WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Granada episode.
Months afterwards a curious newspaper cutting reached us from Buda-Pesth. It told how two Englishmen who had been traveling with a woman had met with a tragic end. They had each been stabbed, it seems, and the Hungarian police were of opinion that they had quarreled and had inflicted mortal injuries upon each other. Holmes, however, is, I fancy, of a different way of thinking, and holds to this day that, if one could find the Grecian girl, one might learn how the wrongs of herself and her brother came to be avenged.
—“The Greek Interpreter,” The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Granada takes this ending to GREE and turns it completely on its head. It was one of the biggest liberties of the Adventures run (seasons 1 & 2)—the only other story changes comparable are the masterminding of Moriarty in REDH and the absence of Mary Watson. In fact, the ending is really so dark on top of being non-canonical that it’s more in the style of the Memoirs run.
Personally, I always hated it that they turned Sophy Kratides into this coldhearted character who really doesn’t care that her brother has just been murdered by her fiancée. I like the canon version much better. Go sisterly justice!
But I was watching the last ten-ish minutes of the episode the other day (because I do love the Brothers Holmes in the climax), and I later realized something.
The climax is all about siblings. Paul and Sophy Kratides, Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes.
Granada took a Sherlock Holmes adventure and turned it into a story about siblings.
There’s a sharp contrast drawn between the Kratides and the Holmes siblings. On one hand, you have the brave, steadfast Paul who dies trying to protect his sister; and the sister herself, who says that she’d (in essence) be Harold Latimer’s slave, even though he murdered Paul. On the other hand, you have the deliciously devious Mycroft, who acts as backup for Little Brother and Little Brother’s BFF, saving them from a potentially sticky situation; and Sherlock, who lets Big Brother (supposedly) sleep, safely away from the impending crossfire. (In fact, it’s even entirely possible that the ever-perceptive Sherlock actually knows Mycroft is faking sleep and might go do a little legwork—not too much, of course—of his own.)
One set has a loving brother and an ungrateful sister; the other set is a team that banters/bickers a little but works quite well together.
It always pays to watch Holmes’s face. Though Watson/Doyle often describes Holmes as cold and inscrutable, Jeremy Brett gives us a lovely glimpse into the mind of the Master via his facial expressions. (This makes him gold for the avatar-makers, yours truly included.) And Jeremy’s/Holmes’s face as Sophy claims she would have gone with Latimer despite his murdering her brother says it all. Up until that point, he’s all cautious reserve, watching her, feeling her out. But once he hears that damning statement, he literally draws himself up, his eyes flutter closed for a moment, and he settles once more into the man who will stop at nothing to see that justice is done.
Watson’s expression is clear shock at Sophy’s confessions, but it’s Holmes’s in the background that you really need to watch.
As she speaks, Sherlock is probably even thinking about his own brother, and contrasting his own family with this messed-up Grecian one. No doubt he’s grateful that his own brother would never betray him as Sophy has done Paul, and thinking of how he in turn would never betray Mycroft.
Of course, the squee moment for Mycroft fans (myself included) comes when Mycroft shows up behind Kemp, holding him captive with the villain’s own gun that he nicked in a clever moment of purposely-lost balance. (Though in a horrible blooper moment, Mycroft calls the little two-shot a revolver rather than a derringer.) The Brothers Holmes and Watson share smiles with each other—you creeps ain’t got nothin’ on this trio.
Back at a train station, Sherlock makes a jesting remark about his lazy big brother going down a path of crime with him—probably just baiting him for a reaction. Mycroft huffs that the only path he’s taking is the door to the Diogenes Club, and he’s shutting it behind him. With that, he moves off—typical Holmes.
Sherlock and Watson are left behind, Watson wondering what will happen to Sophy. Sherlock’s answer is very bitter: she will be released, since she has committed no crime. He adds bitingly that there’s not a drop of compassion in her cold heart—ironically, Watson says things to roughly the same degree about Holmes himself throughout the Canon, though the “great heart” line in 3GAR might be seen as a ret-con to that. But Sherlock’s answer might be seen as very revealing, that he detests cold-heartedness and family betrayal. Here, he is valuing compassion and familial love as being virtues, indeed.
A few more thoughts before I wrap this up. First of all, the rescue of Paul and Mr. Melas: in the canon, Paul dies shortly after the cavalry shows up; in the episode, he has been dead for four hours (and via sulfur poisoning rather than the canonical smoke inhalation). Perhaps this change is a bit more sympathetic to Sherlock, who takes the failure hard—but even if he hadn’t been delayed by Gregson, he would still have gotten there too late. Small comfort, but this time, there really wasn’t anything Sherlock could do.
Secondly, the action that precipitates the climax: Sherlock, Mycroft, and Watson getting aboard that train at all! In the Canon, all we know is that the bad guys cleared off before the police could arrive—but in Granada’s take, Sherlock, characteristically, doesn’t settle for being beaten and gives chase. Ironically, Granada’s version in that sense is probably a bit more faithful to Sherlock Holmes than his own author was!
Third, Sherlock has some really great moments in the train sequence, beginning with his urging Mycroft to hurry up (at which Mycroft retorts, “I’m not built for running, Sherlock!” Lol, we could deduce that, Big Brother.). Then there’s Sherlock smoking in the compartment when there’s a no-smoking sign on the window. Ha-ha, I'm even anti-smoking, and I find that bit funny! It’s just Sherlock ignoring the rules again as per usual—you have to pity his mom. (Or envy her—I might actually envy her: life must have been pretty neat, raising Mycroft and Sherlock.)
Next, he throws open the B21 compartment door, and speaks to Sophy in her own language! Obviously, he’s asking her if he take a seat, but… Sherlock Holmes actually speaks Greek. How awesome is that? He shoots VR into the wall, tells you your life-story from infancy, wears an awesome (if, admittedly, monochromatic) wardrobe, beats up perverts, rides horses, plays a Strad, assumes whatever identity he wants to and does it flawlessly, bounds effortlessly over couches, unbends iron pokers, has perfect diction, possesses a delightfully sardonic wit, is absolutely gorgeous… and he speaks Greek. (And it took me several minutes to finish that list—Sherlock Holmes: HIS AWESOMENESS—lol.) Remind me WHY this guy is still single?
…Oh, right. No woman will put up with him. Can I volunteer? I grant you I’m a little young, but I’m certainly legally old enough…
Ahem, anyway, last item, and this is (for me) his Crowning Moment of Awesome. He draws his revolver and cocks the hammer. He’s deadly serious, and if push comes to shove, he won’t hesitate to shoot Latimer. Of course, he doesn’t really have to, turns out, as Latimer, in a stupid move, tries to jump off the train and ends up getting literally ripped off by another passing train. Pretty dark. What is perhaps darker still is that Sherlock holds back first Sophy, then Watson, from helping Latimer—though you can see something akin to regret in Sherlock’s eyes after the grisly deed is done. Could it be that Sherlock didn’t want to risk Latimer getting past them and away after being pulled back into the train? Or worse, actually wounding or killing one of them in a struggle? It’s possible.
And at any rate, despite the definite gruesomeness of Latimer’s death, he did deserve it for what he had done to Paul.
So, there you have it, folks: Granada’s “Greek Interpreter.” A tale of intrigue, cruelty, betrayal, and ultimately, family. All in all, it’s a good adaptation. Next time I do a Granada review, I promise it’ll be SCAN—maybe Monday.