Leo: Of course you’re going to be a great father, of course you’re going to love your kids the way you’re supposed to, the way other fathers-
Toby: My god, Leo. We look around, and we see that’s not true. It’s not automatic.
Leo: I’m not talking about everybody, I’m talking about you, and I’m saying it’s a mortal lock.
I keep seeing people continue to fight over Sherlock and the meaning of Eurus’ tests so I wanted to write a little thing on it. I’m doing this with a wrist brace on and heinous fibro-turd pain, so forgive any misspellings.
The way I have personally absorbed Sherlock and the meaning of Eurus’s tests is that it’s about Sherlock as an empty person. He is an incomplete picture until he begins connecting the dots that are his social connections and even more importantly, his emotions. Let’s look at his relationships one by one and I’ll explain.
Dot 1: Greg Lestrade
Lestrade represents respect for authority. In fact, he is the only real authority figure in the series. He’s Sherlock’s ‘boss’ in a way. Bosses need people they employ to be reliable, respectful, and trustworthy. Sherlock treating his boss/mentor like crap, making fun of his intelligence and skirting around him at every chance he gets is terribly disrespectful. Sherlock is childish and arrogant and disregards Lestrade in most cases, even refusing to acknowledge his name. We’ve all had those bosses when we were young that we didn’t respect, so we act like spoiled brats about it even though those people probably have way more experience than we do. They have earned their position via the rout of hard work and being reliable and respectful. By the end of the series, however, Sherlock shows us he has resolved the issue of his respect for Lestrade by politely asking him, by name, a first for the entire series, to please take care of his brother. Sherlock is no longer a bratty child and he has connected the social dot of respect.
Dot 2: John Watson
John represents friendship, pure and simple. John is literally the “replacement” for Victor, Sherlock’s best friend who was killed when he was very, very little. That left Sherlock as the empty shell that we see at the start of the series. The loss of his friend at such a young age meant that he essentially shut down the part of him that he felt could even have friends. He rejected the idea of personal connections with other people entirely, so that he wouldn’t suffer loss again. John, through all their trials and tragedies, has now healed that wound for Sherlock. Even more, John as Sherlock’s friend, has helped him connect all the other dots. He walked with him step by step to do it. Without John’s companionship, Sherlock would still be empty. John’s maturity helped Sherlock grow up and be the man he was supposed to be, had he not suffered such a terribly traumatic event in his youth.
One other thing John represents is family, brotherhood to be specific. Mycroft was very cold to Sherlock in their youth, even though it’s obvious it wasn’t always that way. In the family videos we are shown, Sherlock absolutely loves his brother. It isn’t until later, after Victor, that he feels so alone. It’s obvious Sherlock loved Victor just like a brother, like the brother he really needed but was taken from him. Sherlock says John is “family” in TFP, and he means it. It also shows just how much emotion Sherlock has. His love is that strong. His friend was his brother, a part of his own blood, even if they wren’t born as brothers.
Dot 3: Mrs. Hudson
Mrs Hudson represents a parent’s love. It’s clear that Sherlock has a very strained relationship with his parents. He doesn’t hate them, but he doesn’t appear to believe that they care for him. They’re not around when he is still basically a child in a grown man’s body. He has cut them off in his mind. Maybe they weren’t there for him in the past so he continues to believe they’re not there for him now. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hudson dotes on Sherlock, brings him tea and food and generally ‘takes care’ of him. She’s kind but not a pushover. She’s also led a life that is about as tumultuous as you can get, which I think appeals to Sherlock. He always surrounds himself with people who aren’t “regular” people. Mrs. Hudson holds enough action and adventure in her life that she appeals to Sherlock, and she is also loving and sweet to boot. Mrs. Hudson is the connected parental dot for Sherlock.
Dot 4: Irene Adler
Irene Adler represents sexuality. What’s even better is that Irene represents fluid sexuality, and more importantly, the rejection of labels. Regardless of how everyone has interpreted this, when you get down to the simplicity of it, it is simply about rejection of boxing one’s self in. Sherlock’s box was his own making, his image as the “higher power” that Irene pointed out. Irene’s own box was her sexuality. Both of these people had discovered during the episode that their boxes weren’t taped shut all the way. There was wiggle room. Back to the sexuality part, Irene awakened Sherlock sexually. The entirety of ASIB was loaded with sexuality, from Sherlock being naked and looking extraordinarily dashing, to the very naked Irene appearing to completely disrupt his logical thinking power. It’s as close to canon as one can get that Sherlock did sleep with Irene after Karachi (judging by Eurus’s reaction to his violin song for her).
Sex and intimacy was something Sherlock had very much refrained from in his life and Irene connected that dot for him.
Dot 5: Molly Hooper
Molly represents authentic love, or “romantic entanglement” as Sherlock puts it. Everything about Molly and Sherlock’s interaction falls in line with how everyday romantic relationships blossom. They began just like kids, with Molly having a crush and Sherlock being a jerk to her, ignoring her, or thwarting her attempts to date other men. As they grow together, they begin to close the gap between them. Molly earns Sherlock’s complete trust, which was monumentally difficult for her to do considering Sherlock’s fear of connecting with people too closely. Molly loves Sherlock through his best times and his worst times, unconditionally, even though he doesn’t appear to return her feelings. From small things we’re shown, however, it feels as if Sherlock does feel something for Molly, but he has compartmentalized it and buried it as deep as he can underground out of fear. Eurus’s test is what forced Sherlock to dig up that box, that box he’d put his heart in and covered it underneath the earth. Eurus forces that box open, and connects the dot of romantic love for Sherlock.
Dot 6: Mary Watson
Mary represents, I think, coming to terms with one’s self, and the different shades of the self. She represents acceptance. Mary connected with and accepted Sherlock instantly because they were the same. They both came from dangerous lives, they are both morally gray, and they both have a need to be accepted for who they are, the good and the bad. Mary was in many ways, a reflection of Sherlock’s own duality. I think Mary made him question things about himself (no not sexually), and I think she also taught him how much he is worth as a person. She showed him that even though you are this person you’ve constructed out of your own pain, you don’t have to live just as that person. You can have anything you desire and still be you. You can live with shades of yourself, and those around you who truly love you will accept you as that. They will love you for the good that you are, and forgive you for the bad that you are. Mary connected the dots of acceptance for Sherlock.
Dot 7: Jim Moriarty
Jim represented fear. He represented who Sherlock would have been, had he not had some form of love and connection in his life. He was a madman, a true sociopath. He showed Sherlock what it really would be like if he was who he said he was. We learn very quickly, however, what Moriarty already knew. Sherlock can never be like him because he does have a huge capacity for love. He’s hidden it, denied it, but it is there. Anywhere Moriarty appeared, it caused great fear in Sherlock. Even after his death, Moriarty was in Sherlock’s mind, chained up in a padded room like a some kind of caged monster. As much as Sherlock tried to be like him, he really feared becoming that. He also feared that Moriarty would be the undoing of his friends and family, forever a threat to their lives. Moriarty was an endless threat to Sherlock, an endless fear of madness and murder. Jim connected the dot of fear, true fear, for Sherlock.
Dot 8: Mycroft Holmes
I admit this one’s tough. I feel Mycroft represents weakness. For all the power Mycroft wields in the government, he’s very fearful of being out in the world. He keeps people as distant as he can manage and still be a part of functioning society. He also did a terrible thing and locked up his little sister and lied to his family about it because he feared confronting it. All along in the series, we see Mycroft chastise Sherlock for things like having friends, being close to people, tangling with psychopaths, etc. Mycroft is a very soft, fearful person, which makes his nickname The Ice Man sort of ironic. Its not that he doesn’t care, he’s just far too soft to care. We see his softness demonstrated with Sherlock, time and time again. He cares so much for his little brother and fears so much for him that he constantly keeps watch on him. Mycroft also tried to help Sherlock by proxy, using John as a means to help Sherlock heal his wounds. In the end, Sherlock comes to realize his brother isn’t a bad person, and that he loves him deeply. In fact, he loves his little brother enough to die for him so that he won’t be left like he was as a child, without his best friend. I think Mycroft regrets being as weak as he is, because he didn’t do more to help his siblings. It just required too much care, and he wasn’t able to fulfill that. In the end, it is Sherlock who is the stronger of them, and he is stronger because of his connected dots. The last dot is connect by Mycroft, and that is Sherlock understanding that he is capable of protecting the weak, that he is stronger thanks to his mind, heart, and soul now being complete.
That’s about all. I only included the major characters here, the ones we see almost every episode. I’ve already talked a bit about how Eurus forces Sherlock to confront trauma, so she represents that last little bit which Sherlock needs to connect everything together. She wasn’t a dot, so much as the one who helped him see the entire picture he’d made. Also, Rosie helps Sherlock in her own way, as Sherlock now has this capacity to care for the smallest of people: children. Rosie is a teeny, tiny, adorable dot.
I mostly wrote this because I had wanted to for a while, but also because some people are still arguing about the I Love You scene. They’re missing the forest in favor of the leaves. The bigger picture is pretty clear on what everyone’s purposes were in the show, and how they affected Sherlock as a man. To become a great man, he needed to be a complete man. All these connected dots make him that man.