Now comes the second episode in the season 1 mini-series tilted “The Blind Banker”.
Holmes is hired by an old friend to look into an unexplained break-in and spray-painted graffiti at a merchant bank. He deduces that the graffiti is a cipher intended for a specific trader at the bank, who is subsequently found murdered in his flat. A journalist is found dead in his apartment the next day, accompanied by the same coded message. Holmes and Watson soon uncover a ring smuggling valuable artefacts out of China for sale in the West, and that one of the two dead men had stolen a multi-million pound jade pin on their travels. Holmes cracks the cipher just in time to help rescue Watson (whom the smugglers have mistaken for Holmes) and his date Sarah.
Although this was a good, action-packed yarn, it was also the weakest of the three episodes, and the one occasion on which Sherlock veered towards a more formulaic detective drama – for long stretches it could just have easily been an episode of Lewis. There are flashes of Holmes’ deductive brilliance throughout, but these often feel secondary to the overall plot, serving to move the viewer from one setpiece to another, rather than being the core of the story itself. The trail of breadcrumbs that leads the smugglers to mistake Watson for Holmes was a clever device, but felt implausible – surely a ring that well organised who knew of the existence of Holmes would also know what he looked like?
Anyhow, this was a decent story by the standards of a procedural crime series, but it was no more than a workmanlike Sherlock for me.