At the beginning of December, a group of seriously lucky people in London attended a screening of the first episode of Series 2, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” and if that weren’t awesome enough, they got to watch the new installment in the company of many of the cast an production crew who made it *and* attend a panel Q&A session afterward with Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver. (Watch a video of this panel here; beware, it’s a tiny bit spoilery.) I was not one of those people unfortunately, but the event did serve as a bit of a catalyst to start the personal speculation gears turning about what Series 2 might actually look like. (And if it has since given me an occupation that has distracted me from looking for reviews and spoilers the past couple of weeks, well, that’s all to the good.)
After all, this new series is tackling what are probably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most recognizable, iconic stories andm given the quality of the first season, there’s little doubt that the episodes will do the source material justice, it’s likely that both viewers and dedicated Holmes fans will have strong opinions on how they should be depicted. And from a personal perspective, I wanted to get this on paper before I inevitably found out too much about the,. We will have to wait until May to see these episodes in America, but it’s never too early to start talking about them!
So, click through for some spoiler-free ramblings on what I’d like to see in the new series, and feel free to share what your ideal Season 2 would look like in our comments!
Without further ado, the five things I’d most like to see in Series 2 are (in no particular order):
A Real-Time Resolution to the Pool Cliffhanger. I’ve predicted a “Deus Ex Mycroft” as the most likely solution to how the Baker Street Boys get out of the pool confrontation with Moriarty almost since “The Great Game” aired. It makes narrative sense (Mycroft shows up and saves the day – because Mycroft can do anything!), it’s quick, it doesn’t require a lot of set-up, and would allow the story to jump forward from the pool without having to deal with the immediate aftermath. Such a move would basically allow the production to wrap up the Pool cliffhanger in the Series 2 premiere’s first moments, in a fairly no muss, no fuss sort of way. But, hopefully that won’t be what happens. First, time jumping is a bit of a lazy storytelling trope [and we’ve seen that Moffat likes to use the “XX months later” tag as an occasional narrative crutch on Doctor Who in the past] and the end results are usually not nearly as interesting as they could be. Also this narrative tactic often results in glossing over the character development that such moments should offer (something else we’ve seen on Moffat’s Who). Personally, I want to see what Sherlock and John are like in the aftermath of this event and how they deal with it in the moment, not how they’re coping three or six months later when the immediate impact of the event has lessened and can be glossed over more easily.
More Mycroft! (And Other Secondary Characters). We know Gatiss is an amazing writer (see: “The Great Game”), but he’s also a pretty great actor, and his Mycroft is fabulous. It would be wonderful if Series 2 let us see a bit more of the Holmes brothers’ relationship – who wouldn’t love to know why Mycroft feels the need to bribe his brother’s flatmates to spy on him or why the two of them are so hostile to one another? – and it would provide further opportunity for more of Gatiss’ wonderful snark. One of the worst parts about “The Blind Banker” is that the secondary characters were so lackluster (Sebastian, Soo Lin, Random Museum Guy), and it would be such a shame to waste the great second tier characters that have already been set up. Mycroft is my number one choice, based on personal preference, but seeing more of Rupert Graves’ Lestrade and Una Stubbs’ Mrs. Hudson would be excellent as well. (The number of early promo pictures featuring Gatiss’ Mycroft have provided a bit of evidence that at least some portion of this wish may come true, so, fingers crossed.)
An Awesome Irene Adler. Irene Adler is another one of those characters from Holmes canon that has taken on a life of her own, one that is well outside the scope of her actual appearance in Conan Doyle’s work. (The literary Adler only appears in one story, after all – A Scandal in Bohemia – though she’s mentioned or alluded to in four others.) Like Moriarty, a modernized Adler will have to live up to her own hype – she will need to be believable as an equal to Sherlock, she will have to be exceptional in her own way (while not too much like either Sherlock or Moriarty), and she should be at least a small bit sympathetic.
I would argue that it’s also important for a modern version of this character to serve a greater role than that of a token femme fatale, con artist, or love interest, and to experience a degree of development and growth that’s independent of how she relates to Sherlock. (My biggest complaint about Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film is the Holmes/Adler relationship which seems needlessly cliché and “Hollywood-ized”.) Additionally ,the new BBC version of Sherlock is so beloved by so many female fans that it would be great to see a truly modernized version of character that those fans can really relate to, who serves a greater purpose as “The Woman” than merely a memorable adversary or a potential romantic partner. It would be lovely if she were a fully realized, developed and relatable character in her own right, one who is compelling in ways that don't have anything to do with Sherlock.
Continued Development of Sherlock and John’s Friendship. It would be remiss to write this without mentioning what probably everyone wants out of these new episodes – and that’s just more of Sherlock and John being awesome together. Hopefully we’ll get more bantering, more humor, more of John helping Sherlock be a better person, and more of Sherlock giving John a purpose in his post-Army life. The Moriarty situation may lend a bit of an “us against the world” vibe this season for the two of them, and it would be great to see further strengthening of many of the relationship dynamics present in first series – namely, the feeling that the two of them are equals, that John has a much more important role to play than simply telling Sherlock he’s brilliant, and that Sherlock is a better person for having an actual friend in his life. And, of course, hopefully we’ll witness the aftermath of the pool confrontation in some way or other, and see how sharing an experience like that impacts their friendship.
And, of course, Reichenbach. Anyone who’s got a passing familiarity with the Holmes canon knows what Reichenbach refers to, and what any episode sporting that word as part of the title (“The Reichenbach Fall”) has to be dealing with. But, if, for some reason, you don’t know, in the Conan Doyle story The Final Problem (upon which this episode is based), Holmes and Moriarty have their epic “final battle,” if you will – which ends with both of them (presumably) plummeting over Reichenbach Falls to their deaths. This event basically occurred because Conan Doyle was tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories, and tried to “save [his] mind for better things” and more serious literary efforts by killing off his hero. Unfortunately for him, public opinion couldn’t tolerate this twist, and Conan Doyle was forced to resurrect Holmes, explaining that the great detective had faked his own death. So, ending the second season on this particular story gives Moffat and Gatiss a lot of options – given the increasing international popularity of both Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, could this be a necessary ending point for the series? Will Sherlock survive for Series 3? (Will there even be a Series 3?) Will this Sherlock somehow also fake his own death in this version? Many questions are out there about this – which is pretty impressive considering that it’s a story most of us already know the ending to in the first place. But, everyone wants to know what’s going to happen after that ending.
It would be outstanding if, in this “modernization,” Moffat, Gatiss and Co. could come up with some twist that circumvents – or creatively handles – this painfully soapy fake death twist. I’d love to see them come up with something really original here that pays homage to the original story, much in the same way that “The Great Game” tips its hat to multiple Conan Doyle plots – without feeling the need to directly copy it. (In all honesty, I think this Sherlock would feel faking his own death was beneath him.) The smart money’s probably on ending the series with another cliffhanger; if the writers were willing to end “The Great Game” on such a huge question mark right out of the gate, then it’s likely there’s no way they’ll be able to resist the siren call of the Reichenbach story. So, what will our cliffhanger be? Is Sherlock dead? Is Sherlock faking his death? Why? Does John know? Is Moriarty also dead? So many possibilities!
That’s my two cents worth (maybe more like a dollar’s worth?) on Series 2. Anybody else have anything that’s “must-see” for them in the new episodes, either in terms of plots or characters? Would love to hear them!