Season 1 Episode 3

The Great Game

Aired Unknown Aug 08, 2010 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
518 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Sherlock investigates the murder of a young civil servant and soon finds himself in a battle of wits with a deranged bomber who sets a series of escalating challenges for the consultant detective.

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    Fantastic television and the casting is nothing short of brilliant. Until Moriarty. I understand that they're gunning for a younger angle but it didn't work for me. The actor did fine, sure, but unlike the other reinterpretations this one rang a bit false. Moriarty was a match for Holmes intellectually but it was his extra years, his wisdom, that hinted at having an edge over the genius; this was how he became an honest threat.moreless
  • Two brilliant characters meeting each other

    With the season finale "The Great Game", Sherlock returns to the successful formula of its pilot and makes use of Paul McGuigan as a director, one of the two series creators as a writer, Rupert Graves and Mark Gatiss as supporting actors, and a villain worthy of receiving Sherlock Holmes' attention and guess what? It works perfectly.

    Reintroducing the world's only consulting detective as he interrogates a British murderer in a Belarusian prison and gets more irritated by the man's incorrect grammar and manner of speaking than his actual crime, "The Great Game" starts superbly already. What follows doesn't disappoint either and both the development of Sherlock and John's relationship and the crimes they try to solve are a delight to watch. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman show exceptional acting talent in their characters' snide repartee and their actually taking quite a liking to each other. However, there is someone dwarfing them: Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty. Although, when Sherlock's arch enemy makes his first appearance in one of the series's all-time best moments, he's just office romance Jim. The Irishman later returns for an even greater scene in the history of Sherlock and gives an unequalled performance that I'd be perfectly fine with if it were the only one I'd ever see again for the rest of my life.

    And even if, as Scott stated himself, this swimming pool scene I was alluding to in the previous paragraph was rushedly written by Mark Gatiss, the result is brimming with witty writing and one of the best ideas the Sherlock creator have had for relocating the classic story into modern times. As has been established, he and Steven Moffat practice such re-writing of the Arthur Conan Doyle story on other occasions as well, and for "The Great Game", the two have come up with some jewels "I'd be lost without my blogger" instead of "I'd be lost without my Boswell" or Holmes' network of homeless persons instead of the Baker Street Irregulars, to name a few.

    The main plot underlying such little references is just as good, merging multiple entertaining cases into a bigger picture that culminates into what I'd venture to judge as a perfect final showdown. Yet all of the 90 minutes of running time are outstanding filmmaking, amusing and suspenseful, well-written and well-directed. One minor drawback of "The Great Game" are its scores of supporting characters, often but rudimentally evolved ones that echo the likes of less original television crime programmes.

    This spectacular final episode of Sherlock's first season makes amends for its offering no more than three feature-length episodes and manifests the series as true high-quality entertainment. And though it truly is a finely crafted one, it's not that much the cliffhanger at the end that has your excitement for the second season go sky high, but what the series has accomplished overall.

    My detective scribblings:

    - Una Stubbs is such a lovely little cast member her facial expressions when being ignored by Sherlock, John, and Lestrade are just wonderful acting and make you want to cuddle her, don't they?

    - The thought of a woman just sitting in a car in the car park wearing a bombing vest is actually quite a spine-chilling thought if you contemplate it.

    - Character information: John's lying and Sherlock's astronomy knowledge are about on the same, abysmally low level.

    - You could argue that the planetarium fight scene John and Sherlock vs the Golem is plainly ridiculous, but I'm a big fan of it anyway: the cinematography, editing, and astronomy trivia heard in the background make it an ingeniously crafted scene and a lot of fun to watch, in my opinion.

    - Making his hostage John say "gottle o' gear" makes Moriarty all the greater and really had me bursting into laughter.

    - Exceptional editing by Charlie Phillips in this episode, I personally loved the transition between Sherlock and John at the train tracks and the two walking to Joe Harrison's flat.moreless
  • Great Episode.

