Sunday, 28 August 2011

Let's Kill Hitler

After such hype, the newest episode of Doctor Who had a lot to live up to.  Personally, “Let’s Kill Hitler” didn’t live up to the hype.  It was entertaining, that much is true.  But with so many loose ends hanging around, it needed to do a little more than this episode managed.  To an extent, this episode worked as a stand-alone instalment, with an interesting, if ridiculous, premise.  The Teselecta was preposterous, but good fun all the same.  The teaser about Hitler was redundant within 5 minutes, but again, was rather good fun.

But there was simply too much to fault.  I realise by saying this that the Moffatt Fangirls will no doubt want to hunt me down and kill me.  Honestly, they’re becoming as bad as the RTD Fangirls, or even worse – the Tennant Fangirls.  The Grand Moff has been given too much freedom.  This episode was the 12th which the show runner has written himself – the trouble is, he’s too fascinated with these multi-season long story arcs to actually provide us with answers.  Instead, as editor-in-chief, he focuses on these red herrings and clues too heavily in not only his own scripts, but those of everyone else, and ends up frustrating the long-time fans and newcomers alike.  I genuinely can’t believe that anyone who happened to pop the episode on by chance, but hadn’t seen the last few series’, would have a bloody clue what was going on.  This was fan-wank of the highest order, as well as the most inappropriate title for any episode, ever.   The Moff frequently lies – this we know for a fact.  But misleading the entire fan base during the three month hiatus between episodes 7 and 8 is a bit of a low blow for all involved.

This was ultimately The River Song Show.  After 20 episodes of The Amy Pond Show (Guest starring Rory Williams, and also featuring the Doctor), with very little for the Doctor to do himself – “The Doctor’s Wife” and “A Christmas Carol” not withstanding – the trailers for this looked set to finally put the Doctor back in the spotlight, where he belongs.  Matt Smith is an outstanding character actor, who has taken the role of the Doctor and made it utterly his own.  Reminiscent of Patrick Troughton’s Two, with the comedy flair of Four, the moral compass of Three, the vulnerability of Five, the temper of Six and the slapstick of Seven, he somehow manages to combine all of these elements into one outrageously good performance.  He is easily the best Doctor since the regeneration of the series in 2005, and if he had better material, could quickly become the best Doctor ever.  Unfortunately, all he is given is a supporting role in his own show, hugely overshadowed by The Ponds. 

So, River – whilst I’m not her biggest fan, and the storyline has frustrated me ever since her first appearance in “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead”, Alex Kingston has brought a certain charm to the stories within which she has featured since Moffatt took the reins for series 5.  The character has been an enigma from the outset, and one which Kingston has obviously relished.  Here, though, we get to meet River for the very first time – and Kingston simply thrives off of the material she’s been given.  She delivers one of the quickest one-liners in the show’s history – “So I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar-mitzvah for the disabled, then I thought ‘the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish’...” – which had me genuinely laugh out loud.  However, witty one-liners do not a plot make. 

The plot, such as it was, revolved around two things – the Teselecta, a Justice Police of miniature people who go around through time and give bad people ‘hell’ for the wrongs that they cause, and River’s origins.  I’ll start with the Teselecta, as that was by far the most interesting part.

