The Second Season of the BBC’s modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes picks up right where the first left off – in the standoff between Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) and Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott). The weakest part of the entire episode is how quickly, and somewhat unimaginatively, this storyline is wrapped up. However, the episode will pick up quickly a fun montage of Sherlock’s rising celebrity and then a new case as Sherlock will test his wits against a new adversary – “The Woman.”
“A Scandal in Belgravia,” like the other episodes which have come before, is a modern retelling of a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery. Here Sherlock is enlisted by his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) to retrieve some sensitive photographs from a dominatrix named Irene Adler (Lara Pulver).
Early on the story runs much like “A Scandal in Bohemia” as Holmes is able to trick the woman in showing her secrets only to be outwitted by “The Woman” at the last moment. Here the story continues as Holmes and Adler continue to play a game of cat-and-mouse. Eventually Adler fakes her own death and sends Holmes her password encrypted phone before returning six months later to ask for the detective’s help.
The second part of the mystery involves a secret operation by the British Government that Holmes uncovers and Adler uses to her advantage when it’s revealed she’s been working for Moriarty the entire time. Here again the world’s greatest detective finds himself bested by a woman. However, unlike in the original story, Holmes will turn the tables at the last moment and defeat the woman who has shamed him.
The episode is quite a lot of fun and Pulver is a terrific choice for the role of Adler. The small touches such as how she presents herself to him in their first meeting and her altering Sherlock’s ringtone into a sultry sigh when he receives text messages from her are terrific. Although I’m a little disappointed that the episode doesn’t allow Adler to beat Holmes in the end, how she uses him over the course of the episode does represent a very real defeat of the detective.