therapeutic thump

i like your moxie, sassafras!


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Sherlock series three, writing round-up, Sherlock Remix
compelling, pushing my buttons, walk the line, intent
innie_darling
Hi, everybody!

I was asked by a friend what I thought of the new series of Sherlock, and it ended up being so long that I thought I might as well post it. I have seen the first two eps of the third series of Sherlock and while some bits have been lovely, I'm really disappointed.

* "The Empty Hearse" solidified the characterization of Sherlock as a complete asswipe - first playing at his disguise and joking about John's mustache, brushing off John's wet-eyed grief, making no rational explanation for why John wasn't told, and, of course, the trick with the bomb at the end. Why does Sherlock need to hear John's "best and wisest man" declaration again when he confesses to having already heard John say it at his grave?. Because he's selfish, and it's not important to him that John truly suffered. It's like a test of loyalty, except that it seems that Sherlock's doing it more out of amusement than any worry or fear that John will walk away for good. Though I did like Mary for the most part, and found the bonfire scene genuinely disturbing.

* I thought "Sign of Three" to be much better, though it also cemented my reasons for being disappointed in the show. The things that bothered me about the episode itself: no Harry, Bill, Mike, squaddies, or Clara at the wedding. Who were all of those people, if Mary said her "side" was sparse? Also, John DOES have an international reputation! - he's Three-Continents Watson! But I loved seeing John loved publicly by Mary and praised publicly by Sherlock for being the very decent, steady, good-hearted man he is both by nature and by training. It makes a difference to so many people that John is around, and I was glad to see that celebrated. (Also, I liked that the resolution - John with beloved wife and child on the way, stating openly that he loves Sherlock and will keep a place for him in his life - was basically what I wrote in "Picardy Third.") Plus, the soldier that John saved was incredibly beautiful.

* Here's what has disappointed me - that the writers are not doing any of the work that fic writers have done. Fic writers worked with what we had, followed things through to their natural conclusions, and had considered the consequences of all of the actions we'd been shown in series 2. The writing team for Sherlock apparently did not, which is becoming a pattern (getting John and Sherlock out of the pool with the "Staying Alive" call was bad enough, but then we have this series, which has taken ignorance of its own crises to a new low). It's actually not even ignorance, it's cherrypicking, which pisses me off even more. Lestrade says that Anderson and Donovan caused Sherlock's death, but then we open "Sign" with Sally having an easy, professional (possibly flirtatious?) rapport with Lestrade. Now, I adore Sally and was glad to see her, but how has she not had any consequences to deal with? Where is Kitty Riley? How much time has passed between TEH and SOT, that after that horrible train-bomb trick, John can not only unequivocally state that Sherlock is his best friend but that he loves him? (Note that this is not helped by some confusion within the show - the invitation gives the wedding date as 18 May, but John's blog seems to put it in August - WHAT ARE YOU DOING, SHOW.) I just can't shake the feeling that the writers saw the corners they'd painted themselves into and said, "Ugh, I don't want to do any of the work - I just want to write the good parts!" The Sherlock/Moriarty kiss in "Empty" made me SO ANGRY not because it was mocking fandom - though it was - but because Sherlock and Moriarty were so gleeful, pulling their strings while John was being tricked into his heart's death. That's what it is - the whole thing felt cheap.

I liked Amanda Abbington very much. Lestrade has done nothing for me in this series. I can't tell who to blame for Sherlock - if it's Cumberbatch overacting, if the writing is just ridiculously tone-deaf, or what - but he genuinely cannot hold my interest. It's only Martin Freeman and his John Watson that I'm watching for, and to be totally honest, his decision to forgive Sherlock for the train trick shook me badly, but in all other things, he remains the one I'm watching for and loving.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Because I'm so behind on everything, I still have two lists to put up: my 2013 writing round-up and my July-December theater excursions. I can only do one tonight, so it's going to be the former.


JANUARY:
Double Cherry: Elementary/Twelfth Night (Porn Battle)
First Sip: Cold Comfort Farm (Porn Battle)
Diamond Life: Daniel Craig James Bond films ([profile] picfor1000)
FEBRUARY:
This Old House: Elementary (birthday)
MARCH:
not a damn thing posted
APRIL:
Chips and Sweets: Sherlock
MAY:
Amphibians: Jane Austen's Persuasion/Sherlock (gift)
Redrawing the Maps (the Handle This Remix): Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Immediate Assignment: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Clerestory: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Admissions: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Together in This Place: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
JUNE:
Pepperwood's a Snappy Dresser: Pushing Daisies/New Girl ([community profile] intoabar)
Picardy Third: Sherlock
This Must Be the Place: New Girl
JULY:
Cornstarch and Coconut: Middleman (birthday)
Teach Me How I Should Forget To Think: New Girl (Help Syria)
AUGUST:
zip
SEPTEMBER:
nada
OCTOBER:
Countdown: New Girl
The Same Bit of Carpet: The Office (UK) (birthday)
Dressing Up, Dressing Down: New Girl (birthday)
NOVEMBER:
zilch
DECEMBER:
Answered with a Question Mark: Sherlock
Compromising Positions: Elementary (Holmestice)
Totally Nectar: New Girl (Yuletide)
Doilies All the Way Down: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Yuletide)
Like honey dripping to a waiting mouth: Goblin Market (Yuletide)
What's Good for the Goose: Better Off Ted (Yuletide)

