Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In-Class Movie: "The Great Game" (Sherlock, 2010)

“A simple case, and yet, in some ways, an instructive one,” Holmes remarked, as we travelled back to town.”

--Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”

Austin: We’re back! Again! We keep having these random little hiatuses but we never really leave. We just keep climbing up the Reichenbach Falls, jumping off, messing around for a bit and then come back to the world we know so well. Apologies are on my end this time but now we’re back. Instead of reviewing a Jeremy Brett movie, I thought it’ll be best to change up our plans to review our next episode of Sherlock since that might be of more interest to our readers.

We’re now up to the Season One finale where from the first scene we return to the edge that Sherlock seemed to be missing in "The Blind Banker". He’s mocking someone who is about to die, he’s shooting his own apartment, he’ll probably get around to taking care of that head in his fridge. This is all because he’s bored and the show’s response is to get him a wheelbarrow’s full of plots all with different degrees of danger.

Honestly, this is better than abandoned smelly leftovers. Watson shouldn't complain so much.

In the first two episodes, we had one plot and barely and subplots to deal with for 80 minutes. This is dramatically different where it feels like they’re adapting an entire anthology. Mycroft wants stolen missile plans back, a bomber is setting up a series of mysteries to solve and this is all happening while Sherlock is desperate to use any free minute he has to figure out who is Morarity.

I found this to be very successful because of the time limits with the bombers. They made the possible bomber victims very sympathetic because of how scary their situation is. I found the subplot with Watson earning his stripes to be a bit lacking because government secrets is just gibberish at this point because we know it won’t have any actual impact on our characters and their world. So that is lesser priority even though Martin Freeman is fantastic in those scenes.

What did you think of the format of this show? Was it too messy for you or did it all fit like a crazy explosive puzzle?

Leigh: As I've mentioned before, I watched this show one summer when I didn't have anything else to do except watch Netflix. I loved the first episode and felt like the second episode was just a vehicle to get me to the third episode. Does the third episode make sense 100% of the time? No. Was it an absolute blast to watch? Yes. Oh yes. Definitely yes. This is the only season finale to make me actually shout at my computer, at like 3 AM, much to my neighbor's dismay. 

This episode is great because it uses so many different points from the stories, and in interesting ways, and makes Sherlock work. The first two episodes, we don't see Sherlock work for it. He just shows up, looks at some things and figures out the multi-layered mystery. In this case, we have Sherlock actually running around trying to figure out the clues and plots before half of London is blown up. And almost gets it wrong. And doesn't win all of the time which is nice to see.

Now, the individual mysteries. When thinking back about this episode, I forget that all of that actually happens in only one episode. There is SO much going on that sometimes the plot gets lost and muddled. It would've been nice if something was dropped so other things could be expanded and explained a bit more. I would've liked Sherlock to explain his homeless network just a bit more, maybe like even a line of dialogue more. There is so much going on that I didn't recognize the homeless woman the second time she showed up when I watched this episode the first time. And I honestly still don't really understand the Golem's role in this all. He was hired by the gallery director? Or Moriarty? Or both? 

But then there's that finale. Holy crap. What did you think about Jim in IT? Does that reveal make up for the rest of the muddled episode? 

Here is the advent of Tumblr.

Austin: What made you shout?

That is something this episode gets to do really well: play in the entire playground of Sherlock’s world. "The Blind Banker" was able to focus on the one story, but this allows to jump around all parts of London to see how everybody functions with the whole spectrum of Sherlock villains. More than enough way to challenge Sherlock.

In fact, I love what they do to Sherlock. It was as if Moriarty was testing his vulnerabilities. He presents Sherlock a child’s shoe, the mysteries of space, reality TV and even a flirting encounter. I thought the use of Jim was absolutely brilliant. They had tricked me once when I thought Mark Gatiss was Moriarty  but to put him right in front of our face in the middle of chaos was incredible. I spent the gap between Season One and Two really defending Morarity because some people thought he was too flashy. To me, all of these tests is a way of mocking Sherlock. Look what you aren’t able to do or understand. Morarity is able to have friends and girlfriends and hide himself amongst the public and Sherlock can’t. Then he can be smarter because ultimately if he wanted to, he could kill Sherlock and Watson. 

Even if it’s a bit hard to figure out how the pieces fit together, I enjoy the rapid fire storytelling and the constant feels of stakes. (I think Moriarty hired the Golem to bring Sherlock to the museum as well as giving him more of a lethal challenge; it was getting too easy for him.) Ultimately this brings out the real Sherlock and I think it’s Cumberbatch’s best performance in the season. In fact it’s something I miss in the later seasons because he feels like so much of an outsider. It is a blend of a reality we recognize and one where a psychopath can create a great game. In the later seasons it feels like Sherlock is the king of his own world, here is can sometimes disappear in the crowd. 

I sit among the angels but I am not one of them. Actually scratch that, this guy is guilty.

We’ll get to see more of Sherlock and Moriarty in the next season but what do you think about the two of them and the worlds they create for themselves? Also how does Watson fit into it all?

Leigh: I shouted when they're all standing in the pool, tension is rising and then BAM! CREDITS. The most frustrating season finale. Until, you know, the next season. 

Put your hands up and...

I, too, was fooled by Gatiss as Moriarty. I thought it would've been cool to just introduce him right up front but having him be Mycroft instead works well too. I am a big Moriarty fan. I think that, while it isn't canon accurate, this representation of him is the best I've seen. He's smart. He knows it. And he knows that he can beat Sherlock Holmes. So instead of just beating him, he's toying with him. Making Holmes a part of his web of crime. It's so subtle that even Holmes doesn't realize this. Moriarty is SO GOOD that he was literally right under Holmes' nose and Holmes didn't even know it. He had no idea that Jim from IT was a mastermind criminal. Moriarty has created his world very meticulously. He even has a spot and a purpose for Sherlock Holmes who really just seems to be a player in Moriarty's play at this point.

And can we take a second to give a shout out to Molly who broke up with one of the most dangerous men in the world and lived to tell the tale. I bet that break up talk was awkward and hilarious. I want to see this now. Moffat should make that happen.

I think Watson is Holmes' heart in this series. He's always a loyal companion and biographer, but in this series he really brings out Holmes'  humanity. In the canon, he tends to just scoff and chuckle at Holmes when he's being "like an automaton." But in this series, Watson points out the things that Holmes should pay attention to, from the mundane like the solar system to the more important things like the people who are strapped to bombs. He's showing Holmes how to become more human and that some of those pesky human things are important. I'm gonna be really nerdy here but Watson is to Moriarty as Love is to Voldemort. I think that's the best explanation I have. Watson might be seen as a weakness to Moriarty but he is a driving force to keeping Holmes active and sharp. 

I loved the pacing of this episode. I wasn't complaining when I said that when remembering this episode, it felt like more than one episode. I get distracted a lot while watching things, especially on the computer since Twitter and Candy Crush are right there, but this is an episode that I can sit down and watch with very little interruption. I think my only interruption while watching it this past weekend was to talk to my boyfriend about when we were seeing Godzilla. Even though I knew what was going to happen and the fact that I've seen this episode numerous times, I was still enthralled.  It is such a great and fun story that does show the complexities of the Sherlock universe and just how great Moriarty is. I think that there might be only one episode since that matched the complexity of this episode. 

Next time, we get to learn about rugby! And there's a missing person too, but RUGBY!

And now Austin with the final word!


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