The Teselecta was an incredibly interesting concept, one which should rightly have been given an entire stand-alone episode to discuss.  The ramifications of time travel are an idea that the show touches on frequently, but hasn’t been discussed in any detail since the reboot in 2005.  Here, Moff created the perfect means to analyse the repercussions of the responsibilities afforded any race able to alter history, through any means, and of course discuss the potential for changing the future by altering the past.  If you could go back in time, and kill Hitler before he had the chance to commit any of the despicable deeds he had inflicted upon the world, then would you?  Could you?  These are the questions that Moffatt didn’t discuss.  Instead, he gave us the most inept force for good since Dad’s Army.  That such a hi-tech creation would balls up their mission, turning up before the Second World War wasn’t just ridiculous; it was offensive.  Despite their technological know-how, and the fact that they can travel through time, they arrived in 1938, and it’s only because one of the little workers looked at the date, seconds before killing Hitler, that they realised that they weren’t in the right year.  The special effects of the Teselecta were incredible, and reminiscent of The Terminator, but again, when the plot is as paper thin and filled with loop-holes as this story was, it is impossible to be overly wowed by any of it.  When they catch up with River Song, realising that she is the greatest war criminal of all time – because she kills the Doctor – they proceed to ‘give her hell’ - The hell simply being a bit of electro-shock therapy.  On a side note, the Teselecta reminded me of The Numbskulls, the comic strip in The Beano from when I was a kid...  which was nice.

Had this episode heavily featured the Teselecta, and focused fully on the potential of this idea, it would have made a fascinating opening episode to this half of the series. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t.  What it did instead was rush the Teselecta sequences, with about a 45-minute long episode’s worth of ideas, into about ten minutes, instead focussing on River.  Bloody River.  While I hadn’t expected an entire episode about Adolf Hitler – that’s a bit much for a kid’s show, right? – I had hoped at least for a little more focus on those darker ideas.  Instead, the opening five minutes of the episode were bloody awful, introducing a new character, someone that had apparently been the best friend of Amy and Rory all along – one that we had never met before, nor even heard the slightest mention of.  If the character had appeared before, it may have been easier to swallow – perhaps she could have appeared in “The Eleventh Hour”, helping Amy and the Doctor defeat Prisoner Zero.  Or maybe she could have been there in “Amy’s Choice”, their best friend next door in the ‘fictional’ world of Leadworth.  Or even in previous episodes, we could have had flashbacks which involved her being told all about the ‘raggedy man’ by a young Amelia Pond.  Anything would have sufficed.  Instead, we get the appearance of someone whose name was conveniently an abbreviation of the name of Amy’s daughter, and a twist which the Hubble telescope could have seen coming from outer space.  In fact, had the line about naming Melody after Mels come a little earlier in the episode, then it may still have kept some people guessing.  And whilst it was followed by the very amusing “you named your daughter – after your daughter?” it still felt like a kick in the nuts for any viewers with half a brain cell.

So, Mels – the unlikeable ‘rogue’ friend, who we see through flashbacks, acting exactly like River Song.  I mean, exactly like her, with her disdain for authority figures, her penchant for getting into trouble...  even her entrance was reminiscent of River.  All that was missing was “Hello, Sweetie”, and we’d have been there!  Instead of an interesting character arc, we were spoon-fed the blindingly obvious, once again, as Moffatt informed us we’d never see it coming.  Much like the ‘question’ which hides in plain sight, every last one of Moffatt’s twists so far has been so simple a five-year-old could figure them out.  Which they have been.

Alex Kingston’s performance as the ‘young’ River Song was inspired, I must admit – this brain-washed child, desperate to murder the man that she believes is a war criminal.  Whilst she was unpredictable and fiery, the Doctor had apparently already worked out her every move – in a scene that would have been perfectly at home in a Moff-penned episode of Sherlock.  As the camera cut back and forth with little flashy touches, showing the Doctor hiding guns, removing bullets, and placing bananas in odd places – as we’ve seen before in “The Doctor Dances” to Captain Jack – I felt my anger flaring. 

Rory Williams was something of a revelation in this episode.  I have said for a while now that he is an excellent companion, or would be were it not for the Pond.  He shone in “The Rebel Flesh” / “The Almost People”, bringing a heart-felt touch of humanity to the proceedings, showing care and compassion to Jenny, and her Flesh doppelganger.  Throughout that episode, Amy was a judgemental, cruel girl, refusing to accept the flesh-Doctor as her true friend.  Arthur Darvill plays the role with conviction, and with scripts like this he truly shines – he is able to deliver some of the best lines in the show, including the amazing “Shut up, Hitler”, punches the most evil man in the world, and then locks him up in a cupboard, where the Fuhrer remains for the rest of the episode.

