rageprufrock: beach (Default)
[personal profile] rageprufrock posting in [community profile] slashreport
Nobody is more surprised than me that I didn't like Scandal in Belgravia. In fact, it was a several hour-long process to determine that I didn't like the episode, since I landed in the U.S., promptly fell asleep for 12+ hours on a combination of exhaustion, fever, cold medicine, and general fuck-this-noise-ness, dragged through a groggy Jan. 1, and then woke up the following morning at 3:30 a.m. thinking, "I should really watch Sherlock now." So I did.

(1) Like the Bee Gees, I, too, am all about staying alive. I think we all knew that however they were going to wrap up that exquisitely torturous pool scene, it wouldn't be the way 8 billion of us wrote fanfic about. For me, I thought it was an elegant little solution, actually, sort of perfect in its absurdity, but also powerful in that it shows how — at this point, at least — Sherlock and John very much have no idea what they're up against or how to fight back against this guy. We can't know for sure what would have happened if Sherlock would have shot that jacket full of explosives, but I'm fairly confident it would have ended worse for our boys than Moriarity, if only because they're so newly engaged and Moriarity has been licking his palm and getting himself off on this bullshit for forever, probably.

(2) Talk about slick, slick. The opening sequences after the opening sequence and credits were awesome. I loved the montage of clients, and of John blogging away busily. I liked the touch about their internet notoriety, and although it was a bit cheesetastic, it was just the right type of cheesetastic, and a lovely nod to the old frog suit and deerstalker. Plus, I'm obviously super weak to the deliciously meta nature of the interwoven blogs and articles that get built into this universe. Also, the comic book characters case seemed pretty genuinely interesting (and was! it's written up on the Watson blog, if you haven't already read it, and concludes with John and Sherlock dressed as ninjas, so you know, if comic books alone wasn't enough incentive), and I particularly enjoyed Sherlock being magically Sherlock and declaring marvelous things like, "BORED," and "Leave, now," and telling small children that when their loved ones die, they don't go to heaven, they go to a room and are burned. Rapidly followed by John's particularly tart, "Sherlock." I was giggling like a moron the entire time, but never so much as at Sherlock, BAFFLED! And Sherlock telling John not to share his horrific shame.

(3) This week's "case" was a struggle to me. The beginning of the mystery solving in this episode was pretty clever and super engaging. It's only a 6! Sherlock won't leave the house for anything below a 7! Skype! Why is he naked? But I guess at least he's wearing a sheet. (I'm sensing this was some subject of discussion and negotiation between John and Sherlock in the past.) The car backfire/dead hiker thing was very smart and fun, and so was watching another detective attempt to work with Sherlock, not knowing how lucky he is not to have Sherlock physically at the scene. And then the helicopter to come pick John up, and that perfectly framed shot of John's What The Actual Fuck Is My Life face in said helicopter as it delivered him to Buckingham Palace. And Sherlock. Who had no pants on. It was a moment that was so pure in its farcical ridiculousness it deserved and got a giggle, and enter long-suffering Mycroft who pitches the case and we get our second tantalizing, stunning glimpse of Irene Adler — this time sans riding crop and tied-up royal. (Who do we think this was? Too young to be Camilla, who wouldn't be a HRH, anyway — for some reason, I feel like Irene would be particular about this — which leaves us with one of the princesses of the Duchess of Cambridge.) Everybody who knows the Scandal in Bohemia story knows what happens: Sherlock meets Irene, is fascinated by her intelligence, fakes a fire, figures out where her safe is, etc etc. In this universe, we get more or less the same song and dance, with the the addition of an absolutely awesome flatmates fight beforehand ("Remember, Sherlock, I was a soldier. I killed people." "You were a doctor!" "I HAD BAD DAYS.") and then Irene being a magical bitch, rooting through her closet and then coming out in battle dress uniform: nothing but swish. This is also about when the episode started going completely off the rails for me, but I didn't realize it yet.

(4) Everything I just talked about happened in the first like, 25 minutes of the episode and we still have an hour of insane shenanigans left to go, which was a major part of the problem. This episode, to me, felt spiritually like the slutty cousin of the first season's the Blind Banker: it was baroque, overly complex, and then tried to marry all the disparate threads of the story that had been seeded as separate entities from the beginning for no obvious reason other than to prove its own contrived cleverness. [personal profile] merelyn put it best when I was talking with her in that it felt like a series of character interactions with no through line of a mystery, which is ludicrous because there were like 14 different mysteries flying through the episode, we were all just too busy doing other…stuff? What? It didn't work for me, it felt eternally frustrating. I kept pausing the episode to go do things like get coffee or take a shower and check in on my father and I never felt any thread of tension about the storyline, like the natural anticipation that the first series was virtuoso at building had completely abandoned this episode. I have the patience of a six year old on crack, so this is hardly a sign of my media consumption habits moderating, either, as people who know me can attest. I tried, as I was working on this write-up, to do a quick rundown list of everything that happened in this episode in my head — everything that related to the "plot," at least, and this is what I came up with:

