Want to instill doubt in someone? “Change minor details in their surroundings.”
Yes, this post is about Sherlock. Specifically, about the reason for all of those pesky set design flaws that grew larger and larger as series 4 progressed.
For example, the skull picture we normally see…
…turns into this.
Or when Ella’s office looked like this…
…but turned into this.
There are hundreds of examples but how about simply one more.
John’s flat looked like this…
…but turned into this.
If you watch Many Happy Returns, which takes place before Series 3, you’ll see John’s front door doesn’t actually exist under the staircase – that was an unnecessary change in Series 4.
So what do all of these changes have to do with making an impression on the audience? Well. Everything.
When you want to get a group of people to doubt their own memory – or to plant new ones – you have to change things about what they already know, but don’t let on that you’ve changed anything.
And who does this for a living?
Derren Brown, the illusionist who had a cameo in The Empty Hearse. He’s also a very good friend of Mark Gatiss’. He has a fascinating video you can watch about this exact techniqueI’m explaining. By changing details visually, one can change how people doubt their own abilities to perceive reality, and also question their own memories.
Do you know all the outrageous things series 4 fed us?
– Mary is just an ordinary housewife with a good heart – John would never save Sherlock from a serial killer – John would beat Sherlock senseless – Sherlock simply needs love from family to complete him – John has a bunch of friends that love to look after his baby – John would blame Sherlock for any harm befalling Mary – John would easily forgive Mary for shooting his best friend in cold blood – Mary knows Sherlock and John better than anyone ever could
These things blatantly contradict everything we’ve ever known about these characters. Still don’t believe Mary is a manipulative psychopath? Go read the HLV script; it just made its rounds on the internet today.
You’ve been wondering why series 4 is so screwed up, narratively and visually? It has a purpose. It is to make the audience doubt – to make the audience doubt their own ability to comprehend reality.
Happy Birthday Jonathan Daniel Hamm!(March, 10th 1971.)
‘’You know, a lot of people look at me and go ‘Oh my god, you’re so lucky, you have this, you have that, you’re this, and you’re that. Wanna trade places with me? Like, now? Sure. Do you want to do it when I was 23 and living out of my car? And had no parents or prospects? For me, it’s all about understanding that it is not the end of the world. The sun’s going to rise tomorrow. Pull your pants up. Take a shower. Don’t wallow.’’
LESTRADE: That’s some stuff from my office, some stuff of Sherlock’s, actually. I probably should have thrown it out, but I didn’t know if-
Lestrade comes to see John and gives him some of Sherlock’s belongings, past cases he’s solved with Lestrade. You can see the phone from a Study in Pink for example.
And we have a Yellow mask. And this has to be a reference from
“The Adventure of the Yellow Face"
And there was two very distinctive moments in the story:
“I am not a very good man, (…) but I think I am a better one than you have given me credit for being.”
“Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”
Basically, if we take Many Happy Returns into account, The Six Thatchers is actually reusing capital events from a case that Sherlock has already solved.
There’s nothing new under the sun, no matter where you look, this is always recycling past cases.
This episode was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce but as we’ll see, Steven being showrunner I feel definitely influences the potential for Sherlock parallels… big things to be screamed about soon, but I’m going in order of as things appeared in the episode.
The Doctor calling Nardole “Mum”= similar to Mycroft and Sherlock’s “I’ll be mother” moment in A Scandal in Belgravia.
Eurus’s “Smiling is advertising” quip in The Final Problem is quite literally in play here- little emoji’s ‘advertising’/displaying your mood constantly.
The Doctor saying “a thing” happened= Sherlock lying and saying he has a “thing” in Many Happy Returns. Well, ‘only lies have detail.’
Bill saying “You can’t offend a machine.”And it turns out the things she’s referring to are not machines at all… just as John incorrectly labels Sherlock as a machine in The Reichenbach Fall.
The fact that you can’t see your own ‘mood disc’- Bill highlights the problem: “What if you fancy someone?” The Doctor supposes you simply have to maintain eye contact with them so they don’t see your true feelings. Reminds me of Sherlock’s “We can’t both stare” remark in A Study in Pink.
Rosemary= the smell of home? Mary as Rosamund…hmm, not sure how to parse that one yet.
The Doctor’s “magic haddock” reminds me of a “red herring.” Of which there are plenty in Sherlock. But there’s also literally Mycroft’s “red herring” page in his notebook in The Abominable Bride- a note saying “scarlet rollmops”, a pickled (red) herring.
The Doctor cradling a skull. Obvious Hamlet-esque vibes and of course, Sherlock’s skull.
The Doctor saying, “What a lovely beautiful morning. It makes me so happy.”= Sherlock’s ‘#ohwhatabeautifulmorning in The Six Thatchers.
The Doctor says “Don’t sentimentalise me.”= Sherlock’s line in The Great Game: “Don’t make people into heroes John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did I wouldn’t be one of them.”
The Doctor and Bill’s banter about memorising the map on the wall and Bill taking a photo of it visually reminded me of John taking a picture of the graffiti on the wall in The Blind Banker.
The Doctor: “Not bad, not good. Just different.”= John in The Final Problem: “It’s not good, it’s not bad… it is what it is.”
The Doctor exclaiming “Fascinating!” is an all round Sherlock-y moment.
“Do you know why I always win at chess? I have a secret move. I kick over the board.” HELLO, ATTEMPT AT AN EXPLANATION FOR THAT CHESS PROMO PICTURE, 3 MONTHS LATE. ;)
And let’s end with a Final Scream:
AN ELEPHANT STANDING ON THE FROZEN THAMES RIVER IN LONDON. OH SURE, NOTHING SYMBOLIC TO SEE THERE, NO ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM WANDERING FREE, NO SYMBOLIC FEELINGS LITERALLY FROZEN UNDERNEATH SAID ELEPHANT, NO NEED FOR IT TO BE SET IN LONDON, SHERLOCK’S HEART AND HOME.
…Ahem. ;) Bring on next week, that was a cracker of an episode! <3