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Wednesday, 16 of October of 2019

Sherlock – “The Blind Banker”

You’ve seen the act before. How dull for you.

After last week’s smashing premiere episode, Sherlock made it it difficult for itself to follow it up with anything just as shiny and fun. It isn’t that 90 minutes of a single episode exhausts all the story elements, or that we’re no longer interested in Holmes and Watson, or that the flourishes that allow us entry into Holmes’ mind have grown old, or that we’re simply tired of this diegesis. Indeed, the great feat that “A Study In Pink” achieved was that after 90 minutes was that I was left wanting a lot more.

“The Blind Banker” kind of made me wonder why I wanted more.

The main reason why “The Blind Banker” isn’t a great follow-up is just how bloated it feels. At the halfway point, when Sherlock and Watson find Soo Lin, I thought that the 90 minutes was winding down, even though very little had been answered at that point. I was a bit dismayed that there was another 45 minutes to go, and lots of what felt like narrative padding, to be done.

Some of this is due to the fact that there weren’t, for me anyway, lots of helpful clues along to way (the circus came out of nowhere, right, that wasn’t just me?) to point us in a particular direction, like “A Study in Pink” had so nicely done. Having a cypher plot makes it tricky to the audience to engage in the mystery because we end up waiting for the characters to solve it instead of trying to solve it with them. This quibble could just be on my part, I like to solve the mystery before the story does, but it does kind of suck the enjoyment out of the episode for me.

If the mystery aspect isn’t enough of a quibble, than the Death Trap at the end should be. I could discern no real reason why Chinese smugglers, who seem perfectly happy to shoot people, would suddenly decide to take their circus act into a tunnel and use it as a form of persuasion. It’s a lazy and an unnecessary (in)action sequence that serves to give a little last minute “Oomph!” to the episode, but fails because, well, I have seen that act before. It’s a clear narrative delay for Sherlock to have to find John and Pretty Nurse, and it feels painfully out of place in this universe. Death traps are for Batman and secret agents, not consultant detectives.

While a disappointing second outing, I’m hopeful for the third (and final) episode of the season. I have enough goodwill left over from “A Study In Pink.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Not worth a full paragraph, but way to indulge in some Yellow Peril stereotypes, guys. Oy with Evil Asians already (and that completely random and stereotypical Arab assault in the opening).
  • The highlight of the episode was Holmes waxing on and on about the poor memory of the non-Holmesian mind while spinning Watson in circles. The punchline of Watson having a photograph was terrific.

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