• Irene Adler asks Unknown HRH if she's been very naughty after she bails Sherlock and John out of trouble. Did she bail them out on purpose? Or was that just a masterstroke of timing? I couldn't tell, since Adler didn't seem to see Sherlock the first time until afterward, right? Presumably with photographs from Moriarity.
• John and Sherlock see about a bajillion cases. All of which eventually end up tied to like, Plot F Subsection C part 3.b Lines 45-89 in the Folgers edition.
• John goes to see some dude in the countryside about a car backfire and a dead hiker.
• Helicopter!
• Buckingham Palace! Nudity! Jokes about the Holmes's sex lives! Or lack thereof! (We'll come back to that later.)
• They meet Irene Adler, who has a collection of stunningly beautiful lingerie. I want to know where that fucking green thing she was wearing when she busted open her closet is from and if I can buy it in London.
• They take Adler's phone — briefly. And then while John is busy probably administering medical aid to Adler's associate, Adler stabs Sherlock with some sort of drug and whips him into submission with a riding crop to take the phone, and swing out of the room just as John swoops back in. A lot of people salivated over that riding crop scene as being hot on some level, most mostly to me it brought only the association of Sherlock beating the living fuck out of a corpse in the opening scenes of the pilot or a smirk at how inelegant and scrappy a desperation fight it was: she didn't want to get close enough so he could grab onto something — namely, his own greatcoat — but she needed that phone. The scene after where Irene is caressing Sherlock's face stroke the camera with the crop and glorying in being the woman who outsmarted Sherlock Holmes was, to me, pretty undeserved: you didn't outsmart him, you drugged him and strapped him. But I mean, love yourself, I guess.
• Sherlock is stoned off his face. It is pretty boss. Benedict Cumberbach's physicality in this scene basically make me choke laughing. He made himself seem so tall and sticklike that when he tipped over he went down like so many geometric toys I had as a kid. Awesome stuff.
• Time passes. Stuff presumably happens. We see that Mr. Cumberbach apparently took some violin lessons. There are text messages that Sherlock never responds to, announced by Irene's coital sigh.
• There's a Christmas party at 221B which is cute as the dickens, and where Sherlock is an absolute asshole to Molly, Lestrade finds out his wife and him haven't sorted anything because apparently she's fucking a PE teacher, and we get our first explicit, in-canon gay lantern-hanging of the episode by John's soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend. (Was I the only one who wasn't fully enamored of all the people who were like, "You and John are totally a couple! You and Sherlock are so married!" I couldn't tell if it felt too much, or like an appeasement to certain fans in the context of an episode with a highly sexually charged storyline involving Sherlock and someone else, that necessarily relegates — to some extent anyway — the emotional relationship between Sherlock and John.) Sherlock gets the gift of Adler's phone.
• Also Christmas, Mycroft breaks the news that Irene is dead, and Sherlock goes to the morgue to ID her from her measurements. Well played everybody in the sense that I never ever through the episode got the impression that the chemistry between them was sexual in nature — or at least not mutually sexual in nature. I think Irene probably admires beauty and feels her pulse quicken and pupils dilate when she sees it and feels arousal, but for Sherlock, at least to me, it's obviously all facts and figures swaddled around the mystery of a person. Anyway, Adler is dead, Sherlock is crushed, the Holmes bros share a cigarette in the morgue hallway and talk about how feelings are useless while John and Mrs. Hudson toss the apartment looking for drugs. Future reference John: check coat linings.
• Then Sherlock is sad? For a long time? Until Irene comes back? And has an emotionally charged whatever with John, and then some stuff happens, and then she's on the run until she is not on the run because she is passed out in Sherlock's bedroom. And then she gets Sherlock to solve the mystery, tells Moriarity, and this is the point where I was actively aware I hated this whole stupid plot and had to stop.

