The meeting of minds – and possibly more – between Sherlock and Irene Adler is a subject that has long occupied fans of the BBC1 drama after the ambiguous ending to series-two episode A Scandal in Bohemia left some with more questions than answers.
When we last saw Benedict Cumberbatch’s detective and his female adversary, played by Lara Pulver, he was saving her from death at the hands of terrorists. But was the encounter real or a figment of Sherlock’s Mind Palace? Did he really beat Irene rather than the other way around? And what happened next between the sexy-brainy pair?
Now, thanks to an audience with co-creator Steven Moffat at the recent Sherlocked convention – and the trusty transcription work of fan site Sherlockology – all can be revealed…
Is the final scene all in Sherlock’s imagination?
Some fans have suggested that Sherlock’s swashbuckling rescue of Irene from a group of terrorists in Karachi is simply the detective’s daydream, perhaps an indication of his inability to get Irene out of his head. But, no, says Moffat, it all actually happened…
“The scene does not take place in Sherlock’s Mind Palace, nor could it,” confirmed Moffat, who wrote the Bafta-winning episode. “He’s been told a lie about where Irene Adler is, so he wouldn’t have fantasied saving her from a terrorist cell, he had no reason to have to. No, he really does go and save her.”
Does Sherlock beat Irene or does she beat him?
When Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler crossed swords in the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story A Scandal in Bohemia, it was the great detective who came off worse, having failed in his mission to obtain a sensitive document from the opponent he would for ever after refer to simply as “The Woman”.
In the corresponding episode of the TV series, however, Sherlock cracks the code to Irene’s phone – “I am Sherlocked” – and gains access to the secrets stored in it, prompting some fans to suggest that Moffat had made a winning female character into a loser.
But Moffat insists Irene had the supposedly aloof Sherlock right where she wanted him all along…
“If you remember earlier on in the story, Irene says, ‘I make my way in the world, and my trick is I get people to be exactly where I want them, when I want them there. That’s my super power. That’s what I do.’ Sherlock a few scenes later says, ‘I’m the one guy you can’t put a collar on’ and at the very end… yep, he turns up dressed as an Arabian Knight and hacks up some terrorists…”
“Some people say he won; he lost, because he admitted he cared…”
There’s even an unfilmed scene about what happened next
“I actually wrote a scene about what happened afterwards, because I got so curious about it,” said Moffat. “I had Sherlock turning around after he had hacked up all the terrorists, still very cross, and sort of saying, ‘I hope you don’t think that this means I am in any way interested in you?’ And Irene’s already got a gun on him – as she picks up a gun from the floor – and says, ‘No, but I am going to need male costume to get out of here.’
“And so Sherlock is left naked and Irene runs off dressed as him…
“And something like that happens between Irene and Sherlock every six months and THAT is their idea of a night of passion.”
Surely there’s a spin-off series in that idea, Mr Moffat…?