Okay, let me say this straight out: The Blind Banker is one of the less awesome BBC Sherlock episodes.
Most die-hard Sherlock fans will tell you that.
But, now that I've got that line out of the way, well, here's what's also true: The Blind Banker is pretty amazing.
It's just that most other Sherlock episodes are even more amazing.
It's a bit like comparing a kid who's the top ranker in his state with all those 'country-toppers.' That doesn't mean this kid is not sincere, you know.
Here's how I would sum it up:
...So well, here go my ratings for The Blind Banker!
Sherlock's client here is Sebastian Wilkes - a rich investment banker.
This Sebastian guy heads the trading division of Shad Sanderson Bank in London. He was also Sherlock's classmate in university.
So, what's this Sebastian dude's problem?
Someone has left strange symbols on a painting depicting a banker in a room on the 9th floor. What's stranger is that this 'someone' didn't come through any door. After all, the doors leading to that room were securely locked in a fool-proof way.
Then, how did this 'someone' come?
...And that's not all. There are plenty of other questions:
As if this isn't enough, a man who works at the bank dies as soon as Sherlock takes the case up!
Is it 'Mr. Exotic Symbol-loving Intruder' who has murdered this banker?
What does this 'symbol-guy' want anyway?
It's also just the kind of puzzle Sherlock relishes...
It's up to Sherlock to peel off layer after layer of the mystery to find out what the heck is happening!
There's this funny moment when John is at a supermarket in The Blind Banker.
He's trying to get his stuff billed through a self-service checkout.
The problem is that the machine just refuses to bill his items.
John is a bit irritated at first. Then he's angry. When the machine just keeps coming up with ridiculous errors, he's furious...
...It's extremely funny - watching him argue with the machine!
Here are some fun pictures of John mad at the machine:
He actually talks to the machine like it's a real person. The way the scene's been shot made me smile. :-)
When John comes back home and meets Sherlock, here's the funny conversation they have:
Had to add it to my top-5 list!
A guy has died in The Blind Banker and it looks like it's a suicide case.
After all, this guy lived on the 4th floor and everything's locked and secure. No one came in through the door.
That's what Detective Inspector Dimmock, the police guy who's incharge, thinks too.
Sherlock doesn't think so.
In his head, he's like: 'Dude, you're kidding right?'
...Then he explains what he thinks about the death with a fantastic deduction:
The inspector's stumped. So was I when heard Sherlock Holmes deduce that.
...Because this is perfect. It has to be murder!
This episode does have some hilarious moments at good old John's expense. :-)
So, John and Sherlock are trying to get some info about the case from a graffiti artist. This artist is illegally painting a 'protected' monument as he tells Sherlock and John about the case.
That looks like a pretty regular scene, right?
But then, in comes the police and Sherlock and the graffiti artist get the heck out the place.
Who's left? Our dear guy - John - with the spray-can and the graffiti artist's bag.
Here's what John tells the police officer:
Now I know this isn't exactly the moment of glory for John, but the way he gets stuck in this situation is well, really funny. :-)
Take a peek at his expression as the police guy catches him with 'the can.'
Definitely a magical moment!
Okay, talking of having fun at John's expense, here's yet another ridiculous moment!
So, John and Sherlock are investigating this crazy case in The Blind Banker. They've been discussing it for hours and hours.
Now, suddenly, Sherlock spots a weird house which might be connected with the case. He jumps in through the window of this house, somehow.
John's waiting outside, waiting for Sherlock to unlock the front door, so he (John) can come in.
Sounds quite simple. Only, Sherlock is, to put it mildly, a bit inconsiderate. He is so intensely engrossed in exploring what's inside the house that he feels it's a waste of time to open the door and let John in.
So he doesn't.
The way John protests and complains and gets frustrated outside is what is so funny!
I mean yeah, it's sadistic, enjoying poor John's tragedy - but how can you not laugh at his expressions and dialogues?
Here's what he says:
Martin Freeman is plain awesome here. I couldn't help grinning from ear to ear. :D
Sherlock's observation skills are splendid at worst.
I had my 'wow' moment yet again after his soap observation in The Blind Banker.
Here's the deal: at the end, we get to know who's the culprit. It's an organization called The Black Lotus. They're looking for a stolen emerald jade pin worth 9 million pounds.
We also know that one of the two murdered guys stole it: the banker - Eddie Van Coon or the journalist Brian Lukis.
Which one of them was it?
Here's how Sherlock figures out which of the two guys was the thief...
So, while Sherlock Holmes was examining Eddie's room, he had managed to spot the exact brand of soap and exactly how much of it was left.
He noticed the hand cream on Eddie's secretary's table and her hair pin.
...And the answer cracked open!
It looks so simple the way Sherlock puts it - all it requires is attention to the details around you.
And yet, it's so easy to miss out on the details of what you see around you.
As Sherlock Holmes says in the original books:
I loved this moment!
Who're the actors in The Blind Banker? When was it first aired? Who's the director?
Here's all that info about The Blind Banker rolled into a fun-graphic:
When I saw the Shad Sanderson bank (where Sherlock starts the case), I was like: where was this scene shot?
Then, when I saw the National Antiques Museum - where a 'tea ritual' takes places - I was like: what about this? Is this museum real?
So off I went to find out...
...And here's the result!
