Watson: “Me, Sherlock. In court. On Tuesday. They're giving me an ASBO.”
episode was a loose adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Dancing
Men'—and when I say 'loose' I mean pants falling down, baring your
arse loose. If Steven Moffat hadn't mentioned it on Twitter, I probably
wouldn't have noticed. The only similarity I picked up on was that both
stories have a secret code as their central theme. In 'The Dancing Men' it was a code based upon a system of hand-drawn stick men, in 'The Blind
Banker' it was a system of graffiti style Hangzhou numerals. Apart from
that, and a couple of possible references to 'The Sign of Four' and 'The Valley of Fear,' I caught nothing.
being unfamiliar with Stephen Thompson's work, I have to say, I was
impressed with tonight's story. After last week's Moff-fest, I'll admit,
I was expecting a bit of a lull, but Thompson's script was smart,
intricate, and stowed-out with clever dialogue and pacey action. Which
makes it all the more puzzling why tonight's episode was, generally,
less well received by fans and critics alike. I loved it. Everyone I
know loved it. Each to their own, I guess.
'A Study in Pink' had the unenviable task of
introducing us to the central characters which, inevitably, hindered the
pace. Tonight's yarn felt faster, deeper, and somehow more
self-assured. There was some nice character development, too. Watson's
finally found himself a job as a locum doctor—a nice tip of the hat to
classic Watson. He's also found himself a lady friend—much to Holmes'
disgust. Whether she'll last another episode is anyone's guess. That was
a fairly fraught first date Watson took her on.
there was something deliciously atmospheric about the Chinese circus, with its human spider and potentially fatal escapology act. Although 'Oriental', it had the undeniable feel of a Victorian sideshow. As for
Watson's date, Sarah, I liked her. More than Holmes did, anyway. Despite
her ravishing looks, Holmes looked distinctly unimpressed. Which is
bizarre considering she probably saved his life tonight. That was some
thrashing she dished out. She certainly kicks ass with gusto. She was
also responsible for breaking the Hangzhou code, or at least for
noticing that Soo Lin had partially translated it. Not that she got much
thanks for her efforts.
And I'm definitely warming to Freeman's Watson. He combines all that was good about Tim Canterbury (his character in The Office),
with the dependability and competency of classic Watson. I love the
contrast between the two characters. While Watson was out shopping and
arguing with a chip-and-pin machine, Holmes was back at Baker Street,
fighting for his life with a sword wielding madman. But why all the
secrecy from Holmes? Why try to hide the sword under the chair, and why,
outside Soo Lin's flat, didn't he let on that he'd almost been
strangled? It's not as though Watson's oblivious to the dangers. Why
Watson's correction of Holmes calling him
a 'friend' was also puzzling. How does Watson really feel about Holmes?
He admires his deductive prowess, certainly. Maybe he even needs him—he was, after all, indirectly responsible for Watson's transformation
from peg-legged veteran to semi-athletic crime fighter. But does he
really feel any sort of affinity for Holmes? He's more than just an 'colleague,' surely? They share a house. The call each other by first
name (instead of the usual 'Watson' and 'Holmes' of the books). So why
the reluctance to admit their friendship in front of Dimmick? Of course,
later in the episode, whilst taking Sarah to the circus, Watson
referred to Holmes as his friend—but why the earlier uncertainty?
being different in many ways, Watson and Holmes compliment each other
perfectly. Watson may not have Holmes' brain, but he's intelligent in
his own way. Though painfully orthodox, he gets the job done.
Watson was certainly quick-thinking enough to take a photo of the
graffiti before it mysteriously disappeared. True, Holmes seemed almost
disappointed by the mundanity of Watson's methods, but sometimes Holmes
misses the obvious solution. He needs someone there with practical nous, and Watson's just the man.
I completely failed to
guess the identity of the book necessary to break the cipher. My first
guess was the Bible—most likely the King James Version—but the Bible
probably isn't that widespread in Eastern circles. Ditto the Oxford
English Dictionary. In the end, international appeal wasn't a
consideration. I've never owned a copy of a London A to Z in my life, but it was a logical choice for London, I suppose. For a Chinese Crime
syndicate? The jury's still out.
And where was Lestrade
this week? Why has he been replaced by the equally dreary, DI Dimmock?
Was there some kind of scheduling conflict? Like Lestrade, Dimmock has
no discernible personality. I thought at the beginning he was going to
be some bad-ass detective, out to give Sherlock a hard time, yet within
minutes, Sherlock had him eating out of his hand. I suppose, like
Lestrade, he's come to realise that opposing Holmes is
counter-productive to getting results. Despite having to kowtow to him
on occasion, Lestrade's career never suffered from Sherlock's
interventions. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So, all in
all another strong offering. Thompson's script was so multi-layered it
was sometimes hard to keep up. True, the plot was a little convoluted in
places, and Sherlock's leaps of logic did beggar belief at times, but
Watson trying to explain that he wasn't Holmes—despite having Holmes'
credit card in his pocket, buying circus tickets under the name of
Holmes, and shouting 'I am Sherlock Holmes' at the top of his voice
outside Soo Lin's flat—had me grinning from ear to ear. Beautifully
plotted, simple, ingenious and thoroughly brilliant!
—I really felt for Soo Lin. Both parents dead; a mad brother; a terrible
childhood smuggling historical artefacts for the Black Lotus; and the
worst tea pouring skills I've ever seen. I'd never have her round for
—Mrs Hudson to the rescue with her nibbles. Maybe a cup of tea and a slice of cake next time?
—Shame on Sherlock, using Molly's affection for him to his own
advantage. Poor Molly. One feeble compliment about her hair and she was
—The more a teapot is used the more
beautiful it becomes? The more disgusting, you mean. Have they never
visited a students' digs?
—Euros Lyn directed tonight's episode. He's more widely known for his work on Doctor Who and Torchwood.
—Why was this episode called 'The Blind Banker'? Because of the line painted across the portrait's eyes?
—A token appearance by Moriarty this week. Here's hoping we see more of him next episode.
—Presumably, once fingerprinted, the graffiti case against Watson would be easy to disprove. He only touched one can.
—There was a backwards 42 inside the bank.
Watson: “Why do they die, Sherlock?”
Watson: “You've gone all croaky. Are you getting a cold?”
Holmes: “I'm fine.”
Holmes: "How would you describe me, John? Resourceful? Dynamic? Enigmatic?"