Since I'm on Tumblr, it was impossible to avoid some level of spoilage, especially for the final episode. Going into it, I had been a little bit confused about the fan reaction. We can argue about the Western canon and how much people ought to be aware of it, but I think it's fair to say that the Sherlock Holmes stories are a part of that canon and generally in the popular awareness, and though I've never read the stories, I already knew that Holmes died at Reichenbach Falls and was resurrected in a later story. I don't know that I'd call it "common knowledge", but it isn't exactly esoteric, either. When the final episode of the season was called "The Reichenbach Fall", what were people expecting to happen?
So I was actually quite surprised and pleased by the way it was handled in the show: we know from the very beginning of the episode that Holmes is dead, or at least presumed dead, we see Sherlock plotting his escape from death (clearly that's what the last conversation with Molly is about, and there is some very clever blocking after the fall that seems to be meant to keep John away from the "body"). I was also glad that the audience gets a reveal that Sherlock has survived, rather than trying to play some "is he or isn't he" game, and now I understand the "I believe in Sherlock Holmes" reference: fans aren't stating they believe that he's alive, but rather that he's not a fraud. I didn't know what I thought I knew, and I always like having my expectations subverted like that.
Overall, I enjoyed the show very much. Well written, engaging mysteries, stylishly shot and designed. Benedict Cumberbatch -- besides having the best name of any actor, ever -- makes an obnoxious but fascinating Holmes, and I simply adore Martin Freeman's Watson. He's the perfect everyman. Their chemistry is excellent; speaking of which, I certainly see the ways in which a slashy vibe is played up, but I am being my usual slash-resistant self and so far have been reading it as a friendship. A deep, abiding friendship, to be sure. I would even go so far as to say that they love each other -- although sometimes I asked myself why; if the show has a major flaw, it's that John and Sherlock went from strangers to BFF who would kill and die for one another awfully fast. The montage that opened the second season, the one that suggested time passing and lots of cases being solved, should really have been in the second episode. But anyway, strong connection, powerful friendship, but 'shipping? No. It's not taking me there, certainly not as much as the first Guy Ritchie film did (I haven't yet seen the second).
There's also been a lot of talk on the 'Net about the ways in which the series fails its female characters, and I have a hard time arguing with that analysis. Most of the ink has been spilled on Irene Adler, of course; ladybusiness has a good take, much of which I agree with. (Warning, spoilers for both Guy Ritchie movies as well as "A Scandal in Belgravia" at that link.) Has anyone ever done justice to Irene Adler, though? As said above, I haven't read any of the stories, so I can't speak to the original, but it seems to me that the original source material doesn't do much with its few women, either. Not that this excuses Stephen Moffat or any of the others who've adapted and/or updated Conan Doyle for not doing better, but it might serve as something of an explanation. It's not enough to put me off the show -- and I do love Mrs. Hudson -- but it's definitely something to keep my eye on. I do have to wonder: where's Mary Watson? Have we met her already and she just got by us? Or is she still to come?
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