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"The Great Game"

Series 01, Episode 03

The Great Game
Air Date August 8, 2010
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Paul McGuigan
Viewers 9.18 million [citation needed]
Previous "The Blind Banker"
Next "A Scandal in Belgravia"
"Look at that, Mrs Hudson. Quiet. Calm. Peaceful. Isn't it hateful?"
Sherlock Holmes

"The Great Game" is the third episode of the first series of the Sherlock. It was first broadcast on 8 August, 2010 on BBC One.

Summary Edit

Sherlock is commissioned by his brother, Mycroft Holmes, to investigate the suspicious death of a government employee who was working on a top-secret defence project: the Bruce-Partington Project.

After apparently rejecting the case and handing it over to Dr John Watson, Sherlock begins to be taunted by a sinister criminal who puts his victims into explosive vests and sets Sherlock deadlines to solve apparently unrelated cases, including the disappearance of a businessman, the death of a TV personality and the death of a guard of an art gallery.

Plot Edit

Sherlock travels to Minsk to consider the case of an alleged murderer, Barry Berwick, who claims that he murdered his girlfriend by accident. Sherlock is, of course, more offended by the man's crimes against good grammar than by the actual murder itself. He leaves, smugly informing Bewick that he will soon be hanged, not hung.

At 221B Baker Street, a bored Sherlock is reduced to shooting holes in the wall. When John comes in, he discovers a decapitated head in the fridge, one of Sherlock's experiments. Sherlock is angry that his account of their first case on his blog has made him ridiculous by revealing that Sherlock lacks even primary school level notions of astronomy. Sherlock is of the opinion that any knowledge not likely to have an importance in his work takes up precious space in his brain. John goes out and Mrs Hudson comes in. She sympathises with Sherlock's disgust for a boring life, and assures him that he will no doubt soon have a murder to investigate. As she leaves, an explosion rocks the building across the street, shattering the windows behind Sherlock.

The next morning, John wakes up at Dr Sarah Sawyer's flat, where he is spent the night on the couch. As they flirt, they watch a newscast and John spots a piece on the explosion. He rushes back to the apartment and discovers Sherlock and his brother Mycroft sitting in the living room, unaffected by what seemed to be a staged gas leak. Mycroft tries to persuade his brother to look into the murder of MI6 employee Andrew West, who was found in a rail yard in Battersea adjacent to a switch, with his head smashed and missing a USB that had been in his custody. Mycroft elaborates that the flash drive contained vital information about the Bruce-Partington missile project. Sherlock however, refuses to take the case, stating that his hands are already full. He eventually asks John to investigate it himself.

Shortly after, DI Greg Lestrade calls Sherlock to Scotland Yard. There, Sherlock is given a package, containing a replica of the pink mobile phone of Jennifer Wilson, the murder victim in "A Study in Pink". A message on the mobile plays five Greenwich pips and displays a photo of a run-down basement which he recognises as 221C Baker Street, the basement flat of his building. Sherlock, John and Lestrade go back to 221C and find a pair of trainers lying in the middle of the room. At that point, Sherlock receives a blocked phone call from a terrified woman in her parked car, and is reading a message that is obviously being sent by a third party. She urges Sherlock to solve the puzzle in 12 hours or the explosive vest she is being forced to wear will be detonated. Sherlock believes the five pips mean that he will be required to solve five challenges.

Case #1: Carl Powers Edit

Sherlock and John go to St. Bart's laboratory to examine the trainers. They are interrupted by Molly Hooper, the lab technician who has a crush on Sherlock. She is hoping to make Sherlock jealous by introducing him to her new boyfriend Jim, an IT employee, who is impressed with Sherlock based on what Molly has told him. Sherlock simply informs her that Jim is gay, pointing out his meticulous self-grooming, exposed underwear and most importantly the telephone number he surreptitiously left under Sherlock's petri dish. Once Molly leaves, Sherlock invites John to examine the trainers, insisting that he can use a second opinion. John begins examining them, deducing that they belong to a child with large feet. Sherlock congratulates him, but notes that he missed almost everything. He explains that the shoes are 20 years old but well kept, and the mud and pollen on them indicates that they came from Sussex.

Upon noticing these clues, Sherlock realises that the shoes belonged to a young schoolboy named Carl Powers, an athlete who came up to London from Brighton for a swimming competition and drowned in 1989 in a tragic accident. The case had attracted Sherlock's attention at the time, because the victim's shoes were not present with the rest of his stuff, however, Sherlock was underage and unable to get the police to open an investigation into Carl's death. Now he is able to solve it simply from clues left on the trainers: Carl Powers had been poisoned with clostridum botulinin via his eczema medication. He applied a cream to his feet, and that is why his shoes were taken. He posts the results on the website, and the booby-trapped woman is freed by the bomb squad.