Matt Smith’s performance was, as always, eclectic, a rollercoaster of emotions.  It did throw up a number of irritations for me though – why did he change into the tuxedo with so comparatively short to live?  Why was he unable to regenerate?  The little people in the Teselecta said that his death was a fixed point in April 2011 – so how could he have died anyway?  If River has now passed all of her remaining regenerations on to the Doctor, does the Doctor now have more than the 12 regenerations set out by Robert Holmes during the original run?  Is this a loophole created by Moffatt to increase the longevity of the series, much as RTD tried to do with his throw-away line in The Sarah Jane Adventures?  The scenes with the TARDIS interface were nice, and well performed from Smith, but as we rolled through the holograms of Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble, I couldn’t help longing for an earlier companion to appear.  And then, to have settled on a young Amelia Pond, was downright cheating – couldn’t it have been Suranne Jones as Idris again?   That would have been perfect.

I couldn’t help giggling at the scene in which the Teselecta informs the Doctor that the Silence are not a race of aliens, but rather a religious order – not because it amused me, or for any reason to do with the plot of the show, but rather that the BBC merchandising people must now be howling that every one of their products with the Silence on are now incorrectly named.  Whilst we do not yet know the species’ true identity, the fact that they are simply workers of a cult is quite an interesting twist, and one that I confess I didn’t see coming.  Then again, I wasn’t looking for that, since it was one of the few loose ends from series’ 5 and 6 which hadn’t struck me as needing an answer.

So some questions were answered – but more were asked in their place.  River has always said she kills a man.  The best man she ever knew.  The commander of the Teselecta said that she killed the Doctor.  He also said that the Doctor’s death is a fixed point in time, on the beach of Lake Silencio.  So she was never going to have killed the Doctor there, right?  Or was she?  And if she was, is that what she’s in prison for?  And if so, how does that make sense, as he didn’t die?  It makes the mind hurt to think about it too much.  River had said that she learnt to fly the TARDIS from the best, when the Doctor wasn’t available – so the TARDIS taught her.  I get that.  But how?  How quickly?!  The Doctor only had 32 minutes to live, as Holo-Amelia kept on informing us.  In those 32 minutes, the Doctor also got changed into his tux and did a bit of physical comedy as his legs went to sleep.  Also, we had always been led to believe that the timelines of the Doctor and River were going in directly opposite directions – their first meeting, as we saw it, was in The Library, although it was the final meeting for River.  As such, this first meeting between River and the Doctor must be their last, as it is the first time River has ever met the Doctor.  Are you following this?  No, me neither...

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Torchwood – Episode 7 – Immortal Sins

This week’s episode saw the series return to its roots, of a fashion.  Whilst previous episodes in this, so far, average-at-best story have been very flashy, set-piece driven tosh, this instalment relied heavily on exposition.  And it was actually quite good.

Kudos must go to Jane Espenson for her script, which allowed a great deal of characterisation for Jack and Gwen, as well as new arrival Angelo.  Her background as script editor on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Battlestar Gallactica is evident in the scripts that she has provided so far for Torchwood.  Much like Buffy frequently managed to pull off convincingly, this latest episode used the convention of flashbacks to great effect. 

My biggest gripe about this latest episode is not much of a gripe, all told.  I was frustrated that, 6 episodes in, the plot made minimal movement towards the end-game.  Whilst, for the last few episodes, we have been led to believe that everything up to now has been lies, and red herrings, it would therefore be natural to expect that the final few episodes would begin to work towards coming to a conclusion.  Instead, it is a brave step that the series takes – a step back to 1927 and 1928, providing some character background that will fill some of the blanks eventually.  Having said that, there seemed to be a whole hour of exposition to lead up to the discovery that Angelo is somehow involved.  That’s an awfully long time to fill with little information of any use to the fans.  But it was still quite entertaining.