(5) And before you all say it, no, I'm not disliking it because I "didn't get it" or "didn't get Irene Adler." I got her just fine. I'm sure there's already a lot of discussion out there about whether or not there's a feminist issue or a female portrayal issue engendered (hah!) in this episode or specifically by Irene Adler or by Sherlock (the character) or Sherlock (the show)'s relationships with women, full stop, but my issue with Irene isn't about that. It isn't about sex, either, since I'm not entirely convinced she's a sex worker in the classical sense. Most dominatrixes don't fuck their clientele, which may or may not exclude her from a sex worker classification but ultimately I don't really care because that was hardly the reason that Adler in this episode was disingenuous, dull, and common. After I finished watching the episode I already knew I wasn't wild about it, not the way I was giddy about a Study in Pink or the Great Game, and I kept trying to figure out why I wasn't nuts about the whole thing. It also kept circling back to, "…what was the fucking point?" I mean, why the hell did Adler do any of it? Was she bored, too? Because if she was a crushingly bored genius, then she never once showed her her hand that she was. Mostly she showed that she liked doing grossly irresponsible things, didn't give two fucks about the consequences for other people, wanted to blackmail Mycroft into saving her ass and extorting the government for presumably a fortune so she could keep doing it. She's like the worst, most toxically dangerous version of those unbearable teenagers on my Super Sweet 16, or whatever agonizing MTV show it is that has spoiled teenage girls throwing tantrums because they can't be assholes and still have everything they want. I had a conversation with [personal profile] leupagus about this, actually, since she loved Irene and loved the this episode where the first season had left her just a touch cold I seem to remember, and I asked her didn't it bother her? That Irene was like this? Hellaciously irresponsible, and such a vector for disaster — not even a vector that's being oriented by good people like Sherlock is by John or Lestrade or Mycroft? She said it didn't, that she loved Irene and thought she was clever. And then we were yelling on Skype so we had to agree to disagree and talk about something else because the more I think about her the more I hate her — The Woman. Let's suppose she is a villain, then, a thief in the classic sense like she's portrayed in the RDJ/Jude Law Holmes movies, even then Rachel McAdam's Adler is interesting: she's ferocious and resourceful. Irene mostly vamped around being confusing and trying to steal Sherlock's now-possibly-canonical virginity and oh, right, helping dismantle a plan Mycroft and Co. had put in place over the course of years to take down terrorist cells. I'm glad you got your jollies that way. In this sense, if we view Irene not as a moral gray zone that Sherlock finds curious and as a purely fascinating villain instead, then yay, wow, what a brilliantly evil villain! EXCEPT SHE'S NOT. EXCEPT SHE HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT LOVELY BLACKMAIL MATERIAL SHE HAD UNTIL SHE GOT IN TOUCH WITH MORIARITY. She's not even creatively bad! She's a fucking sheep! Why the hell was she saving all of that? So she could keep doing stupid shit and getting away with it? You know what would be a nice reason for her to be doing that? If somehow Sherlock was a giant crossover with Inception, and Adler is actually the world's most terrifying pointwoman and this is how she maintains her list of contacts: in her phone, for jobs. I don't care if she's evil; I don't care if she's good; I don't care if she's hypersexualized or is gay or straight or just gay for Sherlock or pins him to a desk and makes him beg for mercy, twice, while John waxes horrified about what to name their children — please, not Hamish — but Jesus Christ don't make her dishwater and common. Anybody can be a blackmailing dominatrix with a patron who gives her terrible evil ideas, which is what she's reduced to by the end of this episode, furthermore needing Sherlock's assistance to make her last great escape, which was so profoundly, unbelievably stupid I actually yelled, "ARGH" at my screen when I saw Sherlock's face as they panned up from the sword. I can't keep thinking about this. The more I think about it the more annoyed I am.

(6) Sex. Or the lack thereof. I thought it was interesting that they decided to make explicit this element. I've always believed that BBC Sherlock's Sherlock was asexual, but always considered that in the past, at least for some period of time, Sherlock's insane need for experimental data had driven him to fucking anything that would stand still long enough and then keeping some sort of serial killer logbook about it. Now, either this is untrue, or Mycroft is just making fun of Sherlock about it. If he is, that always puts on an interesting dimension, because it means that Sherlcok's not so undesiring of sex and closeness — you can't really mock somebody for something they either aren't ashamed of or don't care about. For example, "Pru, you care too much about the Republican primaries." To that I say, "Give me TPM Livewire or give me death." Sherlock, what would you know about sex? There was that moment, that tiny flicker of something in Sherlock's eyes at that. Is he a little embarrassed? Is it something else? It feels like simple fear of intimacy would be…too human for him, but at the heart he's human, and although it's easy to forget that, it's easy to remember when he's playing Christmas carols to please Mrs. Hudson and stealing mince pies out of her fridge or being screamingly vain about whether not people like him wearing the cap in all the papers. Interesting thought exercise either way, cleverly leaving room for people on either side of the divide to make camp, as far as I'm concerned.

