elementary 1x01


It just so happens that people, and all their deceits and illusions that inform everything that they do, tend to be the most fascinating puzzles of all.

More thoughts on Joan Watson, Jamie Moriarty, and Sherlock.

Joan “solves” Sherlock within days of meeting him, just like she does with Jamie Moriarty in the last episode of Season 1.


From Elementary 1x01 Pilot - 

Sherlock: You want to know about London because you think it’ll connect us in a more meaningful way. But in case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t have meaningful connections…Why are you smiling?

Joan: Because now I know it was a woman.

Sherlock: What makes you say that?

Joan: You’re trying too hard. Just like you were the other day with that tattooed lady. All that sexist repellent crap. You can connect to people. It just frightens you.

From Elementary 1x24 “Heroine” - 

Sherlock (to Moriarty): You know she solved you. The ‘mascot’. Watson. She diagnosed your condition earlier this evening…You said there was only one person in the world who could surprise you. Turns out, there’s two.


In contrast, Moriarty gets it so very wrong about Joan in 2x12 “The Diabolical Kind” -

Moriarty: It’s what you crave, is it not? Acknowledgement from a superior mind. Evidence that you…matter.

Because if there’s one thing that doesn’t drive Joan to do what she does with Sherlock, it’s the need for acknowledgement. Or any kind of external validation, to be honest. She’s a woman in her late 30s/early 40s, and has had a long career as a surgeon, and an even longer one as a doctor. Like Sherlock says at one point, it takes a certain degree of arrogance to become a successful surgeon. Joan knows she’s intelligent, and though she recognises him as a brilliant deductionist, Joan’s never really viewed Sherlock as a “superior mind”. 

The fact that Moriarty is no closer to “solving” Joan Watson by their second encounter, after what would have surely been countless hours of contemplating Joan in solitude (going so far as to paint that giant-ass portrait of her likeness), means that Joan is now safely ensconced in the category of “threat’ in Moriarty’s mind. Joan Watson is an unknown and uncrackable variable and Moriarty, the consummate control-freak and puppet-master, can only tolerate a wildcard like Joan for so long before she switches from trying to figure her out to just eliminating the threat all together.

Interestingly, despite perceiving Sherlock as a kindred spirit, her understanding of Sherlock seems to have undergone a degeneration by the time she reunites with them in 2x14.

Moriarty: I’m drawn to things I don’t understand. Same as Sherlock. Once I’ve figured you out I’ll move on. Same as Sherlock.

Maybe it is her own arrogance that prevents her from even entertaining the possibility that Sherlock might see Joan as an equal and a friend. Or maybe being with Joan has changed Sherlock so much that the aloof, misanthropic and oh-so-lonely man that Moriarty felt such an affinity towards no longer exists. Because didn’t Sherlock himself say:

I am better with you, Watson.”

Which brings me to my next question: what is Moriarty’s endgame?

By the time Season 3 rolls around, Moriarty’s had a lot more time to study Joan from afar, and clearly Joan’s risen considerably in her estimation.

From 3x14 “The Female of the Species” - 

Moriarty (in her letter to Joan): I still believe there’s a game unfolding between Sherlock and I, and you have made yourself a valued and essential contributor. I won’t have you removed from play prematurely.

There’s probably a lot more to be said, but in short, here’s what I think: Moriarty’s probably given up on trying to convert Sherlock to the dark side, and she knows that Joan will never be tempted by power and money. She’s also probably figured out by this stage that Sherlock and Joan are each others’ berserk buttons. Never to be bested, Moriarty’s ultimate objective is to exact revenge on the pair by pushing those buttons, and dance in glee in the ashes of their decimated friendship.

And with that vague and rather melodramatic pronouncement, I conclude this post.