Lestrade tells Sherlock and John that the woman was abducted by two men who broke into her house and forced her to drive to a remote parking lot, where they decked her out in an explosive vest with explosives in quantities high enough to destroy an entire house. She was forced to read from the pager, and would have been set off if she deviated by a word.

During this time, John meets with Mycroft to collect more facts about the missing missile plans. Mycroft tells him that the dead man was a MI6 clerk, involved in the Bruce-Partington project in a minor capacity, and last seen with his fiancée, Lucy, the previous night. He was found at Battersea, is skull bashed in, but he did not have a ticket or a used Oyster Card. John lies and insists that Sherlock is completely focused on the case.

Case #2: Ian Monkford Edit

Next, Sherlock gets another picture message showing a sports car's front view. He also receives another phone call from a man trapped in a similar position to the woman who phoned him earlier, except he is standing in Piccadilly Circus, with a sniper ready to detonate his explosive vest jacket at a moment's notice. He gives Sherlock eight hours to solve the mystery.

With Lestrade's help, they track down the vehicle, a small car hired by a banker named Ian Monkford, which is found abandoned at the docks, with a bloodstain over the driver's side seat. Posing as a close friend, Sherlock interviews Monkford's wife, learning that he was recently very depressed, though suspiciously, he discovers that Mrs Monkford might be lying because she is referring to her husband in the past tense even though the body has not been found. Following a card he found in the glove box, he reaches a local rental car agency, Janus Cars. The owner, Ewart, claims that he did not know Monkford. Sherlock notes that he has a tan and must have gone on holiday, but Ewart says that he uses a tanning bed. Sherlock then asks for change for the cigarette machine, but Ewart shows him his wallet and says he does not have any change. As they go, Sherlock says that he needed to see inside of Ewart's wallet, and now knows that he is a liar, since his wallet contained 20'000 pesos from Colombia.

At the lab, Sherlock examines the blood samples from the car. With three hours left, Sherlock takes John and Lestrade to the car, and explains that there was exactly a pint of blood, and it was frozen. He explains that the clue is in the name of Janus Cars – they can arrange for people to disappear, and Sherlock figures that Ian Monkford is in Colombia – Ewart had a 20,000 Colombian peso note in his wallet and quite a bit of pocket change in that currency as well, despite having said that he had not been abroad recently, and his tan-line clearly showed that he had not been on a tanning bed, plus he kept scratching his arm since he'd recently had a booster jump, allowing Sherlock to conclude that Ewart had just returned from settling Ian Monkford into a new life in Colombia, and Mrs Monkford is in on it as well. Sherlock tells Lestrade to arrest her and then goes to notify the bomber via his website. The booby-trapped hostage is freed by emergency services.

Case #3: Connie Prince Edit

John and Sherlock go out for a meal, and John wonders if it is Moriarty, the mysterious employer of the killer cabbie.[1] Sherlock's phone rings, and someone sends him a photo of a woman, with three Greenwich pips. Sherlock has no idea who she is, but John recognises her as Connie Prince, a fashionista from the television. As he turns on the television, an elderly woman calls and relays a message that his new hostage is blind, and Sherlock has twelve hours to solve the new case, which is a funny one. When Sherlock asks why the bomber is doing it, he says (through the woman) that he loves watching Sherlock dance. Sherlock and John turn to the television, which is announcing the death of television makeover artist Connie Prince, who died recently from tetanus after cutting herself on the hand with a rusty nail.

At the morgue, however, Sherlock shows that the wound was clean and was made after her death. Posing as a journalist, John interviews Connie's brother Kenny Prince and decides he murdered his sister by infecting her cat's paws. Holmes demolishes this theory and instead blames her housekeeper Raoul de Santos, who committed the murder by increasing the dosage of her botox injections. Although Sherlock has solved the puzzle before the deadline, the bomber triggers the explosives upon the hostage when she starts describing his voice as being soft. The blast kills the woman and eleven of her neighbours, with the bombing once again being staged to look like a gas leak, and Sherlock admits that, while he solved the puzzle, he still lost that round. Sherlock explains that Moriarty is some sort of crime consultant who normally does not get himself exposed. John accuses him of relishing the challenge when lives are being endangered. Sherlock replies that being unemotional makes him more efficient, which in turn saves lives.