(6.a) Love, or shall I say, the physiological indicators thereof. Both [personal profile] leupagus and I caught this when we were watching it and found it equally interesting, how at the beckoned moment when Irene is about to win everything she wants — while cruelly referring to Mycroft and Sherlock as the Ice Man and the Virgin, which, déclassé — Sherlock has a fit of memory. He points out that he'd felt Irene's pulse, that her heart had sped and her pupils had dilated, physical indicators of love, and that's how he realizes her password is fucking I AM SHERLOCKED as if she is a 14 year old girl on tumblr who communicates primarily through the medium of gif or some bullshit but whatever! The point is that Gus and I were both like, "Wait, back that train up — those are physiological indicators of arousal, or baseline, excitement. Not of love." So either that was a deliberate choice, which would betray that Sherlock, in his surveys of the human heart, hasn't figured out to differentiate between the two yet, or a slip up. The former gives a lot more territory to plumb so I shall ascribe to it versus the latter.

(7) Best part of this episode: found families. For all that the central plot of this episode really irritated the fuck out of me, there were endless little moments that were compensations. I can't remember which of the cast/crew it was that said that the the mysteries in the wilds of London are forever intruding on the domestic perfection of their little home at 221B, but it's accurate, really. There's the curious little family unit of John and Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson, with her nattering and British reserves of strength and store of vile English Christmas pastry (in case you are not acquainted with mince pies: they are emasculated fruit soaked in booze, mixed with beef fat, and baked and to be serve at room temperature; they are one of the many good reasons I believe the American Revolution to have been just and necessary). That moment where John and Sherlock both yell at Mycroft for telling Mrs. Hudson to shut up was pretty much my favorite moment in the entire episode, and then there was that lovely, sepia and orange-toned Christmas party in the flat, with Sherlock playing for for the crowd and the fire crackling, lights strung up. There wasn't any chaos and terribleness, and while I think Sherlock likes danger, gets off on puzzles, it's clearly not the only thing that sustains or makes him happy, if how well he seemed at the party is any indication. Also John's Christmas jumper was so shockingly ugly the only explanation is that Sherlock bought it for him to torture everybody else, or Mrs. Hudson bought it for him as a present and now John is wearing it to torture everybody else.

Overall, this episode had real high points and annoyingly low ones. I'm sure an enormous swath of you disagree, and maybe a few of you were even nodding along at points. No matter what, Sherlock is still, surely, one of the best things I've seen on television of late (hi, Good Wife), hugely ambitious, and masterfully acted, directed, and filmed. It's gorgeous to watch and, at times, infuriatingly addictive despite its flaws. I'll still be glued ass first to the couch for the next episode and the next, and howsoever many they choose to give us after.

Date: 2012-01-03 06:41 pm (UTC)
anatsuno: a TXT on an iphone screen, looking like a baby whale (baby whale)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
omg you did not just say that about mince pies. bite your tongue.

(happy new year! :D)

Date: 2012-01-03 06:51 pm (UTC)
mareen: poi reese finch (Sherlock kath_ballantyne)
From: [personal profile] mareen
It also kept circling back to, "…what was the fucking point?" I mean, why the hell did Adler do any of it?

Thank you!
I watched the episode yesterday and get into a few discussions here and there with people who hated her depiction because they thought she was oversexualised. I can see that this is a problem one might have with her in this episode, but it wasn't what made the character feel off to me, so I actually ended up disagreeing with people about her and defending her, because I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was that didn't feel right to me.
But what you are saying above is exactly it, the reason I never really went on board with her. It made no sense. Nothing of what she did seemed to have a real reason at its core. She was the center of all this mischief and almost got herself killed in the process, and for what? That's why she wasn't working, and why the episode wasn't really working for me.

Date: 2012-01-03 07:49 pm (UTC)
annchi: Elizabeth Shaw (Default)
From: [personal profile] annchi
I remember reading 'A Scandal in Bohemia' when I was a kid, and later watching the Granada version. I was totally intrigued by Irene Adler, and a little bit thrilled by the way she blew into Holmes's life, is not fooled by his disguises, wins their brief game, and then leaves again, all on her own terms, and with his genuine respect and admiration. Kid me thought she was pretty cool. Kid Moffat probably did not, so in the end he gave us a reversed, bizarro!Adler who never fooled Sherlock (he took her pulse, the hell?), at least not for long, and is so thoroughly beaten by him, and so completely stripped of agency, that she has to beg for mercy while she watches him walk away, and then make like flotsam until it's time for him to save her from a really ridiculous costume drama style execution. Last minute reprieve for Ms. Adler! Whose motives were never made clear -- though it was implied that they were petty, criminal, possibly not even her idea -- but we should handwave all that because she loves Sherlock? At that point I was furious. I'm glad someone else was, too.