I was surprisingly productive this year, and I had a wonderful time writing. After so many fallow periods, it feels undeniably great to be in the swing of things, and I let myself be adventurous, trying new fandoms and new ways of telling stories. I tried a poem, for the first time in way too long ("Like honey dripping to a waiting mouth"). I wrote (half) a story entirely in 221Bs ("Answered with a Question Mark"). I wrote in a fandom I knew very little of, despite a lot of canon material being available ("Diamond Life"). I posted some totally off-the-cuff fics ("What's Good for the Goose" & "First Sip"). I wrote several stories for a single new-to-me fandom, New Girl. I wrote a lot more fusions and crossovers than before, including one that seemed to be a hit not just with its intended recipient ("Amphibians"); people really like head-casting Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Jane Austen adaptations, I guess. I continued one of my Sherlock series, the String of Pearls series ("Chips and Sweets"), and hope to write more of it in 2014. And nearly three years after I began it, I finished my Elastic Heart series, which clocked in at 176,393 words, according to AO3. I think it's the best thing I've written, particularly the last story, "Picardy Third."

What did I learn about myself and my writing in 2013? That I should take chances more often and let myself be adventurous. That I should write what's clamoring to be written and be surprised what shows up on the screen. That I love the work of writing original characters, and that putting them into fannish contexts, interacting with fandom characters, hits my sweet spot. That I shouldn't be afraid of writing something that has the same summary (say, post-Reichenbach musings) as umpteen other fics by other authors - we're all going to do it differently, and that's great. After all, I do love to read.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Also on the Sherlock tip: I've gotten a few pokes asking about whether there will be another round of sherlock_remix. Chime in if you like - I haven't made any decisions yet.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I hope you're all having a wonderful 2014 so far! Long may it continue!

This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/434833.html.

  • 1
I've been away from LJ for so long, and I basically came back just to see if others were feeling equally disappointed with this season. So I'm nodding my head with everything you've written here, and I tend to agree that it's laziness on the writers' part. But on a more positive note, hooray! Someone else who is invested in Martin Freeman's John Watson above all else! At least if there's one thing I know will never disappoint me, it's Martin's acting. :)

Because Martin is amazing and doesn't have to jump up and down to get us to notice. :)

Seriously, he's so subtle and though I love his voice and his phrasings and rhythms, I want to do a rewatch with the show on mute, just so I can glory in his face and body language.

It's been Martin Freeman for me since I first saw the first episode of The Office - just see my tag! But it also helps that I've read the novels and stories so many times, first when I was quite young, and always loved John Watson. It's why my fics are John-centric, and why the writers' laziness really grates - they had so much time to just dig in and do the work, and instead they were content to let the show coast by on the popularity of the titular character. Ugh.

I have to say - I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU.

I had some unorganized thoughts about the first one in my LJ, don't know if you saw, but overall I was sort of surprised that there were little things I liked when the MAIN THING, the JOHN thing, was so badly handled.

"Sign" really disappointed me because it was sort of one, long boring Sherlock-centric piece, written for no other reason than to show off Benedict Cumberbatch. (Matt Smith has given many similar speeches in Doctor Who -- Moffat, I can see your underwear, mate).

And I'm not feeling the love between Sherlock and John because how can John so readily forgive not just the fake death, but the fake bomb?

I sort of loved the Sherlock/Moriarty scene because it was so crazy and I adored The Empty Hearse club, with Anderson as president, even as I loathe Moffat's derision of his fanbase. Where is Lestrade, FFS?

I feel that this third ep will only serve up more of the same and set up the next massive cliffhanger, when I'm not even remotely satisfied with the resolution of Reichenbach. *hmph*

YES - walk before you run, give us a decent response to TRF before you prance ahead with a series 3 cliffhanger you just pulled out of your ass!

I did see your post, belatedly, and these three points in particular just made me say WORD:
- Ugh, Mary why are YOU being such a dick? John needs your support right now, and you're all suggestive and stuff. If John says he's not gay, someone SOMEONE needs to take him at face value.
- Lame that John ceases to be interested in his valuable work just because of Sherlock - because taking care of people's illnesses is inherently boring and vile?
- THE FURTHER MANIPULATION OF JOHN'S EMOTIONS. TERRIBLE, INEXCUSABLE AND I NO LONGER RESPECT JOHN. I mean, how much further can you take a joke in a life or death situation? With someone who you know suffers from PTSD?

