Ah, the difficult second album. I’ve seen plenty of people slating this episode, and I’ll be honest, I’m almost right there with them. I lost track of the story mid-way through but I wondered whether this was my fault more than anything else. I’ve watched it twice now, and I do think the underlying story was pretty simple but it is very dressed up and quite confusing.
I don’t believe it needed to be an hour and a half. The 90 minute format was brilliant for the opener because we needed to have the pair getting to know each other as well as a story, but for this one, it felt very drawn out. More of that later though.
Let us begin at the beginning. A young lady is talking about tea, I’ve watched the show twice now and I still don’t know what it is she found pre-credits that freaked her out. Either way, you know she’s in trouble when she disappears.
It was fun watching Sherlock and Watson trying to be normal this episode. Sherlock buzzes a flat and pretends he’s forgotten his keys. He convinces the woman above to let him in, and tacks on the end: “Can I use your balcony?” That won’t freak her out at all! Meanwhile, Watson is busy trying to get himself a regular job, and although the pretty lady from Teachers is very obliging, she ends up having to cover for him when he falls asleep at his desk.
The mystery element of the story begins with another suicide that isn’t really a suicide, and then we’re introduced to a policeman who isn’t Lestrade! This is no good at all. I don’t want angry DI Dimmock, I want more of befuddled Lestrade.
We saw a lot of rather pompous action from Sherlock, from demanding that his word be taken as gospel, to pointing out they’d only covered “one explanation of some of the facts” to leaving Watson standing outside a million flats. At least he admitted he needed to ask someone for advice. Even if he would only say it once.
It was fascinating when Watson found the wall of clues and Sherlock was going on about the human memory, panicking that he would never be able to visualise what he had just seen. Of course, since the invention of the camera phone, no one has to remember anything ever again, and it was interesting to see Sherlock a little caught out by that. Perhaps he is not as completely modern as we think.
After the bit at the railroad tracks, I started to get confused, but even without following the nitty gritty of the plotline, I still enjoyed the episode. The music is excellent. Watching Watson getting in trouble for holding the paint cans was fun. It’s his job to be mistaken for someone else in this second story. That’s what he does. I also enjoyed seeing that Sherlock is not so separated from reality that he doesn’t know when to turn on the charm for the cadaver lady - who by the way is another one with a website. In fact, there are now at least four of the darn things. Are we supposed to be following along with them? I’m not sure how I feel about that. Particularly as they don’t come with RSS feeds.
The bit at the circus was really when I started to ponder the extended time of these episodes. Did we really need to watch that entire act with the crossbow to fully appreciate what was going to happen when the poor woman from Teachers had a crossbow pointed at her head? It was tough enough to believe that they’d really confuse Watson with Sherlock. If they’d heard him shouting outside the flat, they would have heard him shouting Sherlock’s name through the letterbox.
Nevertheless, plot concerns aside, it was a decent episode, and on second viewing, I enjoyed the interaction between the characters even more. The story wasn’t great (I forget where I read it but someone pointed out there are many different versions of London A-Z Street Maps, how do they all know they’ve got the right one?), but it’s just leading to the big finale, where we all know Moriarty is about to make a stand.