Let’s take a moment to talk about Philip Anderson.
In a Study in Pink, Anderson is 100% a John mirror. It’s some of the clearest mirroring the show ever does, yet not too obvious, because Anderson is not a double but a true mirror - he is John reversed, the anti-John.
We’re introduced to Anderson in A Study in Pink as the person John is replacing:
SHERLOCK: Who’s on forensics? LESTRADE: It’s Anderson. SHERLOCK (grimacing): Anderson won’t work with me. LESTRADE: Well, he won’t be your assistant. SHERLOCK: I need an assistant.
Anderson won’t work with Sherlock. John is absolutely thrilled to.
As they head to Lauriston Gardens, we see two highly personal deductions in quick succession. They are received very differently - Anderson is defensive and horrified, while John tells him: “That was amazing.”
Sherlock overrides Lestrade’s questions and all sorts of proper police procedure to get John into the crime scene. He does the opposite to Anderson, shutting him out of where he’s supposed to be:
Anderson confidently ventures his opinion and makes an ass of himself. John is hesitant with his opinion, so Sherlock encourages him: “Perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you’d go deeper.”
The most important mirroring happens regarding the pink case. As @no-goldfish-required pointed out in their post, Sherlock is used to people thinking the worst of him. Here’s their conversation about the case in full:
JOHN: That’s … that’s the pink lady’s case. That’s Jennifer Wilson’s case. SHERLOCK (studying the case closely): Yes, obviously. (John continues to stare, and Sherlock looks up at him and then rolls his eyes.) SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Oh, perhaps I should mention: I didn’t kill her. JOHN: I never said you did. SHERLOCK: Why not? Given the text I just had you send and the fact that I have her case, it’s a perfectly logical assumption. JOHN: Do people usually assume you’re the murderer? SHERLOCK (smirking): Now and then, yes.
John is perplexed by the presence of the case, but he clearly doesn’t think Sherlock’s the murderer. Compare him to Anderson:
ANDERSON: Never mind that. We found the case. (He points to the pink suitcase in the living room.) ANDERSON: According to someone, the murderer has the case, and we found it in the hands of our favourite psychopath. SHERLOCK (looking at him disparagingly): I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.
Both John and Anderson note the pink case. They both remember that Sherlock said the murderer would have it. But Anderson implies that Sherlock killed Jennifer Wilson, while John “never said you did”.
Okay, great. So Anderson is a John mirror, an anti-John. He exists in A Study in Pink so that we can see just how much better a match John is for Sherlock, and perhaps also so we can understand just how thrilled Sherlock is to find John. Wouldn’t you be, if you’d been settling for Anderson?
We don’t see much of Anderson going forward, not for a little while. He’s fulfilled his relatively shallow purpose in the first episode. It’s not like we - or Sherlock - need much prodding to appreciate John Watson. We don’t see Anderson again until The Reichenbach Fall, where he’s pretty much an afterthought, joining with Sally Donovan to cast suspicion on Sherlock. Here again, he’s the anti-John - fighting to bring Sherlock down, rather than to save him.
However. However. In the gap between Seasons 2 and 3, the character of Anderson is completely reinvented:
@inevitably-johnlocked goes through the John/Anderson parallels with great depth and insight here, so I won’t rehash them. What I want to know is: is Anderson still the anti-John? And if so, how should we interpret him?
The Empty Hearse suggests that Anderson is still the anti-John, playing a similar role in a very different way:
* Both Anderson and John struggle to accept the fact of Sherlock’s death. John tries to move on, but doesn’t quite manage it. Meanwhile Anderson goes full-on denial. Neither of their coping mechanisms seem to work for them emotionally.
* Once Sherlock returns, both Anderson and John think of Sherlock constantly and want to be involved in his life and work again. John tries to ignore him, while Anderson invents a fake case for Sherlock to solve (which is a kind of benign mirroring of Moriarty too, when you think about it). Anderson fails to get involved while John fails to stay uninvolved.
* Both Anderson and John want desperately to understand Sherlock’s fake suicide. Anderson comes up with theory after theory as to how Sherlock did it, but John doesn’t care about that. In his own words: “I don’t care how you faked it, Sherlock. I wanna know why.”
* Again, both Anderson and John want to understand what happened and why. Anderson creates a community out of fellow fans to discuss things with. John bottles up everything inside of him and struggles through it alone, refusing to talk to anyone. You can see this contrast in the way they interact with Lestrade in Many Happy Returns. Lestrade can barely get John to talk to him, while it’s clear he wishes he could get Anderson to stop:
* Finally, in His Last Vow, again both John and Anderson were worried about Sherlock, wanting to know what was going on with him and whether or not he was using drugs. But John worries from afar, staying away from 221B even though Sherlock wants him there, while Anderson takes advantage of Mycroft’s invitation to invade 221B without Sherlock’s permission.
Okay! So that was a lot of background to bring us around to what I want to address: Anderson’s role as a fan.
In A Study In Pink, Anderson was a mirror for John-the-character. After Series 2, when Anderson becomes primarily a fan and an avatar/metaphor for fandom, he becomes a mirror for John-the-fan.