John has his own life, and it COUNTS, and it shouldn't be just a placeholder until Sherlock comes back! Also, the "I'm not gay!" thing that's being read as internalized homophobia or denial or whatever - I think it's just John being sick and tired of people assuming they know him better than he knows himself. I certainly would be - hell, I am, when people tell me that I'm only single because I haven't met the right guy. No, I'm single because I like being by myself, and I don't like who I am when I'm a girlfriend.

That Moriarty scene - that should have been a DVD extra, not something that made it into the show. It just got me even more riled up at Sherlock, though it clearly wasn't meant to be an actual solution as to how he did it.

Those were my off-the-cuff reactions and I don't think they were off, having had a few days to digest. One thing that IS happening, most likely because RL is all-consuming, but also because of the show itself - I haven't given Sherlock a whole lot of thought once the eps are over.

Yeah, the gay thing is now way overdone. It was pitch-perfect in the first series, now it's just an overwrought joke that isn't funny.

I think by the start of TEH Sherlock had regressed due to being alone for two years, but did you notice how nervous he was as soon as he actually saw John in the restaurant? The disguise was a on-the-spot decision, something to give him a little buffer, if you will, and as soon as John saw him, Sherlock was completely out of his depth. He doesn't do emotions, or not very well, so he tried deflecting with humour - ill-conceived as it was - I guess partially because he and John always were able to laugh at inappropriate stuff.

And the thing with the bomb - I think until he went into his mind palace, he honestly didn't know/remember how to diffuse it, and thought they would die. He also knew that John wasn't good at expressing feelings, and that there were still things that he needed to say to Sherlock - and what better opportunity than when you think you'll die? So after he'd turned it off, he acted as if the bomb was still a threat. I don't think he was aiming for the "best and wisest" speech per se, but just provided a space for whatever John needed to get off his chest. And I guess on some level John realized that, hence him laughing along with Sherlock in the end.

The Moriarty/Sherlock bit was rather ridiculous, but I didn't feel it was maliciously making fun of fans, more like a friendly wink and nudge to the fandom and the copious amounts of slash that's out there. The Empty Hearse Club with Anderson, of all people, leading it... Ha!

I really liked the episodes so far (not saying they're flawless*, but the sometimes extremely negative reactions by some fans honestly baffle me), and still love both Sherlock and John, and Mary is awesome! I expect HLV, in contrast, to be rather dark, and not boding well for Mary+1...

*The date discrepancy between wedding invitation and blog, as well as no hint of what the consequences were for Sally irk me too.

I agree with you: I think that Sherlock had gone backwards a bit and was desperately trying to deny both John's grief and his own sense of guilt, and that led to very bad behavior. I don't excuse it, but I can understand it.

I think the lack of a clear answer as to HOW Sherlock did it unsettled the episode too much - not only did it obscure the fact that the WHY was left pretty much unanswered, but it didn't give a consistent PoV for the episode, meaning that Sherlock's behavior wasn't condemned but rather applauded or adored.

I did see Sherlock being nervous in the restaurant, but I can't cut him slack for it - he's just said to Mycroft that John could not possibly have had a life in his (Sherlock's) absence (as if John were just hanging around in stasis, waiting for a dead man to return to life), he's gleeful that he has such an upscale setting for the reunion, and he's very conspicuously smirky as he makes his preparations (stealing the accessories, etc.). The disguise is from ACD, but there was no need for Sherlock to interrupt what was clearly a private and important moment for John.

he tried deflecting with humour - ill-conceived as it was - I guess partially because he and John always were able to laugh at inappropriate stuff. I take your point - it's a good one - but I would ask: why does he need to stage a reunion in public at all? To put it another way, what is he "deflecting" (as you put it) from?

And the thing with the bomb - I think until he went into his mind palace, he honestly didn't know/remember how to diffuse it, and thought they would die. He also knew that John wasn't good at expressing feelings, and that there were still things that he needed to say to Sherlock - and what better opportunity than when you think you'll die? So after he'd turned it off, he acted as if the bomb was still a threat. I don't think he was aiming for the "best and wisest" speech per se, but just provided a space for whatever John needed to get off his chest.
I didn't see anything in that scene that indicated that Sherlock was thinking of John's emotional health at that moment. I can buy that he got stuck trying to figure out how to defuse the bomb. What I can't buy is that Sherlock found it acceptable - let alone therapeutic - to allow John, who's been through war and the supposed suicide of his best friend and is still carrying the scars from both, to believe that they will be dying in a matter of moments. John's confession of caring still felt absolutely forced, and it didn't help that Sherlock started laughing at him. That laughter was, to my mind, the cruelest thing Sherlock's done, and it has a lot of competition.

