinda ship Sherlock/Watson. …Like a whole bunch of other people, I'm sure.

    Can't wait for this to come back – I enjoyed it more than the RDJ/Jude Law Movie

  37. Tauriel_ says:

    Interesting fact: The educational video on the Solar System is voiced by Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor! 😀

    Awesome episode, I agree with you on all points. Oh, and yes, Sherlock IS asexual. The bit in the restaurant in the first episode was a joke Moffat played on all the "Holmes and Watson are a gay couple" shippers. I mean, come on, why can't two men be really good friends and flatmates without being a gay couple?

    Another thing that really amused me in this episode was the whole "Czech connection". See, I'm Slovak, I was born in Czechoslovakia before it split up, and I lived for 4 years in Prague. So two things:

    1. Ms. Wenceslas' accent was nowhere near Czech (I later googled that the actress is Welsh).
    2. The name "Wenceslas" is NOT Czech! It's an English translation of the Czech name "Václav". Why would a Czech woman have a name that's an English translation of a Czech name? It's just silly. If they wanted to make it obviously Czech, why not use the most common Czech name, "Novák"? And even then her name should end in "-ová", which is a female surname suffix.

    It's not that I'm offended or anything (I'm not an oversensitive person who complains about every little detail), but Moffat and Gatiss obviously paid a lot of attention to details, so this sort of error does look like a lazy research. At least for point 2, a simple Google search would yield better results.

    But never mind that.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The ending. Oh em gee, the ending. THE ENDING. It left me screaming at my laptop from the top of my lungs: "FUCK YOU, MOFFAT AND GATISS, YOU EVIL BASTARDS!!!!!" Evil, evil cliffhanger, that.

    Thankfully, Peter Jackson allowed enough free time for Martin to shoot the second series of Sherlock, and it has been confirmed to air in Autumn! 🙂

  38. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh, screw it, a little shameless plug won't hurt anyone… 😉 Here are two comics I did to my friend's short Sherlock fanfics ("drabbles"):

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

  39. Mary Sue says:

    From here on out, we see these two completely and utterly in sync, which excites me for what developments their relationship could take in series two.


    *ahem* Sorry. I think my fanfic writer is showing.

    *goes back to doodling SH + JW 4-EVA inside little hearts, then scribbles in big letters over it MAKEOUT PARTIES FOR EVERYONE.*

  40. empath_eia says:

    I should clarify my comment on your last entry, haha: while I think Doctor/Master was MORE obvious, I still think Holmes/Watson is pretty damn obvious too. There is definitely love there, and it was probably what I enjoyed most about the series.

    Tropewise, my favourite thing in the world is the "dear enemy" dynamic. Nemeses, frienemies, rivals, the lot. I love it. The best way I can think of to describe why is… kind of odd, not going to lie. Basically, I view mutually mushy romantic relationships in media kind of like hugs, or kissing, or something along those lines. When you're hugging or kissing someone, you're not really seeing much of them. A little hair, bit of a shoulder, blurry impression of some eyelashes and pores, but that's about it. Frienemies, however, are always at arm's length, grappling and throwing punches and ducking, and they're watching their opposite so hard they barely let themselves blink.

    You know the old canard "love is blind?" I kind of see it like that. Romantic love is very intimate and big on trust, but that trust is necessary because you can't see your partner all that well. A real nemesis, on the other hand, should know you better than absolutely anyone else, because if they don't they'll never win. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Know thy self, know thy enemy; a thousand battles, a thousand victories (Sun Tzu). He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in the preservation of the enemy's life (Nietzsche). In the moment when I truly understand my enemy , understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him (Orson Scott Card, who is indisputably a bit of a douche but on this occasion hit my kink with pinpoint precision). I could go on.

    I just never get tired of watching people who are on opposite sides of conflicts but have great respect for each other do that strange and elegant antagonistic dance around each other.

    My second-favourite thing is nonsexual friends who know each other so well they're practically psychic and are completely comfortable with each other on every level, especially if they're really touchy-feely and don't give a crap if anyone gossips about them because of it. "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words" (source unknown but pretty much exactly what I mean).

    “There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.” -Antisthenes

    In order to create the perfect story for me, the hero should have one of each of these, and present me with a gorgeous and complex OT3.

    My other favourite element in my media is dream logic and/or surrealism. Pretty much the best way to get me to watch something is to tell me it makes people wonder what the makers were taking when they created it. This extends to things like postulated spirit worlds and the afterlife, as well as high fantasy and the weirder edges of sci-fi.

    I also love it when stories deliberately don't tell me who the bad guy is, and make me grieve for both sides (Hellboy II, oddly enough, is one of my favourite examples of this; "We die, and the world will be poorer for it.")