Case #4: Alex Woodbridge Edit

The fourth piece appears as a photograph of the River Thames. Sherlock sets out for the scene and comes across the corpse of a man there. After surveying the scene, Sherlock starts checking Internet records. John examines the corpse and concludes that he was asphyxiated and dead for 24 hours.

Sherlock explains that the water has destroyed most of the data, but the lost Vermeer painting, recently rediscovered and valued at over 30 million pounds, is a fake. Lestrade has no idea what he is talking about, and Sherlock explains that the victim was killed by the Golem, a Czech assassin, who strangles his victims with his own bare hands. The victim himself is wearing heavy duty pants, and what looks like a standard-issue uniform. There also is a clip on his belt for a walkie-talkie, and his legs show that he apparently does a lot of walking and sitting about – allow Sherlock to deduce that the man is a security guard. The killer was also interrupted before he could strip the corpse completely, but he did manage to get rid of an insignia of some sort. Further examination reveals ticket stubs in the victim's pocket, indicating he worked at a museum or art gallery. The Hickman Gallery, where the Vermeer painting is located, has reported one of their attendants, Alex Woodbridge, as missing since about the same time that the corpse has presumed to have been cold. The Gallery is showing the Vermeer that night, meaning Woodbridge must have been killed because he was aware of something that would have stopped the sale of the painting.

Sherlock sets off to find the Golem, while wondering why the bomber has not contacted him. Sherlock has the cab pull over and goes up on a pier. He gives money to a homeless woman, tells John that he is "investing," and goes on to the gallery. When they get there, he tells John to check out the attendant and goes inside.

John gets the attendant's address from Lestrade and talks to his roommate, who mentions that Woodbridge was an amateur astronomer, but did not know anything about art. She says that someone left a message for Alex, and plays it back. It's Professor Cairns, a local professor, calling to tell Alex that he was right. Mycroft calls and asks if there is any progress on the Bruce-Partington plans. At the Hickman Gallery, the owner, Mrs Wenceslas, notices Sherlock disguised as a security guard and analysing the Vermeer. She insists that it is not a fake but Sherlock insists that, even if he cannot prove it, he knows the woman is lying.

That night, Sherlock meets with John, who explains that Alex Woodbridge knew nothing about art and was an amateur astronomer. Sherlock is more interested in the woman he gave change to earlier. She slips him an address and he leaves, taking John with him. They go to a seedier part of town and Sherlock explains that he has established a homeless network and pays them for information. They notice a tall, skinny balding man, the Golem, but he gets away in a car before they can catch up to him. John says he knows where he is going.

Professor Cairns, meanwhile, is running a video of a planetarium. The Golem murders her, but John and Sherlock arrive and call out. He releases Cairns and flees into the darkness, and then ambushes Sherlock. John draws his gun and tells the Golem to surrender. The Golem knocks him aside and the two men try to subdue the assassin. They fail and he flees. Though Sherlock and John have failed to save her life, the garbled astronomy presentation playing on their arrival (garbled due to it being damaged during the attack) gives Sherlock the clue he needs as to what makes the painting a fake – the Van Buren supernova in the skyscape, which appeared in 1858 and thus could not have been painted in the 1640s.

At the station, Wenceslas admits that she only wanted her share of the 30 million pounds. She met a forger in Argentina, and eventually she was put in touch with people who worked for the mysterious bomber, who helped her set up the sale. However, she never met with him. Sherlock demands a name, and she finally tells them that it was Moriarty.

Case #5: Andrew West Edit

At Sherlock's behest, John is investigating the Andrew West case on his own and examines the crime scene where he is puzzled to hear that little blood was found on the tracks. Sherlock appears behind him, confirming his suspicion that West was killed somewhere else and dumped on the roof of a train and then fell off when the car experienced a slight jolt from passing over the switch points. Subsequently, they break into the apartment of West's prospective brother-in-law, Joe Harrison, who is a bike messenger. They find traces of blood on the windowsill of a window overlooking a railroad line.