I didn't feel it was maliciously making fun of fans, more like a friendly wink and nudge to the fandom and the copious amounts of slash that's out there. The Empty Hearse Club with Anderson, of all people, leading it... Ha!
I know I have a low tolerance for fanservice in canon, and I'm squeamish about official creators taking over/alluding to fannish work. In this case, especially so, since, as I said in my post, WE the fans did the work that the official creators evidently felt was beneath them.

I am glad that you've enjoyed these two episodes, and I wish I could enjoy them more. I do very much like Mary and what she's brought to the show, and my dissatisfaction with BC's Sherlock started when "Scandal" aired. At the end of the day, for me, it's all about Martin Freeman and his John Watson.

It's kind of a relief to see someone else being disappointed in the show for the same reasons I am! Because, yes, the consequences thing bothers me greatly. I feel like the show veers into crack/fluff/ID-fic land without warning so often, I feel the need for a neck brace and for me that just makes all the stakes so low. I hope we'll have an unexpected return to reality/consequences land on Sunday but I'm not really holding my breath.

Yes, exactly. For all the delighted "they filmed fanfic!" reactions I've seen in the mainstream press and fannish circles, I haven't seen many people say, "But that's unsatisfying. Fanfic is one thing, and the show's another." There's no end to the things I'd like them to film, but that doesn't mean that I want to see random snippets that add up to 90 minutes presented as an episode. Low stakes indeed.

Ha, yes!
The problem isn't just that they filmed fanfic, I think, but what KIND of fanfic. Because they filmed crack and fluff. Essentially, non-sexual PWPs. And while those are kind of fun, they have never INSPIRED fanfic. The good fanfic, the kind that gets a fandom of its own and inspires more works, is usually the realistic, well-plotted fic with complex character development handled well. What they filmed wasn't anything close to that.

I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed it as much as I have. I have to say that I think keeping my expectations terribly low helped tremendously. I was convinced they were going to botch both episodes, and I didn't feel that they did, although I understand your reasons for feeling that they mishandled them.

I would certainly like to have known that a good bit of time passed between Sherlock using the bomb to get John to forgive him and John asking him to be the best man. In my mind, it's several weeks, at least.

I mean, if we go by the dates of events, then it's November for "Empty" and either May or August for "Sign," right? That's enough time for Sherlock to have made some amends and for John, possibly egged on by Mary, to have forgiven him. Just SHOW YOUR WORK, SHOW. Give us those moments of repentance and regret and joy. Give us the reason that Sherlock and John can declare their love for each other.

I find it hard to keep my expectations down when Martin Freeman's involved. Though he doesn't have the best track record of picking projects, his contributions have never disappointed me.

Edited at 2014-01-12 02:37 am (UTC)

And perhaps Martin Freeman is a big part of why I'm not disappointed; he's doing wonderfully in Sherlock and getting plenty of attention. I don't root for Sherlock (whether that's what the writers want me to do or not); I'm always rooting for John.

(I have been disappointed in both Hobbit movies that Bilbo's story is downplayed to throw in loads of other stuff that isn't even in the book. The proportion of MF is too low in them.)

Absolutely there's not enough Bilbo in the movies based on the book named for him - I think you and I discussed the fact that the first movie was made into Thorin's story rather than the beginning of Bilbo's grand adventure, right after we both saw the first one.

And yes, it's John that I want to root for as I watch Sherlock. I don't care what the writers' intentions are, really (and I've seen some interviews that suggest that G&M are firmly on Sherlock's side and some that suggest that they're on John's, if we make it into a Sherlock-vs.-John thing), as long as the writing isn't muddled.

My reactions to the two episodes were similar to yours. The Empty Hearse did nothing for me at all - by the time they were at the bonfire I was making health & safety observations - clearly not caught up in the plot. I enjoyed The Sign of Three, but I have tried not to analyse it afterwards, because no doubt I could drive a bus through the story. And the lack of consequences following the Fall is a big problem. I was not convinced about Sherlock's survival story, too many holes and why jump if the snipers were already taken out? And you're right about Sally and Lestrade working together, why haven't they been put on different teams?

It's the arrogance of the hand-waving that really gets to me, honestly - the whole attitude of not needing to clean up the messes created by series 2 before getting to "the good stuff" in series 3. That's not how it works!

At this point, I'm watching just to see Martin Freeman astonish me once more.

Yeah, that hits it -- what were we doing, so emotionally invested in the events of Reichenbach? What was the danger there? What were those two years all about? I'm deeply disappointed by the lack of resolution and, as Innie says, satisfaction.

Right! It feels like we were cheated and mocked and just led astray for having watched John mourn for his friend and empathized with him.