    I loved this episode, it was just a constant barrage of case after case. Moriarty (Who I knew from Band of Brothers, Episode 2 I think), is Irish, played Moriarty as Irish,(the name is Irish), the accent was soft spoken(A couple friends identified it as a mix of D4 and something else). Also in the books he is described as reptilian, and he did hiss a couple times, and moved his head that way.

    I thought it was a great, and different take on the villian.moreless
  • Holmes, Moriarty - Moriarty, Holmes....

    .... "The Great Game" finds the two ends of the consulting spectrum finally meet: the detecting consultant Sherlock Holmes and the crime consultant Jim Moriarty. Andrew Scott (whose only work I was familiar with was his memorable turn in "John Adams") made at the very least an intriguing modern Moriarty - but I find his portrayal of the character hard to judge at this time without seeing the rest of the series.

    I find myself somewhat disappointed in this series after first being blown away by "A Study In Pink" and, while surely entertained, not treated to as good of a show in the following episodes as I witnessed the series slip from brilliant to simply enjoyable in just three episodes. Season 1 finale "The Great Game" is an enjoyable watch and I thought the final climax was excellent; however, the story had too many things crammed into one episode from start to finish to the point that the story never seemed like it was going anywhere until the thrilling but largely abrupt-feeling ending.

    Oh well, Season Two here I come!moreless
  • 1x03 - the great game

    One of the things I really liked in this episode was seeing Sherlock's ruthlessness and pragmatism. John having a side mystery was good and I liked how the recovery the drive wasn't actually important overall.

    I was highly irritated by Moriarty but I suspect that is intentional.
Vinette Robinson

Vinette Robinson

Sgt Sally Donovan

Guest Star

Matthew Needham

Matthew Needham


Guest Star

Kemal Sylvester

Kemal Sylvester

Tube Guard

Guest Star

Andrew Scott (II)

Andrew Scott (II)

Jim Moriarty

Recurring Role

Una Stubbs

Una Stubbs

Mrs Hudson

Recurring Role

Loo Brealey

Loo Brealey

Molly Hooper

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • There is a discrepancy about the age of Connie Prince. On the diner's television, the caption on her death reads, "Make-over Queen Connie Prince dead at 48." In the next scene at the morgue, Lestrade reads from a file and states that Connie was 54.

    • DI Lestrade refers to the five tones (four short and one long) heard on the pink phone as "the bloody Greenwich Pips." However, the Greenwich Time Signal (a.k.a. "the pips") has six tones (five short and one long) and are used to indicate the top of the hour. The bomber intentionally removed the first pip from the recording so there would be only five (allowing the connection with the secret societies warning).

    • The dead man, West, is referred to as "Andrew" throughout. However, in the end credits, his first name is listed as "Alan."

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Sherlock: Are you coming?
      John: If you want me to.
      Sherlock: Of course. I'd be lost without my blogger.

    • Bewick: It was an accident, I swear. (as Sherlock leaves) Hey, you've gotta help me, Mr. Holmes. Everyone says you're the best. Without you… I'll get hung for this.
      Sherlock: No, no, Mr. Bewick, not at all. "Hanged," yes.

    • (as Sherlock shoots the wall with a gun)
      Watson: What the hell are you doing?
      Sherlock: Bored.
      Watson: What?
      Sherlock: Bored! Bored! Bored! I don't know what's gotten into the criminal classes. Good job I'm not one of them.
      Watson: So you take it out on the wall?
      Sherlock: Oh, the wall had it coming.

    • Watson: There's a head. A severed head!
      Sherlock: Just tea for me, thanks.
      Watson: No, there's a head in the fridge.
      Sherlock: Yes.
      Watson: A bloody head!
      Sherlock: Where else was I suppose to put it? You don't mind, do you?

