narrative 4

The Deconstruction of John Watson

I’ve been thinking about the John characterization in Hubblegleeflower’s post-S3 fic ’In the Dark Hours’, in the context of S4 and specifically The Lying Detective. It really seems on-point, even prescient. I was also thinking about what Ivy said about John’s inherent violence, how “when John is bad, he is terrible”, and how disappointed in himself he was in TLD. The fic makes me think about what John must have wondered about himself *before* Mary’s idealization to have the dissonance hit him *so* hard, that he’d have to punish himself and Sherlock and lash out so extremely. In the fic, a younger John sounds like shades of Sherlock– wondering if there something ‘wrong’ with him for being addicted to danger, for getting off on the rush, enjoying these things to make himself feel alive. That tendency to say and act the right way in order to 'seem normal’– he actually has that in common with Sherlock, except that (of course) John is much better at it.

On the other hand, I agree with John’s own conclusion in the fic and with Ivy that John is actually not 'like that’. He’s definitely not like Mary (as per all those endless debates post-HLV); he *is* a good moral compass after all *because* “he knows exactly what it means to be pointed the wrong way”. At the same time, the fact that he’d wondered about himself seems realistic. Seems *likely*, even. If Sherlock is someone who has tried– and ultimately failed– to make himself into a high-functioning sociopath after Eurus, as I wrote recently, John is coming at his persona from the other direction. Trying to be *normal*, trying to do good, trying to be someone he thinks– he knows– he’s not.

A lot of people depended on John to be Series 1 John even after Series 3, essentially, even though Sherlock told us in HLV that John is addicted to a 'certain lifestyle’ and 'abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people’. John is not surprised, he just says *Mary* wasn’t supposed to be 'like that’; he’s not happy about his attraction to all these things but he was *aware* of it, and he wanted to get away from it. It seems to be that instead of an arc, what we have here is a sort of deconstruction. We started out with John and Sherlock in opposite corners in Series 1, and they’re in opposite corners again in Series 4, except they’re the flipside of each other. Sherlock is the 'good man’ even though he’d shot someone to protect someone else, and John… John is a bit 'not good’, but he has a heart. He’s still human. On the abstract level as well as implicitly, being truly established partners in TFP, they’ve met in the middle.

I know I’ve said yesterday that my problem is that Sherlock’s arc encompasses and sort of *consumes* John’s role, with John not really being able to match Sherlock’s growth due to being the deuteragonist. I agree with @plaidadder’s comment on @ravenmorganleigh’s post, about the growing fannish consensus that “John and Sherlock’s emotional arcs are no longer intertwined” in Series 4. I do still disagree that this means Sherlock’s growth in Series 4 is somehow more about Eurus and Mycroft (and Mary!) instead. Certainly (but more subtly), John’s arc also didn’t suddenly become about Mary either, if nothing else then because everything (but everything!) in this show has always been about Sherlock. Although this means Mary’s not the *point* in TLD, in many ways it also means that unfortunately, John is not the point either. I do agree with the analysis in that the plot of TLD is essentially *all* orchestrated by Sherlock (including John’s beating, which was demonstrably part of Sherlock’s plan to stop Smith). The only bits Sherlock didn’t predict were to do with Eurus, and more broadly the fact that Mary was shown to be wrong, because she didn’t know John the way Sherlock did. As I said, and I cannot emphasize this enough, this is because everything is about Sherlock.

Basically, Sherlock never had to manipulate John into saving him. Rather, he needed to save John Watson in a different way– and in the end, Sherlock did.

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Each time I see the death scene of Mary at the aquarium,each time. It gets so unrealistic..This is making me believe more and more that the whole episode is nothing but Sherlock’s own narrative.He is making things his own way. He is glossing over things. 

**First of all the minutes long speech by Mary before dying (You probably know by now how unrealistic that is). He is sure that Mary would have said to John that how great John is. How She doesn’t deserve John. Which is actually Sherlock’s own mind telling him that he doesn’t deserve John,the perfect human being. 

