Sherlock: Season 2, Episode 1

A Scandal in Belgravia (6 May 2012)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Reviews: 33 user | 22 critic

The government hires Sherlock and John to confiscate something of importance from a mysterious woman, named Irene Adler, but she may be more than Sherlock can handle.


(as Paul Mcguigan)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
DI Carter
The Equerry
Timid Man
Rosemary Smith ...
Married Woman
Simon Thorp ...
Anthony Cozens ...
Geeky Young Man


Following a bizarre stand-off with master criminal Moriarty, ended when the villain responds to a phone call, Sherlock interrupts his investigation of a rural slaying when summoned to Buckingham Palace. Dominatrix Irene Adler has incriminating photos of a royal princess which Sherlock is engaged to retrieve; however, having engineered a meeting with Irene, Sherlock realizes that she has far more dangerous evidence in her possession, sought by rogue CIA agents, which causes her to fake her death and pass the facts, encrypted in her camera phone, to Sherlock. Having deciphered the explosive result and discovered a government plot, Sherlock has to consider if Irene can be trusted and indeed if she is in league with Moriarty. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

6 May 2012 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


The story takes place over the course of a year. See more »


(at around 40 mins) When Sherlock starts to play his violin after his conversation with his brother, the movements of the bow across the strings does not match the soundtrack. See more »


Sherlock Holmes: Oh, for God's sake! "The Speckled Blonde?"
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God Save the Queen
[Violin solo. Author of tune unknown but sometimes attributed to John Bull, 1619]
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User Reviews

Steven Moffat Is the Real Genius of Baker Street
21 October 2013 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

As someone who has only recently stumbled onto this BBC/PBS series via Netflix, I have to say it has ruined me for US hour-long dramas. When compared to the craftsmanship of this episode--which is the most perfectly constructed of the uniformly engrossing first six--I feel as if American mystery script writers (don't even talk about the weak and 'Sherlock'-referential "Elementary"!)seem to throw plot misdirection randomly at the fictional wall, hoping something will stick. In the word-count I'm allowed here, I cannot (but wish I could--maybe I'll start a Moffat-babes blog) write an essay on how perfectly this episode is constructed. I don't even have a problem (as some here do) with how breezily the tense conflict with Moriarty left over from the first season is dismissed; in large part, since he's already shown himself as capricious--he wouldn't want to lose (not yet anyway) his 'dancing' partner--and because his exit fades so beautifully into the Irene Adler story, the shortness of the pool scene works perfectly for me. One of the real marvels of this episode comes from watching it more than once; it's only then that you catch how perfectly Moffat has set up his parallels--Sherlock is inappropriately naked in a formal setting at the beginning/ Irene, in her own drawing room. Sherlock peruses photos of the partially clad Irene provided by one 'archenemy' at the same time she scans through sheet-wrapped snaps of him sent by the other. "Battle dress", defrocking, the meaning of disguise, what Sherlock and Irene each know and learn about love--all these echo throughout the plot. But from the moment Sherlock is taken to the jet and Mycroft reveals, through two terse synopses, how his little brother has been played for a foolish young swain, we are entering deep dramatic territory indeed. Irene pushes by Sherlock; now the game is on for her, he seems to have become merely 'Junior' and 'the Virgin', someone she will keep on a leash for her own entertainment when she wins this final battle. He is relegated to a chair set away from Irene and Mycroft as the grown-ups play for keeps. So his brilliant deduction that her 'locked' camera phone reveals her heart, thereby making her vulnerable, is a moment of such high drama, mixing a weird kind of glee in the audience that he's back on his game and yet a true horror of how cold he is as he sacrifices her, that I have replayed it again and again. Moffat in the DVD commentary was worried that audiences would guess the 4-letter code that unlocked the phone from the beginning. Not only was that never true, but I find that, even knowing the solution, when I watch that section again (and again), I am freshly amazed by the writing, acting (Pulver's spilling eyes, Cumberbatch's shaded face), the score, and both the exaggerated hand movements (so intense, it moves through Cumberbatch's whole body) and the muffled crashes of doom as Sherlock types in each letter. (Kudos to director and editors as well.) The pause for a moment of (could it be?) honest emotion from Irene just before he types in the last letter and Sherlock's adamantine coldness as he says, "And this is just losing", as the last key rumbles ominously, is riveting at so many levels. I suppose the Kandahar ending is necessary to take this out of the realm of dark tragedy and remind us we must like Sherlock again in order to continue with the series. Moffat has said that, since they are both equally-matched games players, they likely just occasionally think back to that year when they had that flirtation fondly, as something gone by. I like to think that Sherlock's mysterious ability to keep track of her so as to be there to save her will continue; it is a measure of how Sherlock, like the Grinch, is beginning to grow a heart, even if belatedly.

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