Also, leaving aside Donovan, what about consequences to Lestrade himself? The opening of "Sign" lists him, in one of the newspaper articles, as DCI - so he got a promotion out of the whole Sherlock debacle? What happened to the old DCI? How was Lestrade's sniper dealt with? Didn't anyone find it suspicious that a Yarder suddenly disappeared?

There's no way Lestrade would have got promotion, even if they did send the old DCI back to the north after he'd provided his stereotyped no nonsense copper bit. It seemse as if, having built up the relationship throughout S2, he's now been pushed back into the background. But then, without any police cases to deal with, there's no real need for the Yarders.

So frustrating. Lestrade and Sally really got poorly used in this series.

Just wanted to say I'm also disappointed. Empty Hearse made me think Sherlock was a terrible friend (the lack of reason for his silence plus the train scene were crushing), then Sign of Three was a lot more fun because suddenly he was an inexplicably great friend. But I took it and enjoyed it despite the emotional whiplash. Like you, John has always been my favorite, but I think I like Cumberbatch more than you do as Sherlock.

Then this last episode disappointed and angered me further. I won't say anything specific in case you haven't seen it yet. But in general I felt like the writers this season vastly miscalculated what my emotional responses would be to their scenarios, and had several characters cross over lines that I could not forgive them for. I haven't actually been this angry about a TV show in quite a while :/ Still, silver linings did abound. Each episode had at least a few lovely moments in it.

Sigh. Well, back to the fanfic.

I wanted to watch the last ep before responding to you, and now I have, so.

I'm sorry you were disappointed too; I think your feeling of the writers having crucially misjudged the feelings of (some portion at least of) the audience is exactly right. There were so many things that were clearly meant to be read as charming or funny or forgivable, and none of them worked as intended, and though most of that is due to the writing, some of it has to be put down to the acting.

I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a very good actor, but that he's most effective when he's subtle, which is not a strength of this writing team (see also Mark Gatiss's statement that Martin Freeman cuts some of his own lines by simply acting wordlessly, which Gatiss is smart and just enough to recognize as an improvement). I feel that Gatiss and Moffat write Sherlock very broadly, giving Cumberbatch the opportunity to peacock through scenes, and he takes them. It leaves me cold. And the structure of the show is not helping them out here; I just read something positing that with only three episodes a season (however long each ep is), there's no room for a day-in-the-life type of episode, where we get to see Sherlock and John in their down time, which would go far toward humanizing Sherlock and giving Cumberbatch's performance some quieter notes and a solid underpinning.

As for Mary . . .
Well, I'm glad they didn't go the route of killing her off. I'm beyond surprised she's still carrying the baby at the end of the season. I thought John's speech to her was lovely, though I'm not quite sure I buy it yet (not to mention the theory I've seen floating around that the drive he threw in the fire wasn't the one she'd given him). I think it's interesting to reconsider her in terms of what we learn about her in "Vow," and I absolutely don't understand the criticism that her background is all about John and Sherlock again (that it becomes about their forgiveness of her rather than the past she's lived through).

I thought the end of "Vow" - the ending of Magnusson - was terrible all around, and that the big surprise was one of the worst decisions the writers could have made. As alizarin_nyc intimated, I don't feel like there's anything there to want to write about. I hope you get your fanfic fixes - the only thing I'd want to write about after this season is Mary and John.

Very interesting to see your thoughts, thank you! I see what you're saying about wishing they could make more room for subtlety, I agree that would be a big improvement to the series as a whole and Sherlock in particular.

Interesting what you say about Mary, because her storyline was the part of the episode I disliked the most, personally. But not for any of the reasons you mentioned. I don't understand the criticism about her background centering on John and Sherlock either; I had no problem with any of that, and certainly didn't see her as lacking agency or identity.

I'm also very glad they didn't kill her or the baby, of course, but I never really expected them to. Frankly, I think the fridging of Mary in ACD had very Victorian roots (women can't participate in the adventures, she's just getting in the way of my plots) and I think Moffat and Gatiss are probably not going to go that route in a modernized version. They have given her BAMF skills and a dark past I think particularly to make it possible for her to be a part of future adventures and no longer a story obstacle. I approve of all that.

The thing I couldn't stand was her shooting of Sherlock in order to keep him quiet. To me it is completely unjustifiable. Sherlock gives her a lot of credit for not killing him, but she still caused terrible, tortuous pain to the first innocent bystander who got in her way and risked his death (he flatlined on the operating table) in order to keep lying to her husband. She lost my sympathy. She never regained it, unfortunately. It didn't help that she tracked down Sherlock to threaten him further and never expressed any remorse for having shot him or for having never trusted John with the truth.

To me, it was horrifying characterization. "I love you so much I will do terrible things to keep you! I will lie to you for our entire lives! I'll shoot your friends to keep them quiet! Can't you see how much you mean to me?" = Get Out of This Relationship 101, to me personally. I really didn't expect them to be able to make me wish John wasn't married to Mary, but they did.

