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Singular (Sherlock / R, gen: Sherlock + John + Lestrade: 221B)
sturdy sense, pulling rank, oh captain my captain
Hi, everybody!

Apparently I'm dealing with my feelings about the new eps of Sherlock through 221Bs rather than proper episode reaction write-ups, but I will get into a little bit of what I've thought of 2x01 and 2x02 here. Spoilers for "Hounds of Baskerville" in the ficlet - the scene that begins in the graveyard.


Born to be on stage, that one, and dangerous for the way he so recklessly mixed truth with his little tricks and traps and taunts. That nearly-apologetic gulp, combined with the drawing close of his coat's lapels as if he wanted to burrow down in a comforting nest of blankets, were precisely timed to appear to be involuntary rather than the opening salvo of Sherlock's campaign to reconquer the territory he'd marked in his brain as John. It would be words next.

When they came, coupled with an intense glare from that paper-white face, John's already meagre supply of patience had dwindled down to nothing. It was interrogation first, as if Sherlock had to work his way up to speaking of his emotions; it was masterfully done, and John felt a lunatic urge to applaud.

Until Sherlock tried the worst manipulation of all: "I've just got one," he confessed like a lawyer in an American novel, voice throbbing with a plea not to let justice be lost. John knew he was meant to melt at the words, to feel the glow of standing alone in Sherlock's heart, but he burned at that moment for Mycroft, for Mrs. Hudson, for Greg, whose face was a billboard for the crimes Sherlock had committed against him and whose ring-finger was, on Sherlock's word, bare.


I don't think this is spoilery, but I've been not as happy with this series as I was with the first. I'm aware that my expectations have been staggeringly high, but I don't think I'm faulting the show for failing to live up to them, but rather for failing to live up to itself. Much as it pains me to say it, I don't think Benedict Cumberbatch is doing very well this time - I've seen some manic overacting that seems to be responding to the critical adoration the show has received. (Of course if it turns out that he's playing Sherlock responding to his greater notoriety, I will be put in my place very nicely.) The absolutely pure good news is that Martin Freeman is doing such perfectly splendid work that I just want to rewatch over and over again to see how he's pulling it off. I was very pleased that he won the BAFTA last year; I will be flabbergasted if he doesn't win it this year. He is amazing.

As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

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I haven't decided: Asperger's or a sociopath? Either way, I wish he hadn't drugged Watson.

Yeah, the drugging scene - and all the manipulations he made to get John to drink the coffee - upset me and made it harder for me to buy the theory that Sherlock only self-diagnosed as a sociopath.

Although the Aspergers diagnosis might explain that, too.

LOL re: Benedict. We're going Hollywood, aren't we? When I see you I shall express my private SADFACE feelings over that. I owe you email and schedule check. Promise to do so tomorrow. <3

So much sadface! (Hey, are you back?)

I've seen some manic overacting that seems to be responding to the critical adoration the show has received.

Sadly, yep. The whole mind palace scene, I CANNOT watch again without a blanket (wow, blast from the past!!!). That said, and I'm so ignorant in the ways of making movies, but I imagine some of this has to be direction? Hopefully?

On ONTD (I know, I know), some have taken to calling MF "Flaw-Freeman" and never was there a more appropriate moniker.

"Flaw-Freeman" is, as P. G. Wodehouse would have said, neat and tells the whole story in a single word. And to think I hadn't even seen "Reichenbach" when I posted this! He is unbelievably good.

The mind palace, the harpoon, the twitchiness - ugh, all of it grated. And yes, I imagine that some of it came from directors calling for "more" or "higher" or "greater intensity" and we'll never know if Benedict played the scenes more interior in unused takes, but yeah . . . what was up with all of that?

This series is about equal to the last I think (which I found wildly uneven -- quite impressive when you only have 3 episodes to play with!), but I don't think there's any problem with the performance of the two leads, either separately or (especially) together: it's a wonderfully precisely-balanced partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts. The 'mind palace' scene is the equivalent of the on-screen deductions re. Pink Phone Woman in the first episode, love it or loathe it.

And Sherlock drugging John is entirely in character: grant him the grace that he would probably have experimented on himself first, from choice (although not necessarily out of any consideration for others...), but lacking that option in this case, he tests his theory on John, who is to hand and whose reactions are intimately known. Scientific method...