There has been an awful lot of fuss made on fan sites and blogs regarding the gay sex content of this episode.  Many claim that those complaining about it are homophobic, and that the gay sex is ‘what the show is about’.  Here, I couldn’t disagree more.  These fans claim the show has always been about sex, and that’s what makes Torchwood Torchwood.  Again, this is wrong.  The show was always about strong characterisation, alien technology, the rift running through Cardiff... hell, it’s always been about Cardiff!  The sex was never gratuitous, whether it be with man, woman or vegetable.  Yet here, the ‘sex talk’ scene went on for far too long, and the actual sex was needless.  It didn’t contribute to the storyline.  It didn’t add anything.  It was simply sex for the sake of sex, taking advantage of the fact that it was on after the watershed.  And no, I’m not homophobic – I’m homosexual.  And still, I didn’t appreciate it.  Fangirls everywhere probably damn-near exploded with glee at the sight of John Barrowman’s sagging rear end, but for me, it just made me cringe.  It was nice that Jack at least faintly acknowledged his omnisexual status in this episode, by admiring the Amy Winehouse look-a-like smoking on the balcony opposite, and talking to Gwen about children he may have.  But still, the show has moved away from its roots, not allowing Jack to screw anything and everything that moves.

Having said all that, the scenes in the flashbacks were well-handled and well-directed, and it was nice to see Jack at the forefront of the story again.  Whilst it is a little too neat for my liking, once again having Jack responsible for what’s happening (as in the superior Children of Earth storyline), the performance of Angelo Colasanti was brilliant, and added a much-needed touch of humanity.  His character was a welcoming well-rounded addition, as he coped with his faith and his carnal desires.  The references made to the Doctor were pleasing for the fan in me, and it was quite a sweet twist that we saw Jack so vulnerable, and so desperately craving the companionship that the Doctor uses as a tool to survive.  I’ve said before that I do not consider Jack to be the main character of Torchwood, preferring to see it as an interesting ensemble piece that simply rotates around his character.  Up until now, by emasculating him and reserving him to the background, a bit-player in the story, the show lost a great deal of its original appeal.  By bringing him back to the fore, as much as I hate to admit it, it has returned the heart of Torchwood to its rightful place.  Other references to the Doctor Who universe were the discussions about the Trickster’s Brigade, which again made me smile.

Angelo Colasanti, played with flair by Daniele Favilli, was a fascinating addition to the Torchwood universe.  His name literally translates as Angel Saint-Pourer, which again could add to the meaning of the Miracle in some way.  The flashbacks were particularly interesting in that, rather than focussing on the story but not giving us any red herrings, it allowed the series to move on – ironically, given that at least 45 minutes of the episode were all filler.  Whilst I am still waiting for some answers, which I had expected of a show with only three instalments left, it was pleasant that we weren’t force fed more false ends, focussing instead on exposition and character progression.

The scenes in the car between Jack and Gwen were first rate, albeit a little alarming –Whilst Gwen’s announcement that she would stand by and watch someone kill Jack to get her family back were fair considering the circumstances, Jack’s confession to Gwen that he would ‘rip the skin from your  scalp’ was a little extreme, but again, considering the circumstances, it is understandable – this is a man that has come to terms with eternal life, whether he likes it or not, and to have a murder forced upon him when he is so under-prepared for the idea of death would surely be quite a terrifying proposition.  Also, a little side note here – where the hell’s Gwen’s father, after they went to all that trouble to rescue him over the last two weeks?  It was refreshing, as I’ve said, not to rely too heavily on Rex and Esther this week.  Their characters haven’t, up until now, added a great deal to the proceedings, rather just adding more distractions from the main motivation of the plot. 

The religious iconography throughout the episode was a tad strange – at times, it seemed that the producers were trying to make Jack into the new Jesus;  the whipping and beating from his ‘followers’, the bathing of the feet, as well as the obvious Jack/Jesus trademark of rising from the dead.  I just hope and pray that the Miracle doesn’t turn out to be related to the blood that the fanatics began to collect into vials and jars as it poured from his wounds.  The scenes of torture were reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic epic The Passion of the Christ, and were horrifically graphic.