    Lastly, I pay a lot more attention to backgrounds than most people do, so I will love something forever if its backgrounds are beautifully done even if its story kind of sucks (or even if it doesn't have one, like Iblard Jikan).

    /massive, massive tl;dr, so sorry

  41. lattemama says:

    I read that they will air Season 2 of Sherlock in August/September this year so here's hoping *fingers crossed*

    Also – here have a fanvid from this episode that I love because it's so unusual.

    Ok, embedding doesn't work, here's the link:

    Best scene from that episode.

  42. Alexander says:

    Meanwhile, in a slightly different reality:

  43. Tauriel_ says:

    Second season is the best, IMHO. And there's also a series of episodes (I forget in which season… third, perhaps…) where House shares his flat with Wilson. A lot of practical jokes ensue. 😛

  44. hassibah says:

    "It was all about perspective, and I think that’s important to note. In my world out in Riverside, California, where small-town mentality ruled over my peers and their parents, those things I became interested in were so rare that they seemed to suggest that either something was wrong with me or I was existing on another astral plane from the rest of the world.

    Total bullshit, again. Just because I loved doing complex mathematics in my head does not mean that my interests were any superior or inferior to those of the people I interacted with at school. Hell, I could have used a friend to tell me to just play some goddamn kickball and stop thinking about angles of rebound. ENJOY LIFE, MARK. WORK ON THAT.

    And while there is an element to Sherlock’s character that is fantastical, and it’s precisely that part which I cannot relate to, I remember feeling bored by my friends talking about their new video games or the latest football match on the television or boys and girls and things I just didn’t have an interest in. My boredom, though, wasn’t a sign of superiority, though I probably foolishly believed it to be. My boredom spawned out of loneliness. I wanted someone to share these awesome things with."

    I don't have a lot to say about the show, I just wanted to say that I really, really enjoyed these paragraphs.

  45. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh dear, I'm sorry Mark, but the mental image of you accidentally punching yourself in the face really made me laugh.
    …I'm a terrible person. 😉

    On a random note, one trope I've always been drawn to (and my friend always makes fun of me for) is people 'learning to love again'. God that sounds so cheesy, right? But I couldn't find a better name for it. (Why have you let me down TV Tropes?!?!)
    I'm not sure why, I'm not usually a big fan of romance and such in fiction, but I always really enjoy stories that involve someone who had been previously married or in a long term relationship that has ended – whether their spouse/whatever is dead or they just fell apart – and that's had a serious effect on their life. I love seeing that character getting over their past experiences and falling for someone completely different.
    I think maybe it's because I've always hated the whole BS concept of only having 'one true love' or being 'soulmates' with someone. It's just really nice (and pretty unusual, at least on tv) to see someone in fiction actually go through a few relationships before finding the right person for them.
    It's one reason why I hate things like Twilight. The idea that Bella met the 'love of her life' when she was 17, barely got to know him, never dated anyone else, and then lived happily ever after? It happens, I guess, but it's certainly not the norm.

    Anyway there's my guilty pleasure, trope wise. That was longer than I meant it to be. Ooops!

  46. medea says:

    I also screamed out loud at the end, reading your review was like reliving what it was like for me! And as much as I love love love love Sherlock with all my being… how come Sherlock doesn't know the earth revolves around the sun but knows about the supernova on the painting? I mean, if you study astronomy, that fact is BOUND to come up! 😛

  47. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh, also, my favourite ever Trope?



  48. katherinemh says:


  49. Ananas says:

    And all those lovely lovely bromantic moments are exactly why I hold that Sherlock is not a sociopath, and was in fact making a joke at the expense of Anderson's intelligence. Granted, he still has the social graces of a monkey flinging poo, but I'm pretty sure it's on purpose.

  50. Mel says:

    Moriarty is so fucking fabulous.
    "NO YOU WOOON'T~~~"


  51. Claire says:

    Tut tut Moriarty – everyone knows that there's no bombing allowed in the pool…

  52. ldwy says:

    Ugh! YES I love the they're-definitely-evil-they're-so-bad-i-can-totally-tell-they-are-the-evil-villain-wait-what-they're-not??? moments. LOVED the Sirius reveal way back when. Snape too, to a degree was a similar trope.

  53. Weston says:

    Steven Moffat's Twitter icon is him standing between Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith.

    <img src=>

    So completely right.

