Contradictions in the creator quotes
I now stand firmly corrected in my misassumption that the big reveal would mean we would revisit the entire show in light of the ending and see an intricate plan. An emotional context we the audience were meant to miss. I was right. As were others. Problem was, it was a sister all along. Unfortunately the sister rugpull rather than a romance rug pull is the less convincing story arc. What we got instead was a finale that makes in retrospect much of what preceded it seem nonsensical at surface level if we accept the finale as the “solution” or the definitive story. How did we get that wrong? I was never a conspiracy fan. It relied on too much “it can only mean one thing” from mountains of data. When the narrative and the claims of creators lying as a benevolent secret keeping was all that was necessary to see a romantic endgame. I opted always for a simple solution. The simplest most probable answer. And that was heavily reliant on my trust in Mofftiss as good storytellers and good show runners. That was for me my biggest error.
If this was not “gay” but “trash”, how did it to get to be *this* trash?
How is it we were so wrong in predicting the endgame across various different theory camps of this fandom? What weaknesses on their part were we overlooking? Or not privy to? Or ignoring. Or not adequately assessing - so that coincidences were ironically a sign of laziness, or clever writing instead turns out to be poor writing - a series of tricks rather than a plan?
Because the end result is simultaneously infuriating and “Meh.” Two things that should not comfortably go together. A rug pull should leave you so impressed you don’t mind being infuriated. You applaud and shout, “oh you tricked me! Well done! How DID you do it?!” And yet, here we are.
Some fans are deciding to keep the faith - hoping for a final rug pull that will show they really were as good as we believed. I’m not there. I am opting to make a deduction and coming to a probable conclusion based on the data we have. No conspiracy. No cruel intentions. Just a series of unfortunate events.
For as much as I am loathe to say this, I think from an executive production point of view, the absence of someone like Steven Thompson means the absence of a critical third voice.
I don’t know why he left but he should have been replaced by *someone*. Mofftiss were clearly given far too much credit and license. Where was the necessary script editing to rein in their now glaringly patent self indulgent natures?
Keeping secrets to the degree they have, and being allowed to, has been proven a big executive error. Because no one was able to say hold on, how will this play out coherently? Virtually every single thing that frustrates the viewer from TEH on right through to the last frame of TFP could have been avoided if they had had a 3rd voice they listened to and who had the authority to thoroughly critique their plans. They were over indulged in all the wrong places.
TAB was a masterpiece but I suspect not for the reasons *they* think it was. They literally do not appear to have seen what it was they were writing. Or they did and defied the results on screen.
Every critique I have, or have seen, comes down in the end to that. Letting them keep secrets from their cast and crew was a glaring warning that there was no one with the authority or the necessary expertise on board to keep them in check and join up the dots.
Moffat and Gatiss have clearly been working without an outside writer’s voice who has authority that they would listen to. Since TEH it has been a problem that only compounds. The errors build on themselves.
It resulted in a finale that many critics and fans are unconvinced by for *multiple different* reasons. It was only at the end that we see just how much they were driving the show haphazardly and possibly the wrong direction.
There’s an analogy that comes to mind. One reason a manager is paid more than their secretary is that if the secretary makes a mistake their errors have less consequences in the grand scheme. You will likely notice their failings very quickly. The manager meanwhile has the ability to make errors that will not only have bigger impact but will not necessarily be immediately obvious. The more power you have the longer it will take for the true and full negative impact of your decisions to be realized. Because as a decision plays out it creates other decisions in a ripple effect that take time to play out. Of course you can offset this by critiquing the decisions before finalizing them, and thinking through what the consequences might be. If you don’t then what will happen? You can only trust the manager. You assume *they* have thought it through and assessed the potential flaws and risks and negative outcomes. That they have a plan to offset any negative consequences or prevent them from happening.
Making sound decisions demands either a high level of self-critique or a system that lets criticism in. To test your plan. To raise the issue of unintended consequences. Not with an intention of blocking success but to *ensure* it.
This show was, I fear, failing at that far earlier than anyone really knew and I don’t think TBTB see it even now. A clear warning flag that many of us picked up on at the time was AA not being told Mary was going to be revealed an assassin. That was an error that not only impacted her performance (think of her as a secretary who realizing an error she didn’t even mean to make or even knew she was making then has to then self-correct on the fly). but it crucially should have signaled a much bigger managerial error that would have a series of far more fundamental negative results. That secrecy meant that no one else got to say, um… are you sure about this plot line? Have you planned any of this out adequately and considered the long term consequences on the narrative? Because if you head down this path you may not be able to undo it. You can’t just make it up as you go. Think this all out. How will this all fit? What ongoing story are you serving here? Where do you want to land?
But the manager was trusted rather than questioned. The only negative consequence was thought to be its impact on Amanda. No biggie. She’s a professional. She can recalibrate to accommodate the performance errors she unwittingly made. Tiny errors that Mofftiss assumed were no big deal, having incorrectly assumed that it would be a better surprise reveal if she was acting blind of what was to come. But that meant she was serving a different story than them. She had no choice but to. It put emphases in potentially the wrong places. Her fellow actors are in turn then reacting to her acting choices and she is reacting to them. But that notion that if they don’t know anything, or, “just assume your character knows nothing because it doesn’t matter”, is not how acting works. They didn’t trust her. I suspect they were doing this all along to their actors. Not actually trusting their skills or adequately hearing their own unfolding insights from inside the characters. So that the cast were acting repeatedly on false sets of assumptions. So too probably were the directors and crew. As a result, what shows up on screen is not what they all think they are making. They all think they are making a slightly different show.
