We’re thrown head-first into this episode, picking up exactly where the finale of Season 1 ended: the pool. Moriarty. A gun. Need I say more?
So of course, the adrenaline is going strong at this point, and then…”Stayin’ Alive” starts playing. (Jim’s got a good taste in ringtones.) Surprisingly, this phone call is enough to change Jim’s mind and make him walk away from this scene. (It is at this point we, as viewers all exhale, having been holding our breath since, um, the previous episode…)
Over the next several months, John continues to blog about his adventures with Sherlock, reaching a large audience and starting Sherlock’s rise to fame. Then one day, while investigating–or rather, Sherlock video-calling John from the comfort of the flat–a case, they are both requested at Buckingham Palace. Sherlock, of course, refuses to wear pants; completely relatable, don’t you think?
At the palace, they are instructed by Mycroft and a representative of a member of the royal family to retrieve the smartphone of–drumroll please–Irene Adler, or “the Woman,” a dominatrix whose phone contains compromising images of herself and the unnamed royal.
Sherlock and John arrive at Irene’s apartment only to find her expecting them. Also, she’s completely naked. (Talk about strong first impressions…) Obviously, things are a bit awkward between them all at this point, but that doesn’t stop Sherlock from searching for her phone, which he eventually does find, in a passcode-protected safe.
This party gets even more interesting when a group of CIA agents break into the room, demanding Sherlock opens this safe. (No pressure.) At the last second, Sherlock cracks the code, and manages to dodge the gunshots that come from the clearly well-protected safe. He takes the phone, but Irene fights him for it, and uses a sedative to knock him out.
Sherlock wakes up in his room in 221b, extremely dazed and barely able to walk. Irene’s phone is gone, and he starts to receive text messages from her throughout the days that follow.
Flash forward to Christmas Eve at Baker Street. (Note to self: write separate essays on the topic of Sherlock’ lack of regard/respect for emotions, especially Molly’s.) Sherlock receives another text from Irene that leads him to a “gift” from her, which turns out to be her phone. Sherlock believes that this means she is soon going to die, as she would never give up her most guarded possession. A trip to the morgue later proves him right.
The next week–New Year’s Eve–John is unsuspectingly led to (surprise!) Irene herself. Yep, she faked her death; remind you of anyone/everyone else on this show? Sherlock, of course, secretly followed John and came to this conclusion. When Sherlock returns to the flat, he finds Mrs. Hudson being held hostage by the CIA agents, and, well, ends up throwing one of them out the window. (I feel like this needs no explanation. That’s just the kind of thing you’d expect from this show.)
Irene arrives later and reveals that she is still being followed/hunted for the information on her phone. She asks Sherlock to decipher a code that she stole from an official of the Ministry of Defence; being the showoff that he is, Sherlock cracks it in about 5 seconds, revealing the code to be airline seating numbers. Irene sneaks this information to Moriarty (again, surprise!), who then texts Mycroft and reveals that he’s now aware of the MOD’s plans to allow a terrorist attack on a flight to occur.
Sherlock meets Mycroft at Heathrow airport, and the elder brother explains that the flight to be attacked would contain only the bodies of those who are already dead, so as to eliminate casualties of the attack. However, the terrorists became aware of these plans due to Sherlock’s involvement in cracking the code and discovering this information.
Back at Baker Street, Irene demands protection from Mycroft in exchange for the contents of her phone. She also denies Sherlock’s assumption that she is attracted to him, but as in most cases, he proves her wrong; pulse and pupil dilations never lie, apparently. (Let’s reveal our love for each other using science. Isn’t this getting romantic?) Because of this conclusion, Sherlock finally realizes the passcode to her phone, which he’s been trying to decipher all episode. I AM “SHER” LOCKED. (And thus, the screen’s of many a fangirls’ phones were changed…) Mycroft refuses to provide her protection, and she leaves.
Months later, Mycroft intercepts John and reveals to him that Irene Adler is dead, killed by terrorists in Pakistan, and that Sherlock should be told that she is alive and under witness protection in America. John agrees to tell Sherlock, hoping it will help him get over his feelings, whether good or bad, towards “the Woman.” Sherlock takes the news fine, and scrolls through the phone, reading messages sent between him and Irene. A flashback reveals that he travelled to Pakistan several months ago, and rescued Irene from being killed. (Don’t you just love a good plot twist?)
Fade to black, credits roll, stare at a wall and try to take it all in. This episode started with a bang and the action just didn’t stop until the final frame; although that’s probably one of the reasons we love this show so much. Perhaps my favourite thing about this episode though, is the revealing of a different side of Sherlock: a side that almost seems to love, or is at least affected by love. Irene seems to be the first person Sherlock can’t deduce; that right there says a lot about his confusion and feelings towards her.
Definitely another fine example of an episode that gets better with every view.
Check back next week for the rewatch of Season 2, Episode 2!