Having now seen all of series 2, I think it does rank below series 1 for me - much of the first episode especially seemed like "scenes the fans ought to like" strung together rather than a coherent narrative.

Absolutely Sherlock would have drugged himself - that's right out of ACD canon. I didn't like that he drugged John here, but I might have been able to live with it had he acted more like a scientist, but that shot of him with his feet up listening to John (battle-scarred vet) go nearly out of his mind with fear really rubbed me the wrong way.

One of the things I found refreshing on seeing the second series after an overdose of fan fiction was the reminder that (many fans to the contrary) Sherlock isn't actually a very nice person: as in so much Blake's 7 fan-fiction featuring Kerr Avon, people who try to get sentimental about the character (or worse, have him Getting in Touch with his Feelings) produce a subtly or not-so-subtly distorted version which is then copied by others, until a sort of Chinese Whispers process produces the character the fans would romantically like to have existed rather than the reticent, self-centred and not infrequently downright cruel original who originally fascinated them. Watching these new 'canon' scripts was like a breath of fresh air: 'Oh, so that was what was wrong with all those stories...'

I'm not accusing you of being one of the culprits in question (it would be nice to say they know who they are, but I've afraid it's the essence of the thing that they don't know, alas), but I suspect that, for example, while it appears to be an article of faith among fangirls that John Watson is the most important person in Sherlock's life (and this may indeed well be the case), Sherlock himself probably doesn't actually perceive it that way. The screen Sherlock would no doubt laugh -- rudely -- in the face of anyone who suggested that he 'loved' John. If he does so, he doesn't know it and wouldn't call it that.

("I don't have 'friends'" rang pretty true to me as a rejection of the whole idea, actually: friends are a weakness, people who think they have some kind of demand on you and get upset when you then persist in behaving in perfectly ordinary ways. John is... a special case, when he remembers it.)

The most important thing on Sherlock's mind would appear to be Sherlock (with the proviso that he doesn't actually seem to care at all for the comfort or otherwise of the-body-belonging-to-Sherlock, which I suspect he probably doesn't consider to be a vital part of 'him' at all) and specifically whatever Sherlock is currently thinking about, i.e. the case he is currently working on or the scientific question that currently absorbs him or any other matter that has his interest aroused. So yes, he's callous and extremely manipulative - it's in character.

Mind you, given that he is also possessive it would be interesting to see how he would react to anyone else experimenting on John in the manner that he has just done...

That's really interesting, because while I absolutely agree that Sherlock is not, fundamentally, a nice person, I still think series 2 was a step back from the epiphany he'd come to in "The Great Game" when he realized that, for all his protests and disbelief, John Watson had somehow come to mean a great deal to him, even if he was still reluctant to label him "friend" or change his personality or behavior to suit John. So I think he does know that he loves John, but he hasn't yet accepted that this is a permanent change for him. I could even find it plausible that Sherlock might believe his feelings to have been created solely by the stress of the pool showdown, but again, I do think he's aware of those feelings, however much he might hope that he wasn't.

I'm finding all of this especially interesting now, as I'm trying to write two long fics, one using my personal take on the characters (to finish off a series) and the other hewing to BBC canon and characterizations. I find myself increasingly aware of how far apart the two sometimes are.

That's.... a very interesting point, and one that completely failed to occur to me while watching the scene.

Overall I think I like the first series better - but then I was very disappointed with ASiB, and I know that the next ep is going to be sad! Plus the first series had the element of being unexpected and just delightful because of it.

Have you changed your LJ layout? I like it!

Yeah, I changed the layout to get comments working the way they used to, and never changed it back. And I look at everyone's journal in my own style, and this one is pretty easy on the eyes.

Yeah, ASiB was a huge disappointment for me too, so already series 2 fell behind series 1 in my estimation. But TRF was so magnificent!

Hmm, I think when it comes friends, Sherlock would have categorized people before he met John, and before he met John the category of friend didn't exist in his mind. Mycroft would be brother, always, no matter how well they got along (and I think this is rather common, I think of my siblings as siblings even if we hang out like friends). I think with Lestrade it probably hasn't crossed his mind that they could be friends, because he's rather stupid like that. And Mrs Hudson, well. She was his client, and I suspect he thinks of her rather as an old aunt or something. But hey, that's just my thoughts.

