Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sherlock's Irene Adler Deserves Better

"Sherlock" clearly has its ups and down. Watching "Scandal in Belgrave" about a dominatrix for the second time, it felt as if life was playing a cosmic joke on me. Reasons include "1" but just one of them.

Dominatrix Irene Adler, femdom icon,and nemisis of her Sherlock slave boi, Benedict Cumberbatch
Irene Adler, artist impression by Imperfect Soul on Deviant Art (Source: Imperfect Soul)

Each and every femdom aficionado has fallen in love with Irene Adler. The Woman is a character on the BBC television show "Sherlock", and the detective's love interest. The episode where she first appears is "Scandal in Belgravia". It refers to one of the posher neighbourhoods of London. It also is the home address of professional dominatrix Irene Adler. Among her clientele is a member of the British royal family - why not? To spice things up, Ms. Adler has her hands on an incriminating video of her slavegirl, suffering happily.

Invisible connection
Enter Sherlock who has to sort things out. Clearly his reputation has preceded him. In a classic Sherlock 2.0 moment, the dominatrix recognizes his brilliance. When he visits her mansion, she greets him naked, afraid her clothes might reveal anything about her intentions.

Of course like minded spirits fancy each other and they fall in love, unwilling to accept the very fact. They are even more unable to recognize the true depth of their love. Something that goes beyond playing games.

In the initial scene, together they beat the baddies, who have foreced entrance into her boudoir. The should-be lovers does so by relying on each other's wits. It is the first time they've ever met, but the two of them feel like a happy couple who has been married for decades. Mrs. and Mr. Adler know exactly what the other is and isn't capable of. Beautiful, a match made in heaven. That is until...


At the beginning of the episode, Irene Adler is the embodiment of strength and cunning. She is the worthiest of opponents Sherlock can dream of. As the episode progresses, the once superior dominatrix slowly morphs into a slightly deranged love sick puppy.

After two hours, when Sherlock finally calls her bluff, it turns out the secret password on her phone is "Sherlocked". Yeah right, such a bummer. Not only Irene Adler deserves more. So does Sherlock. And I am not talking equal opportunity opponent here, but a strong, smart woman, compatible with him.

To add insult to injury in a follow up episode, Irene Adler is on some sort of secret mission. Who would've guessed, but things do not go according to plan. The bad guys have captured Irene and are about to execute her the old-fashioned way, by chopping of her head. So who comes to the rescue? No, it's not Ivanhoe, but sword buckling Sherlock. I did not know he had it in him either. The final scene goes something like this: "When I say run, run".

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle surely turned in his grave upon hearing such a dubious line. Of course before she is to be executed, Ms. Adler is allowed to send one last text message to a single person. Not only does she know his number by heart - not even I do - it is to the very same guy who is about to save her life. She does not know it yet, but he is not in London. Apparantly when the tough get going, he is her side. As he should, but that is besides the point. Come on, what baddy allows you to send one last text, before they decapitate you?

Irene Adler is really cool. Women who combine smart with sexy always are. Especially when they throw a bit of kink into the mix. But where Mr. Moffat clearly misses the point, it is that in the end equals attract each other. It is the only way.

Dominatrix Irene Adler, femdom icon and her Sherlock slave boi, Benedict Cumberbatch

Often dommes worry about how the behaviour of their slave influences their standing in the "community". Apart from the question what makes them dominant, it clearly ignores the fact that happiness is more important than dominance. In fact happiness is a superior source of strength, from which dominance can flow freely. We all know, once a man tells a woman he loves her, his ass is hers. Feel free to interpret that any way you want.

This time it is the other way around. Yes you can love someone. You can love them insanely much. They may not be the perfect slave or that infallible domme you are looking for, but they are the one for you. No ifs, not buts. Perhaps that is what dominance is also about. To understand that in the real world you cannot have it all and life offers you a choice between love and lust. Make the right choice and your true dominance is reaffirmed, even if it means giving up dominance in the eyes of the world. So what? Does it really matter what other people think?

Same thing for being her slave. I said it before, but sometimes to protect and obey are incompatible concepts. A slave differs from a submissive in that he will always protect his mistress - sometimes by defying and even loosing her - whereas a sub will never fail to obey his owner.

Perhaps Sherlock is really (evil grin) Irene's slave after all. I can understand. I respect that. There are no limits to devotion.

Still, I do not like the choices Mr. Moffat made. As showrunner for one of the most respected shows of the past decade, he and the scriptwriters surely could have come up with something better. There are so many ways in which strength adds to strength. As far as Sherlock goes, it is just one more cliché added to the list. Strong (presumably) woman needs strong (most likely autistic) man to save her. Which of course is bullocks. Yes you can be strong and occasionally in need of someone to save you, but not like this. Not by reducing a character to a charade.

In doing so Steven Moffat has done all of us a disservice That very episode turned back the clock for at least a century. Even if Irene was saved by Watson's fiancée, herself a retired secret agent, it would have been a better outcome. Let me rephrase that, it would have been a great outcome.

Perhaps Mr. Moffat was looking for some funishment from his mistress. Don't give it to him. He should have asked her, not ruin one of the most interesting concepts on television for a long time. It makes me glad, I do not live in Britain and have to pay for a TV license.

[1] All the more surprising Mr. Moffat got it right with Doctor Who, when he introduced River Song as the husband of the travelling timelord. The first time they ever meet, she is significantly older than he is. Perhaps you should think again sweetie.

Dominatrix Irene Adler, femdom icon, scratches the face of her Sherlock slave boi, Benedict Cumberbatch
Oh boy!

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