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Thoughts on A Scandal in Belgravia
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kduncanpotter
Now that it's settled in my head somewhat, some reflections. (Under a cut in case you haven't seen it yet.)


On the whole, I enjoyed it. "A Scandal in Bohemia" is one of my favorite stories, because it's just so much fun with the gender-bendiness and the pulling-one-over-on-Holmesiness. This past semester I wrote a paper on cross-dressing in Victorian media, based on "Scandal". It was a good paper, too.

The beginning of "Belgravia" was delightful. I liked the nods to the other stories that they threw in, like The Geek Interpreter and The Speckled Blonde. They also found a way to put Benedict Cumberbatch in a deerstalker hat, and for that I do kind of love Gatiss and Moffat forever. There was enough slashiness and subtext to go 'round, and that was magnificent. I did enjoy the way they updated Irene's character. So much of what makes her shocking in the original story is that she does have agency, and power, and she makes her own living by performing onstage. Since a woman making a living on her own is no longer such a big deal, and actresses are no longer so shamed, they went to sex work, which is still a rather looked-down-upon position in society. And in the beginning of the episode, they went for it. "We've got a character who's a dominatrix? Alright, send her in without clothes on." And I really enjoyed what that meant, aside from the "hey, gorgeous naked woman on my computer screen". Irene knew Sherlock's modus operandi, and so she completely foiled it by not giving him any clues to read. He was lost. She had the upper hand basically from the beginning, and I really liked that.

But then something went...not sour, really, but it started to fall flat. The ending really didn't work for me. I knew something had to happen so that Sherlock would win because hey, it's a television show called "Sherlock". He's going to win, it's kind of inevitable. I really didn't like the way he won, though. The show seemed to be saying "oh, you silly woman you, with your inability to control your emotions. Sherlock is a man, and therefore he can control himself, unlike you", and I didn't appreciate that. I think there could have been a way to have Sherlock win without making it an "oh you silly emotional woman" thing. If she had pulled a Vampire Willow--"this was fun, but bored now!"--and given him the code, that would have been fine. If something had been made of the fact that she used the first syllable of his name because he'd never think of it, that would have been fine. But the whole "it's his name because she's in luuurve with him" came across as oh you silly woman, and kind of middle-school, actually.

So yeah. It started well, but the ending didn't do it for me. One thing that did surprise me was the fact that the whole John out in the country with a laptop was in this episode; I thought for sure it was for the Hounds of the Baskervilles episode. (Which, oh hey, is airing tomorrow! Cool beans.)

I also adored the way the John-Sherlock-Mrs Hudson dynamic was portrayed. They are her adopted sons, and she is their mother, and it's adorable and sweet and makes me happy. Oh! And John's middle name, bless. John Hamish Watson, M.D. That is a good name.

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