Mysterious symbols and murders are showing up all over London, leading Sherlock and John to a secret Chinese crime syndicate called Black Lotus.Mysterious symbols and murders are showing up all over London, leading Sherlock and John to a secret Chinese crime syndicate called Black Lotus.Mysterious symbols and murders are showing up all over London, leading Sherlock and John to a secret Chinese crime syndicate called Black Lotus.
For once, the episode title bears no direct reference to a Conan Doyle original, although some of the plot devices were familiar, like the murders occurring in locked rooms and the importance of deciphering codes as clues to solving the case. While the programme was satisfactory enough, the Holmes and Watson partnership didn't seem to develop much, with less of the sharp banter between them you'd expect from say, a Stephen Moffat written story. In addition, for some reason Inspector Lestrade and his team are conspicuous by their absence, upsetting continuity and even Mrs Hudson only manages about a minute of screen time.
As for the story itself, the background plot of smuggling ancient Chinese artifacts into the country resonated with topicality even if the ideas of a "Thuggee" gang with a female Manchu as its head and the mystery assassin being a circus performer seemed somewhat anachronistic. The encounter with a "Banksy" type street artist seemed a bit contrived too, although I enjoyed the museum settings used for a large part of the story. While it was good to see Watson hook up with a woman, although Sherlock naturally plays gooseberry, I felt the direction lacked a little of the sharpness and crispness of what I'd seen in others, even omitting the minor, showy demonstrations of Holmes' deductive skills which add to his personality as well as conveying humour.
Cumberbatch and Freeman are very good together, the latter now overcoming my initial reservations about his over-familiarity and unsuitability for his part. For me though this episode seemed to cater too much to the Dan Brown crowd and with Sherlock resorting too often to conventional fisticuffs, just seemed lacking in the flair and nuance of other superior episodes in the two series.
- Jun 27, 2012