The ‘twist’ at the end was a little predictable, having focussed so much on Angelo throughout, but I am still expecting the trio of businessmen to play a more substantial part too – possibly ‘bankrolling’ Angelo’s scheme?  Their handshake, crossing wrists to create a triangle, was a clear link to the rotating triangle used in communications with the ‘bad guys’ from earlier in the series.  As such, it would be a slight red herring if they weren’t involved somehow.  A slight issue I have is that Angelo appeared late in the day – again reinforcing that Torchwood have been leading us down the garden path with every other detail up until now.

Another nice inclusion for the geek in me was the appearance of Nana Visitor, Kira from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  An excellent actress, she was slightly underused this week, but I’m sure we’ll see more of her next week.  My issue with Visitor as the voice of Angelo is that, after the newest members of Torchwood save the day, she informs Jack that he’ll come with her anyway – if that’s true (and it almost certainly is) then why bother going through the hassle of kidnapping Jack anyway?  Why not simply call him and ask him to come, or send the message to Gwen to pass on to him?  Also next week is the return of the ever brilliant Wayne Knight, of Third Rock from the Sun, as the shady CIA boss, and the appearance of the incredible John De Lancie, Q from Star Treks The Next Generation,DS9, and Voyager.  The three together next week will be fascinating to watch, and show that the show is finally beginning to return to its Sci-Fi roots.  Speaking of Sci-Fi, this week’s episode finally saw the appearance of an alien – hurrah!  Admittedly, the creature played no part in the overall story, but still it was a first for this Sci-Fi show, 7 episodes in.  Again, the geek in me did a little dance of joy when the creature appeared – it was the spitting image of the Goa’uld symbiote from Stargate: SG1. 
Another slight loophole in the story this week was the costume choices – specifically, the fact that Jack was wearing ‘that coat’ again.  Last week, I discussed the fact that the coat was now his ultimate pulling tool, relying on that to get his end away.  This week, despite it being an impossibility with regards to timeframes and continuity, he was wearing the World War II army surplus jacket, and once more managed to grab a man whilst wearing it.  If I remember correctly, he acquired the surplus jacket when he lived through the Second World War, which in 1927 he won’t have done yet.  Still, that’s picking holes in an otherwise very strong episode.

For the second week in a row, we had no sidelined story involving Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger, which I did miss somewhat – whilst they are not clearly adding anything to the plot, they do provide nice distractions, as both characters are excellent.  Judging from the ‘next time’ trailer at the end, both characters will be returning to the fore next week, with even more gut-churning scenes, one of which involves our paedophile ‘hero’ requesting a young girl, and smacking a prostitute – presumably because she’s too old for his tastes. 

So, next week we should find out more about The Blessing, The Miracle, Angelo, Oswald Danes...? I hope so.  I really, really do.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sherlock - Episode 3 - "The Great Game"

The first series of Sherlock came to an explosive end with “The Great Game”.  And ‘great’ it was, too.  This short series has been fascinating on a number of levels – the depiction of Holmes as a nicotine patch covered, autistic genius was a brave move, and Benedict Cumberbatch delivered every line with obvious glee, as was the interpretation of the role of Dr John Watson as a war veteran with a penchant for danger, which Martin Freeman embraced with his usual pitch-perfect dead pan delivery.

The basic premise of this episode was quite brilliant – Moriarty is finally showing his face, but only if Sherlock is able to work out five separate crimes within set time limits, thereby proving his worth as an arch-nemesis for this bored sociopathic genius.  Starting with the murder of a young boy called Carl Powers 20 years earlier.  Through the locating of a pair of trainers in a disused room at 221B Baker Street, Holmes is able to deduce that Powers was poisoned through his eczema cream, which paralysed him, leading the boy to drown.