And the widest gap is between what Mofftiss had in their heads and what was on screen. Next down the pecking order is what Martin and Ben thought they were doing. In light of TFP there are acting choices and editing choices over which take of a scene to use (going by the commentaries) that suggest there was no 3rd party with the authority to hear their conversations and say, have you considered that the actors understand the characters better than you do? If that’s true, how might they see the path they are on? Do you realize that if you use this take you are placing an emphasis you should then follow through on.
And no one had the power to point it out and not be shrugged off. So in retrospect, there are scenes that now seem totally overplayed or emotionally on the wrong foot. And the problem is, which ones were out of character in light of TFP? Because I think that’s up for debate.
This was a show attempting to be very clever and yet apparently was very much NOT thought through. The fundamental fan error was assuming stuff could not possibly be coincidence. Others went further and assumed not just endgame narrative but an incredibly intricate conspiracy that they were hiding in plain sight so the fans could guess what the end game was.
But that was never the only option. The one thing that kept getting sidelined was the possibility that they thought they all knew what they were doing but didn’t. That their plans were flawed. And that it wasn’t that they were intentionally writing a narrative that fans could subtextually read. Rather the creators could not see it. Which produced a ton of unintended coincidences. They wrote it and acted it and designed around it and scored it and could not see the wood for the trees. Because what Mofftiss said ultimately ruled at the end.
And that is paradoxically *why* the love story works. Why there are so many coincidences. Because the story we read fitted the rules of storytelling even while Mofftiss tried to defy those very rules. To insist they weren’t telling it.
They simply ignored what many others could see - the story they were telling in spite of themselves. They assumed their intent was more powerful a force. And in that burned the heart out of their own show. So that the finale focused on Sherlock and Eurus in a self indulgent Bond meets gothic horror genre fantasy when in fact this was always meant to be about Sherlock and John. Even platonically, they failed in TFP to deliver on that adequately. They shoved it to the side so it was virtually a subplot. The wrote the wrong kind of ending for a story they were all unconsciously writing, acting, directing, designing, scoring. The very heart of ACD’s stories. The bond between the 2 heroes. A love story, even if one that was limited in its physical or sexual expression.
They tried to refocus at the end on John and Sherlock and in their fast cut blink and you miss it montage they made yet another massive error. A huge one.
They gave Mary the voice that rightly belonged to go back to John - the Boswell, the blogger, the original storyteller. So he could explain what he and Sherlock are. They did it in TAB. Sherlock understood that in TAB. That John’s public narrative is not the truth. That there is an emotional story the public doesn’t see. An emotional Sherlock the Strand reading or blog reading public doesn’t see. They should have let Sherlock’s intuition and unconscious insight be proven right in real life in the 21st century. They should have replayed that aspect of TAB in the real world. Instead, confusingly, they did the exact opposite - so much so John couldn’t tell if Sherlock was faking his own self destruction.
He couldn’t tell the story if he tried. He needed a second opinion. A big clue that they had made a mistake - the same mistake that led them to introduce Mary’s DVD messages:
Mary was never the storyteller. But they tried to make her one. It was a very flawed decision. One of so many. All interlinked. And all ultimately as result of not thinking it through. They stopped serving the core story and served themselves on a personal fan boy level. They tried to be clever and completely missed the emotional context which they claimed was what this show was supposed to all be about. At a surface textual level. And a brief montage of the future feels like a rushed and inadequate pay off to that original intent. With the wrong narrator - with Mary as our intermediary - we are now inexplicably kept more at a distance from them than we were at the start. After going through hell with them.
I suspect that around TRF they began to lose the plot. They began to think details don’t matter. Even though they then discovered fans were weaving intricate explanations for how sherlock lived they persisted in letting details go. Waving it all off to please themselves and evade scrutiny. Mistake.
All the contradictions in cast and crew commentaries and interviews point to that. And fans, me included, assumed they were smarter than that. We kept trying correct the story to make it make sense by assuming they must be telling a different story. Problem was we didn’t give enough air time to imagining a trash ending and looking for clues of what it might be. We wrote far too generous meta. We gave them way more credit than they were due. They really weren’t the storytellers we thought they were. They were just fan boys amusing themselves for a rug pull that was in the end not very interesting or as original as they think. And certainly not groundbreaking.
Rather than correcting what everyone else got wrong, they hatched up an inadequate plan and made poor decisions. Everyone else put far too much trust in them as writers. And it all culminated in an ending that throws up huge retrospective questions about swathes of what preceded it. It potentially breaks the story so that a rewatch will not make sense.
I see little or no reason to come to any other conclusion. It fits all the rules of probability. They just weren’t good enough writers. They put ego before the heart of the narrative and were indulged by too many others.
There may be other probable conclusions. But the least generous is the most sense making one to my mind right now. It requires no leaps of logic.