Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer TV Rewind: Sherlock 1.01: "A Study in Pink"

“Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.”
- Sherlock Holmes

We start our very first outing of “Sherlock” with flashes of battle. They’re clearly nightmares and when the dreamer wakes, we find our Dr. John Watson. In short order he’s made it to his desk with the help of a cane and settles in with his laptop to try and write an entry on his blog. Nothing comes. He’s a little defensive in his therapy session, noting that the therapist has written he has trust issues (yes he can read upside-down). Despite the therapist’s insistence that writing about what happens to him will help him in his quest to settle back into civilian life, John states that nothing ever happens to him. Oh my dear Watson, don’t ever say things like that. They’ll come back to bite you.

We now find a woman is talking to a man we assume is her husband. He’s gotten lost and ignores her instance that he catches a cab (apparently such a thing is beneath him). Well unfortunately for him, he somehow ends up dead and it appears it is suicide by pill. Not a shock to anyone, the woman turns out to be his mistress. His wife is giving a press conference as the other woman looks on. Next we see two teenagers caught in a rainstorm. One of the boys says he’s just popping home to get his umbrella but we see shortly that he’s taken the same pill as the first man. A few months later, a prominent government official is found dead by the same pill. Obviously there is something going on. At a press conference, Detective Inspector Lestrad tries to say that the apparent suicides are linked but and that they’re working on it but things go awry quite quickly. Everyone in the room keeps getting texts saying “wrong”. Definitely a bit odd but it did pique my interest. And Lestrad isn’t surprised to see who they are from. We cut briefly to the park where John is out for a stroll when he runs into an old school friend who is now a professor. They get to talking about how John can’t really afford to live in London alone on his army pension and the friend suggests a flat share. And he’s got someone in mind.

In a rather clever reveal, we meet Mr. Sherlock Holmes. He’s looking at the corpse of an older man who used to work in the morgue. The morgue assistant seems a bit shaken up by the whole thing, especially when Sherlock takes a riding crop to the body to determine what the bruising looks like after twenty minutes. He seems to be working a case and whatever the riding crop evidence reveals may save or condemn someone. He’s definitely got some odd methods. He’s in the lab examining something when John and his friend arrive. Sherlock in his peculiar way interviews John for a potential flat mate, mostly by point out all kinds of information about him including where he served in the Middle East and why he won’t go live with his brother. He does so in a rapid spew of dialogue, fit for the Doctor (which makes sense since at the time, he’d auditioned to be the Eleventh Doctor). That night John goes home to Google Sherlock and finds his website “The Science of Deduction”. John thinks it is a load of crap. But, he still goes to meet Sherlock at 221B Baker Street. At first blush it doesn’t look like they’re the likeliest of pairs but when Lestrad shows up with news of a fourth suicide (this time with a note), Sherlock gets giddy and invites John along. John seems rather too eager to be off to see more death. Sherlock impresses John on the car ride to the crime scene by explaining how he deduced the facts about John, from his time overseas, to his brother and his drinking habit. Only probably is John doesn’t have a brother. He has a sister.

At the scene, Sherlock continues to rub people the wrong way but he doesn’t much care. He’s in the thrill of the game. He deduces rather quickly that the victim, Jennifer Wilson, was unhappily married for at least ten years and had a string of lovers. She scratched ‘rache’ into the floor and Sherlock believes it was supposed to say “Rachel”. She’d come from Cardiff (based on the fact her coat was damp and it hadn’t rained in London that day). He keeps rambling on about the victim’s suitcase but there wasn’t one found with or near the body. At this point, Sherlock is convinced they are murders and he races off.