    • Sherlock: I see you've written up the taxi driver case.
      Watson: Yes.
      Sherlock: "A Study in Pink"--nice.
      Watson: Well, you know, pink lady, pink case, pink phone--there was a lot of pink.

    • Watson: It's the solar system!
      Sherlock: Oh hell, what does it matter? So we go round the sun. If we went round the moon or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn't make any difference. All that matters to me is the work.

    • Sherlock: Look at that, Mrs. Hudson. Quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn't it hateful.
      Mrs. Hudson: Oh, I'm sure something will turn up, Sherlock. A nice murder, that'll cheer you up.

    • Sherlock: You read his blog?
      Lestrade: Course I read his blog; we all do! Do you really not know that the Earth goes around the Sun?

    • Watson: So why is he doing this, then, playing this game with you? Do you think he wants to be caught?
      Sherlock: I think he wants to be distracted.
      Watson: I hope you'll be very happy together.
      Sherlock: Sorry, what?
      Watson: There are lives at stake! Sherlock, actual, human lives. Just so I know, do you care about that at all?
      Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?
      Watson: No.
      Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.
      Watson: And you find that easy, do you?
      Sherlock: Yes, very. Is that news to you?
      Watson: No, no.
      Sherlock: I've disappointed you.
      Watson: It's good, it's good deduction, yeah.
      Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist and if they did I wouldn't be one of them.

    • Lestrade: But what has this got to do with that painting? I don't see...
      Sherlock: You do see, you just don't observe
      Watson: All right, all right. Girls, calm down.

    • Watson: Fantastic!
      Sherlock: Meretricious.
      Lestrade: And a happy new year.

    • Miss Wenceslas: Who are you?
      Sherlock: Sherlock Holmes.
      Miss Wenceslas: Am I supposed to be impressed?
      Sherlock: You should be. Have a nice day.

    • Tube Guard: I hate them.
      Watson: The police?
      Tube Guard: No, jumpers--people who chuck themselves in front of trains. Selfish bastards.
      Watson: Well, that's one way of looking at it.

    • Jim: Is that a British army Browning L9A1 in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
      Sherlock: Both.

    • Jim: No one ever gets to me. And no one ever will.
      Sherlock: I did.
      Jim: You've come the closest. Now you're in my way.
      Sherlock: Thank you.
      Jim: I didn't mean it as a compliment.
      Sherlock: Yes, you did.
      Jim: Yeah, okay, I did.

    • Jim: Although I have loved this, this little game of ours, playing Jim from IT, playing gay. Did you like the little touch with the underwear?
      Sherlock: People have died.
      Jim: That's what people do!

    • Jim: If you don't stop prying... I will burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.
      Sherlock: I have been reliably informed that I don't have one.
      Jim: But we both know that's not quite true.

    • Watson: I'm glad no one saw that.
      Sherlock: Hmm?
      Watson: You ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk.
      Sherlock: People do little else.

  • NOTES (5)

    • When Sherlock plays the voice mail from the pink phone, he hears five beeps which Inspector Lestrade refers to as the "Greenwich Pips." Sherlock then mentions that secret societies of old would send warnings in the form of orange pips (seeds). This idea comes from the story "The Five Orange Pips" in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in which the K.K.K. would send such a warning (with dire consequences).

    • Mark Gatiss and Peter Davison are uncredited as Mycroft Holmes and the Planetarium Narrator, respectively.

    • International Airdates:
      The Netherlands: November 3, 2010 on Nederland 1 (KRO)
      U.S.: November 7, 2010 on PBS (Masterpiece Theatre)
      Czech Republic: October 25, 2011 on AXN

    • This episode was liberally adapted from "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in The Strand Magazine dated December 1908, and collected in His Last Bow (1917).

    • Broadcasts:
      Sunday 8 Aug 2010 at 21:00 on BBC One.
      Sunday 8 Aug 2010 at 21:00 on BBC HD.
      Monday 9 Aug 2010 at 00:35 on BBC HD.


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