Date: 2012-01-03 08:03 pm (UTC)
annchi: Elizabeth Shaw (Default)
From: [personal profile] annchi
(That was supposed to be a reply to the main post, sorry!)

Date: 2012-01-04 12:04 am (UTC)
lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lannamichaels
that she has to beg for mercy while she watches him walk away

I had such problems (even for me) getting through this episode. And then that happened. Oh fucking hell no. AND THEN! AND THEN! And then I spent the next whatever going "oh my fucking god he fridged Irene Adler. Jesus fucking Christ." And then she had to be rescued by *Sherlock* of all people.

Unless the internet tells me Hound is the best thing ever, I'm never watching this show again. What the fucking hell, Moffat.
Edited Date: 2012-01-04 12:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-03 07:14 pm (UTC)
youkosiren: (Default)
From: [personal profile] youkosiren
I imagine http://wearsherlock.tumblr.com/ shall track down Irene's outfits soon enough, but I would check a site like Journelle - I'd look myself, but even I'm not willing to risk it on office Internet.

I did like the episode, but I see what you're saying about the episode not really being driven by plot. I watch Hawaii Five-0 though, so I didn't find that a deal breaker (and frankly spent an awful amount of time distracted by Irene's crazy cheekbones, so)

Date: 2012-01-03 07:18 pm (UTC)
lately: (down the front)
From: [personal profile] lately
Hmmmm. In partial response to the 'why', I see a raison d'etre in her job, ie dominatrix. I don't think it's a job to her, it's a calling instead, and I think for all that I would strip away the sexual aspect of it, there's still the mental turn on of getting to dominate the most powerful people in the country. That's top govt officials, royalty, etc etc. She can only really keep that place as the dominatrix to the stars if she's never off the job, as it were. So she collects their secrets, so the domming never stops. Even when they're not in the same room, she's in control.

Then, she suddenly has a phone with all these secrets, and it ought to be worth something bigger than the sum of its parts.

Now, Moriarty.

Who's a bigger fish than anyone she's got in her phone already.

All of this is deeply unfeminist - she's reduced to nothing but her desires - but still a legit motivation, I think.


Nice recap!

Date: 2012-01-03 07:36 pm (UTC)
ravelqueen: (sherlock)
From: [personal profile] ravelqueen
I enjoyed Irene Adler very much, but I think it's very interesting to hear the different angles and I'm not sure in how much discussion you want to indulge here, so just a bit my opinion on your central dilemma.

Because I do see what you say, the episode doesn't really tell us a lot about her motives as a character, why she does all what she does. And maybe they should have. But she says that that phone is all that stands between her and death. And I believe her. I think that is what drives her in the end. With her line of work I'm quite sure she made a lot of people mad and maybe she just miscalculated at one point, pissed off someone too important or several someones and at that point didn't know what to do and found Moriarty. Maybe he even came to her like: "If you don't hire me to tell you how to protect yourself, if you don't buy my help, I'll be on your trail." I think the whole plot was the job she was in a way supposed to do for Moriarty as payment for her continued safety.

Of course that's speculation. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. And she does give a different part-way explanation in her conversation with Mycroft. But why should we believe her in that moment? She is after all a bit like Sherlock, vain, very much dependent on her image as perfect, unshakeble. So she hammed it up, so she had fun, because even though this whole thing was obviously bigger than anything she had done before, she enjoys danger.

And when it became clear that it had failed, her grandiose plan to ensure her life? I don't see her as OoC or weak, I just see her as desperate, when she begs, just overwhelmed.

(also I do think the whole Sherlocked thing wasn't in any way "uhh my crush" I think she put it at first in as a bit of an in joke, in a way the last thing Sherlock would ever think of and still so close by)

So yeah that would be my interpretation, but it is not extremely supported by dialouge, just with how I in general interpreted the Irene Adler that was shown to me by the actress, which is why I enjoyed her very much, but I do understand how you didn't, because if I would have had the same impressions as you did watching it, I wouldn't have enjoyed it much either^^

Date: 2012-01-03 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurapetri.livejournal.com
I think Irene was supposed to come across as a sort of amoralistic genius but it failed on so many levels. Mostly because Moriarity is already the anti Sherlock and Irene does really show any signs of genius. We (the audience) are supposed to believe that Sherlock does a complete about turn when after telling her she's moderately clever to thinking she's fascinating. On the whole I did like the episode I just didn't find the relationship between them very believable.

Date: 2012-01-03 08:53 pm (UTC)
risha: Illustration for "Naptime" by Martha Wilson (Default)
From: [personal profile] risha
I understand where you're coming from with your interpretation of Irene/Sherlock, but the relationship worked for me (aside from that awful, awful, cringeworthy last scene).

