“Then, we considered Tchaikovsky.” “Oh, you couldn’t go wrong with Tchaikovsky.”
“We could. And we did. It was catastrophe.” "Why?”
“You don’t know? Because Tchaikovsky… How shall I put it? Women… Not his glass of tea.”
“But there can be no grave for Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Watson… Shall they not always live in Baker Street? Are they not there instant, as one writes? … Outside, the hansoms rattle through the rain, and Moriarty plans his latest devilry. Within, the sea-coal flames upon the hearth, and Holmes and Watson take their well-won ease… So they still live for all that love them well, in a romantic chamber of the heart, in a nostalgic country of the mind, where it is always 1895."
(’The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’, Vincent Starrett.)
This was just meant to be a reblog, but it got WAY too lengthy...
People have been discussing how Irene’s appearance in Sherlock’s Gothic Christmas Mind Palace Tale™ (as a sepia photo inside Sherlock’s chain watch) seemed completely out of place —dressed in modern clothes, as if he hadn’t even bothered to make up a Victorian alter ego for her, even when he claimed that he ‘had all the details perfect’ (this discussion was started by @wsswatson, @iminlovewithdianaxo, @anotherwellkeptsecret and @holmesandwatsonplease, in this link)
Some think this might just have been a hint meant to clue us in the fact that this was all a Mind Palace fantasy, while others are certain this is proof that Irene isn’t important to Sherlock anymore.
My take on it:
I think first and foremost this is a huge nod to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (TPLoSH) —Gabrielle Valladon (aka Ilsa von Hoffmanstal) was a sort of Irene Adler in this film (as you may imagine from the following gifs)
And TPLoSH!Sherlock also kept her picture inside his watch once her case was over (Actually, he even writes a score for her, the same as BBC!Sherlock does in ASiB).
To the heteronormative viewer, it would seem TPLoSh!Sherlock falls in love with her —but in fact director Billy Wilder (yes, Wilder like the dude from the Diogenes Club in TAB) later confessed to having intended to present a gay Sherlock in love with Watson, only regretting that, as it was the 1970s, he wasn’t brave enough to completely go through with the idea (But this is, by the way, how Gatiss interpreted it too, and he claims it’s one of his favourite Sherlock films as well as a huge source of inspiration for him in order to write the BBC show).
Thus, we have a very effeminate Sherlock that drops every possible innuendo about his not giving a frig about women, who is also really invested in Watson’s well-being, but who at a certain point reveals to have had a (vague, unclear, dispassionate, unfortunate) past with women which has as a result caused him to not trust them, like them or even notice them in the present (this last part because of Wilder’s fear of audience rejection due to rampant homophobia and heternormativity).
When you bear, however, Wilder’s true intentions in mind, you have the story of a very cunning female spy that tries to get government secrets through a very gay Sherlock but falls for him in the process and is eventually found out and defeated by him. Still, Sherlock admires her intelligence and thanks her for providing “a very close game” (This is literally what happens in both ASiB and TPLoSH).
Going back to what I said about Gatiss considering TPLoSH a source to draw inspiration from, I’d like to remind everyone about how Mofftiss, at this point, consider basically every Sherlock adaptation to be “canon material”.
Therefore, I want to point out that the Reichenbach fall(s) is not the only canon moment that Mofftiss have already deviated from and changed, with all the implications that changing the canon has.
Why am I saying this? Because if we consider TPLoSH a canon source, there is something that has already been changed.
The first thing is that, while Gabrielle/Ilsa is not ultimately saved by TPLoSH!Sherlock and she is effectively executed, Irene is saved by BBC!Sherlock in the end. What does this lead to? TPLoSH!Sherlock being consumed by regret that he didn’t manage to preserve one of the brightest minds he had come across, while BBC!Sherlock just closes this chapter of his life and Irene becomes but a silent presence in the back of his mind, a fond memory of a case that was, in my opinion, truly fascinating.
BUT, at some point in ASiB, BBC!Sherlock DOES believe Irene was dead. Really dead. And he had the phone that was her only protection. That should have filled him with remorse, and we know how Sherlock deals with that. But it didn’t affect him so deeply that he resorted to the drugs. Why?
First of all, because he still hadn’t realised how incredibly clever she was by then. I mean, he knew she was clever, but he hadn’t found out the way she had used him, deceived him and got her way with him (intellectually speaking) in order to obtain the information she wanted.
And since Sherlock didn’t have romantic feelings for her, the only thing for him to regret about her death would be what a brilliant mind had been lost to the world. But since he still didn’t know how truly brilliant she was, instead he had a sort of blooming admiration for her mental abilities, but not enough to regret it so deeply that he would start doing drugs again (Of course, he is sorry because a life had been lost, a very promising mind indeed).
Do you know the first thing TPLoSH!Sherlock does upon the news of Gabrielle/Ilsa’s decease? He takes Watson’s suitcase and he shoots cocaine in order to deal with the grief, and Watson sees Sherlock so deeply affected by the spy’s death that he just lets him.
But BBC!Sherlock doesn’t. BBC!Sherlock composes music in order to deal with whatever grief he’s feeling, but he doesn’t do drugs. Of course, there’s also John to prevent him from doing it.
Do you know when BBC!Sherlock does do drugs? Do you know when he’s so deeply striken by grief and loss that he just gives in to his nastiest habit because he can’t find another way to cope?
Exactly. When John marries a woman, moves out of Baker Street and leaves him all alone.
They changed the canon according to Billy Wilder’s intentions. It would be John leaving Sherlock that would cause him the most grief, and not some spy, but Wilder couldn’t tell the truth because it was too soon. Back in the 70s this would have been unacceptable. So they fixed it now. They made John more important than any woman in Sherlock’s life because this is how it was always supposed to be.
It’s always been John, and anyone else, any other man or woman, no matter how impressive, is just an old picture, a memory stored somewhere in Sherlock’s brain, not even really present anymore, while John is the constant in his life. He’s always been there and he will continue to be.
And concerning @holmesandwatsonplease‘s comment “I don’t know what to do with this information”, I would say “Rejoice in the fact that Sherlock couldn’t care less about Irene as a romantic partner”.
(Also I’m sorry if you didn’t want to be tagged, so if it bothered you just let me know and I will not do it again, no hard feelings) :)
edit: tagging @malinwolf, who appreciates my shitty efforts more than anyone for some reason xD
“I play the violin when I’m thinking. Sometimes I don’t talk for days on end. Would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.” ~ Sherlock, A Study in Pink (2010)
“Shall they not always live in Baker Street? Are they not there this instant, as one writes? … So they still live for all that love them well: in a romantic chamber of the heart: in a nostalgic country of the mind: where it is always 1895.” ~ The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Vincent Starrett, 1933)
“I think we may consider the thing as settled—that is, if the rooms are agreeable to you.” ~ Sherlock to John, A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887)