Each crime is related to Holmes over a phone – a perfect replica of the pink phone from “A Study in Pink” – which was found inside a safe in a building over the road from Holmes’ apartment, which was destroyed in a fake gas leak.  The clues are given to him by poor unwitting people all over London, who have been strapped with bombs, and must read exactly what is said to them over a pager.  Watching their every move is a sniper who will assassinate them if they give any additional information – as happens to the poor, sweet old blind lady – but more on that later.  The first victim is a middle-aged woman from Cornwall, who apparently was kidnapped and forced to sit in a car for hours and hours with a bomb jacket on.  Quite how no-one noticed her sat there, in the car park of a shopping centre, crying her eyes out, is one small discrepancy in an otherwise very strong and almost faultless storyline.  The same is true of the young man on a large and busy pedestrian crossing in the middle of London – in a city where everyone is suspicious of everyone else, it seemed strange that a man in a large, bulging parka coat didn’t make any of the locals bat an eyelid.

The next few crimes are a little more difficult than testing shoes laces for skin samples – and yet Holmes is given much less time to solve them.  Ranging from the ‘murder’ of a man who hired a car, to the murder of TV celebrity make-over specialist, and the discovery of a fake Vermeer painting, the cases get gradually more challenging, all coming together in one final, exciting finale by a swimming pool.

The opening sequences were excellent – with Holmes ‘educating’ a criminal in Belarus on the correct use of the English language.  The script was witty, and Cumberbatch took obvious delight in delivering his interruptions of the convict’s story to correct his grammar.  Following his return to England, we see how painfully bored he is by the lack of interesting crimes.  Laid in his armchair, firing his gun repeatedly into the wall, he portrays the quirks of the character with a great deal of flair, reminding us that Holmes isn’t ‘normal’ in any sense of the word.  His mind works differently to ours, and he craves mental stimulation in much the way that we crave cigarettes and caffeine.  The touches, like him not knowing basic primary school facts, were excellently delivered, as he pointed out that his mind is a hard-drive and he ‘deletes’ unnecessary information, like that the Earth rotates around the sun. 

My biggest bugbear of this latest episode is that Watson was given so little to do.  Up until now, Watson has been invaluable to Holmes, both as a patient ear and a second eye to the cases.  Here, though, he is simply following Holmes entirely, being given errands to run which come to no fruition.  His scenes in the home of the deceased TV star became redundant once Sherlock explained how she had been killed – and the script equally fed us red herrings.  I will admit that I was extremely pleased with myself the second that the cat walked in on screen, remembering the scratches and therefore deducing that she had somehow been poisoned by her feline companion.  To then be told that it was through her Botox injections, which there had been no way of guessing prior to this, should have been somewhat infuriating – and yet it didn’t irritate.  It intrigued me.  I wanted to know more.  It was just a shame that Watson hadn’t had the chance to prove his worth after his input in the last two episodes.

The one thing that Watson had to do was solve the crime given to them by Mycroft, Holmes’ brother.  The missing pen drive seemed at first to be another red herring, a pointless case to distract the detectives and the viewers alike.  That the crime then fed back into itself was something of a relief.  But again, as Watson pottered about, interviewing family and workmen, finally working it out, it was a tad disheartening that Holmes had already worked it out – this, despite the fact that he hadn’t even visited the crime scene!

The further characterisation of Lastrade was another pleasing element of this wonderful episode.  Whilst he had featured in the first episode, begrudgingly calling on Holmes’ expertise, he wasn’t present in episode two at all, only name-checked once.  Rupert Graves is brilliant as the Detective, desperate to solve the crimes, but without the first clue of how to go about them.  He clearly has a disdain for the excitement Holmes derives from hunting murderers and serial killers, and in particular the respect he shows them for their ingenuity, but there is also a great deal of appreciation for the work Holmes does, displayed through nuanced facial expressions and the occasional sigh.

