Sherlock : The Blind Banker

The second episode of BBC’s television series Sherlock is The Blind Banker. This episode takes the concept of coded messages from The Valley of Fear (using book references) and The Adventure of the Dancing Men (using pictorial messages).

This case starts off at the National Antiquities Museum, Chinese pottery expert Soo Lin Yao (Gemma Chan) sees something that frightens her, and disappears. Meanwhile Watson, having found himself running short of cash and gets a job, temporarily filling in at a local surgery with Sarah Sawyer (Zoe Telford). As soon as he retuns Watson is taken by Sherlock to  “the bank”, which turns out to be a high-powered international finance house. There Sebastian Wilkes (Bertie Carvel), an old university acquaintance of Sherlock’s, asks for help, in return for a large fee. A break-in occurred in which nothing was taken, but an apparently meaningless pair of symbols were spray-painted onto a portrait of a banker. Using his skills Sherlock arrives at the conclusion that the symbols were meant for only one man – Edward Van Coon of the Hong Kong desk – who hasn’t shown up at work that day. The two head over to Van Coon’s apartment and find him dead, apparently a suicide as the cops think it is but Sherlock is sure that it is a murder. Journalist Brian Lukis is also killed inside his locked apartment. Sherlock and John investigate, and in a library where Lukis had been they find the same mysterious symbols painted on a shelf.

Sherlock & Watson find out the link between the two dead men –  both had just returned from China, and both went to an oriental curio shop, “The Lucky Cat” in London and inside the shop John discovers that the symbols are ancient Chinese Hangzhou numerals. Sherlock also breaks into Soo Lin’s apartment (right near the shop) and is almost killed by a masked assailant. At the museum they discover the same symbols on a statue. Then, with the help of graffiti artist “Raz”, Sherlock and John find more symbols painted on a railway yard wall, and struggle to decode the message. They find Soo Lin hiding out in the museum’s antiquities wing at night and she explains to them  the code is the work of the criminal “Black Lotus Tong”, of which she was once a member. Unfortunately, before she can fully decode the message, the assassin, who is revealed to be Soo Lin’s brother, strikes again. Sherlock realizes that Van Coon and Lukis were members of the Tong, involved in smuggling valuable antiquities from China to sell in London, and that they were killed because one of them stole something. That night he & John spend awake trying to decipher the code, leading to a tired Watson falling asleep in the consulting room on his first day at the job. Sarah covers for him, and Sherlock arranges a date for the three of them at a travelling Chinese circus.

While Sarah & John enjoy the exotic & dangerous acts of the circus Sherlock snoops around backstage and is attacked, but with Sarah and John’s help, the three escape. However John & Sarah are kidnapped from the flat while Sherlock finds the clue he is looking for in a tourist book and breaks the code. Sherlock tracks them down and saves his friend and his date from the villains. He also realises that the elusive “treasure” has been in plain sight all the time; a jade hairpin (worth 9 million pounds) belonging to the Chinese royal family being worn by Van Coon’s secretary/mistress Amanda, who had received it as a gift from Van Coon. However, Shan, the leader of the gang, escapes, making excuses in her report to a person identified only by the initial “M”. The episode ends with Shan’s assassination by a sniper sent by “M”.

Not as good as the first one but it still stand out. The addition of Zoe Telford as Watson’s possible love interest is welcome. Can’t wait for episode 3.

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