Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is Irene Adler Elementary's Moriarty?

I realized I never explained why  think Irene Adler is Moriarty on Elementary. After seeing this week's show, where she reappeared alive, I'm even more convinced. And am I ever going to feel stupid if I'm wrong.

One of the worst things about being a writer is that I can't stop analyzing stories. Sometimes, even if I dislike an aspect, I have to admire the way a story is told. A prime example is BBC Sherlock's Scandal In Belgravia. While I loathed the closing scene where Sherlock saved Irene's life, the annoying 'you can tell a man wrote this delusional scene' where Sherlock deuces that Irene is in love because she's sexually attracted to him, and was really unhappy with Irene being demoted to Moriarty stooge, the script itself was a work of art. Smart, challenging, well paced, wonderfully acted and oh so beautiful to look at, it easily would have been my all time favorite episode/film originally airing on tv. But most of the time instead of being amazed by the storytelling, I'm picking apart the dialog and trying to figure out why the writers made certain choices.

In an hour show, there's probably forty minutes of actual screen time. That's not a lot of time to set up the mystery of the week, gather the clues, solve the mystery, and move the story arc of the series along. That means that everything the audience sees and hears is a potential Chekhov's gun. (Or a red herring)  In a really well written show, the Chekhov's gun might not even be for that episode. Irene Adler in Elementary struck me as a delayed Chekhov's gun.

Irene Adler is one of the most important villains in the Sherlock Holmes canon, eclipsed only by Moriarty. So why would the writers of Elementary waste her on a stupid dead girlfriend meme? I didn't think they had, so I immediately suspected she was still alive. In the episodes following the initial mention of Irene, she was brought up a few more times. In marketing, you're told to mention a product's name three times to fix it the audience's memory (assuming some of the audience wasn't already well aware of the character). Otherwise, why bring her up at all? Her fate wasn't important to the immediate mystery any of the times she was mentioned, so she could only be important to the longer story arc.

Then Moran told Sherlock that Irene was the only victim he hadn't killed. The scene of the crime was similar to the murders he'd committed. That suggested that the 'murderer' was well acquainted with the other crime scenes.  Did Moran say he thought Moriarty was behind Irene's death or disappearance? I don't remember, but the suggestion was there. The absence of a body wasn't a concern because they hadn't found all his other victims. But a missing body is really suspicious when you're already convinced that Irene is still alive. Current horrible real life events aside, it's really hard to keep a prisoner hidden for a long period of time (much less move them to a different country). And if Irene was held prisoner by Moriarty, why didn't she announce to the world that she was alive as soon as she escaped? Are we supposed to believe that Irene was a prisoner in that house?

I adore Lucy Lui, so originally I watched the show because of her. I had no problem with the Joan Watson take on canon. But then Ms Hudson was written into the script as a genderqueer character. There was no real reason for her to be in that episode except possibly to remind the audience that the writers are willing to play with gender. I felt that pointed to other gender switches to come. 

Last night's episode strengthened my conviction. When they got the phone call from Moriarty, Joan Watson commented that they didn't know that they were hearing Moriarty's voice. Since I pick apart dialog, my first question was "Why did the writers have her say that?" And she hit on that point a few more times probably to make sure the audience had that possibility in mind. Then Sherlock asked a question that should have had an obvious answer to him. "Why now?" Dude, you've been sober a year now and you're back at the top of your game. You're a real threat to Moriarty again. Stop asking stupid questions.

The final thing that convinced me was when Sherlock admitted to Joan that he's in the middle of the puzzle and that's affecting his vision. Emotionally compromising Sherlock seems to be the game with Moriarty. (This also points to Joan being the one who will have the clarity of vision to figure out Moriarty's real identity.)

I'll know soon if I'm completely wrong. I hope not. Not just for my ego, but because Irene as Moriarty would be the best treatment she's had in a modern take on the Sherlock Holmes' stories. But mostly for my ego.


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