It’s been almost six years since the first episode of Sherlock was first aired. As a coping mechanism to survive the wait until Season 4, and out of pure nostalgia, I decided to complete a full re-watch and re-review of the series. Check back each week for new posts on this feels trip down memory lane…
“A Study in Pink”
Where it all began… A limping and PTSD-ridden Dr. John Watson, with a therapist encouraging him to blog about the events in his daily life. Sad John, however, says that “Nothing happens to me.”
We’re then taken to the scenes of three apparently unrelated deaths: ”suicides” of individuals who were believed to have been quite happy with life…only these deaths were all brought on by the same form of poison. Scotland Yard, and our favourite Detective Inspector Lestrade, decide to reveal what they can about this string of “suicides” in a press conference, but most of his remarks and statements are quickly followed by a mass receiving of the same text message: “Wrong.” Gotta love Mr. Holmes. He’s straight to the point, but hardly ever offers explanation. It’s just simply “wrong.”
And then we’re back to John, who stumbles across (no pun intended…or was it?) an old military friend who, although he only has about 10 minutes of screen time, is an extremely important part to the start of this story. Think about it. His response to John’s ”Who’d want a flat with me?” is really what started it all.
Cut to the mortuary, where we finally meet Sherlock Holmes himself, beating a corpse with a stick. No big deal…right?
John arrives with his friend, and is very quickly surprised by Sherlock’s on-the-spot deductions and assumptions. (We’ve all been there, John. Or maybe we still are there, but have just accepted it…) Sherlock appears to be on his way out after their brief introductions/deductions, but stays long enough to utter the phrase that started this feels trip way back in 2010: “The name’s Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221b Baker Street. wink “ (I’ve seen the episode many times, but fangirl over this the exact same way every. single. time.)
The next day, they meet at Baker Street, and we’re introduced to Mrs. Hudson, still the best landlady (not housekeeper) ever. Also, we meet the skull on the mantelpiece. Important stuff.
It isn’t long before Lestrade arrives, saying he needs Sherlock’s help on a case–the mysterious sort-of-connected suicides. Sherlock begins to exit the flat, but then returns to convince a very willing, adventure/adrenaline-deprived John to join him.
At the crime scene, we’re introduced to the characters of Sergeant Donovan (whose use of the word “freak” in place of Sherlock’s name continues to irritate the protective fangirl in me) as well as Anderson (who we only like because we know how he ends up later in the series). The dead body–a woman, dressed all in pink–is examined by both Sherlock and John. The woman appears to have carved the letters R A C H E into the wooden floor, using her fingernails. Sherlock quickly runs off after realizing something that he, as usual, doesn’t bother to tell anyone else.
This leaves John to navigate back to Baker Street alone…only he finds himself being tracked by a mysterious sort of ‘villain.’ As we–but at this point, not John–know, this is big brother Mycroft Holmes. (This is such a great scene to watch as a returning viewer; when you know about the future events involving these brothers, you appreciate their relationship even more.) After receiving a series of ‘urgent’ messages from Sherlock, and after agreeing to not be Mycroft’s personal Sherlock-spy, John rushes back to 221b to find Sherlock self-medicating in the form of nicotine patches.
It turns out the ‘urgent’ matter was that Sherlock only wanted John to send a text. He reveals that, after exiting the crime scene earlier, he found the suitcase belonging to the woman in pink, and that her phone was missing from it. A baffled John sends the text, in the hopes of finding this phone. The text includes instructions to meet at a specific address, and the duo leave for this location as soon as they receive a call back from the woman in pink’s number.
They wait in a restaurant with a clear view of the meeting location. (Lots of Johnlock ship opportunities here…) They realize there is a cab waiting outside, not moving, and Sherlock suspects the passenger is the caller. Harnessing his mind palace’s maps (seriously, he’s like a human Google), Sherlock leads John on a chase through alleys and over roofs, trying to intersect with the cab. When they finally (really, it takes quite a while) intersect, they realize the cab passenger is an unsuspecting American, and have nothing better to say than “Welcome to England.” If anything, this gives them a good laugh when they get back to Baker Street.
This is short lived though, since they soon discover Lestrade, Anderson, and the rest of the crew are in the flat…yeah, it’s a drugs bust. I must also mention that perhaps the most iconic line of this show is uttered in this scene: “I’m not a psychopath, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.” (Life motto.)
Sherlock realizes that the carved letters–R A C H E, meant to spell “Rachel”–is the password to access the woman’s phone services, including the phone locator. After a quick search, John realizes that the phone is located right there, at 221b Baker St. Enter a mysterious cab driver, specifically there for Sherlock Holmes…
The cabbie drives Sherlock to an empty school. On the way, he introduces a concept that, to this day, is fresh in the minds off all Sherlockians: a certain “fan” of Sherlock. (I think we all know who he’s talking about now, don’t we?) At the school, in an empty room, the cabbie presents two bottles containing what appears to be the same type of pill–the poison used in the four “suicides.” He offers Sherlock a gamble: choose who takes which pill, and therefore who lives and who dies. Very dramatic and psychotic (er, sociopathic?)
Back at Baker St, John activates the phone locator again, and immediately hails a cab to get to the school. He searches desperately throughout the building, and finally sees Sherlock and the cabbie, through a few windows. (His dedication to Sherlock already is admirable; I mean, he’s only known him for less than 24 hours.) He quickly pulls out a gun and shoots the cabbie, just as Sherlock appears to be making a decision about the pills. As the cabbie lays dying, Sherlock presses for information, demanding to know who his “fan” is. After a bit of torture (isn’t that always the way?), the cabbie manages to exclaim “Moriarty” before dying. (Maybe I should correct what I said earlier. This word alone could be one of the most iconic, or haunting, statements of this show…)
John manages to avoid being caught for shooting the cabbie, but it doesn’t take long for Sherlock to realize it was him. In an act of what might be considered friendship–at least by Sherlock standards–he claims that he does not know who the shooter was.
Sherlock and John begin to leave, but soon encounter Mycroft. John makes the connection that these two acquaintances are brothers; he freaks out about as much as we all did the first time we watched this episode. Of course, there’s a bit of brotherly arguing at this point; ah, so relatable…right?
Cue the end credits, the theme music we love, and the end of Episode 1. I’ve said many times before that this show gets better and better the more you watch it, and I stand by that in this rewatch. That, in my opinion, is the sign of a great show or film. (Of course, having Benedict Cumberbatch is definitely a plus…)
Thanks for reading, and remember to check back next week for the rewatch review of Season 1, Episode 2!