“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”
– Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet
Although Endodo has already made the official announcement, please allow me to personally welcome you on our journey through the brilliant, manically artistic world that is Sherlock BBC, so… Welcome to the first ever Sherlock Saturday! I shall act as your main tour guide on our thrilling [and hopefully, most enlightening] expedition, though fear not—Endodo and Arwen will definitely be popping in often to provide input. Although they call me Shadowfax, you may call me SF [though you may know me already as the far-too-verbose Purple One in our ongoing Lord of the Rings recaps].
The way Sherlock Saturdays are going to work is as follows: starting with this week, every other Saturday will be a recap Saturday. The in-betweens will largely feature goodies ranging from graphics [made by yours truly], live chats, metas, our recommendations from our fellows in the Sherlock fanbase, and so much more. It’s a long ways till season 3, but we’re looking at a good time all the same. Join the fun!
Now for a bit of shameless self-advertising: yesterday happened to be May 4th, known fondly to some as “May-the-4th-be-with-you” day, known nostalgically to others as the anniversary of Reichenbach Falls, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sent Sherlock Holmes tumbling to his death, locked in a struggle with his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty. I have made a graphic based on Sherlock BBC to commemorate the occasion, which Arwen has kindly hosted on her blog. I warn you however, that if you have not finished the second season, it is Extremely Spoiler Heavy. Proceed at your own risk.
Anyway, enough with the chatter, no? As they say, the Game is afoot but one last thing before we start, a little bit of a background track to enjoy during the recap—this is the Opening Title of Sherlock. Fitting for the first part of our recap project, no?
JOHN WATSON (Martin Freeman) jolts awake from his nightmare with a choked off yell. It takes a few moments before he manages to recognize his sparsely decorated room, even longer before he is able to breathe normally again. A sleepless night fading into dawn finds him limping about the flat, leaning heavily on his cane. He pulls open a drawer to retrieve his laptop, revealing that he has stashed his handgun away therein and proceeds to stare at the empty page of “The Personal Blog of Dr. John H. Watson”. The text-selection cursor blinks at him, but doesn’t move.
“Yea, good,” he tells his therapist later when she asks about the progress of his blog. He clears his throat as though trying to make the lie come out smoother, “Very good.” She isn’t buying it and attempts to convince him writing in his blog will help him transition from soldier to civilian life. John merely looks at her like she doesn’t have a clue—he’s already transitioned as best he knows how, by putting his gun away. Now what? Nothing ever happens to him, and he doesn’t fit in with civvies.
On October 12th a businessman named Jeffrey Patterson disappears en route home from the airport and is found in an abandoned high rise where he commits suicide. On November 26th young James Fillmore leaves his friend in the pouring rain to run home for an umbrella. He is found dead in the morning at the sports center. On January 27th Beth Davenport, the Junior Minister for Transport, vanishes drunk from her own birthday party even after her aides had confiscated her car keys. She is found dead in a building site in Greater London.
A press conference is called to investigate what they call “serial suicides”, with Detective Inspector GREG LESTRADE (Rupert Graves) fielding questions and Sergeant SALLY DONOVAN (Vinette Robinson) officiating the proceedings. Once the floor opens, the reporters fire away: “How can suicides be linked?” asks a first [“took the same poison”, “were all found in places they had no reason to be”, “showed no prior indication of (being suicidal)”]. It is at the second question that something curious happens.
“These three people, there’s nothing that links them?”
“There’s no link found yet, but we’re looking for that, there has to be one.”
Immediately, there is a chorus of chirps and buzzes around the room. Each reporter checks their phone to see a single, texted word: “Wrong!” Lestrade and Donovan have received these texts as well, and the sergeant is quick to ask everyone to “just ignore that”. The same reporter speaks up:
“If they’re suicides, what are you investigating?”
“Yes, well, these suicides are clearly linked. Um, it’s an unusual situation, we’ve got our best people investigating—”
Before Lestrade can finish his sentence, he is interrupted by the same combination of chirps, beeps, and buzzes. Again all of the reporters pick up their phones to read: “Wrong!” A woman reporter from the back pipes up and asks how people can keep themselves safe. “Don’t commit suicide,” is the DI’s glib response, to which Donovan says quietly into her hand, “Daily Mail”. Lestrade appears to be resisting the urge to roll his eyes but he does elaborate. [I’m sensing some commentary against the Daily Mail, Messrs. Moffat and Gatiss…]
“Obviously this is a frightening time for people but all anyone has to do is exercise reasonable precautions. We are all as safe as we want to be.”
Immediately, texts alerts: “Wrong!” Lestrade receives a different text this time: “You know where to find me. SH”. He sighs [in annoyance? resignation?] and leaves the room. Donovan trails on his heels complaining about this yet mysterious “he” who is ruining the task force’s reputation. This scene foreshadows wonderfully each individual’s attitude towards this particular “he”: Donovan disgusted and frustrated, Lestrade resigned and coping [barely].
One morning, as John walks through the park (leaning heavily on his cane), he happens upon an old schoolmate, MIKE STAMFORD. The subject comes up that John is currently looking for accommodations and can’t afford to stay in London without a roommate. Stamford happens to know just the man who may be able to help.
We meet SHERLOCK HOLMES (Benedict Cumberbatch) for the first time in the mortuary, where we are greeted by him both sniffing a cadaver and striking it repeatedly with a riding crop. MOLLY HOOPER (Louise Brealy), the pathologist at Bart’s, appears to have a bit of a massive crush on the detective [and I’m sure we can all see why], but Sherlock is completely clueless. Poor Molly.
Sherlock goes up stairs into the lab, and looks up only once when Stamford brings John in. After borrowing John’s phone to send a text message, Sherlock fires off a series of seemingly disjointed questions and facts, culminating in “Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.” John is, to say the least, bewildered at this turn of events, and understandably so. He’d not even met the man for a total of five minutes and apparently they were to get a flatshare. He puts up a protest, stopping Sherlock at the door. [This particular look we shall see frequently throughout the series. I personally call it John’s “You’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-but-I-am-not-amused” face version 1.0.]
“Is that it? We’ve only just met and we’re going to go look at a flat. We don’t know a thing about each other, I don’t know where we’re meeting, I don’t even know your name.”
What follows is textbook Sherlock Holmes, explaining his deductions at breakneck speed, hardly pausing for breath. Judging from the look on John’s face, Sherlock’s interpretations are correct [as they usually are]. Before he leaves, he introduces himself to the viewers and into John’s life, “The name is Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B Baker Street.” And with a wink, he is out the door.
John stumbles a bit, leaning more heavily on his cane. He is clearly overwhelmed, which seems to be a trend for everyone who meets Sherlock for the first time. [We get it John, we do. If he winked at us like that, we’d be feeling a little wibbly too.] “He’s always like that,” Stamford confirms matter-of-factly.
Even based on how little we know of Sherlock at this point, we certainly hope so!
Whew! That was a tad harder than I realized, trying not fangirl excessively over Benedict Cumberbatch. I think managed for the most part? [Okay yes, I admit, that was a rather large block of gratuitous Sherlock photos about a page up, but c’mon, how can you resist that face? Err, I mean, it was totally for the sake of the recap because he’s the main character. So, you know, the readers could recognize him in the future. Really.] There are two completely Sherlock-unrelated photos of him above this paragraph, you say? Nahh, you must simply be seeing things [and if you’re right, what wonderful, drool-worthy things you must be seeing, too!].
The series starts off [literally] with a bang and, within the first thirty seconds, the writers have neatly laid the groundwork for some pertinent, real-time social commentary on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. John is representative of the soldiers who return home from war, so acclimatized to the constant, elevated levels of stress and violence that civilian life seems, well, dull in comparison. [Yes, the word choice is intentional.] Some soldiers find it difficult to adjust once they return, and in some more severe cases, they may tend towards riskier behavior to try and recapture the adrenaline rush they used to get from the battlefield.
Some of you may have heard of the movie, “The Hurt Locker” (2008) which deals particularly with the psychological trauma of war on soldiers who manage to return home after a tour of duty. The movie stars Jeremy Renner [currently playing Hawkeye in the megablockbuster “Avengers” movie—anyone going to see that? :D] and has since been nominated for nine Academy awards and has won six Oscars, six BAFTA Awards, and numerous honors from various other film organizations. I highly recommend it—it’s a fantastic, gritty movie with an unrelenting message that makes its point without pandering to an audience’s blissfully unaware sensibilities. Aaand, with that, I’ll leave off the topic as I am the one of us three without a psychology degree. [Perhaps either Endodo or Arwen would care to pick up the topic in a future Sherlock Saturday…?]
The first three victims of the “serial suicides” don’t appear to have anything connecting them whatsoever, other than the facts that Lestrade points out during the press conference. Quite cleverly however, Mofftiss [Moffat and Gatiss, the writers] have included enough hints to give you an idea if you were paying attention. If you’ve never seen the episode before, quick! it’s your chance to be Sherlock Holmes! If you have seen the episode, then you’ll discover that hindsight is indeed 20/20 and oh-my-goodness-why-didn’t-I-notice-earlier?! It’s quite amusing, all told.
I honestly can’t properly verbalize my adoration for Cumberbatch’s depiction of Sherlock Holmes. There has never been a Sherlock Holmes quite like his, not even Robert Downey Jr.’s version in the Warner Brother’s production [which I tend to see as a lukewarm mix between Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and the Holmes of ACD canon]. Suffice it to say that we’ll get to see more instances where Sherlock-batch is shown to be remarkably, shall we say, original in his interpretation of the legendary detective. [If you’re not interested in crime dramas, it’s worth watching the series for those reactions alone, not even going to lie.] For now, I just have two words for you: riding crop. Yea, exactly.
Next Time on Sherlock Saturday:
I’m working on what I call a “quote graphic” for the post next weekend, which is exactly what it sounds like: I will pair a memorable quote taken from the part recapped the previous week and pair it with screenshots. Voila, quote graphic! You may look forward to at least one of these every other week, but for goodness’ sake, don’t be afraid to share your favorite quotes from the series as well! I love suggestions, and more ideas invariably lead to more graphics anyway. Win-win for all concerned? I think so!
There are whisperings of a live chat taking place next weekend, but the rumors have not yet been confirmed. Will update with news once obtained. [Cue Mission Impossible theme song.]
Screenshots [some lighting, crop, and other edits done by SF]
Benedict Cumberbatch Photos
Hurt Locker Photos