Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Toast to the Woman: If You Can Believe It

[As presented as the February 2016 meeting of Watson's Tin Box in Ellicott City, Maryland.]

I’m probably one of the least likely of people to toast to the Woman. My feelings about Ms. Adler are well known, and well-documented, and there is no love lost between us. Frankly, I think she gets far too much credit.

For starters, she didn’t beat Sherlock Holmes. He knew exactly where that photograph was; she just managed to run away before he could confront her. And if that is the metric by which we are now determining winners – well, I was a much better athlete in high school than I originally believed. If we're being honest, she merely committed the literary equivalent of taking her ball and going home.

As it was, I was both pleased and excited when Elementary premiered on CBS in 2012, primarily because I initially heard that Irene Adler would not be appearing on the show. I was ecstatic to learn that supposedly her character had been brutally, horribly murdered off-screen. I was gleeful. I might not be a nice person.

Anyway, imagine my disappointment at the end of the first season when it was revealed that Irene Adler was alive, and that she would be played by Natalie Dormer. But there was a twist. Elementary’s Irene eventually revealed herself as a female Napoleon of Crime, Jamie Moriarty. For obvious reasons, they had my attention. I guess it doesn’t take much.

Elementary’s Jamie Moriarty was coolly calculating. She inspired both respect and fear. She was both shrewd and fiercely intelligent. She did not suffer fools lightly. 

All right. I'm listening. You have my attention.   

But most importantly, she actually, genuinely deceived Sherlock Holmes. For a time. Which is fine, because no one can get past Sherlock Holmes forever. Nor should they.

Here, finally, was the Irene Adler I had been promised. The one everyone else had seen, but I never had.

Please raise a glass with me and toast to the Woman – may we all find the incarnation of Irene Adler we need, if not the one we deserve.


"There is no Irene. There is only Moriarty, and Moriarty is never going to change." (Joan Watson)

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