'Sherlock' Episode 3: 'The Great Game' // Words: Saam Das
SYNOPSIS: "A strange clue in an empty room, a blood-soaked car, a priceless Old Master, a deranged bomber. With the clock ticking, the curtain rises on a battle of wits between Sherlock, John and the shadowy stranger who seems to know all the answers..." (bbc.co.uk)
At the end of my middling review of 'The Blind Banker' (the second of this three part mini-series), I stated my cautious optimism that 'The Great Game' would be a return to form. And so it was, although perhaps not quite as brilliant as the opening episode.
'The Blind Banker' was written by neither Steven Moffat or Mark Gatiss, the co-creators of this contemporary re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and felt somewhat out of place. 'The Great Game' saw Gatiss take over writing duties and as a result, a welcome degree of familiarity returned. Mycroft returned! DI Lestrade returned! Even the nicotine patches were back! Hurrah!
The stakes too were raised. 'The Great Game' pitched Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) against Moriarty, the ultimate villain of this imagined world. Watson (Martin Freeman) was left to deal with the somewhat irrelevant sub-plot (admittedly referencing original Conan Doyle material) involving the death of a man and the theft of missile defence plans, leaving Holmes to tackle five cases that Moriarty had pushed his way. The catch being that each case had a time limit in which Sherlock had to solve the conundrum, otherwise an innocent person would be blown up by Moriarty.
Thus, 'The Great Game' had Sherlock at his most brilliant, even managing to solve one of the cases when there was just ten seconds remaining. Strangely though, Gatiss also characterised Sherlock at his most irritating. The opening (and seemingly unnecessary) scene had Sherlock continuously correcting the language of a man pleading with him to help stop his execution. Not soon after, we find Sherlock shooting his wall because he was "bored". And most bizarre of all, the revelation that Sherlock did not know the solar system was helio-centric. You know, where the Earth traverses the Sun. As Watson pointed out, primary school stuff. Hmm.
Regardless, Sherlock's general brilliance overshadowed these niggles and undoubtedly, Sherlock needs those flaws, otherwise we would be denied his wonderful dynamic with Watson. This relationship is brought under threat in the final scene of the episode, which I don't wish to spoil in case you haven't had a chance to see it so will only minimally discuss henceforth. MORIARTY! CLIFFHANGER! RIDICULOUS ONE LINERS! OVERACTING! There you go.
Despite the rather over-the-top "ending", I was more than satisfied with the episode on the whole and with a new series having been commissioned, there's much to look forward to. Especially if the people on the internetz are correct with their belief that all is not what it seems character-wise.
Anyway, there were numerous highlights from the series (Watson being a blogger is a personal favourite for obvious reasons, the Bourne-esque sequence from 'A Study In Pink', Cumberbatch and Freeman's dynamic) and numerous ridiculous moments (the pantomime villains that keep appearing particularly make me cringe) providing a mixed but mostly positive introduction to this new BBC drama. It will hopefully have also turned people on to the fantastic Conan Doyle source material.
Unfortunately, we have quite a wait till the fully fledged series so if you're already suffering Sherlock withdrawal symptoms, the DVD/Blu-Ray (the unaired pilot + the three TV episodes) will be out at the end of August. It's also worth visiting the support groups that are Sherlocking and Fuck Yeah, Sherlock. The latter of which I have cribbed a couple of the above photos from. Many thanks.
Watch on BBC iPlayer until 10:29pm, 15th August 2010. Please share your thoughts on the series in the comments, would love to hear them.
READ OUR OTHER 'SHERLOCK' REVIEWS:
Series 2, Episode 3: 'The Reichenbach Fall' (2012)
Series 2, Episode 2: 'The Hounds Of Baskerville' (2012)
Series 2, Episode 1: 'A Scandal In Belgravia' (2012)
Series 1, Episode 2: 'The Blind Banker' (2010)
Series 1, Episode 1: 'A Study In Pink (2010)
UPDATE: Purchase 'Sherlock' Series 1 on DVD at Amazon.co.uk or the DVD boxset.