Sherlock: Season 2
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In the last moments of Season One, our dashing heroes Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) were locked in a heart-pounding showdown with arch-nemesis James Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Though I won’t share a spoiler, I will say that the resolution involves the Best. Ringtone. Ever.

Season Two is darker, grittier, and more intensely personal than the first, making Holmes himself more and more at the center of his own cases. Where the first series emphasized the friendship between Holmes and Watson, this one focuses on Holmes’ personal growth. The second series has a bit of everything: a fiercely beautiful, brilliant, deadly woman; a psychological horror story; and a “keep-the-defibrillator-handy” thriller.

Episode 1: A Scandal in Belgravia. Holmes meets “The Woman”! Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), the only female who ever captured Sherlock’s fascination, appears here as an internationally prominent dominatrix who “extracts” secrets from high-profile clients. Holmes is hired by the British government, represented by his elder brother, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), to secure compromising photographs of Adler with a female member of the royal family. The sibling rivalry here is delicious. Anyone for a Royal toga party?

  
 
Episode 2: The Hounds of Baskerville. Road Trip! This famous tale—a cross between Wuthering Heights and a great campfire ghost story—sends the detective duo to investigate an Army bio-chemical research facility, which may be creating terrifying, super-dog weapons. Sherlock himself is driven into paranoia and self-doubt until he sorts it all out. Watch out for radioactive bunnies….

Episode 3: The Reichenbach Fall. “Hat-man and Robin!” That’s how the headlines read, now that Sherlock and John have become celebrities—but Holmes hates it. You’ll learn a very different story about how that iconic deerstalker hat came to be. (“Why has it got two fronts—do you throw it? A death Frisbee??!”) Meanwhile, Moriarty’s broken into three top-security locations at the same time to provoke his only equal to come out and play. Andrew Scott transforms your kid brother’s whiny best friend into psychopathic perfection as he plots Sherlock’s demise.

This second series powerfully and poignantly moves Holmes far out of his emotional comfort zone. He starts caring for others, and he drops a tiny bit of his condescension, though it’s clearly one step forward, ten steps back.

Here, we see Holmes grappling with his own limitations as he confronts paranormal experiences in Baskerville. What if he cannot trust his senses, his science, everything he is?

The culmination of this series requires Sherlock to face the classic moral crisis: How do you fight evil without becoming evil yourself? Holmes and Moriarty have always been addicted to the game. If people get hurt, it’s just collateral damage. But now it’s no longer just a question of whether Sherlock can outplay his enemy; it’s what kind of man he has become when he comes face to face with the truly diabolical.

So put your cell on vibrate. Keep the tissues handy. It’s a stunner.

Season Three will be released in the UK in the fall of 2013 and on PBS shortly thereafter. I’ll meet you right here for all the fun!


Blu-ray Review:
“Sherlock Uncovered” is a making-of feature, revealing the unusual, lower-tech special effects employed instead of CGI—like putting a hydraulic bed in the middle of a meadow in Wales (really!) It also includes audio commentaries for Episodes 1 and 2.

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