’What’s It Gonna Be?’ is based on my personal experience as a kid; thinking you’re in love but then realising that’s maybe just because you feel you should be (and ending up with someone totally unexpected).
Want to instill doubt in someone? “Change minor details in their surroundings.”
Yes, this post is about Sherlock. Specifically, about the reason for all of those pesky set design flaws that grew larger and larger as series 4 progressed.
For example, the skull picture we normally see…
…turns into this.
Or when Ella’s office looked like this…
…but turned into this.
There are hundreds of examples but how about simply one more.
John’s flat looked like this…
…but turned into this.
If you watch Many Happy Returns, which takes place before Series 3, you’ll see John’s front door doesn’t actually exist under the staircase – that was an unnecessary change in Series 4.
So what do all of these changes have to do with making an impression on the audience? Well. Everything.
When you want to get a group of people to doubt their own memory – or to plant new ones – you have to change things about what they already know, but don’t let on that you’ve changed anything.
And who does this for a living?
Derren Brown, the illusionist who had a cameo in The Empty Hearse. He’s also a very good friend of Mark Gatiss’. He has a fascinating video you can watch about this exact techniqueI’m explaining. By changing details visually, one can change how people doubt their own abilities to perceive reality, and also question their own memories.
Do you know all the outrageous things series 4 fed us?
– Mary is just an ordinary housewife with a good heart – John would never save Sherlock from a serial killer – John would beat Sherlock senseless – Sherlock simply needs love from family to complete him – John has a bunch of friends that love to look after his baby – John would blame Sherlock for any harm befalling Mary – John would easily forgive Mary for shooting his best friend in cold blood – Mary knows Sherlock and John better than anyone ever could
These things blatantly contradict everything we’ve ever known about these characters. Still don’t believe Mary is a manipulative psychopath? Go read the HLV script; it just made its rounds on the internet today.
You’ve been wondering why series 4 is so screwed up, narratively and visually? It has a purpose. It is to make the audience doubt – to make the audience doubt their own ability to comprehend reality.
It only came to our attention recently that Chekov’s gun as a symbol was being used in Sherlock series 4, however, it’s actually been the main motivator behind Sherlock for the last seven years. “Chekov’s gun” is a writing technique, that says don’t put unnecessary details into your stories.
So when we saw John’s gun at the beginning of A Study in Pink:
We knew that by the end of A Study in Pink, he was going to fire it:
However, there’s more to John’s gun in A Study in Pink than most people might realize.
We hear Moriarty introduce himself in The Great Game by asking, “Is that a British Army Browning L9A1 in you pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”
Sherlock replies, “Both”.
Here is explicit proof that guns in this show are meant to be seen as penises. Sherlock just compared an erection to that gun. It happens later in The Abominable Bride, as well, if you think I’m just making this all up.
“It’s dangerous to finger a loaded firearm in the pocket of one’s dressing gown, or are you just pleased to see me?”
Considering this is all in Sherlock’s head and Sherlock is horribly repressed, Moriarty mentioning that gun/dick again only slides home this symbol.
And if you needed any more proof, here’s a picture of Sherlock thinking about Moriarty maintaining eye contact while getting on his knees and putting a gun on his tongue:
Is it even subtext anymore when they’ve openly admitted guns are penises?
This all brings me back to Chekov’s gun and A Study in Pink.