When it comes to the acting, I think the mind palace scene was a bit difficult on rewatching, but that one is almost completely down to direction, I would think. Otherwise it feels pretty solid to me. And of course, both the bit about showing off being what he does and John's comment on the mysterious coat and cheekbones indicate that Sherlock is more of a drama queen than usual. Or perhaps just that John's had enough :p

I absolutely get what you're saying about Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson particularly, and even Lestrade to some extent. John, in this ficlet, is reacting to the fact that he knows Sherlock is manipulating him even with things that sound true - whether Sherlock considers the others as friends or not, he knows they will act in a friendly way toward him, and so it's disingenuous at best for him to claim that he has only one friend.

I'm still not convinced that BC did his best work in series 2, but I also haven't done a rewatch of the series yet.

I see what you're saying about Benedict, but personally I've enjoyed him very much in this series. I think the "big" scenes where you could fairly accuse him of overdoing things would be the opening scene of Hounds (where he's asked to be is-he-on-drugs?!twitchy and comic), the fireplace scene of Hounds (where, again, he is supposed to be under the influence of narcotics), and the mind palace sequence (which I never thought was supposed to be taken literally as a portrait of what he looks like when he's thinking, but instead was meant as a visual metaphor for what his computer-brain felt like).

BC's "drugged" acting I thought was fine, though not subtle. But then again, Martin Freeman also had a yelling and spittle-flying reaction, pitched at about the same level, after his initial (brilliant!) quiet terror in the lab. Both of them stayed fairly quiet during their actual hallucinations and then had big reactions afterward. Mr. Tovey also gave a big emotional/physical reaction when they got back to his home. I'd say the actors were all fairly in line in portraying this hallucinogen's effects, from painful light-sensitivity to loss of emotional control.

The fireplace scene was really the only one where I felt like MF's and BC's reactions were out of sync with each other -- BC was playing Sherlock as so clearly physically strung out that I found it very hard to believe that John would not conclude that Sherlock was on something. But I think maybe that's why they played the opening manic scenes in Baker Street broadly -- because they needed to establish that Sherlock normally acted so physically and emotionally manic that John would be enured to it and therefore he would not pick up on the normal warning bells and recognize fairly clear signs that Sherlock was actually drugged. It allowed the episode to keep alive the question of drugs/illusion vs. real-mutant-animal, even after presenting strong evidence for drugs, I think.

Anyhow, having said all that, I admit that I always enjoy the quieter scenes best, and I don't think anything in series 2 has matched the brilliance of "A Study in Pink." But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the last episode! :)

"The fireplace scene was really the only one where I felt like MF's and BC's reactions were out of sync with each other -- BC was playing Sherlock as so clearly physically strung out that I found it very hard to believe that John would not conclude that Sherlock was on something. But I think maybe that's why they played the opening manic scenes in Baker Street broadly -- because they needed to establish that Sherlock normally acted so physically and emotionally manic that John would be enured to it and therefore he would not pick up on the normal warning bells and recognize fairly clear signs that Sherlock was actually drugged."

This is such a good point - I felt that BC overacted both and thought it implausible that John didn't spot that there was something unusually wrong with Sherlock in the fireplace scene, but hadn't joined the two up in my mind. Thank you!

Huh - that is a really smart way to look at the loud/big scenes, as the drug having a specific, appreciable effect on the behavior of all three men. While I still do think BC was a leeeetle too hammy, a lot of my dissatisfaction comes from the scripts; too many bits felt like "scenes the fans should love" strung together rather than necessary parts of a coherent narrative. Like the harpoon scene: while I can totally buy that BBC Sherlock (like ACD Sherlock) would find it necessary to harpoon a pig, I could not at all buy that (a) he would do so outside of laboratory settings, (b) that finicky Sherlock would not clean himself off immediately OR at least show some awareness that he might be contaminating blood-spatter results by allowing the blood to remain on him for so long, and (c) he didn't understand why cabbies wouldn't stop for him. I just found it aggravating.

I do agree that Sherlock's distress during the fireside scene was so obvious that I couldn't understand why John was speaking so casually to him, but I take your point that Sherlock has been manic all along.

Anyway, TRF was amazing and I'm glad we even got a second series of this show!

Have just come back to read the ficlet and it's brilliant. John's quiet burning... it's not wrong to think that is sexy, is it?

Girl, please. John is sexy as fuck.

Wow! Nice. I love a strong John.

And I'm entirely with you on Martin Freeman.

Strong John is a thing of beauty, right? Thank you very much!

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