2011-12-16

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows – Who Is The Real Enemy?

by Yo Snyder

[An excerpt from the diary of Dr. John Watson: December in the year of our Lord 2011]

I
remember it well. It wasn’t all that long after the conclusion of one
of our most successful cases. It is never easy to follow-up something
like that, and yet Holmes felt that he was equal to the task. Of course
the key to succeeding any successful previous endeavor is to go bigger,
or at least that’s a theory that some hold. Holmes certainly seemed to
think it was the proper way to proceed, and so in December of 2011, he
embarked on a truly globe-trotting case that had as much spectacle and
substance as any of our previous adventures. In fact, it was hard for
me to choose which of these recent cases was more enjoyable, so I won’t
choose but leave that selection to you, dear reader.

Part of what made this Game of Shadows
case so compelling was the fact that at the center of it was none other
than Professor James Moriarty, Holmes’ equal in every way except when
it comes to matters of conscience. Imagine what Holmes would be like,
with all his brilliance, all his genius, all of his amazing ability to
quickly observe and understand any situation or person, but without his
inclination, his compulsion, to fight the corrupt, the depraved and the
sinister. I shudder to imagine what he should be like were that the
case, and hence, I shudder whenever I think of Moriarty; for that is
exactly who he is. Whenver you see him, his obvious intelligence and
refinement is what you observe first. In this way he’s not all that
different from Holmes, for you can almost sense the intellect whirling
about, catching hold of those minute things many of us miss in passing
observation. But beyond that veneer there is just a hint of a feral,
sinister energy. A violent evil that is only barely contained by his
composed exterior and which might erupt at any time. Oh, Moriarty made
for a most fascinating and dangerous foe.

His plan this time out,
which I’m sure should come as no surprise, was nothing short of
brilliant. It propelled Holmes from the comfort of Baker street and
across the continent in a game that became as much a personal as it was
an intellectual contest. I admit to some reluctance at joining him once
again due to my marriage, but Holmes -as he so often did- masterly
arranged that such an event should no way impede me joining on this
adventure. Of course, how could it be otherwise? I may overly flatter
myself, but I think Holmes isn’t quite himself when I’m not around. Oh
we bicker back and forth at times like an old-married couple, it’s
true. And I suppose at times it can even be quite juvenile, but there
is an energy to our rapport and a silliness that I think is infectious.
I don’t know why it should be, but the chemistry between is us what
makes these cases so enjoyable and memorable, at least to me. Indeed,
I’m lucky (if at times not a bit exasperated) to have such a friend,
and this case certainly gave me some key moments to reflect on that
very fact.

I must also say that this was perhaps one of our most
physically taxing adventures. Perhaps in reading our past cases you
aren’t fully aware of just what an excellent fighter Holmes is. I admit
at times it almost seems out of character for him, but one can’t deny
the thrill of seeing him in action. One key moment in particular stands
out to me as I recall this case. A chase through a forest as we escaped
the clutches of Moriarty. Bullets were flying, mortars were exploding,
trees where shattering. There were times where it almost seemed to be
taking place in slow motion. Yet in those frozen moments I had a moment
to reflect on the visceral beauty of that deadly
chase…hmmph…indeed, it is hard to forget. In any event, this case
was one that pushed to our physical as well as our intellectual limits.

One
thing I shall never forget, however, is a keen observation made by the
sharp mind of Moriarty. Although we were doing our best to arrest his
machinations before their dreadful fruit, the good professor pointed
out that it was not he that we were ultimately struggling against, but
rather human nature. He wasn’t doing anything that people weren’t prone
to doing any way, he was just accelerating the process and producing a
brilliant way to profit from it. Pragmatic as that may seem, it didn’t
make his crimes any less heinous. Still, I’ve come to realize there was
truth to what he said, although I don’t think his “realist” viewpoint
is the end all and be all of this issue. He’s right in that human
nature will always have a proclivity towards destruction, deception and
depravity. He’s right in the fact that there’s an inevitability that
people will indulge in such baser instincts. However, he’s wrong in his
belief that there’s nothing to be done and the best one can hope for is
to find some way to profit from it all. Something can and has been
done. Quaint though it may seem, I have discovered that the Bible
provides the antithesis of Moriarty’s realist view on humanity (does
that surprise you dear reader, that I – if I may so humbly proclaim –
an intellect would find the Bible to be so sensible? Well, perhaps
others have not investigated or given it its fair due as they should).
It admits that none are righteous and that we are but slaves to our
desires, but also illuminates a solution. This chap Jesus Christ is the
solution, you see. He, through the amazing events of his death and
resurrection, can free us from the inevitability of the base human
nature. He, in fact, can replace that nature with something higher,
purer, more noble and right. I catch glimpses of it now and then in
Holmes and others who, for no reason they can rightly fathom, are
propelled to do right. These are but mere glimpses of the way we were
intended to be, created to be, and can be again through the grace of
God. If humanity’s natural course is downward towards destruction, as
Moriarty has rightly assessed, then I’m glad that there is an
alternative; one that appeals to both the heart and the mind, if one
has wits enough to perceive it. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t
confess that time with Sherlock Holmes isn’t thrilling. There’s a
certain giddiness to his manic energy no matter what the circumstance
may be. Though this particular case, this Game of Shadows, had
it’s more dire moments, Holmes never succumbed to them. He remained the
same as ever is. I hear now that there is some new-fangled visual
recording of Holmes’ most recent adventures, and while I myself haven’t
viewed these modern miracles, having been apart of this adventure, I
can only assume that it is a spectacle one would not want to miss,
especially if one enjoys following the exploits of one Sherlock Holmes.
Score: 5/7