For me, this was to Series One what "A Study in Pink" was to the unaired pilot, in terms of sudden leveling up in awesome, and considering the complete adoration I have for the first series, that's saying something. The first one was really, really great TV; this was a damn good movie.
- STAYING ALIVE. Ahahahaha. Of all the post-TGG fics written, I never figured the crackfics would be closest to canon. I love that the whole scene has been building on the tension of the soundtrack (strings strings STRINGSSTRINGSSTRINGS), and that this just flips that the bird with glee. I love that, silly as it is, it does actually make Moriarty just that little bit creepier, because it's so damn unexpected that nobody - not us, and not Sherlock and John - has any clue what the hell to do with it. Is the tension over, or is someone about to get shot in the face? WTF just happened here?
- This may be an unpopular opinion - I've been avoiding commentary and spoilers like the plague - but I like Irene as dominatrix. I'm guessing there'll be some grumbling about the whole "But she's an actress!" thing, but it's an interesting translation of her career. Given the historical context, it would be really hard to have her still be an actress here and keep the high-profile-but-still-tawdry connotation of the job from the original without losing the cool sophistication that makes her so neat. Professional dominatrix just works, I think.
- "Where do you think our clients come from?" Eee. We're all the way from, "Do you want me to come with you?" to our clients.
- HI LESTRADE!
- Sherlock with the Blowtorch of Irritation will never not be funny.
- The hat. Heh.
- I really want to know whose idea Sherlock meeting Irene was. I mean, Moriarty's unquestionably using her, but she's also already stalking Sherlock by news reports, so... Hm.
- LESTRADE IN THE CAR. "... and as far as possible, try not to punch him." Hahaha.
- THE SHEET. Also, as a side note, we have definitive proof that Sherlock eats and sleeps kind of hedonistically when he's not on an important case. And they have a ranking system for case importance, which John only argues minor details on. Hee.
- EVERYTHING ABOUT THE PALACE SCENE IS AWESOME. I love that Sherlock is sitting in the palace IN A SHEET, scrunching his toes and waiting for John, and that he is clinging to that sheet like a security blanket and still refusing to get dressed on general principle. I love that John is so damned unflappably John here, because batshit insanity just works for him. I love that the second they make eye contact they absolutely lose it. Oh, boys.
- "We solve crimes, I blog about it, and he forgets his pants. I wouldn't hold out too much hope." *dies*
- I love that Mycroft really obviously regresses to cranky big brother throughout this scene. Sherlock throws him off his game, and does it in Mycroft's element. I wanted to feel like Mycroft's dig about Sherlock's sex life was a little OOC, but no, no, I get it. Little siblings drive you nuts.
- The ashtray. Eee. He's totally showing off, for no purpose other than cracking John up.
- I love that Irene and Sherlock are absolutely deliberately (maybe a little anvilishiously, but I don't care) shown as parallels. She's introduced with a riding crop, first thing. They're simultaneously picking out costumes, regarding them in exactly the same way. She wears his coat, and on a superficial level looks shockingly like a female version of him - slim, cheekbones of death, light eyes, hair pulled up short. Not subtle, maybe, but still cool.
- The alley fight cracks me up.
"I was a soldier. I killed people."
"You were a doctor!"
"I have bad days!" HAHAHAHA.
- "Somebody loves you." I will totally come back to this theme later - because OMG THAT SCENE THAT IS COMING - but I adore the things that Irene reads in John and Sherlock's interactions, and her bluntness about them. Her pattern is to mess with... well, everyone, but she does it by telling the absolute truth. (You know, like Sherlock.)
- On a superficial level, I have always had a thing for the cinematography and style on this show, and that bit with the couch in the field is like really good visual candy.
- "Noises are important. Noises can tell you everything." Oh, show. I love it when you are sneaky.
- John's little "Thank you" to the guy who shoots the smoke detector is perfect. Heh. BAMF!John rules.
- Sherlock freaking the fuck out when John is threatened will never not be amazing to watch. He spends so much time thriving under pressure that the difference is really obvious. Compare the scene with the kid on the phone and the painting in TGG to this one with the safe: both time crunches, both with a life on the line, both with a puzzle to solve. In the first one, though, he's exhilarated, and here he's just terrified. Irene has to give him a hint, even.
- The slow-mo battle scene is just pure porn. It says so much about me that I found that way hotter than the explicitly suggestive drugs-and-riding-crop bit just after, doesn't it? O_o
- Sherlock's room! It's pathologically neat and gloriously geeky - periodic table! - and I'm going to be freeze-framing the hell out of it for research.
- And this is where the original story ends, and where we get to what I love most about this show. Even when you know the original canon, you don't necessarily know what's going to happen here. Sometimes it's subverting canon, sometimes it's taking all the pieces and putting them back together out of order, and sometimes it's just looking at all the familiar sights upside-down. It's always loyal, though, which is so much cooler than if it were slavishly faithful. It's fandom.
- They smack down Mycroft in tandem for getting snippy with Mrs. Hudson! I love that he's so thrown by it, like, "WTF? But, I... Oh. They're actually angry. Okay. Nevermind." Sherlock can snap at her when he's tense and John can act like an entitled brat now and then, but they're her boys. They don't mean it, and she knows it, and god help anyone else that tries anything. <3
- I mentioned it before, but I love the way they're using music so far this series. The violin standing in for Sherlock's voice shows up sooner or later in pretty much every version of him, and it's so effective here. The "God Save the Queen" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" are neat, and the composing-as-emotional-management-tool is a great character note, but the "Auld Lang Syne"... Oh. So much better than words, or silence.