Canonically, Mycroft is both smarter than Sherlock and better with people (though based on this episode, I'd say that both of them are crippled emotionally to some degree. I really want to meet Mummy). And he knows Sherlock very well. As he said, Irene ultimately learned what Moriarty needed to know by tricking a lonely man by showing an interest in him.

Even if we accept that Sherlock is actually asexual, that doesn't necessarily preclude a desire to make a connection with someone. He does have connections, of course, and they are explicitly spelled out throughout the episode, but all of those people also have other categories that they slot into, in ways that could be construed as needing him for other than friendship - assistant/blogger/flatmate, work colleagues, landlady/former client who owes him. There's no reason that those can't coexist, of course, but Sherlock is bad at emotional distinctions. But now there is a person, interesting and different and smart (not a genius, but very few people are ever going to be his intellectual equal), who is actively trying to make herself a mystery to him, the surest method of catching and maintaining his interest, using the method most likely to specifically baffle Sherlock himself, due to lack of experience/interest - sex and romance.

In a way, this was an episode of interesting contrasting messages - Sherlock's humanity is both celebrated and derided in equal measure. We're shown scene after scene of Sherlock being his normal unbearable self, and yet making connections in ways we've not necessarily seen him do before - the Christmas party, his apology to Molly, his fury at the abuse of Mrs. Hudson and reassuring her. These are presented unqualified positives. But in the end those cracks are used against him, which is presented as an unqualified disaster. Are we truly surprised that Sherlock is unable to distinguish between arousal and love, especially when that crack has just revealed itself as betraying him both emotionally and intellectually and he feels like a fool? There are a half dozen more likely reasons for the "SHERlocked" password than a crush, especially since that password would have been set very early on in their acquaintance - as a joke being the most likely. Is he thinking about those at that moment when his vanity has taken a blow this large? Unlikely.

One interesting question: how many of Irene's actions were planned by herself versus fed to her from Moriarty. I think that ultimately she was presented as childish and selfish - with grand but childish goals. Who actually demands enough money to cripple the British government? And expect to get it, no matter how many people will get killed? It's like something out of Austin Powers. Perhaps she's meant to display a major but not at first obvious personality disorder to contrast with Sherlock's own issues - possibly histrionic personality disorder? (Disclaimer: really, really not at all qualified to say anything about psychiatric disorders - I'm working off of Wikipedia here.)

*looks at wall of text* Apparently I have Feelings about this episode and didn't realize it.

Date: 2012-01-03 09:24 pm (UTC)
meredyth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meredyth
Thank you for your analytical approach to this, because while I hugely enjoyed watching this episode, I was conscious of being uncomfortable about it - and hadn't really stopped to consider why.

Much of what you've elaborated on rings true for me - and while I don't think it's a 'bad' episode consequently, I do think that had these points been better handled or stronger, then it would have been something truly astounding. Sometimes in trying to be too clever, real cleverness is lost in the endeavour.

I also agree, however, that whatever its weaknesses, it remains one of the most intriguing, intelligent and amusing pieces of television around.

I will take issue regarding the mince pies, however. I happen to make an awesome mince pie! ;)

Date: 2012-01-03 09:27 pm (UTC)
luckywitch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] luckywitch
Thank you for 6A! A lot of people have been mentioning it and all I've wanted to do is show that those are signs of arousal! I like your explanation of it the best so far, since I don't think love was a part of it at all.

Anyway, I think I have the sheet scene on a loop in my head and it just makes me have fond memories of the episode, but I agree entirely with where it starts to go down hill.

Date: 2012-01-03 09:45 pm (UTC)
waketosleep: signboard saying 'I have seen the truth and it doesn't make sense' (Default)
From: [personal profile] waketosleep
I agree with some of your points; I think when they likely bring Irene back later she might have changed a bit, become more refined in her plotting and mustache-twirling. But I also think this Irene has some social dysfunctions which put her in line with Sherlock and Moriarty, so it'll be interesting to (hopefully) see where Moff goes with that.

Overall I think this episode suffered from too much to say in 90 minutes. Clearly the writers were as desperate as we were. I expect less hot mess plotting next week. And hopefully less lampshade-hanging, but I already bitched about that on tumblr so I'm over the venting. I want to watch this episode one more time before drawing strong conclusions; I was a bit blindsided by fervour.

Date: 2012-01-03 09:54 pm (UTC)
samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)
From: [personal profile] samjohnsson
I'm going to wait until I see the other two eps, as this one feels like a part I more than anything else. Two thoughts, though.