That is no criticism of Amanda Abbingdon, who was fantastic and terribly charismatic. It's purely a writing problem, from my perspective. I can't forgive her for the actions she took in this episode specifically.

Oh well. Having a little more distance on it now, I'm finding smaller things to appreciate along the way. I'll hope for better in the next series. Hope you also enjoy the parts of the episodes that worked for you, and especially Martin Freeman! <3

You know what bothers me most about Mary's shooting of Sherlock? That it was so stupid. Why couldn't Mary simply have shot CAM and vanished in as sneaky a way as she entered (she evidently didn't need any Janine-related subterfuge to get into CAM's office)? Even if Sherlock witnessed her killing CAM, that would still have been better all around than shooting Sherlock, allowing CAM to live with her secrets in his brain, and having to escape, not to mention that Sherlock was clearly on his way to believing that CAM needed to be killed. And given the vow he made in "Sign," Sherlock would surely have protected Mary and the fetus.

And you're right, absolutely - the whole "I'm doing this for his own good!" justification holds no water, particularly since Mary's rationalization marks the second time in not that many months since John's heard it, given Sherlock's half-assed explanation for his absence. I didn't like that at all. And I especially didn't like that John was being blamed for choosing the people who would treat him that way.

BUT. I so liked that Mary wasn't being fridged. And I very much liked John's speech forgiving Mary - like him, I believe her to be sincere in her love for him. And that speech made me start to think what that reasoning looked like in reverse - as in, not what was it about Sherlock and Mary that made John seek them out, but what was it about John that made them come to him, made them find their rest in him? Which means that BBC John is the lighthouse that ACD's Mary was (in ACD Watson's lovely simile), which - for me, anyway - is a wonderful characterization.

I really do wonder what the direction of post-series 3 fic will be. I'm quite curious, especially since I know we'll do the work the show's writers won't.

Well, as I recall they did provide an explanation as to why she didn't shoot CAM and sneakily vanish: because that would make John the primary murder suspect. She knows he's there with Sherlock, she knows he has his gun with him, they are in the middle of a break-in and did not get in as sneakily as she did, they came through the front door. If Magnussen is dead and the only witness claiming there was a mysterious third party is Sherlock, who everyone knows would lie through his teeth to protect John, then John winds up in a bad position with the police. So cancelling the hit on Magnussen makes some sense. (I think it breaks down a bit if you think about it too long - the ballistics wouldn't match John's gun, for one thing, so I don't think any police case against John would have held up, but that's probably the point at which I've thought too long about this. They provided a basic logic which I can accept).

Where it goes off the rails for me is how that translates into shooting Sherlock instead. She doesn't want John to find out about her, so the sane option would be to appeal to Sherlock: "I don't have time to explain now, but for his sake and mine give me a chance - don't tell him, we'll talk later." But that course of action would require trust, which she is apparently incapable of showing. So she shoots him instead, which does make him temporarily incapable of telling John at the cost of terrible pain and near-death, but which any sane person would expect to scuttle any goodwill on his part toward her ever afterward. Which means that she was planning to secure his silence, both at that moment and throughout their future lives, through physical intimidation. She established her credibility as a violent threat by shooting him, and then told him she would do worse if he ever spoke up. That's how she chose to try to force his silence. Ugh.

While in theory I can see beauty in John's forgiveness of Mary, it troubles me that *twice* this season I have had to watch John forgive people for behavior they have literally just repeated. In The Empty Hearse, the train scene is intercut with the Reichenbach explanation, and the parallels are to me inescapable: we see that in TRF Sherlock was totally in control and had already neutralized the threat but lied and pretended to die in order to manipulate John; we then cut back to the train, where we find out that Sherlock was totally in control and had already neutralized the threat but lied and pretended they were both dying in order to manipulate John. And this is the moment in which John forgives him; at the moment his actions prove that he has not changed or learned anything or committed to treating John better.

With Mary, they frame the issue as whether John can forgive her for this dark past and whether he can believe she has changed, but in the episode we see that she protects her marriage with lies (to John) and violence (to Sherlock). I needed her to repent/reform in order for me to approve of John's forgiveness, and in the episode I felt like I was just seeing her fall back on these same really terrible behaviors she had supposedly left behind.

I would be tempted to think that Moffat just thought of Sherlock's shooting as a cool set piece and didn't really think through what it would mean for Mary's characterization...but then we have a scene in which she is explicitly labeled a psychopath and we are told, through Sherlock, that her actions were basically OK because the violence wasn't fatal and the lies were probably somehow subconsciously sensed by John which is what attracted him in the first place????