  54. dazyndara says:

    Re. favourite tropes – I am always, ALWAYS a sucker for hidden identity as a trope, particularly when the audience knows but the characters don’t. Take Twelfth Night for example (fave Shakespeare for that reason), or the neat little scene near the end of Pride and Prejudice (the book) where Lizzy and Darcy are engaged but haven’t told anyone yet…

  55. katherinemh says:

    No Sherlock until the fall?

    <img src="; alt="" title="Hosted by" />

    <img src="; alt="" title="Hosted by" />

    Not cool, Moffat.

    Also, I love the bit before "Glad no one saw that." Sherlock's little babbling when he's trying to thank John. "That, that thing that you, uh, did, that you, offered to do that was… good."

  56. WingedFlight says:

    I love this episode the best out of the three, I think, because there are so many amazingly intense moments. It's been a while since I've watched so I won't say much, but when I watched this I had no idea there was going to be another series. Which just makes the cliffie all the more maddening.

  57. Caitlin says:

    stupid html >:|

  58. Megan says:

    I don’t think there are many, if any, positive depictions of asexuals on mainstream television.

    I'm convinced that Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory is asexual.

  59. HungryLikeLupin says:

    Most of what I'm going to say here has probably already been mentioned, but THIS EPISODE and SO EXCITE and NO PATIENCE TO READ THROUGH ALL THE COMMENTS AAAAUUUUGGHHHH! Also, I will be splitting this into two comments because I CAN NOT SHUT UP. Shocker.


    1. Which then makes me imagine what Sherlock’s brain would look like if it were an external hard drive, which then makes me wonder what would be in the “John Watson” folder, and then I imagine it would just be a bunch of fan fiction, and then….

    I just want you to know that I got to this part of your review and legitimately had to hide my face in my hands while I giggled. THE THINGS YOU DO TO ME.

    2. I didn't want to say anything in the last review because of my obsessive fear of spoilers, but I sort of feel like the scene with the curator in this episode, as she talks about everything she's done to pull this off, goes a little ways towards explaining–not excusing, but explaining–some of the more objectionable parts of The Blind Banker. I feel like having the villains be Chinese in that episode, while ridiculous and overall poorly done, might have been an attempt to illustrate just how far Moriarty's reach extends. That in an effort to show his influence far, far beyond Britain itself, they used people not only physically distant but also decidedly culturally and visually different. Like I said, I still think it was really poorly done, but I'm also inclined to think that there may have been a bit more intent behind the choice than I was originally willing to believe.

    3. You mentioned Sherlock's rude dismissal of Jim in his first scene, and I have to wonder if . . . well, if that wasn't Moriarty's exact plan all along.

    We've seen how he interacts with Molly–the more blatant her interest in him, the more he ignores her. I'm left wondering if Moriarty's plan here, then, isn't sheer genius in its simplicity. He's going ridiculously far to portray a character that Sherlock will be bored by, while providing enough supposedly subtle evidence to satisfy that innate need to deduce. If he'd been blander, if he'd been more boring, if he'd been less obviously interested in Sherlock, Sherlock may have actually paid more attention to him and the whole game might have been ruined. It's clear from his speech later that Moriarty deliberately planted misleading clues about himself in that interaction; I'm inclined to think that this was probably for the sheer delight of getting one over on Sherlock Holmes, of being able to point it out later and say, "I was under your nose the whole time and you missed it."

    (This also makes me think that John's deliberate denial of interest in Sherlock in any sexual or romantic way is sort of a genius strategy itself, but WE WILL NOT GET INTO THAT.)

    4. That conversation between John and Sherlock is one of my very favorite things, though my favorite part is actually right after:

    "Oh. You're angry with me, so you won't help. Not much cop, this 'caring' lark."

    It's so cruel, and so bitchy, and so completely and utterly pitch perfect. Because of course John's not going to stop helping to save innocent people just because he's angry with Sherlock. They both know it. And this line is perfect because beyond calling John's bluff, Sherlock is also quietly reminding John that that's just not who he is. It's a beautiful little backhanded compliment (or fronthanded insult?), and I love it.

  60. dcjensen says:

    Mark! I've been waiting for months to post this for you:

    On Where Sherlock and Mycroft REALLY come from:

    The case of the Unwelcome Owl

  61. Lumosnox says:

    I just would like to say that Jim Moriarty is my FAVORITE VILLIAN OF ALL TIME.

    Seriously, I just want to go out and buy him all the Westwood. Also, am I the only one getting a HUGE vibe of Jim/Sherlock subtext? His first words to Sherlock are "HELLO, SEXY" for goodness sakes.

