OH! Can we talk about how the opening seen of “The Woman” is the cringiest thing ever? I literally turned away from the screen making a barf face and said, “OK, she’d better be evil because if this is real I might not be able to continue watching the series.”
I was having an extreme antipathy for Irene’s character in her first scenes not because I was hating her, but because she was been portraited as one of my most hated tropes of all time, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And worst: she was a mix between MPDG + Damsel in Distress + a kind of Mary Sue (the Mary Sue trope is problematic in it’s concept, but I’m talking about general narrative devices here).
I loved how the show deconstructed these 3 tropes spetacularly.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl was totally deconstructed when the woman who showed true love to the protagonist and was interesting, smart, optimistic and different… was just faking it and her real self is a manipulative evil person, cold, professional who doesn’t give a damn about anybody and just wants to get the job done. I find interesting how Holmes described her in “Risk Management”, as “extremely optimistic” and her optimism made him create a connection with her, made he see optimism in his own life. Wow, what a twist. Her optimism - one of the principal traits of the MPDG trope - was just an illusion.
Interesting too how Holmes describes Irene in a idealized way but when we see the flashbacks she is an ordinary person with sophisticated taste and knowledge in her area of expertise - not very different from any professional. Usually MPDGs are ordinary but treated as “uber uniques” when they are an extremely stereotyped view of what femininity is like. Irene was this idealized view of what femininity is in Holmes head and it just fell apart when he realized that she was much more than an “unique beautiful smart optimistic sexy girl”.
The Damsel in Distress was played by her. She pretended to be weak and vulnerable because she knew Holmes would protect her out of a sense of duty and this was his weakness. She wasn’t vulnerable at all and just played with the whole concept for her own sake.
And the Mary Sue. She was presented as a fallen angel, all in white (the color of love and purity), vulnerable, everyone admired her (in the flashback she is known as a top restorator), Holmes fell in love for her in 5 minutes, has a long and floaty hair and even has birthmarks making a constellation (as you know, birthmarks in significant shapes are a trait very used in Mary Sue’s to show how ‘unique and cute’ they are).
When her mask starts to fall, the birthmarks are the first thing to show her true side. One of her ‘unique and cute’ characteristics. She starts to wear black (the color of evil), she is no longer ‘sweet and sanguine’, she puts her hair back and loses all of her dream-like characteristics - in appearance and in personality - showing that Irene Adler’s persona was an illusion, a constructed type that doesn’t exists in reality. Moriarty is the real person, with a real personality and real objectives.
I could go on, but you got my point. I loved this, I really did.
I was really suspicious about the whole approach of Irene’s character, but I’m very satisfied with what we got.
Yes. I was recoiling so hard but when she reached up and sort of clawed his face, that’s when I realized the whole thing was a cynical construction and I was kind of in love with it immediately. She played the perfect woman for him, smart and hyper sexual and just funny enough and just quirky enough. I went from cringing to salivating in that moment.