I think it must be awfully lonely being a criminal mastermind. And to be functioning intellectually at a level that is miles above the rest of humanity. All those boring, pathetic, stupid little humans - it’s like they’re just asking to be manipulated. They’re insignificant, and therefore the killing and exploitation of said insignificant beings do not even warrant the discussion of morality or ethics.
It would be like you or I taking the time to ponder the moral implications of shredding a potato before we turn it into a hashbrown. It would be a ridiculous and pointless exercise, and therefore it is simply not done.
I do not think Jamie Moriarty is a psychopath. Psychopathy is characterised by a lack of empathy and remorse (a gross simplification, but I write this post as a lay person and not a trained psychoanalyst, so allowances must be made). As we have seen through Moriarty’s interactions with Sherlock, it is not so much that she is incapable of empathy or remorse, as it is the fact that Sherlock is the first person she’s encountered who has the potential to be deserving of her empathy and remorse.
Let us not forget that, in addition to being a criminal mastermind, Jamie Moriarty is also an artist. She appreciates beauty. She is shown to value the legacy and stories behind the original paintings she stole (or as she calls it, “saved”, since the gallery had plans to restore the paintings, thus removing the marks of history which made them valuable to her in the first place). Granted, she was playing the role of Irene Adler when this occurred, but I believe that the sentiment was genuine.
Therefore, it is not only cold, hard intellect that Moriarty values, but also a deep-seated appreciation for artistry. Is it any wonder, then, that she has found a kindred spirit in Sherlock, as he has in her?
I refer you to Moriarty’s letter to Sherlock in Season 2, Episode 3:
“For a long while now I’ve suspected that connection with another person, real connection, simply isn’t possible. I’m curious if you disagree, although I suspect you feel as I do in this, as you do in so many other things. So tell me; is it possible to truly know another person? Is it even a worthwhile pursuit?
Yours is the only opinion I’ll trust, the only point of view that holds even the faintest interest.”
That sums up quite nicely what I’ve said so far, does it not?
Once Moriarty recognises the kindred spirit in Sherlock, she carries out her pursuit of his heart and mind with dogged determination. She genuinely craves his reciprocation of her own obsession with him. It is understandable, really. If hitherto I’ve had to endure a tedious, grey existence amongst only potatoes, and my only kicks in life came out of turning said potatoes into hashbrowns, then imagine how stimulating and arousing it must be to finally meet a Not-Potato. We are the only two of our species, the Not-Potato and I. By the laws of nature and biology, we must exist together, or you may not exist at all.
The Moriarty/Joan dynamic is arguably even more fascinating than what the former has with Sherlock.
I will leave the discourse on Moriarty’s fascination with Joan to another post. My mind is fried, and I’m afraid there will be no further words of insight from me tonight.
By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure I liked Sherlock Holmes – frankly, how could you? – but I’d never before been so captivated and thrilled by a character I’d read about in a book. And it was because he wouldn’t let me settle, I never knew where I was. One minute I’d be in awe of his brilliance, the next he’d slap me in the face with his arrogance and cruelty. And that master-storyteller Doyle just keeps making it worse and better.