Thursday, December 19, 2013

"A Scandal in Belgravia" (2012)

(Source)
Finally, four months after we finished watching season one of Sherlock, we started season two this past weekend.  About time, right?

First, I need to point out that yes, there's risque stuff in this ep.  But it didn't particularly bother me, and I'm not entirely sure why.  Because it's British?  Because it seemed to be done as tastefully as a story involving a bisexual (lesbian?) dominatrix could be?  (That sentence contains three words that I'm pretty sure have never appeared on my blog before -- highlight them to read.  I hid them so my kids can't stumble on them while I'm writing this.)

I think maybe it's because I had several blogging friends tell me that it was icky and horrid, and so I was expecting overwrought love scenes and/or nudity.  And while there IS a scene where Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) is entirely disrobed, all you see is her bare back or bare legs or bare arms, and then her curled demurely up in a chair.  The visuals are about what you'd get out of a shampoo or shower gel commercial.  As for the content... no one in bed, no groping, just a lot of implications and innuendo.  Sherlock Holmes does not wind up in bed with Irene Adler.  (Whew!)  Would I let my kids watch it?  No!  But I wouldn't let them watch any of this series until they're adults and able to discern the differences between fiction and reality, between actions we should emulate and those we shouldn't.

Second, I need to tell you that Cowboy and I laughed so hard during this episode, especially the first half, that we had to pause it several times because we couldn't hear the dialog.  We had to rewind this scene and watch it twice because it was so funny.


I'm still fuzzy as to why Sherlock was wandering around in a bed sheet to begin with, but no matter -- it was completely hilarious.  I love how stubborn he gets for no reason.  Probably because it reminds me of me.

And this was even a festive episode!  Involves an awkward Christmas party and everything.  How jolly.

I found this episode to be so much more morally complex than the last couple.  The whole idea of temptation, of how we are affected by what we choose to do and not to do -- kind of a rare thing to find in today's society where anything goes.

Unlike the vapid, fluffy Irene Adler from the RDJ movies,  this incarnation is a perfect antagonist for this Holmes.  Sherlock is so used to knowing everything about everybody, and his repeated inability to know what's going on with Irene frustrates and intrigues him.  Irene seems equally fascinated by him, mostly because none of her usual tricks work with him.  She has to go to great lengths to deceive him, though she succeeds at last.


I quite loved the plot twists in this, though that's all I'll say so I don't spoil anything.  They felt inevitable when they happened, but not obvious beforehand.  Everything a good plot twist should be!  So I'll just leave you with this gorgeous image (have I mentioned the awesome cinematography, framing, music, production values as a whole?  Stunning!) and the sad fact that I probably won't be able to watch the next ep until next year.  Sigh.


19 comments:

  1. While I do like aspects of the episode, and overall, it was quite good, it is still my least favorite of the series thus far. My main problem was that Irene was bi, which was completely unnecessary in my opinion. Other than that, this was a very solid premier episode. I enjoyed the next two episodes a lot better though. Good review, I look forward to more of your reviews of the series! :)

    -James

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    1. I liked this one better than "The Blind Banker," but not as well as "The Great Game" or "A Study in Pink." My favorite Holmes canon story is "The Hound of the Baskervilles," so I'm reeeeeeeeeeeally looking forward to the next ep!

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  2. I've only seen the first bit of this episode, and I doubt I'll be seeing the rest of it for a while, but it's nice to hear your thoughts on it. :)

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    1. Well, like I said in my comment above, it's not my first or second fave ep, so I'm not going to be like, "No, dude, it's so awesome!" There's objectionable content, no doubt about it, and if it's across the line between what you will and will not watch, then... don't watch it.

      But if I can find just the scene with Sherlock wrapped in the bedsheet on YouTube or something, I'll post a link here, because it's priceless. And not really connected to the objectionable content at all.

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    2. I did get to that scene, it really is hilarious!! :D John was just trying to grasp everything and why Sherlock was wearing a sheet and he's like, "...Okay. ..."

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    3. John: Are you wearing trousers?

      Sherlock: No

      Both: Bwahahahahahahahahaha! Mwahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Hee hee hee hee heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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  3. Aw, now I wanna watch this again...
    I'm glad you liked it, and I agree about the questionable content, it's not completely ignorable, but seriously, it could have been SO much worse. And this episode was so mind-boggling -- the scene where he figures out her phone password completely wowed me -- and hilarious!! I love that scene at Buckingham Palace too. "Are we here to see the Queen?" *Mycroft walks in* "Apparently, yes." I'm very excited to see what you think of the rest of these, Hamlette!

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    1. My hubby and I keep quoting this ep. Like, multiple times a day. "I am not the Commonwealth!" "Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd that's as humble as he gets."

      Will watch the next one probably the first Friday in January!

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  4. I am with you on the objectionable stuff...I probably won't watch it again, but it was tastefully done, considering. And there were so many parts that were so masterfully done. (Plot twists!)

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    1. I think I will watch it again just because I want to catch all the dialog I missed, which happens to me with every episode. Once I've seen the last 2 eps, I'll probably go back and rewatch them with subtitles.

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  5. Anyone who complains about the nudity in this episode must be reeeally sheltered imo! You are absolutely right, it's no worse than what you'd get in a shower gel or shampoo commercial!