Interestingly, it turns out that none of these places exist in reality except for New Scotland Yard - which is the headquarters of London's police force.
There's this tea ceremony shown right at the start of the episode.
Does it exist?
China has a range of tea ceremonies that match what the woman shown in this episode, Su Lin Yoo, does with tea. The most popular Chinese tea ceremony is the Gongfu tea ceremony.
The ceremony shown is very similar to Gongfu.
Now this woman who performs the ceremony, Su Lin Yoo says:
Is that true?
Does anyone pour tea over the teapot?
Yes, what she says is true. There do exist teapots which become more beautiful as more and more tea is brewed in them and poured over them!
They're called Yixing teapots because they're made from clay that's found in a place called Yixing in Jiangsu province in China.
These teapots actually develop a silky shine over time when you keep making tea in them.
They develop a coating that has the flavour and the colour of the tea brewed.
Apparently, as the pot gets older, the look and the taste of the tea prepared - both get better. Of course, you also need to give these pots a sort of mini-tea-shower as you make tea.
That's quite interesting.
I'd never known this until I saw The Blind Banker.
That teapot you see here is from around the year 1900.
(Thanks to Wikipedia user Gerbil for the picture of the Yixing teapot.)
When John and his date Sarah watch a special 'circus' performance on their date, they witness The Classic Chinese Escapology Act. At least that's what Sherlock tells them.
Does such a thing really exist?
I mean there's no famous act by that name. There's no escapology act that has such a significant Chinese connection.
However, the act itself is quite similar to loads of other acts performed by 'escapology experts' today.
For instance, the famous 'escape artist' Harry Houdini introduced many acts that were similar to the one shown in The Blind Banker.
Harry Houdini introduced the Chinese Water Torture Chamber - an act in which water drips on a person gradually the way sand drips gradually in The Blind Banker.
He was also pretty popular with escaping from chains and removing handcuffs, the way that circus performer does in The Blind Banker.
He even had this act where he had to escape from a large milk can filled with water and from a crate thrown inside water. (He was one crazy and talented guy who took escapology to mind-numbing heights!)
Coming back to that act shown in The Blind Banker, it was 'designed' by Danny Hunt and Stephanie Clarke.
These guys are from a fascinating company called Amethyst in the UK.
They are escape artists and magicians who're experts at many of Harry Houdini's stunts and many more creative ones.
If the question is: are the symbols that wreck havoc in The Blind Banker part of a real Chinese number system? The answer is 'yup!'
Now Sherlock Holmes says that these symbols are a part of the 'Hangzhou' number system. Is that the name?
Those numbers shown are actually Suzhou numbers - part of an ancient Chinese number system.
What about 'Hangzhou numbers?' Well, they don't exist, it's only Suzhou.
Take a peek at the Suzhou numbers here:
No points for guessing where this number system was first used: Suzhou in China, of course! Suzhou, by the way, is one of the largest cities in China with a population of more than 1 million.
People in China long ago (before the sixteenth century) used the 'rod numerals' system. That system slowly developed into Suzhou numerals.
So, if you go to China, will you find these numbers all over the place?
They're hardly used anymore. In traditional Chinese markets, markets in Hong Kong, in some old-fashioned accounting books and invoices, maybe.
But that's it.
The Black Lotus is the Chinese smuggling gang that wrecks havoc in The Blind Banker.
Is it real?
The answer is: no.
Sherlock Holmes calls 'The Black Lotus' a tong. A 'tong' is an association of Chinese people - generally in the US or in Canada- that helps them with counselling, English classes, immigration jazz etc.
Long ago, tongs used to be a bit like gangs.
In the early 1900s, there were tong wars, tongs helped in drug trafficking, they hired killers...
...but not any more.
So well, The Black Lotus is entirely fictional.
This Black Lotus gang, by the way, leaves a black lotus made of paper after each attack.
Here's a fascinating video I found that tells you how to make your own black lotus!
If you're from the UK, you might be like: is that even a question?
But if you're not, you may be in the same boat as me.
I'm from India and when I saw Sherlock figure out that all the numbers/symbols in this episode referred to words in The London A-Z Street Atlas, I was curious.
Is that book real?
The answer is yes, yes and yes!
In fact, just as they show in The Blind Banker, the book is actually incredibly popular in London. Apparently, at least 60 million copies of the book have been sold since it was first published.
So, what is this book about?
This book is an 'atlas' that has every single street in London accurately mapped.
If you're standing somewhere and you want to know exactly where you are, exactly what the name of that street to your right is and what that road to the left is called - this book will tell you.
A pretty cool book, methinks.
It was first published in 1936 by The Geographers' A-Z Map Company.
Phyllis Pearsall was the woman who started this company and published the book.
She was an incredible woman and she was pissed off that there was no accurate street-map guide at that time.
Apparently, she herself walked 3000 miles through 23000 streets in London. And with some help, she came up with this book and got 10,000 copies printed!
The book was a super-hit and has been a super-hit ever since.
(That's a picture of Phyllis Pearsall by Peter Watts)
Well, so that's more or less all that I know about Sherlock's The Blind Banker. :-)
If you haven't yet watched The Blind Banker, well, you should! It's definitely worth it, as are all the other Sherlock episodes,
Here's the link to buying BBC Sherlock's DVD set on Amazon: