if tfp is really meant as a mp/emp/nightmare scenario what is sherlock meant to learn from this? it seems like the idea that sentiment/caring is important and necessary - but wasn't that precisely the point of tab? why re-learn this, or am I missing the true intent? (sorry if this comes off as argumentative/challenging in any way, i'm just genuinely confused and trying to wrap my head around what they're trying to tell us!)
No, this is a great question actually, because you’re right: if this really is all EMP and we’re still in Sherlock’s mind palace/dream, that means we haven’t heard from actual John in over four episodes and waking up to complete the romantic arc between them at this point would be so one-sided as to be sloppy and unsatisfying, imo. I really don’t like EMP Theory at all and I think that Alibi Theory is true but that it’s closer to a Sherlock-filling-in-the-blanks-where-John-leaves-things-out, not-knowing-what-actually-happened-to-Mary-at-all read of T6T.
That’s why I’m pretty sure that for the past two episodes (TLD, and some chunks of TFP), we’ve actually been hearing John’s side of things. And he’s not in a good place.
TLD starts with John in therapy, after something has happened to Mary. We know John by now: not good with this sort of stuff, terminally unable to talk about his own feelings. He’s able to get out that last night was “not good,” we see just flashes of him with a drink in his hand. We know ACD Watson was known for prevaricating and holding back incriminating details or just straight-up changing the names and locations of his stories at his discretion. From this point on in TLD, in order to communicate the range and depth of the issues that are going on in John World, John proceeds to project them onto every. single. other. character in the episode.
So. Sherlock’s bender? John’s bender. Faith’s gun? John’s gun. Culverton’s need to confess? John’s need to confess. Culverton calling himself a despicable murderer? John calling himself a despicable murderer. John kicking the snot out of Sherlock for killing Mary? John kicking the snot out of himself for killing Mary.
John is… very sad right now. You might say he’s at the bottom of a well. :(
So TFP, beyond the level of the episode being the most outrageous and offensive parody of Sherlock ever made, makes sense to me as John’s version of a mind palace. Or rather, the bunker where he keeps his sexuality with a giant dick on it. It is still a parody episode. I also went ahead and assumed that, after feeling unappreciated and forgotten for the past two episodes, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine that John would cast Sherlock as the protagonist in his own horror movie of a suicidal mind palace. I haven’t fully picked this ep apart and some bits work for both of them, but I do think that on the whole, a lot more of this ep and TLD is about John’s state of mind - as opposed to Sherlock’s - than it appears to be.