Anderson has never cut a very flattering figure, so it’s no wonder some fans were a little miffed that he became their on-screen avatar in Many Happy Returns and The Empty Hearse. I do think the second incarnation of Anderson is treated a lot more gently than the first one. We even, by the middle of Hist Last Vow, see Anderson given a friendly place in Sherlock’s mind palace, providing Sherlock with sound medical advice.
(This may be to do with Anderson’s role as a dark mirror of John. If John is struggling to understand and connect to Sherlock the way he did in A Study in Pink, it makes sense that Anderson would be correspondingly less terrible.)
Regardless, Anderson is still the anti-John, which means we should read his responses as inappropriate and condemned by the narrative, as opposed to John’s responses, which are condoned or at least sympathetic..
So, what does Anderson do as a fan?
- He cares more about the “how” than the “why”. That is: he thinks it’s a detective story, rather than a story about a detective.
- He reads Sherlock as straight.
- He tells Laura that she’s “out of [her] mind” and not “tak[ing] it seriously” when she gives a queer interpretation of the fall. That is: he devalues and dismisses queer stories.
- He uses his position of authority to suppress other interpretations, and specifically queer ones.
- He invades Sherlock’s home and his privacy. That is: he’s so focused on himself and his own desires he doesn’t think twice about how his actions could be seen as disrespectful or invasive.
Anderson’s character in Series 3 is only a “fuck you” to the fans who are focused on the cases, into the straight reading, and/or harassing actors and writers on social media. (Although to be fair: it is totally reasonable to be into the cases and to want them to hang together! I think the writers are a little defensive about how difficult a time they have writing good cases.)
I’m still not entirely sure where I’m going with this. (If it was clear to me, I would have put it in the meta!) But at least I’ve got some of it written out now.
A method I’ve been using while learning to deduce.
As I sit here, watching TV, exploring the internet and gazing around my room, I’ve come to a few conclusions and felt I could share them.
As I’ve became more observant in the past few weeks and my abilities to deduce are slowly developing, I’ve noticed a few things, like how my footprints in the carpet suggest I have weak arches and the tidiness of the blankets on my chair suggest I stand more than sit. However, there’s nothing else on the chair besides a book and a desk lamp on the table next to it states that I read there. The overflowing, yet tidy bookshelf next to it tells you that I read a lot. If you go through my backpack, you’ll find a regular library card in my wallet and a smaller version on my key chain. This has explained to me (through experience instead of theory read online) that you can’t come to a conclusion through one observation, but other observations can aid and strengthen a theory, or perhaps curve it another direction. It also tells me that my observations are carrying me away and I just went on a small rant without meaning too.
The point that I’m making, I’ve begun looking around my room, observing details, learning from them, and I get immediate feedback. For example, I can look at my desk and actually deduce (many people confuse deduction with induction) and begin with the conclusion, but look to see what would tell someone else that. I can look at my desk with the knowledge that I am left-handed. Okay, so what can tell me that from my desk? Well, my pencil jar is on the left side of the desk, along with the notebook, which happens to be slanted to the right, the pen resting on the notebook at the same angle. Reasonable deduction, right? The idea is further strengthened when you notice that the coffee pot handle is facing the left. Suddenly I have a few different possible methods of figuring out someone’s writing/dominant hand. What I’m saying, starting with places you know, observing things that could possibly lead someone to the correct conclusion can allow you to notice similar patterns while out and about.
Personally, I’ve found that I notice patterns and have begun to learn quicker by starting with the conclusion and noticing what details about your surroundings indicate. I’ve found this to be incredibly effective and it serves as a very useful self teaching tool. Strengthening your abilities to start with a conclusion and work backward will allow you to start with facts and come to a conclusion more effectively and accurately.
This can apply to clothing as well. Take a look in a full body mirror every once in awhile, and make observations about yourself. What does your body language say? Posture? Hand placement? Are your arms crossed? Hands at your side or in your pockets? Are your thumbs in your pockets, or are your thumbs out? One hand in your pocket? What does your clothing say? Hair? Accessories? If you were to meet yourself on the street, what would you think? Would you be right? If not, what would have mislead you and why? Take note of these things and use them to become a better observer.
What I’ve begun to see is that more often than not, you are your best teacher, and your private or personal living areas are the best classrooms. Make yourself a stranger in your own living quarters and see what you observe.
I have a confession to make publicly. There is an aspect of myself, my identity and my sexuality that I have been in denial about for a long time now, but I finally feel like I have the courage to be open about it.
Those who know me well, know me best, probably already suspect what I am about to impart - partially because of the things I have been reblogging and the tumblr accounts I have been following of late, and partially because it is something that fits so well with the undercurrent of who I am.
It is hard to be candid about this - there are people in this world who would disapprove, even see my life as forfeit for what I am about to confess. But I feel I can suffer in silence no longer. It is time to come clean about who I truly am, the opinions of others be damned. I know those who matter most to me will still love and support me regardless.
It’s time to come out.
My name is Rhiannon and I am a Cumberbitch and Johnlock shipper
Like yeah I know he’s a weird looking otter alien elf cheekbones thing but LOOK LOOK LOOK HOW CUTE