Welcome back to week 2 of the feels trip that is a Sherlock rewatch!
The Blind Banker
What better way to start an episode of a very British show than with tea? (Granted, it’s Chinese, but still, tea.) We’re introduced to Soo Lin, an employee of a museum, who suddenly disappears after witnessing something mysterious and threatening one night at the museum.
Got your attention? Perfect, cue the opening credits.
It’s an average day on Baker Street. John’s grocery shopping, Sherlock’s fighting a masked figure in the flat…another day, another metaphorical dollar.
After receiving an email from an old college “friend,” Sherlock takes John to a massive financial trading office, the workplace of Sebastian, the said “friend.” He reveals that there was a break-in, only the intruder did not take anything–they just spray painted a set of symbols on a wall.
Sherlock determines that the symbols represent a threat of some kind, and were intended for someone specific–a Mr Van Coon, the Hong Kong financial trader of the office. They make their way to this trader’s apartment, and we’re treated to the best (and cutest) “break-in” ever witnessed on screen.
(Such a sweet-talker. Like, how could you say no to that face?!)
Sherlock explores the apartment, leaving John outside alone. (What a great friend, right?) It doesn’t take long for him to find Van Coon…his body, anyway.
Enter Scotland Yard, led by Detective Inspector Dimmock, who immediately assumes this death was a suicide. Sherlock’s keen observation, of course, suggests it was a murder. (Life tip: make sure people know whether you’re left- or right-handed. It could prove to be very useful information if you’re murdered in a way as to appear suicidal. Just saying.) Another death, nearly identical, occurs soon after to a journalist by the name of Brian Lukis. And by identical, I mean identical–the same death threat symbol is found, in a library Lukis visited just before he was killed.
John, meanwhile, is on the hunt for a job, and finds one at a local surgery. (And let’s just say the dullness of the job is completely overlooked by him once he meets Sarah, the woman who runs it. He’s oh so smitten…)
Through studying the belongings and schedules of the two murdered men, Sherlock and John realize that both men had just recently come home from China, and visited a specific shop when they returned. In visiting this shop, Sherlock starts to crack the code of the death threats by determining that they represent a numeral system.
In search of Soo Lin, Sherlock enters her apartment, but instead of finding her, he’s attacked by a masked figure who manages to escape, after nearly strangling him. (Yeah, this scene escalated pretty quickly.)
John and Sherlock continue their search into the meaning of these symbols, after finding them painted on a statue at the museum (the death threat targeted at Soo Lin, who is still mysteriously absent.) They seek the help of a professional–Raz, a young graffiti artist. (You really feel for John in this episode though. Poor guy is ditched at Raz’s graffiti scene and taken to court for it.)
That night, Raz finds the symbols painted on other graffitied walls, and shows Sherlock and John. The longest message, much more complex than the death threat, is found by John, and by the time he brings Sherlock to see it, it’s been erased. For once, John is ahead of Sherlock, and reveals that he took a photo of it. (High five Dr Watson!)
They finally find Soo Lin in hiding at the museum, and she reveals that the code is the ‘language’ of the Black Lotus Tong, a smuggler gang in which she used to belong. In revealing this information, she is killed by her brother, a member of the Tong. Sherlock discovers that Van Coon and Lukis were also members of this gang, and were killed because one of them was suspected for stealing one of the antiquities they were smuggling.
Soo Lin deciphered just enough of the symbols to reveal that it is a book cipher, so Sherlock makes a request to an even further baffled Inspector Dimmock–bring all the books belonging to the two victims to 221b Baker Street. And so begins a night-long party for John and Sherlock, trying to decode the message using Soo Lin’s clue. Due to this all-nighter, John doesn’t do well on his first day at work, and is caught sleeping on the job.
This doesn’t stop him from asking Sarah on a date, however. At Sherlock’s, um, suggestion, he takes her to a Chinese acrobatic circus…only to discover, when they arrive, that Sherlock will be joining them on this “date.” (Admit it, we all have that one friend…)
During the circus performance, Sherlock sneaks backstage to search for more information, certain this Chinese group is connected to the Black Lotus gang and the murders. He’s attacked again (really, that’s happening a lot this episode) but manages to escape with John and Sarah back to the flat.
John and Mary are kidnapped by Shan, the leader of the Black Lotus, who has mistaken John for Sherlock. (I think it’s safe to say the past few days really haven’t been John’s best.) Shan threaten’s John with Sarah’s life, in exchange for revealing the location of the item stolen by Van Coon or Lukis.
Back at Baker Street, Sherlock cracks the book cipher using a London atlas, and rushes to John’s and Sarah’s rescue.
He also realizes that the stolen item from China is a jade hairpin, stolen by Van Coon and given as a gift to his secretary (cough more than a secretary cough.)
And that wraps up that mystery. Bit of a rollercoaster ride, even to the rewatcher.
The final scene of the episode shows Shan contacting a person named “M” (!!!) who seems to have been a helpful figure in establishing the London reaches of the Black Lotus. M indicates that they do not believe Shan will succeed in helping him, and Shan is immediately killed by a sniper. Cue the end credits and FREAK OUT BECAUSE “M”
Like I said, this episode’s a rollercoaster. It’s a great mix of action, suspense, and the humour–whether intentional or unintentional–that you come of expect of this show, and it gets more enjoyable every time.
Thanks for reading part 2 of our Sherlock rewatch! See you next week – things will get intense as we approach the finale of Season 1. No matter how many times you watch it, you’re killed slowly by feels.