I don't know. This may just be an illustration of my own over-analysis or something, but I wound up not being able to love two characters (Sherlock and Mary) that I was hugely predisposed and pretty near determined to love. So whatever happened to cause that, I just wound up on the wrong side of the writing this season. I think I'll be filling the hiatus by reading AUs. I'm sure I will love Sherlock and Mary in the future, but I'm going to need to just forget about their problematic actions this season, I think.

First off, thank you for writing all of this out. I'm impressed you're so logical even in the face of your frustration.

In that first paragraph, you've laid out what I'm sure M&G thought was sufficient reasoning to get Mary not to shoot CAM when she had him cowering at her feet, but all I'm seeing is how little it holds together, and how little TPTB must think of us. (These are not questions I expect you to answer - they are just me venting my frustrations.) How on earth would Mary shooting CAM have led to John's arrest? No one other than Mary and Sherlock knows John is in the building - Janine certainly didn't see him when she buzzed Sherlock in, and Mary herself only found out because she asked. If the show wants to posit that there were too many security cameras around recording John's entrance (by Sherlock's side), that's a bit of a non-starter as well: either that would only prove that John is one of two unauthorized people in CAM's office, or they would show that John was busy tending to Janine when the shot was fired. And, as you say, the bullet in CAM would not match John's gun, and John would show no signs of having fired a gun. Plus, even if that shifts all of the suspicion to Sherlock, he's frankly in a good place for it - he's the exonerated detective who proved that he wasn't a murderous mastermind, so it's unlikely anyone official would want to go down that path with him again. Plus there's always Mycroft, who has allegedly been seeking ways to bring down CAM.

Your point about Mary's untrusting response (and plan for the future) is exactly right, and has made me reconsider her. How shooting Sherlock works out to be a good option for her is never explained, really. And this to the man who made a vow to protect her! Why couldn't she have called upon that vow, at the very least?

I see what you're saying about Mary echoing the worst of Sherlock's behavior, and I do agree, but I think what differentiates them for John is that he wasn't wronged by Mary the first time around the way he was doubly wronged by Sherlock - do you know what I mean? Mary was fleeing her past, changing herself, and along the way met him and fell in love with him. While he might wish she'd trusted him enough to tell him what she'd done, he won't say, "Those things you did before I knew you matter more to me than what you've done since I knew you, and what you've done since then is love me." Whereas with Sherlock, he loved him and believed in him, and Sherlock just pissed all over that twice, which has to be making John feel like a real idiot.

And yes, I really don't like the whole John-chooses-psychopaths-to-complete-him thing the episode tried to set up. As I said before, it's more interesting to think about what those mad, bad, and dangerous people want from John.

Ugh, the whole thing is so frustrating. But you inspired me, several months ago, to write my own take on Mary, so hopefully mine will suit you better than the show's!

Hello! Sorry to be late in saying so, but thanks a lot for the lovely episode discussion and I am REALLY looking forward to reading your take on Mary! Thanks so much for writing!

Why couldn't Mary simply have shot CAM and vanished in as sneaky a way as she entered (she evidently didn't need any Janine-related subterfuge to get into CAM's office)?
YES! That ticked me off so much!

There are things I liked in the episode, but I'm having trouble getting over what Mary did and that John just accepts it. He says, "Your past is your past"—but as I think I said somewhere else, it's her present too; Sherlock's still recovering from the wound when he says it! That felt forced.

I can believe that John would still love her. I'm glad they haven't killed her or the baby.

not what was it about Sherlock and Mary that made John seek them out, but what was it about John that made them come to him, made them find their rest in him?
Yes to that too! I felt like Sherlock was projecting onto John when he said that John chose Mary. Sherlock and Mary also each chose John. Sherlock chose a man who would go with him to a crime scene after having spent a total of maybe five minutes in his presence, and who would shoot a man to death to save Sherlock a day later. I'm not sure what Mary saw, but perhaps it was the reason why the neighbor came to John when she couldn't find her son: the neighbor, and Mary, both expected him to do something.

And neither Mary nor Sherlock wants to make John choose between them.

I just wish they had not made Mary a murderer to make her exciting. A spy? I could handle that and love it. But an assassin? Who went freelance after leaving the CIA and apparently continued to kill people? No. I really liked her in the first episode and loved her by the second, but now I can just like her, if I work at it.

High-five for your icon!

I thought it through again, and you can see from my response to rachelindeed that I still can't make any sense of Mary's failure to kill CAM when he's literally on his knees in front of her and completely defenseless.

As for Mary's past vs her present, I think John's in a space where he's accepting her definition of the present: that loving, pregnant wife that she's evidently worked hard to become, leaving behind her deadly past. That baby tips the balance on so many levels.

The thing with Mary being a killer rather than a spy - there's precedent for that. Irene Adler was presented to us as Sherlock's equal, a worthy adversary, and their contest just an intellectual puzzle, but no one seemed to remember that she was a traitor, was working with Moriarty, and had caused the deaths of at least a few people. M&G don't seem to see the line you drew, which is upsetting all on its own without having a killer carrying John's baby.

