*Warning Contains Spoilers*
Steven Moffatt and Mark Gattis have never shied from fiddling with the format of Sherlock. For each “normal” episode – clever deductions, crime solving, battling Moriarty in a war of wits – we get a “weird” one: a big set-piece wedding, conflicting explanations for Sherlock’s resurrection, a drug-induced fever dream set in Victorian London. Occasionally these odder episodes stray too far from the formula, trying too hard to impress the obsessives, while giving too little to the casual viewer and leave me clueless all at the same time.
But what did Sherlock teach me last night?
Three important lessons.
Sherlock channels Bond in the most explosive outing yet
Now who hasn’t wanted to smash statues of Margaret Thatcher at some point or another? The cunning way in which the last of statues was tracked down was a bit Bondesque, but it was what followed that surprised me.
Cumberbatch’s Sherlock has gone through a transition since it hit our screens in 2010. I didn’t even watch the first two series because there was so much hype surrounding it. I later went back and watched the box sets. It’s also fair to say that Cumberbatch himself has gone through a transition. He’s certainly ‘bulked up a bit’ probably with the thanks and rigours of his first venture into the Marvel Universe of Superhero movies in Dr. Strange.
However the character has started to show some significant hidden depths and goes to show you that although, you ‘think’ you know someone, there are surprises every day of the week as we get older. In this episode, we see Sherlock fighting and giving as good as he gets with a former Special Ops soldier. A great fight scene, but something we wouldn’t expect in the American version called ‘Elementary’ or by Peter Cushing.
Not everything is at it seems.
“Some many lies, I don’t just mean you…”
In a slightly unsatisfying subplot, John meets a mystery women on the bus who gives him her number. We learn later in one of the many, same scene, different perspective scenes, that he followed up on the encounter, having some very weak flirty banter – “Night Owl?” “Vampire” – and potentially meeting up too. It seems unlikely the perfect John Watson would have had an affair with a stranger, cheating on the mother of his child, so there’s likely more to this story than first appears. John eventually breaks things off by telling her “I’m not free” rather than “I’m not single”, so perhaps it was Sherlock she was asking him to betray, not Mary.
But here is a man. A normal man. I remember someone close telling me they were appalled at the level of morals in this country now. They were newly single and they were shocked how many people with wedding rings on came up to them and suggested inappropriate liaisons. They also commented that ‘dating was dead’ as usually on a first date they wanted to know whether they would sleep together within 5 minutes of the date starting.
So although this is a drama, perhaps this is a reflection of the good people out there that do make mistakes. No rhyme and no reason, but with the explosive finish at the end, we are yet to see the reaction that John will have knowing his behaviour and the death of his wife.
Promises, Promises, Promises
Sherlock had made a vow to all three members of John’s family that he would look after and protect them. We now know that it was foolish to make that kind of promise.
In this case you can’t promise something to someone who goes out of their way to make it difficult for you to keep that promise. For the first time, we see Sherlock’s arrogance proving to be his downfall rather than his saviour. And it leads to him not being able to fulfil his solemn vow.
As the guilty is surrounded they draw a gun on Sherlock and as there appears to be no way out, they pull the trigger only for Mary to bravely jump in front of Sherlock and take the bullet for him. It is a fatal shot.
Sherlocks vow as noble as it was, could never have been realised. There were too many things out of his control. Too many variables. But it is left to John and his daughter to suffer the consequences of those actions.
We see in the final scenes that John can no longer face Sherlock because he feels betrayed by his inability to have kept the promise and we see Sherlock in therapy where for the first time he asks what to do regarding the situation.
So here are the things I learnt from last nights Sherlock…
1. We all have hidden sides, wether they be good or bad; brave or cowardly; light and dark.
2. Even the most innocent of people make mistakes. Life events and situations form a narrative in peoples minds and perceptions. Sometimes we don’t know what difficulties or hell people are going through to make them act out of character.
3. People don’t in general go out of their way to break vows or promises. Sometimes these things are taken out of their hands and have no control over them. It is not because they don’t want to keep them, it’s because difficult to keep them sometimes. How you act when you have failed and see the consequences is just as important as the promise itself.