5. my snap response is that she represents a third path, in contrast to Jim and Sherlock. I, for one, liked how she embraced her sexuality, but that she had no idea how to run a blackmail of that calibre felt...weak. I wonder if this ep was more an "(re-)introduce everyone and make a clear channel of interaction between Jim and Sherlock."

6. I still, after this ep, read Sherlock as asexual, but not absolutely - invoking the "everyone has an exception" rule. The dynamic between Irene and Sherlock read as more intellectual, and if anything, the dynamic between John and Sherlock became even less sexual.

Date: 2012-01-03 11:05 pm (UTC)
tei: Jeremy Brett with a pipe. (SH: Brett-- pipe)
From: [personal profile] tei
This is an excellent post and I agree entirely with... the last paragraph. I liked all of Adler except the bit where she didn't win when that is the entire point of her, but basically I feel about that idiotic decision the way parents feel about the idiotic decisions of their children: I'm not mad, I'm disappointed.

Date: 2012-01-03 11:51 pm (UTC)
gomusing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gomusing
Now that I've read your review, I seem to recall some sort of indignation on Sherlock's behalf when Irene said she has beaten him. I agree with you that her trick wasn't the best to impress Sherlock but she got the job done.

I find it a bit disappointing too that they let Irene go in the end with Sherlock coming to her rescue. Maybe because I liked the idea of Sherlock's 'sentiment' on The Woman who gave him a bit of chase.

Date: 2012-01-04 12:00 am (UTC)
tyger: Vanitas fanart, looking really grumpy. (Vanitas - grumpyface)
From: [personal profile] tyger
Yeah, I think I agree with what you're saying. The final third, in particular, felt really stilted to me, I kept checking the time remaining, because isn't it nearly done yet? What's happening? What are they doing? Why are we supposed to care?

There was no strong narrative, and I couldn't get an emotional connection to sympathise with. Sherlock was portrayed as being miserable, but: why? Intellectually I knew what they were going for, but I wasn't really buying it, either.

And the last scene was really. Well, on the one hand they didn't fridge her - I like Irene in that I think she had a lot of potential for awesome, but just didn't get to live up to it, sigh - but on the other hand FFFF. (Show, I like you rather a lot, but you're so fucking misogynistic. Fff.)

Date: 2012-01-04 01:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I feel as you do and it's been hard because all my friends loooooooooved it. There were parts that I loved but almost none of it had to do with the actual episode, like the Mrs. H love, John's jealousy, Lestrade, MYCROFT, Mycroft and Sherlock, Mycroft and John.

I didn't like Irene. I wanted to like her. I wanted SO MUCH to like her. But honestly I was over it as soon as she drugged Sherlock and beat him with the damn whip. That's not Irene. That's not strength. That's not clever. That's bullying, after that every comment about beating him up just rubbed me wrong.

In a nutshell, I have feelings and no one to talk about them with blifkskx

Date: 2012-01-04 04:03 am (UTC)
kei_rin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kei_rin
This elucidates so much about what I liked and didn't like about this episode. There was at least three separate times where I thought the episode was over and nope it just kept going.

Seriously was in love with the way that the pool scene was resolved and the whole montage of crimes to solve and the bickering over got more traffic online. Cute. Makes my heart smile. The second act was okay and then it fell apart at the end.

I wonder if Moffat even knew what Irene's motivation was because the more I think about her character the more questions about why just come up. In order to make sense of her character a little, I would also like to think that she's lying when she says that she need to consult with Moriarty in order to figure out what to do with the blackmail material. Though I can believe she would use the blackmail material in order to continue playing "I know something you don't know" with powerful people and that eventually this game would lead to many many people wanting to kill her. Which in turn means that she needs protection. But then I don't know why she just doesn't trade the information for protection because that is why she was collecting it in the first place.

I thought the passcode pun was very worthy of an eyeroll. I actually thought the passcode was going to be "JOHN" because I figured she would set it to something that Sherlock would eventually guess but not actually something that comes to mind. But I guess "I am John locked" isn't as good of a pun. I try not to think about the ending other than remembering that Irene lived because the particulars just don't sit right with me. Though I do wonder if John had told Sherlock that Irene was dead; would Sherlock have told John that she's actually alive?

Irene "dying" twice was another thing that just didn't impress. It didn't even have the impact of when Stargate "killed" Daniel Jackson and then brought back again (numerous times) because it the "oh she's dead"/"oh she's alive" happened so quickly as to have no impact. I don't know if I actually like her as character or not, which also doesn't help in when it comes to caring if she lives or dies. And since a good portion of the episode was about her and her interactions with Sherlock makes this a middle of the road season opener for me, especially when the rest of the series so far.

Even with that the show is still one of my favorites and I think it would be interesting to see Irene again in a later episode. When in doubt get more data.