    I actually figured out it was 'gay little Jim from the hospital' beforehand, through this thought process: "I wonder if Moriarty is a character we've already seen, in disguise? Wow, the bomber is flirting a lot with Sherlock. Wouldn't it be a neat plot twist if Moriarty was actually Molly? She kept on trying to hit on him, lol wasn't it funny that her boyfriend was doing the exact same thing– OH MY FREAKING GOD"

  62. FlameRaven says:

    Woooooooah. I gotta say, at an hour and quarter in, I was really confused because there were only 15 minutes left HOW COULD IT END IN A SATISFACTORY WAY. And then!

    I should have learned not to doubt Stephen Moffat by now. That was good. That was really good.

    Moriarty was amazing. This is the first thing I've seen where he actually showed up in person and I thought it was great.

    Also, the more versions I see of Sherlock Holmes the more I realize just how thoroughly House both IS Sherlock Holmes and is actually a more likeable character than Sherlock. I may have to rewatch bits of House now.

    I admit, I kinda want to see Irene Adler show up in Season 2 because she was the one character I did enjoy in the original stories– sort of the River Song of Sherlock Holmes. But I feel like she would distract from the epic bromance and that would be unfortunate. D:

    The only thing that could make this series better is the soundtrack from the recent Sherlock Holmes movie. That theme seriously gets stuck in my head whenever I see Sherlock running around. Needs moar broken piano.

  63. Reddi says:

    I *loved* this episode.
    Holmes' cluelessness about relationships and seeming asexuality is in keeping with the character in the books. As is the lack of developed female characters. I rather expect Moffat and Gatiss will keep things pretty much the same, as they are updating the Sherlock Holmes story but still, despite the modern setting, keeping much of the feel of them.

    My personal spec about Holmes pointing the gun at the explosive is he knows it's not really explosive- it's a dummy. So he wins. Just spec on my part. After all they can't blow up the two heros and the archenemy at the start of the next story.

  64. klmnumbers says:

    The two tropes I am always drawn to are Byronic Hero or Heroic Sociopath (which is basically what Sherlock is). I love stuff that explores the gray area between whether our hero is actually a hero.

    And then I love Obfuscating Stupidity simply because it leads to moments of glorious badassitude.

  65. Jocelyn says:


  66. bookgal12 says:

    I loved this episode, especially the fact that is shows that Sherlock can be right but still cause people to die. Sherlock Holmes has always been portrayed as a aloof cold, calculator who is asexual. Benedict shows that Sherlock Holmes can have emotions as we see in the pool scene, they are just buried beneath a cement layer of logic. As for his asexuality, I think the sleuth described his sexual situation best when he said " I'm married to my work", which shows that he does have some sexual feelings as do we all he just has a better control over them. With that said, I must link this fanfiction story about Sherlock and Watson. It picks up after what happened at the pool, it made me cry it was so intense.
    This story made me realize that some flash stories if done well are amazing.

  67. @Siesiegirl says:

    Now that you've finished the series I can share this with you:

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  68. Macy says:

    I pretty much had the same reaction when I saw the end of this episode. I just kept screaming "WHAT WHAT WHAAAAAAAAT" at my computer and my sister was side-eying me so hard. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE RETURN SOON, SHERLOCK. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO ~DEAL~ WITHOUT MY EPIC BROMANCE

  69. tsune says:

    Season two starts filming today, I think.
    Martin Freeman wouldn’t commit to The Hobbit if he couldn’t still be a part of Sherlock, so they’re sharing him.

    The new episodes will involve Adler, Reichenbach(sp?), and Baskervilles.
    AW YIS

  70. robotically says:

    So I finally found your MarkWatches site and now it's 3:24 AM. THANKS.

    But seriously glad you're watching Sherlock. Honestly it's such a great show.

    Maybe I'm doing mental cartwheels in trying to make this true, but I also wonder if they intentionally made the second episode about old otherising exoticism, because THAT IS LIKE EVERY THIRD STORY FROM DOYLE'S CANON SHERLOCK. Seriously it'll be adorable bickering between Watson and Holmes, and then someone shows up with a fascinating mystery, and then SUDDENLY there'd be a manservant from India who has a necklace that he thinks is cursed or a woman who escaped from some sort of school in ~Persia~ who doesn't know how to speak anymore because they're so ~savage~ and UGH SHUT UP.

    Also, to add to the idea that Watson and Holmes are way more in tune than they were earlier, I love the nod Watson gives Holmes at the end of the episode when Holmes is about to point his gun at the bomb. THEY ARE BOTH ON THE SAME PAGE BEFORE MORIARTY KNOWS WHAT HOLMES IS THINKING. THAT'S RIGHT, BEFORE MORIARTY WHO SPENDS HIS FREE TIME TRYING TO THINK LIKE HOLMES HAS FIGURED IT OUT. Awesome.

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