TFP: The Phone Call
After we watched the episode my husband and I had two entirely different take aways from that scene and I wanted to address them here. His interpretation was in short that he felt bad for Molly and thought the scene was humiliating for her. He did not think Sherlock loved her and was almost shocked that I did… until I explained my reasoning.
Opens with Eurus setting up the new “case”. Someone is going to die and ““It will be a tragedy, so many days unlived, so many words unsaid, ecetera, ecetera, ecetera” IMO she was referring to Molly’s death leaving Sherlock with words unsaid. Remember this is Eurus. Her deduction needs to be complex, something all others miss, and devastating to Sherlock. I don’t think deducing that the lonely doctor is in unrequited love with Sherlock meets that criteria by a long shot. But to deduce that Sherlock loves her as well but hasn’t realized it yet DOES.
When he sees the coffin lid and the engraving, the victim becomes clear. Notice the change in his demeanor fom high energy rapid deduction to slow dread. He turned away from the lid, eyes closed in pain looking devastated. His mouth is agape and he breathes so heavily his chest rise is easily seen. His voice cracks on describing Molly as ‘alone’.
He starts the call thinking, like I think most did, that the point was to make him hurt her, seeming to manipulate her much in the way he used to tell her insincerely about her hair and lipstick. He tries to keep it straightforward, business like but rapidly flips between aloof and panicked, the first real crack appearing when she says she is not an experiment,
She says that she can’t say she loves him because it is true. This seems to subtly affect him and he appears touched in a sad way. He might have suspected it but for him to truly know is another thing entirely.
And then she requests HIM to say it first. Now, my husband saw it as a desperation, like a pathetic need to hear him say it as if she would take any morsels he threw her way. Uh, don’t worry, I disabused him of that shit.
They have a complicated past that started with manipulation and since they moved on from that Molly hasn’t gone back. She is repeatedly referred to by other characters as one of the few that can really “see” or “see through” Sherlock and is one of the only ones who can make him apologize. So from her perspective, if she is going to play this game, if she’s going to humiliate herself by saying it (and she knows she can’t say it without meaning it) then she needs to hear him say it first to put them on equal ground. He’s going to have to put his pound of flesh on the table first.
And this, my friends, is where he really starts to crumble. Why? Does he think Molly will believe it if he says it and the fact that he doesn’t will hurt her? As I stated above if she were a casual friend, her hurt would be worth her life and he could easily lie and say them (like he did with Janine). Also I don’t see how a reasonable woman like Molly would take this as an actual admission of love, not from Sherlock under such strange circumstances. See here my friends, much like Molly, HE CAN’T SAY THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE TRUE, even if he is just in this very moment realizing it.
He says it. Twice. The first feeling forced as if pried from his lips with his eyes closed. But the second comes out almost breathlessly, earnestly with a hint of wonder as he looks directly at her though she cannot see him. When she says it back, he collapses in relief and announces to Eurus he won.
But she is from the same mentality of ‘sentiment is a defect found on the losing side” and mocks all his “complicated little emotions” and tells him he did not save her as she was never in any danger from Eurus in the first place.
“What have you done to yourself?” she asks. He has allowed himself to admit he loves Molly and now there will be no going back. He realizes that Eurus knew it even before and set this all up to expose him, make his vulnerable and tear down the man he thinks of himself to be. He is stunned, walking to the coffin lid to confront this new aspect of himself, jaw clearly clenching before carrying it to the coffin where he set it down. The entire time his eyes are on the engraved words, reading them.
“I love you”.
Yes, he now knows. He does.
He lets out a wry breath, a expression of his disbelieving acceptance and almost reverently slides his hand over top before
Absolutely. Losing. His. Shit.
And this is the one my husband could not refute and actually stopped mid sentence and said “You’re right.” (I also ran through all the significant moments between the two in all prior episodes as a reminder. Surprise, he forgot most of them.)
Sherlock destroys the coffin as he rebels against this thought. He doesn’t want to love. It only leads to pain… illustrated most recently by the agony he and Molly are now in.
It isn’t torture. Its vivisection.