In Sir Conan Doyle’s story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” he presents Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler as equals. In the BBC Sherlock adaptation “A Scandal in Belgravia,” this information is portrayed well, especially through the segment leading up to the two interacting for the first time.
In this segment, Sherlock comments about how he needs to dress for battle while agonizing over what to wear to visit Adler. The camera then cuts to Adler, who is also finding difficulty in selecting what to wear. Finally, she decides on her “battle dress.” Both characters invest a good amount of time and thought into their choice of clothing (or in Adler’s case, nudity) and both use the word “battle” to describe the interaction they know will soon be occurring.
When Sherlock and Watson are in the street near Irene Adler’s house, Sherlock tells Holmes to punch him in the face. Finally, Holmes does as he’s told, and it causes Sherlock’s cheek to bleed, creating a red streak. The camera cuts to Adler, inside the house, applying bright red lipstick. Again, this is a blatantly obvious parallel between the two characters. By cutting and editing the scenes in this manner, the audience has no choice but to recognize the similarities between the two.
Furthermore, in terms of wit and intelligence, the BBC version shows Adler looking at pictures of Holmes on her phone as Holmes is holding and viewing photos of Adler. The audience, or reader, in the case of the story itself, is led to believe that Sherlock cannot be outwitted, especially not by an unsuspecting woman. This segment proves that someone does exist who can challenge Holmes at his own game. Both believe they are being inconspicuous, but they both end up with photos of each other. This is especially significant in the case of equality because Adler’s photos are on the internet for all to view, making it simple for Sherlock to ascertain them, but Sherlock did not realize the photos were taken, displayed by his outfit of sheets and unexacting facial expressions in the pictures.
The one part of the story that appeared misrepresented was Adler’s title of “the woman.” In the Sir Conan Doyle story, the nickname was given by Sherlock out of respect and admiration because she was able to challenge and outsmart him. The show presents it as a nickname given to her in the “professional” world, which diminishes its significance entirely. The name was Sherlock’s acknowledgment of their equality and the BBC adaptation did not accurately depict its importance.