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the purpose of Belgravia?

tumblr_lx8psnIPDH1qh6x31o2_500I’ve been rewatching the first two Sherlock series getting ready for series three, and it’s amazing the things you notice after taking some time off. The Cluedo board pinned against the wall, the skull wearing a Santa hat, the absolute idiocy of Mycroft (I mean, really? Calling your kid brother in to a league he clearly wasn’t ready for is one thing but not warning him about the international element? Muttering code words in his presence?). John’s facial expressions deserve an elegy all to themselves. They’re marvelous.

(Also? Spoilers for Belgravia and vauge ones for Reichenback. So read with caution.)

What really struck me, though, was the complete lack of any kind of central plot, or even much of a connection to the later episodes at all.

Belgravia is extremely episodic. You start with the resolution of the swimming pool and its bizarre ending which, granted, needed to happen. Then there’s all of the rejected cases which are fleshed out in some detail, culminating in the dead hiker. That case was amusing, particularly John’s reactions to Sherlock over the internet, and Lestrade’s initial warning to the local DI, and the fact that Sherlock describes their client the way he does in front of said client is downright hilarious. I laughed out loud at all of those pats. But the thing is, it doesn’t really contribute to any central plot, except to give Sherlock and Irene something specific to discuss later on. Then there’s the whole episode at Buckingham Palace: again, highly amusing (the ashtray? the sheet? the… okay, I’ll stop from rehearsing every detail) but not exactly moving anything forward. And on down the line. There’s no real central crime to solve, no real case holding the whole thing together. And the closest we get to that – who exactly is Irene Adler and to what degree should we trust her? – is one that Sherlock pretty much fails at. He doesn’t work out that she’s not dead; he doesn’t work out she’s a criminal in her own way and so shouldn’t be trusted; he doesn’t even realize she’s not in love with him, or doesn’t seem to. I suppose that last one’s a debatable point, but more simply, he certainly doesn’t get this whole showdown is at least as much about Mycroft as it is about Sherlock.

The whole thing felt more like a melodrama than a crime drama, to be clear. In many ways the humor and the sheer busyness of the episode seemed like a distraction. I suspect there are several things going on here that the viewer is perhaps not supposed to notice:

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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
alexcat
Dec. 28th, 2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
I look forward to the new season but when I originally saw Season 2 as it aired, it was mostly disjointed and annoying to watch. The season finale was the best episode and even it was hard to watch. In fact, we nearly quit watching it because it seemed as if they'd gotten some demented, angsty teen write the scripts.
marta_bee
Dec. 28th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
You know, as I'm rewatching I can definitely see why you and others would think that. "Baskerville" is certainly the most case-driven of the three, and even then that wasn't the real focus. I think what intrigued me is all three seemed to be taking Mycroft's statement that caring is not an advantage and really putting it through its paces, which philosophically is fascinating to me. Thoroughly different from what Doyle did with the character, of course, but I think in all three episodes Sherlock is trying out what it means to experience things emotionally and as someone with more concern for fellow humans. Whether that's a story worth telling is a different matter entirely. The fact that the scriptwriters thought it needed to be told (that being a great mind was insufficient) is a bit insulting at times. But I did find quite a bit about the series very interesting and even moving at times.
alexcat
Dec. 28th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
I think I may dig out my dvds and watch again before the new season begins. One can never have too much Cumberpatch.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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