Gatiss’ script shone for this episode – despite the fact that, in one 90 minute instalment, he had five times as many crimes to solve, he managed to keep the pace as tight as ever, with equal chance for character development.  The tone is darker, but in a welcome way.  I would have liked perhaps a little more depth to each of the cases, but time was of the essence, both for Holmes and Gatiss himself, and it’s a small miracle that he was able to provide so much exposition and information in such a short space of time!

Similarly, Paul McGuigan’s direction was superb – as it was in “A Study in Pink”, he keeps action focussed intently, and manages to capture the excitement of the case in every frame.  The use of on-screen graphics was back in full force, adding a great deal of tension to the proceedings – as numbers flicker onto the screen, reminding us of Holmes’ fierce schedule, the tension ramps up further.  The use of the scrolling search bar on Holmes’ phone allows the audience to work out some of the information, but we’re always at least one step behind Sherlock, as the most pertinent information is withheld until Holmes shares it.  Episode two took a slight dip, as both the writing and the direction were slightly less focussed than here and in the first episode.  Dealing with so much in such a strict timeframe can be no mean feat, and as such both Gatiss and McGuigan must be applauded for keeping everything so tense throughout - even the side plots like Watson’s blossoming romance with Sarah, and the fight sequence with the Golem in the Observatory kept everything moving.

Watson’s distaste at Holmes’ lack of respect for human life ensured that there was a depth to the performances.  As Holmes claimed that feeling anything for the victims could jeopardise his case, we are reminded again of the almost Aspergers nature of Holmes character – his tunnel vision is particularly troubling, and so Watson remains the voice of reason throughout.

The scenes with the bombing victims were particularly touching, as they shuddered with tears whilst following the orders to the letter.  The only victim to be murdered for sharing too much information was the little old lady, who, due to her blindness, had to be spoken to in Moriarty’s soft, soothing tones.  By sharing this information, it jeopardised Moriarty’s cover, and so she was swiftly dispatched in a huge explosion in a block of flats, killing 12 people.  Interestingly, as Holmes put the phone down, he looked truly distraught – although whether this was over the lost lives, or the fact that he’d ‘lost’ the game, was unclear.  Indeed, he later threw a petulant strop, claiming that he’d beaten Moriarty, that he’d solved the case.

The final fifteen minutes were exhilarating, and nail biting, as the showdown came to a head with the big reveal of Moriarty.  Andrew Scott’s performance was perfectly honed, and outstanding.  That he was so similar to Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Holmes was telling of the similarities between the two characters – both bored by the mundane world in which they are forced to live.  It shows us that Holmes could easily have followed the ‘wrong’ path, and become another Moriarty, had he not kept himself under tight control and followed the right route, stopping criminals rather than being one himself.  I personally loved the suggestion that Moriarty has become a master criminal, a king pin in the underworld, just to stave off his boredom – the ‘Consulting Criminal’ to Holmes’ ‘Consulting Detective’. 

Scott’s balance of calm and controlled, through to his explosive rant that dying is “what people do!” was brilliant.  I must confess that I never saw it coming.  When Dr Watson stepped out of the cubicle, I cringed, thinking that it was going down such a ‘predictable twist’ route.  However, within seconds I noticed the coat, hiding the bomb, and my heart jumped – again, there was a further twist.  And I was also extremely pleased that it didn’t go down the predictable route of it being Mycroft, too – Gatiss is brilliant at bad characters, but it would have all been too simple, especially for him scripting, to have provided himself with a character with that darker streak. 

The new series has been confirmed for 2012, rather than the end of 2011, as had been originally hoped, but to be frank, I hope they leave it as long as possible.  The cliff-hanger was such that it left me desperately craving more, and yet wanting to keep that moment eternally – how will they get out of this situation?  What will happen with Moriarty now that Sherlock knows his identity?  Who was aiming all of those sniper rifles at them?  Sherlock has clearly spotted a get-out clause in the situation, and all that we can do now is wait and see how it all turns out.

And I, for one, can’t wait.