Everything goes horribly wrong at the end. Out of nowhere, Adler reveals that much of her security arrangements and her outfoxing of Holmes is down to advice received from Moriarty. That’s right. Irene Adler goes from being the fierce, resourceful, clever woman to being somebody who had to ask a man for help in order to succeed. She is not allowed to be brilliant in her own right, only through the advice from a dude who has some tension with the main dude in the show. In the space of a few lines, Adler is reduced from an active force to a passive pawn in Moriarty and Holmes’s ongoing cock-duelling.
It gets worse. We are shown what had appeared to be moments of affection between her and Holmes that we had been shown previously in the episode, and Holmes informs us that he was actually checking her pulse and pupil dilation, and he has concluded that she loves him. This is in spite of the fact that Adler has previously pointed out to Watson that she is gay. Holmes being Holmes, he is right. Holmes is such an uber-dude that a lesbian has fallen in love with him and thoroughly fucked up all of her security arrangements by the password to the only thing keeping her safe being an allusion to her crush.
Adler is left friendless due to her fluttery lady-emotions being her downfall, and we are solemnly informed that she has been beheaded by terrorists. Fortunately for Adler, in the last few moments of the show we are informed what actually happened: she was rescued from certain by Holmes. In the course of the episode, Adler goes from being a genuinely awesome female character to a damsel in distress who is propped up entirely by men.
While the original story was written over a century ago, none of this bullshit happened. Adler is consistently portrayed as strong and bright. Yes, she does what she does so she can get married, but here’s the crucial point: she does it all herself.
Not so for the recent adaptation. In this, we are shown that as women, we’re always going to need a man to rescue us. We just can’t do it on our own: were we to try, we’d end up losing vital documents and on the headless end of a jihadi-beheading. Once again, Moff has managed to put women in the place he want them.