Finale of “Sherlock,” aka “Dark Knight Rises Done Right.”

05Oct12

I just saw the Second Season finale of BBC’s “Sherlock.” It’s great. The second season offered more great episodes than the first (sure, the seasons are only 3 episodes long, but Season 1 was 2 good episodes, and one great finale; Season 2 had a great initial episode, then a good one, and then this great finale). And while I was watching “The Reichenbach Fall,” which centered on Moriarty working to destroy every element of Holmes’ life (his celebrity, his name, his reputation, his friends, etc.), I could not help but think of “The Dark Knight Rises.” More specifically, I couldn’t help thinking “This show got it right.”

I could go on to list many ways the BBC show succeeds over “DKR,” but the main one centers around the hero’s place at the beginning of the story. In “Sherlock,” Holmes is on top, more popular and respected than ever (though he accepts his celebrity with trademark begrudge). In steps Moriarty to tear down his rival. This works because Holmes had something to loose. He was on his A-game. There was something at stake for him personally and for the world (if Scotland Yard looses Sherlock Holmes, they are screwed!). 

Compare this with “Rises,” which begins with a disgraced Batman who returns only briefly to confront a villain, also set on destroying the hero psychologically as well as physically. What’s at stake, really, for Batman at the beginning of “Rises?” He’d lose the city, but he has a famous deathwish anyway, so how far does that care really go?

Now, it may be unfair to compare these two as directly as I am, since an argument could be made that Season 2 of “Sherlock” should line up more with “The Dark Knight” (with Moriarty being the Joker, etc., etc.). “Dark Knight” starts with Batman at the top of his game and ends up disgracing him as well. But in that story, the Joker didn’t want to destroy Batman exactly. He wanted to push him. Moriarty’s quest feels more like Bane’s, set out to embarrass, defeat and decimate the hero.

“Sherlock” will almost certainly come back for a third season, so maybe it will face much the same problems as “Rises,” but for now, I’m comfortable with my judgement: defeating a hero who has nothing at stake, at the hero’s low point, feels less exciting than defeating the hero at the top of his game.

Other random thoughts, with lots of spoilers*:

1.) Moriarty mentions/references “the Final Problem” more times than the “no auto pilot” gets brought up in “Rises.” And that’s a lot.

2.) I loved seeing Jen from “IT Crowd” in this!

3.) The twist at the end didn’t feel like much of a twist. In fact, that’s one of the ways this show is great. It’s about Sherlock Holmes, and there have been routine moments in at least 4 episodes where I’ve thought, “He’s screwed. I don’t know how he’s getting out of this one.” But… he’s SHERLOCK HOLMES! He’ll always get out of it. The show has done a great job of throwing twists at Holmes up to the last second to always keep him on his toes. That’s how you handle a character like this. If you give him time, he’ll always figure it out. So you rob him of time.

4.) The little “kinda twist” of Moriarty being an actor… eh…. First, it was another moment of reminding me of “Rises,” with the main villain not being the real villain. Of course, it turned out to be part of Moriarty’s plot. But still, that plot has some holes. The timing’s off. If DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba suddenly broke into Fort Knox, SOMEONE would have perked up, “Hey, that’s DJ Lance!” But nobody noticed that Moriarty was on this kid’s show for… how long? And how long has he been on that show? That’s the kind of illogic that I kinda love, because you have to consider the fact that in order to get on a show like that, Moriarty would have had to gotten headshots (shown), auditioned, nailed those auditions, gotten through call-backs, gotten on the pilot, and then get the pilot picked up. Of course, he could have threatened and extorted his way through those bits, but then you have to think he might have been on that kids’ show for at least a year. So he’s been doing that show for a year? So he’s gotta rehearse it, and go through re-writes and on and on… it’s a worm hole.

5.) Cumberbatch is a weird looking dude. In another forced tie to the Batman movies, he reminds me of a slightly less creepy Cillian Murphy.

6.) It seems pretty clear to me how Holmes survived, if you waive any form of reality. And why shouldn’t we? As I’ve stated before, this is the problem with the Nolan Batman world, because if you base things “100% in reality,” then you can never ask for suspension of disbelief. Or you at least annoy people when you do. Though based in science,”Sherlock” contains a fair amount of magic which makes the stories fun.

*I shouldn’t have to mention spoilers when the topic of discussion is the season FINALE of a TV show. And the series finale of a movie franchise. In fact, I think anyone going on to an “illegitimate” (i.e. a non-commercial) website such as mine should expect spoilers all over. If you don’t want to get spoiled, stay away from stuff. Otherwise, it’s fair game. Nevertheless, I put in the warning. Just so I could put this disclaimer in here? Maybe…. Only one man could solve this mystery…
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