Date: 2012-01-04 04:22 pm (UTC)
oliphaunts: (Default)
From: [personal profile] oliphaunts
I'd been trying to think my way through the whole dilation/pulse thing (I put it down to adrenaline) on Irene's part but couldn't make head or tails of Sherlock's taking that for sentiment -- but your explanation makes so much sense! Or at least it makes more sense than Moffat. >(

And YES, to Irene! So terribly disappointed with the disservice they did to the character; she was so much more awesome in ACD's original, and that was written over a century ago. Though I did think that she'd got hold of some information Moriarty wanted, to keep him off her back, and then she had to get one over Mycroft (and Sherlock) to ensure protection for herself from Moriarty. But that would still imply her getting in too deep over her head, which Irene Adler most assuredly doesn't do in the book. Admittedly there isn't the greater threat of Moriarty as integral to the plot in the book, but still.

On a different but equally important note: BUT MINCE PIES ARE AMAZING.

Date: 2012-01-05 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dontshootmeh.livejournal.com
YES YES AND YES. This is so exactly how I feel about this episode that I couldn't help but make relieved THANK YOU noises while reading.

I had such trouble trying to elaborate why I didn't like it and why I didn't like Irene especially when usually I'm all over characters like her (and I love the original Irene). Her portrayal was just so wrong on so many levels. It wasn't even the oversexualisation but the fact that they made her act so STUPID and then she loses to Sherlock because of her UNCONTROLLABLE FEELINGS for gods sake. She was humiliated for the rest of the episode AND THEN HE SAVES HER LIFE. WHAAAT. The whole point of the original is that she totally OWNS Sherlock and doesn't even break a sweat. I really was expecting something better.

Generally, I agree. :)

Date: 2012-01-24 04:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I do not, and probably never will, understand the fascination with Irene Adler. Even in the original short story, I never really connected with her. She was jilted by some royal dude, but was determined to keep a picture of them together. Why? Because she still liked him? But then she later married the guy she called the love of her life, a British lawyer, and left the country. And that was that.

When I watched A Scandal in Belgravia, I loved the first part of the episode, like you did, but then I was annoyed with Irene Adler. Not because she was a dominatrix or naked or liked sex, but because she was 1) incompetent (she needed Moriarty's help to carry out her schemes), and 2) shockingly selfish and cruel in many ways (helping terrorists, extorting money from the British government -- which ultimately is payed by the British public, and generally not demonstrating any concern for anyone else at all -- including her assistant who's injured).

Also, Sherlock should've been able to deduce something from her earrings or makeup, at least, when they first met. The only excuse, really, is that he was so put off by her nudity.

As for any Sherlock/Irene overtones, I thought they were somewhat plausible in the beginning because, if Moffat's Sherlock is actually a virgin, he might simply be confused and flattered by her incessant flirting, rather than actually in love. His inexperience and curiosity might prompt him to consider the possibility that he's interested in her (despite the way she drugged and beat him, which I fail to find sexy in any way). And Irene's clearly playing a part; she's not in love with Sherlock. She's using him, as she's used so many others. She might find him attractive, but lust is not love. But Sherlock's interest would absolutely and irrevocably die after she embarrassed him in front of Mycroft. That, more than anything, would seal it for him. His pride is very important to him, especially when it comes to his brother.

The worst part of all, though, was clearly the bit at the end, where Sherlock "rescues" Irene. It's cliche and horribly low budget in execution (especially compared to the rest of the episode, which is very slick) and not motivated at all. The episode would have been much better without that last bit. It's definitely frustrating.

(On the subject of Sherlock's sexuality, or lack thereof, I never got the impression that he was actually asexual. Just guarded and awkward. He's certainly got emotions in spades, and cares deeply about others -- John and Mrs. Hudson, at least. He probably just thinks sex is weird and yucky, mostly because, before John, he'd never before been around anyone who could stand him and he actually liked.)

Date: 2013-04-28 11:00 pm (UTC)
johnny_penn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] johnny_penn
Overall I kinda liked this Irene Addler, but it's true what you say, she's kinda confused while the one in the Guy Richie Films had a distinct plan - even if it was The Professors plan - and she got Sherlock there naked and that's pretty epic.

I look forward to you discussions on all things Sherlock.

I agree on John's Christmas sweater, both theories appeal to me and now I want to write that.

I'll tell you what though, I just can't watch the last episode all the way through. I got the second series as a Christmas gift this past year and have only watched the first two episodes, I have seen the third one online thanks to PBS. But now that I own it, I just can't make myself go through that horribleness that is angst and Moriarty fucking with people, even though I know Sherlock is all right in the end.