gif: elementary

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A Broken Man

Throughout the rewatch of Elementary today, it was interesting to notice patterns in behaviour that I hadn’t noticed before in Sherlock.

The first one was his physical response when distressed or frustrated or even when he feels helpless: the child-like attitude of hiding his face in his hands. It’s what he does when everything gets too much and he has nothing else that he can physically do. He crams his hands over his eyes like a child would, trying to block out everything. For a man who insists on drinking in all the details he can, shutting down one of his senses, even for a moment, is a sign of how much stress he must be feeling.

The other thing is his verbal response whenever anything goes awry: it’s my fault. He blames himself for everything both consciously and subconsciously. He feels that he has the intellectual power to help the people in his cases, and if he fails, then it’s his fault that something happened to them. He doesn’t blame the people who perpetrated the crime. He blames himself for not working fast enough or being astute enough to solve them.

There’s a scene where things go wrong, and Sherlock crams his hands over his face, and Gregson immediately straightens up, and - before Sherlock can say a word - he says calmly and firmly “This isn’t your fault. The person who did this is responsible, not you”.

Gregson knows that this is a serious problem Sherlock has. He knows Sherlock has issues and has been a victim himself, but Gregson can not and WILL NOT allow this man to bear to weight of guilt of someone else’s crimes, because he didn’t solve the case quickly enough.

Joan and Gregson together provide a support network for a man who is walking a fine line of the hyper-intelligent and hypersensitive who could easily be swallowed whole again by the issues crushing down on him from all sides.

He’s escaped from a domineering father, a childhood of bullying and abuse, and a relationship that was so twisted up that it utterly broke him. He has an addictive personality, and that’s not something that goes away. As he said himself “I’ll always be an addict”. He’s a damaged man trying his best to stop other people being damaged.

8

We have spilled much ink, you and I, in our discussion of human connection. And we are no closer to understanding than we were when the correspondence began. I often fear as if I’m standiong on one side of a wide chasm, shouting across, and wondering if the response I hear comes from you, or if it is my own voice echoing back to me.

It seems to me on my side of the canyon, the search for unity with another is the font of much of the world’s unhappiness. I watch as Watson, eager as ever to extract some meaning from the prevailing social conventions, endures a series of curated mating rituals. It seems to me that she is incrementally less content each time she returns from one.

I conduct myself as though I am above matters of the heart, chiefly because I have seen them corrode people I respect, but in my candid moments I sometimes wonder if I take this stance I do because love, for lack of a better word, is a game I failed to understand, and so I opt not to play.

After all, if I truly had the purity of all my convictions, I wouldn’t regret so many of the things I have done.

Nor would I persist against so many of my better instincts in this correspondence. I find you a challenge, one that in spite of all you’ve done continues to stimulate, and so the conversation, futile though it may finally be, continues, and we are left to wonder - have we simply failed to find the answers to the questions that preoccupy us or can they not be answered at all. Fortunately, for both of us, the world always presents the next diversion… - Sherlock Holmes

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It is so rare to find a complete person with a soul, a heart and an imagination: so rare for character as ardent and restless as ours to meet and to be matched together, that I hardly know how to tell you what happiness it gives me to know you …