Irene Adler was presented to us as Sherlock's equal . . . no one seemed to remember that she was a traitor, was working with Moriarty, and had caused the deaths of at least a few people.
Oh, I remember!—and I'm not the only one. I'm still really annoyed at Moffat about her.

As for Mary's past vs her present, I think John's in a space where he's accepting her definition of the present: that loving, pregnant wife that she's evidently worked hard to become, leaving behind her deadly past. That baby tips the balance on so many levels.
I would find this a lot easier to accept if she hadn't just shot Sherlock. If she had just knocked him out as she did Magnussen, we'd still have loads of drama as Sherlock worried about whether or what to tell John and John still had to struggle with a wife who had lied to him about everything, but it wouldn't demean any of the characters in the way that part of the episode did.

Ha! I meant no one on the show or responsible for the show, but yes - we remember.

And yes, I very much agree with your point about what's necessary to get the characters to the point of drama - your suggestion of Mary knocking Sherlock out works, as does rachelindeed's suggestion of Mary asking for a grace period. But then, of course, M&G wouldn't have their big fancy set-piece of Sherlock's mind palace, with Molly and Anderson and Redbeard and Moriarty. All of which was, to me, frankly unnecessary.

Wow, RachelIndeed, you are exactly right. I hadn't thought much about Ep 3 because I need to rewatch it and am just not in the proper frame of mind to do so. But that is so terrible to do to Mary, isn't it? They've made her basically a terrible person. And they've made John this person who HAS to be lied to for his own good. I don't like this John-is-a-delicate-flower business. Or John accepting it. I don't think John would accept it. I think he'd be highly suspicious of the two violence-prone, lying people in his life. No matter how much he loves them. At what point does it become abusive?

And innie_darling...
I just read something positing that with only three episodes a season (however long each ep is), there's no room for a day-in-the-life type of episode, where we get to see Sherlock and John in their down time, which would go far toward humanizing Sherlock and giving Cumberbatch's performance some quieter notes and a solid underpinning.

YES! And this we did see in the first series, didn't we? Dinners out, spats in the flat, it was all part of what made the whole thing work. John pacing his first flat, struggling with the chip and pin machine, Sherlock's experiments. I missed that sort of thing tremendously this series. Would have been nice to have the entire bomb plot excised from the first ep and simply shown us John and Mary being together / Sherlock angsting over his reunions / Lestrade having to put his career back together and so forth.

Remember the scene in The Blind Banker where John and Sherlock spend all night in 221B with a bunch of books and charts and stuff? And then when Sarah was there? I think something like that would have been beautifully quiet and inclusive of Mary, and would have pulled Sherlock and John back together by showing their strengths. I felt a bit of whiplash in what was transpiring this time.

I didn't think I had anything to say about Sherlock S3!!!

Hey, you! Oh, thank you for supplying such wonderful examples - the chip-and-pin machine is a great one (though even then, Sherlock was battling a Muslim warrior for some reason), and the up-all-night-decoding scene was another. Give us real emotions - show, don't tell! That whole period of time between the revelation of Mary's past and John's speech pulling a veil over it - she says that it's been "months of silence," but what does that mean? Were they living together, or did he go off to 221B or to his sister's or someplace else? Was she trying to win him back? WHAT THE FUCK?

This is why I should never get behind on my flist: YOU WROTE BETTER OFF TED AND I DIDN'T REALIZE. Not that the other stuff was bad, you know, just. Better Off Ted.

I would be up for Sherlock remix, and suspect I still will be if I don't like the new series...usually I'm all the more motivated to write, heh.

I know what you mean - I ADORED Better Off Ted! I hope you enjoy the story!

And thanks for weighing in on the Sherlock Remix question. I want to wait for the US airings to finish before springing the question, plus I have some scheduling of my own to figure out.

Fic writers worked with what we had, followed things through to their natural conclusions, and had considered the consequences of all of the actions we'd been shown in series 2. The writing team for Sherlock apparently did not, which is becoming a pattern (getting John and Sherlock out of the pool with the "Staying Alive" call was bad enough, but then we have this series, which has taken ignorance of its own crises to a new low). It's actually not even ignorance, it's cherrypicking, which pisses me off even more.

OH MY GOD do I agree with you. It's infuriating. So many stunning stories, cleverly plotted, loving characterization, beautiful writing -- and the professionals give us this. Jesus. THANK YOU for posting this.

I really find it enormously frustrating that with the time and budget and everything that the official team had on their side, they still turned in such sloppy work. There's no reset button, guys! If you spend the two years between seasons telling us to think of ways that Sherlock could have survived, make us keenly aware of his instant notoriety, and generally paint a very grim picture of what his and John's lives will look like after the fall, then HONOR that!

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account