    This is a really nice review. I wouldn't say that this is my absolute favourite Sherlock episode but I still love it a lot. My favourite moments are when Sherlock apologises to Molly for accidentally insulting her - which is genuinely sweet and sincere - and what Sherlock does to the man who attacked Mrs Hudson :D My favourite Sherlock episode is The Reichenbach Fall. I'm not usually a crier but that episode left me in tears. My second favourite is Hounds of Baskerville. I hope you'll love that one as much as I did!

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    1. I grew up quite sheltered, and if I had seen this as a teen, I would have been aghast. Possibly scarred. Having been married for 11 years now probably affected the way I viewed it. And also the fact that, from some of the things that I have read, I was really expecting Sherlock and Irene to have sex, so I was so ecstatic that that didn't happen, which makes me much more cool with the whole episode. Instead, I actually found it really sweet, Sherlock's sort of young-boyish reaction to things, his actual innocence in this one area since he's so world-weary in many others.

      Actually, the nudity didn't bother me at all, really, but the fact that Irene was a dominatrix I did find off-putting. It works really well as an update of "adventuress," which is basically an unscrupulous woman who tries anything to get social or political power. It's just not something I need to see. So I'm glad everything in that regard was implied.

      And oh, the part with the guy who attacked Mrs. Hudson! Sherlock's phone call to the police! His response to Lestrade's question of how often the guy fell out of the window! Priceless.

      And yes, he really was so sweet to Molly after he realized what he'd done. Endearing man who says such awful things.

      I'm super-excited to see "The Hounds of Baskerville" since The Hound of the Baskervilles is my absolute favorite canon adventure. It will be a bright spot in my January! And then I'll watch "The Reichenbach Fall" and be all set for season 3 to arrive :-D

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    2. Browsing through your Sherlock posts I can see that I never replied back to your comment and I did mean to. Still, better late than never!

      I guess I'm just been bemused by reviews for this episode that say it's terrible because of the "nudity" and because it makes Irene a dominatrix. Admittedly I do think that I'm a more liberal viewer than some of the other bloggers that I talk to online (I use the word "liberal" reluctantly here because I've learnt the hard way that it's almost a swear word in conservative Christian circles. The liberal-conservative divide was so confusing to me when I became a Christian!) But I still think that some of the reactions to this episode have been way too over the top. Some reviewers have been acting like they'd just been forced to read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in my opinion :S I know that everyone has different standards but I can't help but think "It's not that bad!"

      My main issue with Irene's character isn't that they made her a dominatrix. Most modern-day viewers simply aren't going to understand what's so scandalous about being an opera singer who had a fling with a man that she didn't marry so an update was necessary. My issue with Irene's portrayal was that they had her ask Moriarty for advice on how to beat Sherlock. To me that undermines the character's independence. I'm also not keen on the fact that they included hints of a romantic attraction between Sherlock and Irene. To be fair they did only hint at it which is better than what many adaptations do but still, I don't like it when adaptations make Irene a love-interest for Sherlock.

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    3. Everyone has their own comfort level -- I read one blog post that advised people not to watch "The Empty Hearse" because it has something so morally repugnant in it that they felt defiled and had to turn it off. I'm assuming they're referring to the implied kiss between Sherlock and Moriarty in what clearly turned out to be someone's imaginings. And that does seem silly, but at the same time, it clearly bothered them.

      And there's that section in the Bible, Romans 14, about how those who are strong in faith can deal with some things that someone of weaker faith might think are wrong. And if that person with weaker faith is bothered in their conscience by those things, then the person who has stronger faith shouldn't flaunt those things or try to force them on the person with weaker faith. In fact, they might have to avoid them to help their weaker brother or sister.

      Which is something I struggle with a lot, even with writing this blog -- I'm choosy about what sorts of movies I watch, but not nearly as choosy as some people, and I sometimes wonder if, by saying, "Oh, I saw such-and-such R-rated movie and it was great!" I might be tempting other people (particularly younger ones) to say, "Oh, Hamlette's a Christian and she watches R-rated movies -- they must not be so bad after all." When the reality is that I avoid movies that are rated R for things like sex, nudity, and so on, but if it's R for violence or profanity, that doesn't bother me usually. (Depends on the movie, obviously.)

      Anyway, you're right, it is a little lame that Irene asked Moriarty for help.

      And I think that Irene was not really a love-interest for Sherlock in this. I think more, her overt sexuality was part of what puzzled him because he himself has no experience and little interest in sex, and so that was part of what fascinated him about her. In the end, it turns out she was more attracted to him than he to her, I think.

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    4. That's an excellent passage to bring up. I love that verse. And I really wouldn't worry about your reviews for R-rated movies. I think you've got a great approach :) When you say that you liked a certain movie you're being genuine, but you'll also mention whether you think it's family-friendly or not which then gives the reader the opportunity to reflect or look it up further. Your reviews are why I started putting film certificate ratings into my own reviews actually.

      Your point about Irene not really being a love-interest is very interesting and I did sense that Irene had more of an attraction for Sherlock than he did for her.

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    5. I've only been doing the "family friendly" paragraph since early 2013, when I participated in the Period Drama Challenge and that was part of what they suggested for a movie review. I realized it's a good idea to let people know what's going on, and it keeps me paying attention too. Anyway, I'm glad I inspired you to include info like that too!

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  6. Favorite part is when Sherlock threw the attacker out the window and he calls Lastrade and later Lastrade is like "How many times did he fall out of the window?" and Sherlock just says "I don't know. I lost count." I died laughing when he did that. I really liked thie episode a lot

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    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I loved that part. You can see Lestrade being simultaneously annoyed and amused, which just cracks me up.

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