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"Moriarty is quite clearly smarter than I am. A man should know when he's beaten."
— Holmes
Distraught, Holmes grabs Irene Adler and shouts her name. She doesn't appear to recognize Holmes but as he caresses her face, she calms, then scratches his face and collapses in his arms. Two years previously in London, Holmes enters Adler's art studio and introduces himself while she's busy restoring a painting. Consulting on an art purchase, Holmes is seeking Adler's evaluation whether several paintings are genuine or not. Turning from her work, she comments on Holmes' handsomeness and explains why the paintings are fakes. Impressed with her deductions, Holmes looks at her paintings and asks why she's kept an original and given her restoration to the client. When he explains how he's deduced this, Adler explains that her client wanted history erased from the painting. Appreciating this, Holmes proposes a game. He'll deduce which of her other paintings are originals she has kept, and if he's right, she'll go out with him. Commenting on their mutual attraction, she proposes he stay.

S01E23-Holmes Irene first meet
You're not boring at all, are you?
In present day, Adler lies in a hospital bed, disoriented. Her doctor tells Holmes, Watson and Captain Gregson that her personality has been destroyed by a masked man who she called Mr. Stapleton. Crushed, Holmes indicates he won't be working on her case. They bring Irene to the Brownstone and settle her in Holmes' bedroom. In private, Watson offers her help and expresses concern about Holmes' sobriety. Assuring her that he is fine and will be dedicating himself to caring for Irene, he encourages her to consult on her own. At the mansion where Adler was found, she meets with Gregson and Detective Bell. They report the house is clean and the owner is 9 year old Austrian heir. Watson examines pigments Adler was using in her paintings and discovers a rare sample that only a few shops in NYC sell. Finding the buyer may result in discovering who was holding Adler.

S01E23-Watson Gregson Bell paint
Feels just like having Holmes here, doesn't it?
Two years previously in London, Holmes approaches Adler outside her home, wondering why she won't accept a second date with him. Indicating that their first encounter couldn't be topped, Holmes offers her a unique experience. Intrigued, she follows him into the tunnels under London where he shows her a walled off tunnel branch which contains Roman prayer tablets. As she gazes at them, he says they are the only two people who know about them. In present day at the Brownstone, Irene calls out in distress. Holmes rushes to her and she asks about his life in NYC. Watson returns with little to report but receives a call from Gregson that her pigment tip led to a buyer named Duane Proctor who was imprisoned for a weapons assault. Gregson and police question Duane's brother, Isaac, at his home where Duane also lives. Isaac doesn't believe Duane has anything to do with holding Adler. Duane arrives so Gregson leaves an officer with Isaac. As Gregson questions a confused Duane, shots are heard from inside the house and Isaac is found to have fled.

S01E23-Holmes Adler second date
People don't treasure things anymore.

S01E23-Holmes Adler in tunnel
They date back millennia.

At the 11th Precinct, Duane is questioned in "the box" while Adler watches. Duane is shocked Isaac had multiple weapons and shot an officer. He's never heard of Moriarty and Adler doesn't know him. Gregson tells Watson that Isaac was a professional killer but chose to only wound the officer guarding him. In a motel room, Isaac anxiously speaks to one of Moriarty's lieutenants and asks for help. The lieutenant agrees but has a task for Isaac to perform. Years previously in London, Holmes studies the case of "M." while in bed with Adler. Apologizing, he caresses her back and notices a pattern of moles resembles a star constellation. He asks her about a special project she's keeping hidden in a bedroom which may be an original work. She smiles and says he'll see it when it's ready.

S01E23-Holmes Irene in bed
You're something of a blind spot to me.
At the Brownstone, Holmes tells Irene about his drug addiction, being fired by Scotland Yard and his father's intervention. He blames himself for what happened to her but she forgives him. Walking into her room, she screams, seeing a flower like those that Mr. Stapleton would leave for her. Years previously in London, Holmes receives a voice mail from Adler to come to her home at 5:00pm to see her new work. He arrives to find a pool of blood and a note from "M." In present day, Holmes takes Adler to a garage he owns and uses as a safe house. In order to protect her, he insists she must leave as her being with him is making him weak. He'll send for her when he's dealt with Moriarty. She believes there's another way. At the precinct, from a hidden camera, Watson shows Bell and Gregson video of Isaac leaving the flower for Adler. Watson is confused as to Isaac's motive for holding Adler given he's an assassin.

S01E23-Fake death scene
What do you think of mine?
Holmes discreetly texts Watson to join him in another part of the precinct. She tells him that Isaac used to be a CIA interrogator so it's likely he was the one holding Adler and, he knew exactly where Irene was staying in the Brownstone. Thinking that Moriarty may have cameras in their home, Holmes interrupts that he's leaving NYC with Adler in order to protect her. He believes he owes this to Irene which Watson thinks is a mistake since this is likely what Moriarty wants. Isaac meets with Moriarty's lieutenant and his men in the back of a delivery truck. Knowing they will kill him, he creates a distraction and kills the men. The lieutenant says Moriarty ordered his execution for being discovered by the police. Isaac shoots him in the hand and tells him that since Moriarty ordered no one is to kill Holmes, he is going to as revenge.

S01E23-Proctor w men
Moriarty's obsessed with Holmes.
Holmes returns to the safe house to get Adler and leave. Having just showered, Irene dresses and Holmes sees that she's missing one of the moles on her back. Realizing she had it removed and this wouldn't have happened if she was a prisoner, he accuses her of working with Moriarty. This would also explain how Isaac knew where she was staying in the Brownstone when he left the flower. She accuses Holmes of finding a reason not to leave with her and before going, insults him and says she never wants to see him again. Returning to the Brownstone, Holmes calls Watson to fill her in but sees Isaac's reflection in a lamp. Isaac shoots Holmes in the shoulder as he dives to avoid the shot. As Isaac approaches him, Holmes knocks the pistol out of his hand with a stair rail.

Was everything a lie?!
They struggle, Holmes frees himself, runs upstairs and locks himself in a bedroom. Trapped, Holmes looks out the window but the ground is three stories below. Having retrieved his pistol, Isaac begins shooting the door lock. He tells Holmes they met once before, he was the sniper who killed John Douglas in front of him. Kicking the door in, he find Holmes on the floor at his mercy. Lowering his pistol, he explains he didn't kill Holmes when he shot Douglas as he was under orders not to from Moriarty. He mentions that she tried to have him killed though. Confused, Holmes asks "she?" just as he raises his pistol. Shots ring out and Isaac falls to the ground, dead. Adler enters the room, having shot Isaac. Holmes realizes that she is Moriarty.

S01E23-Proctor gun at Holmes
You know you're only prolonging the inevitable.



I close my eyes and I try to picture him, and I see someone an awful lot like you.

— Irene comparing Holmes to Moriarty