- The Christmas party where all of Sherlock's people gather 'round and Sherlock entertains everyone awkwardly and John's date feels terrifically out of place... I've read this fic. Well, these fics. Hee.
- Molly... *sigh*. Possibly in an attempt to distract my embarrassment squick, I tuned in on Lestrade for a lot of the beginning of this bit. For the record, his facial expression when Molly's coat comes off is hilarious.
- "No! Christmas is cancelled!" *snickers*
- Aaaand back to Molly. This whole scene is just... ouch, all the way around. What kills me is that Sherlock is so obviously trying to be the opposite of cruel, here: he's clearly thinking that she's finally found someone else, and that she is serious about this guy, and that it's okay to tease her about it. He thinks they've finally become friends. He's as bull-in-a-china-shop about it as ever, what with the crack about her appearance, but then, he's also just casually told Lestrade that his wife's cheating and John that his sister's drinking. Normal doesn't exactly apply, is what I'm saying.
What's really interesting is that he's very obviously tempted to just bulldoze along until everyone pretends it didn't happen, and that he stops himself. I love John's little look of surprise. There's this running theme throughout the whole episode of John, for all that he understands Sherlock better than arguably anyone, still not getting just how much Sherlock hides. I'm really hoping that plays out through the rest of the series, although I already fear that ep 3 is going to break me into itty bitty pieces regardless.
- Mycroft and Sherlock in the morgue hallway... Oh. The fact that Mycroft tells him that he can have one cigarette, like this is the one point on which Sherlock has ceded control... The way that Sherlock smokes... The framing of the two of them in profile... "Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?"
- I love that Mycroft doesn't say that they don't care. He says it's not an advantage, but he still includes them in the everyone who can be hurt column. He treats it like a choice. Everything about the way Sherlock relates to emotion comes right back to this school of thought, and it's fascinating to contrast what he'll let himself show in front of Mycroft and away from him. (The reverse, for what it's worth, is just as interesting.)
- They have danger nights. OMG. And it never, never crosses John's mind to choose his girlfriend over Sherlock. He puts up a token protest, but there's never any doubt that Sherlock's going to win out, not on anyone's part.
- JOHN AND IRENE. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE WHOLE THING. I love the parallels to John and Mycroft's first meeting, and the fact that everything is different now. I love that John is so very angry, and that this time it's because of his loyalty, rather than the other way around. I love that Irene calls John on his bullshit right back. I love the examination of gender and sexuality that's been going on the entire episode, but I especially love that right here the sly fanservice jokes about John and Sherlock as a couple are suddenly something else completely. I know there's been some unhappy commentary from the PTB on this subject of late, but the show itself is really, really clear on the idea that this isn't a simple thing. There is no neat little line between types of love in the universe they've drawn here, and that's... well. Yeah.
- AND THEN THE MRS. HUDSON SCENE. To quote Bad Boys II, "Shit just got real." I love that Sherlock imagines her calling for him, because there's no evidence of that, and it is his imagination. I love that he comes in like a bastard because it's the way he reassures her that he's got a plan. I adore the homicidal calculations. You will never convince me that the sound that Mrs. Hudson makes when CIA Guy goes down is not a laugh. She doesn't actually lose it until John gets there and the crisis is over. BAMF!Hudson rocks.
- Bad guy out the window. Unlike Bumbles, CIA Guys don't bounce. Heh.
- "England would fall." There is nothing about that scene that doesn't give me the warm fuzzies, from the way that Mrs. Hudson is a quiet badass to the way that Sherlock understands what she actually needs to the way that John looks at the both of them with hearts in his eyes.
- Irene lays it right out there on the table that she'd like to lay Sherlock right out there on the table, and John isn't staring at her. He's flicking back and forth between the two of them, and making himself hoarse. *snort*
- Moriarty is in London, and neither Sherlock or Mycroft know it. Also, Mycroft is "Mr. Holmes," while Sherlock is always "Sherlock." Huh.
- It's interesting that Sherlock doesn't expect Irene to have an ulterior motive for using his detective skills, and yet still checks for deceit when she comes on to him.
- PLANE OF THE DEAD = creeeeeeepy. I love the callbacks to the Chekov's gun bits at the beginning. Mycroft is "Mr. Holmes" to Irene, too. Hm.
- Sherlock badly needs a hug for about the next 10 minutes of this episode.
- "I imagine John Watson thinks love is a mystery to me." WHAT. I CAN'T EVEN. O_O
- Sherlock and the sentiment argument... This is, I think, Sherlock's biggest, longest-running con game. I'm not entirely sure how much of what he says he believes, and how much is sheer anger, and how much is the fact that Mycroft is watching. (And looking stunned, for that matter.) This would be a nail in the coffin of Sherlock's acknowledgement of emotion, except... well, except the entire rest of the episode proves otherwise.
- I love that John bitches about Mycroft never meeting him at cafes, so now they meet at cafes.
- Sherlock wanted to be a pirate. That is all.
- John, honey, you can't lie worth a damn, but I love you for trying. Despite what he tells Mycroft, some part of him knows very well that Sherlock can be hurt by this. The kitchen scene, and everything they don't say there... oh. Oh.
- Those last 15 seconds are improbable and ridiculous and I DO NOT CARE. I love that the whole episode turns the book canon's simple contest with a winner (Irene) and a loser (Sherlock) into an actual relationship. They both win some and lose some, and in the end, it doesn't matter. The fact that he rescues her is proof that he's just as sentimental as she is, which pretty much puts them back on equal ground. We go all the way full circle, and it turns out they're two of a kind after all.
In summary: THIS SHOW, GUYS. <3
Oh, and: I remain unspoiled for everything in the rest of this series aside from episode titles, so for the love of all that is holy, please don't tell me anything. Thanks.