When Joe comes home, they confront him about the murder and theft. Joe breaks down, confessing that he stole the Bruce-Partington data because he started dealing drugs and ended up in debt. One night he went out drinking with West, who boasted about the secret missile plans and showed Harrison the memory stick. Harrison stole it from his drunken brother-in-law, but West realised it later and confronted him. West accidentally died in the fight when he fell down a stairway, and then Joe had the idea to place him on top of a train to get the body as far away as possible. While a train was stopped underneath the window, Joe rolled West's body onto the train roof, and the train pulled away. The body subsequently fell off from the sudden jolt of the passenger cars when the wheel axles hit the switch points. Harrison turns over the memory stick, and Sherlock says that the distraction is over. Sherlock tells John that he has returned the memory stick and waits by the pink phone while watching what John describes as "crap telly"; John goes out to meet Sarah. Sherlock then contacts Moriarty, offering the missile plans and arranging a meeting at the swimming pool where Carl Powers died. When he arrives, he is greeted by John, who at first appears to taunt him but reveals that he is wearing an explosive vest and is having his words dictated to him like the previous hostages. The red dot of a rifle's laser sight floats on his chest.

Moriarty finally appears and turns out to be Jim, Molly's pseudo-boyfriend. The volatile and clearly unhinged Moriarty throws the USB stick in the pool and explains that the whole point of the exercise was to show Sherlock what he is capable of. In desperation John seizes Moriarty, shouting at Sherlock to run; Moriarty finds this highly amusing, calling John Sherlock's "pet". Within moments another laser sight appears on Sherlock's face: John releases Moriarty, who warns Sherlock to stay out of his way, threatening that he will not merely kill Sherlock: "If you don't stop prying, I'll burn you. I will burn the heart out of you."

Finally Moriarty leaves, giving Sherlock a chance to rip the bomb-rigged jacket off John and hurl it away. Both men are distraught, John crouching against a wall because his legs would not hold him, Sherlock stammering his thanks, and scratching the back of his head with a loaded pistol. John comments dryly that he is glad no one was watching.

Suddenly a laser sight reappears on John's chest, and within moments there are at least four on each of them. Moriarty reappears, calling, "Sorry, boys, I'm sooo changeable!" He has whimsically decided that Sherlock "cannot be allowed to continue" and must die; Sherlock glances at John, who nods faintly. Sherlock aims his handgun at Moriarty, then lowers it – to point directly at the explosive-rigged jacket now lying nearly at Moriarty's feet.

Allusions Edit

  • Holmes and Watson's discussion about astronomy and knowledge comes from A Study in Scarlet. ("But the solar system!" I protested. "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.")
  • The Andrew West case comes from "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", in which the victim is called Arthur Cadogan West; the idea of the culprit being the brother of the victim's fiancée appears in "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty".
  • The pink mobile phone receives messages with Greenwich Pips, with their numbers decreasing with each message, pointing towards "The Five Orange Pips".
  • The "thick Bohemian paper" comes from "A Scandal in Bohemia".
  • The investigation of the death of Connie Prince resembles "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" especially Watson's idea about masking tetanus with calcium hypochlorite on the cat's paws and Holmes reading internet forums to gather information about the TV star relatives.
  • Similarly, Ian Monckford's case is based on The Man with the Twisted Lip - a near-bankrupt businessman tries to cover his tracks disappearing with the help of criminal organisation.
  • The conversation between Holmes and Moriarty in the final scene mirrors and quotes the confrontation in Holmes' study in "The Adventure of the Final Problem".
  • Sherlock's statement "I'd be lost without my blogger" echoes his "I am lost without my Boswell" from "A Scandal in Bohemia".
  • Holmes' "Homeless network" who help him locate the Golem are referred to as his "eyes and ears all over the city", similar to the Baker Street Irregulars, who appear in many of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Sherlock's random gunfire at the start of the episode and the holes left in the wall is a reference to "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual", in which "Holmes, in one of his queer humours, would sit in an armchair... and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks"
  • Sherlock and Molly's conversation about her weight ("Domestic bliss must suit you, Molly. Putting on three pounds since I last saw you." – "Two and a half.") is from a similar conversation between Holmes and Watson in "A Scandal in Bohemia" ("Wedlock suits you," he remarked. "I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you." – "Seven," I answered.)
  • Sherlock tells John that Mycroft "threatened" him with a knighthood, a reference to "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs", where Watson mentions that Holmes refused a knighthood.

Trivia Edit

  • The episode's title might be a reference to the belief that Sherlock Holmes was a real person, which is called "The Game".
  • This episode takes place in the spring. In the April 1st entry of Molly's blog, she says that she does not care if Jim is gay, but that his manager is freaking out since he has not called in for work. (http://www.mollyhooper.co.uk/blog/01april)

Cast Edit

References Edit

  1. Moffat, Steven (writer) & McGuigan, Paul (director). (25 July, 2010). "A Study in Pink". Sherlock (2010). Series 1. Episode 1. BBC One.

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