Season 4, the case of the missing Watson, and why BBC John doesn’t love Sherlock
So yesterday I was reading @silentauroriamthereal‘s Best of Three, again (it’s a really good story!). And I realised that the John in that story is pretty much a total dick. He’s incredibly patronising and self-congratulatory about being such a wonderful friend to Sherlock etc etc etc, all the while being actually unimaginably cruel to Sherlock.
And I left a comment to the effect that I loved the story but hated John, and she very kindly replied that she thought it was pretty in character and I had this absolute oh my god moment because she’s bloody right, isn’t she?
And somewhere between Season 4 and Best of Three and SilentAuror’s comment, I think the scales sort of fell from my eyes with regards to John and the show. It’s not that Season 4 ruined John. Season 4 was the logical continuation of where they had taken the character, arguably from the second episode. Go back and look at the way John talks about and treats Sherlock, all the way back to TBB. Try to reconcile the way John talks to and about Sherlock with the way Watson talks to and about Holmes.
Season 4 John is not out of character. Not for BBC John. It’s extreme, but it’s not actually out of character. We think it is, but I think that we have good reason for that. In my specific case, I knew and loved the canon long before BBC Sherlock came on the scene. I know Watson, and I know how he feels about Holmes. So when John acted the way he did in Season 4, I thought it was awful, and terrible, and it came as a shock to me. Before Season 4, when John acted in ways that Watson would not have, I was like “well, maybe he’s just having a bad day’, but Season 4 made me realise that Watson hasn’t been having bad days, Watson has never been here at all.
We think that John is better and wiser and kinder than he is because we spend more time with the wiser, kinder versions of John Watson that we see in the canon and in fanfiction. We’ve been blinded by those Watsons to the truth of John’s character in the show.
And that leads me to another conclusion. BBC’s John doesn’t love Sherlock. We think he does, because Watson loves Holmes, and whether you think that it’s platonic or romantic or sexual or whatever, you can’t deny that there is love there, but John? He doesn’t love Sherlock.
I think he wants Sherlock. I think he’s addicted to Sherlock. To the cases and the life they lead and the danger and all of it. And I think that, like any addict, he hates Sherlock and everything that comes with him, and hates that he needs him. And that’s why the morgue scene happens. Because John, unlike practically every other Watson in history, does not love Sherlock Holmes. Because John wishes that he had never met him and wishes that he could live without him, and knows that as long as Sherlock is alive, he will never, ever be able to leave him for good.
Which means that yes, they really did do TPLoSH all over again, with a gay Holmes desperately in love with Watson, who doesn’t love him back. Except they dialled it up to 11, because everything has to be bigger and louder and hurt more, and instead of a straight Watson who still loves his Holmes, they have given us a John Watson of ambiguous sexuality who not only does not love Sherlock, but actively despises him.
(I also have some thoughts about how Sherlock has been moving toward becoming Holmes over the course of the series, while John moves further and further away from being Watson, but I’ll save that for another time.)
So imagine nineteen-year-old Sherlock bringing twenty-two-year old John home for the holidays. Sherlock would lead John into the kitchen where Mummy is busy cooking a special dinner for Sherlock’s arrival (even though she knows Sherlock will hardly eat any of it), and Papa is reading the paper, and they would both look up, ready to say “Welcome home!” but they’d freeze at the sight of John.
The sauce in Mummy’s ladle would be dripping onto the floor, and Papa’s paper would sort of wilt, and John would just be standing there, looking confused, and Sherlock would say as tersely as he can, without meeting anyone’s eyes, “Mummy, Papa, this is my…this is John Watson. He’s come to stay for the holidays.”
And Mummy and Papa would just continue to stare for a few long, painful seconds during which John hisses to Sherlock, “You didn’t even tell them I was coming?!” and Sherlock shrugs, and John just glares at him briefly before smiling sheepishly at the Holmeses and stepping forward some. "Sorry to barge in on you like this, someone was supposed to tell you I was coming" and he throws another glare over his shoulder at Sherlock, “but he evidently forgot.” And Sherlock just scowls and crosses his arms.
Mummy Holmes just stares at John for a long moment, still completely thrown, and then she finally shakes herself a little bit and says, “And you’re…a friend? Of Sherlock’s?”
And John’s lips quirk up into a happier sort of smile, and he says, “Well, boyfriend, actually,” and that’s when Mummy drops the ladle and sauce goes spilling onto the floor, and John is nearly knocked over by the force of her rushing past him and yanking Sherlock into her arms, tears in her eyes, and Sherlock is flailing and trying to push her off–“Mummy, stop it, you’re being ridiculous!”–but she’s got him held tight, and he eventually gives up and just sort of goes limp while she squeezes him and tells him she’s never been happier in her whole life.
John is staring at this spectacle, bewildered, when Papa Holmes comes up to him, hand outstretched and says with a smile, “We’re very pleased to meet you, John.” And John reaches out to take his hand, but before he can he’s suddenly enveloped in Mummy’s embrace, and he’s sure he’s blushing bright red, and he can see Sherlock over her shoulder, looking ruffled and irritated and achingly adorable. John pats Mummy’s back awkwardly and says, “So I guess Sherlock doesn’t bring guests home very often…”
On Jan 8, it’s going to be a year since the best moment of s4
happened - Sherlock and John hug each other after John has a breakdown.
It was such a tender moment, and we believe it deserves some more
“Well, wait a minute, Sherlolo-land, they already have so many great moments in the past, why are you posting that we celebrate this one?”
s4 was an atrocity and this was the moment that stood out to every
johnlocker. It was raw. It was emotional. They’ve both been through the
wringer. They needed each other, and they needed this. Any johnlocker
that has either hated s4 or was okay with it will definitely agree that
this was their favorite scene.
We’re calling out all the
johnlockers that are here to come together on that day and fill the tag
with all the content about this emotional moment: art, fics, gifs, meta,
comments, anything that involves the Hug scene. And if a lot of you
have already done any of that, Jan 8 would be a good time to either
reblog or upload again!
After all Johnlock is
canon, no matter how badly Mofftiss screwed up their chance to make
history with the modernized Sherlock BBC and botched their own show. “Perhaps in another era?” It’s already been done. They’re canon.
going to track the tag #JohnlockHugAnniversary2018, so please, include
this in your post’s tags, so that everyone can see and share your
To sum up
When: Monday, Jan 8
What to post:
You can post anything you want for this day. You are welcome to make
NSFW posts, but please note that this blog will only reblog SFW.
Theme: The Hug scene from The Lying Detective.
We understand s4 is not your cup of tea - it wasn’t ours either - but this moment deserves to be celebrated again.
Remember this one as well. Even if it was on the set, it still counts on how much we loved these two.
“They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should just be friends’, turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
~ Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol 9: The Kindly Ones
Ever since S4 I’ve been using the tag “S4 fuckery” on posts about things from the series that make no sense. So here’s a breakdown of reasons why I think S4 is fake and that TJLCers are meant to pick up on that.
**EDIT** Sorry–I forgot to put this under a cut the first time. **Please reblog this version!**