Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who does double duty by playing Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes) continue their reimagining of Sherlock Holmes in modern day London. The Second Season starts out with one of Holmes’ most famous cases and the introduction of “The Woman,” followed by a demon hound loose on the moors, and ends with the fall, and apparent death, of the detective at the hands of Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott).
Of the three episodes from this season, the first (“A Scandal in Belgravia“) is my favorite. The episode introduces the character of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), the only character to ever best Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. Pulver makes a deliciously conniving Adler and brings out a side in this version of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) we had not seen before.
The second episode, an updating of “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” finds Holmes and Watson (Martin Freeman) on the moors of Dartmoor hunting down a legendary creature brought to life through a hallucinogenic gas created at a nearby military base and used here for nefarious purposes including murder.
The series final episode, “The Reinchenbach Fall,” finds Holmes squaring off against his arch-nemesis Jim Moriarty who slowly destroys the great detective’s reputation, puts his loved ones in danger, and then blackmails Holmes into committing suicide to cement the story that Sherlock Holmes was nothing more than a fraud.
Season Two does have some weak spots, such as the rushed (and unsatisfying) conclusion to the cliffhanger standoff between Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty that ended Season One. I’m also a little miffed that the show didn’t allow Adler to actually beat Holmes in the end, but the rest of the episode works so well I’m willing to let it slide.
As to the apparent death of our hero (don’t worry, he’s coming back next season), the public nature of Holmes’ fall seems to far more problematic to write his return than disappearing in Reinchenbach Falls (as occurs in the original story). Moffat has already stated he knows how Holmes survived and I am looking forward to Holmes return in Season Three where the show will tackle three more classic Holmes mysteries starting with “The Adventure of the Empty House.”
[BBC, Blu-ray $39.98 / DVD $29.98]