John limps after him only to find Sherlock has disappeared. One of the other detectives on scene warns John to stay away from Sherlock. He’s a psychopath. John just shakes his head and limps off in search of a cab. As he’s walking along, payphones start to ring. He finally answers one and a creepy sounding voice tells him to look around and spot three cameras. Each turns away so on surveillance you can’t see the car that pulls up. John is instructed to get in the car and it takes him to an abandoned warehouse where he meets the voice on the phone. The man claims to be Sherlock’s arch enemy, although from the interaction, he seems quite a bit like Sherlock. He wants John to feed him information on Sherlock’s activities in exchange for a rather generous sum of money. John refuses. He gets several texts during the encounter from Sherlock, telling him to go back to Baker Street as it is urgent and could be dangerous. So John swings by his old flat and retrieves his service weapon. He gets to 22B Baker Street only to find Sherlock lounging with three nicotine patches on his arm. They help him think. Guess they had to work in his addiction somehow. I thought it was kind of clever. Anyway, he only needed John to send a text to Jennifer Wilson’s phone. He’s found her suitcase and he wants to draw the murderer out. So with the text sent, John and Sherlock head to a café across the street from where they texted the murderer. They barely have time to sit down and have a rather awkward conversation about whether Sherlock is gay or not (and whether John is too) before Sherlock spots a cab that’s pulled up in front of the address they’re watching. No one gets in or out and thus begins a rather intriguing chase scene. You don’t often see people chasing cars in shows like this. It’s always car on car or a pure foot chase. It turns out the murderer wasn’t in the cab though. It was just a tourist. But Sherlock was making a point. John took off from the café without his cane. His limp really is psychosomatic.

Someone’s tipped off the police to Sherlock finding the case because Lestrad is waiting upstairs and he is not happy. He’s initiating a drugs bust mostly just to irritate Sherlock and to get his attention. It works. Lestrad reveals that Rachel was Jennifer’s stillborn daughter but Sherlock can’t fathom why she’d be thinking about her dead child from fourteen years ago (yeah he doesn’t exactly do empathy). John posits that maybe the killer talks to the victims and then gets them to kill themselves. He doesn’t know it yet but he’s right on the money. As Sherlock is ranting that Jennifer planted her phone on her killer to help the police find him, Mrs. Hudson appears and badgers Sherlock that his cab is waiting downstairs. Which is bizarre since Sherlock didn’t call for one. And when John logs in to Jennifer’s smartphone via the internet and does a GPS search, the phone comes up at 221B Baker Street. Sherlock puts it together and takes off for the cab. It makes sense. Taxi drivers are pretty much invisible to most people. He convinces Sherlock to go for a ride so they can talk and tells Sherlock that he’s got a fan. They end up at an abandoned college building and the cabbie fills Sherlock in on how the game is played. Two bottles, each with a pill. One is good and the other is bad. Whichever pill Sherlock doesn’t choose, the cabbie takes. Sherlock of course isn’t stupid. He’s got do some deducing before he makes any kind of decision. He points out correctly from the way the cabbie is dressed and the torn photo of children in his cab that he’s dying and he lost his kids to his ex-wife. The cabbie admits that everything Sherlock said is true but that the cabbie has a benefactor who will be providing a lot of money to his children.

Meanwhile, John is on his way to find Sherlock. He arrives at the college but goes into the wrong building. Time is running out. The cabbie pulls a gun on Sherlock and says if he doesn’t choose a pill, he’ll get shot in the head. Sherlock with a smug look says he’ll take the gun. It turns out to be a fancy lighter shaped like a gun. So Sherlock decides to be off until the cabbie entices him, asking if he figured out which pill was the good one. John finally spots them from the opposite building and just as Sherlock is about to put the pill in his mouth, a shot rings out and hits the cabbie. Sherlock gets a little creepy and violent by putting pressure on the wound until the cabbie blurts out the name Moriarty (his benefactor). We end with John quietly admitting he shot the guy and the mysterious man whom John met earlier appears. He’s not in fact Sherlock’s arch enemy. He’s his brother, Mycroft. They have something of a childish feud still going. As the pair walks away discussing dim sum and fortune cookies, Mycroft tells his assistant to upgrade the surveillance level. It’s time to keep a closer eye on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

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