MARK: This is another lovely bit; that decision to just go well away, so you can go back. STEVEN: D’you know, in all honesty I don’t know why that works. I remember thinking as I was writing it, ‘I have to cut forward. I need to get out of here,’ but then you have to go back. MARK: But it sort of makes you look forward to it. STEVEN: But it felt odd to me. I kept waiting for the note, ‘Don’t do that,’ and it never came.
This exchange from the HLV commentary is important because it addresses the biggest and most infuriating hole in the narrative of series 3. And what is more, it is blatantly untrue.
You don’t know why that works, Steven? Let met tell you something - it does not. At least not for people who watch an episode more than once. Your tricky jumping forwards and backwards in the narrative does not cover up the fact that important months are missing making the Christmas happenings seem completely unmotivated. Taking two logically unconnected scenes, cutting them into pieces and mixing them does not make them more coherent or logical or palatable to the audience.
So I had a closer look at the five transitions between Leinster Gardens/221B and Christmas, concentrating on the text and leaving out all visual and musical elements (just like @miss-dramateen’s wonderful scenes without background music):
SHERLOCK (softly): Now talk, and sort it out. Do it quickly. MYCROFT: Oh, dear God, it’s only two o’clock. It’s been Christmas Day for at least a week now. How can it only be two o’clock? I’m in agony.
Cutting from a highly dramatic moment to Mycroft’s comical complaints.
SHERLOCK: Well, you know – they’ve had their ups and downs. SHERLOCK (quietly): Baker Street. Now.
Cutting from Sherlock talking to his Dad about the ordinary Watson marriage troubles back to the same highly dramatic situation in Leinster Gardens.
JOHN: … the people who come in here with their stories. Th-the clients – that’s all you are now, Mary. You’re a client. This is where you sit and talk … and this is where we sit and listen, then we decide if we want you or not. JOHN: So, are you okay?
Very jarring transition, from John distancing himself from Mary and siding with Sherlock to the beginning of the so far inexplicable reconciliation scene.
MARY: Seriously? Months of silence and we’re gonna do this … now? SHERLOCK: ‘A.G.R.A.’ What’s that?
This one is really interesting. Here we cut from bitchy, superior Mary back to the reason this reconciliation has to take place at all. In a backwards movement the narrative underlines her arrogant attitude - being sarcastic with John even though she has lied to him about her whole existence.
JOHN: Got him? MARY: So, have you read it?
This is the most jarring transition of all - from Sherlock being resuscitated by paramedics to Mary whose only concern is if John has read the flashdrive and will leave her for good.
Conclusion: Steven basically subverts his own words because the juxtaposition of the scenes underlines the absurdity of the narrative. He does not even try to go for smooth transitions. It seems he went for a double bluff:
Using the jumps forwards and backwards to make the reconciliation superficially more palatable while at the same time undermining this reading by choosing transitions that refer us back to the fact that this does not work.
Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat:No fuck you none of your ships are correct and you and the rest of your shitty little fanbase can go rot in the hell pit you crawled out of you sick bastards who do you think you are messing with our show...
Simon Pegg:Guess who's gay I'll give you three tries jK FCUKIGN EVERYONE'S GAY PARTY AT MY PLACE TONIGHT BRING YOUR RAINBOW STARFLEET UNIFORMS AND YOUR CROP TOPS YOU'RE GONNA NEED 'EM!!!