**He still thinks in his own mind that Mary is sorry for shooting Sherlock. So Mary says Sorry again in his narrative.

**He thinks he is responsible for Mary’s death now. So he thinks now they are even (pfffft). So yes, Mary says they are definitely even now.

**“You were my whole world.” I really don’t get how can Mary possibly get to say all these things consciously. It’s almost like Sherlock saying John is his whole world.

**Sherlock thinks John would be outraged by Mary’s death because he loved her and will react in a very heartbroken way. Which John does.

**”You made a vow.” That’s the first time I heard John say it. Before that, it was Sherlock ,constantly reminding everyone that he made a vow. So it does not feel like John at all. It’s Sherlock again, making things up, polishing them in his own way.

**And this particular sentence…

“Being Mary Watson is the only life worth living.”

I knew the only sounded familiar..

“John, I am a ridiculous man redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship”

TST was a narrative. A clever one to mislead everyone for the first time you see it. It’s Sherlock’s story.It’s heavily biased and unreliable. The true story is not being told yet..(btw I think Mary is dead. But the true incident was different than we saw)

I would love to know everyone’s thoughts. Feel free to add or approve or disapprove. :D

a note on burr’s intellect and how it’s portrayed musically

i’m only going to be talking about burr’s short verse in my shot bc otherwise this would be ten miles long, but let me just say: lin-manuel miranda is a fucking genius. (warning, this is going to be a long post.)

as far as i recall, this is the only time burr raps in the narrative. and it’s 4 measures to tell hamilton and crew to shut up, in a language they’ll understand (rap), after being asked in the previous song to rap a bit.

just for a second, let me talk about internal rhyme.

internal rhyme is a component of rap that’s exactly what it sounds like: the rhymes within a verse that don’t fall in line with the ends of the phrases. they can still rhyme with the ends of the phrases too, but they aren’t on the ends of the phrases. (most of the time, you’ll notice internal rhymes because there’ll be emphasis on the rhymed syllables.)

now, hamilton’s verses are laden with internal rhyme: i could cite a billion examples, but i’ll only pull one for now.

“older”, “colder”, and “shoulder” are grouped together in the same rhyme scheme, with “shoulder” being the main source of internal rhyme.

similarly, “(disad)vantage”, “manage”, “brandish”, and “famished” are all in the same rhyme scheme, with “manage” being the main source of internal rhyme (although it can be argued that “brandish” is too because of the way it plows through the end of the phrase there with the straight sixteenth notes.) (also, shoutout to those polysyllabic rhymes for showcasing hamilton’s intelligence.)

now we’ll take a look at hamilton’s crew’s verses. start with lafayette:

there’s not really internal rhyme in here. because of his accent, lafayette can pull rhyming “france” and “’on(archy)”, but that’s about it. not surprising; he’s not unintelligent, it’s just that he’s still figuring out english.

then mulligan:

mulligan’s got a bit of internal rhyme going on with “chance”, “(ad)vance”, and “pants”. the “so(cially)” and “sew(in’)” could be argued too, but the fact that the emphasis is placed on the “ly” of socially and not on the “so” makes it hard to argue.

then of course, laurens:

laurens, getting up there with hamilton and bringing in some polysyllabic rhymes! we’ve got “truly free” and “you and me”; “you and i” and “do or die”; “sally in”, “stallion”, and “battalion”. that’s three different rhyme schemes, so good for you– but then, we’d expect a good command of the english from someone who helped hamilton write essays.

now, finally, we get to burr:

“gen(iuses)” and “keep”. “trouble” and “double”. “with” and “sit(uation)”. that’s already three internal rhymes, completely separate from the end rhyme. (he fits a polysyllabic rhyme in there too with “trouble” and “double”.)

and then the internal rhyme that goes with the end rhyme?

“fraught”, “got”, “taught”, “talk”, and “shot”.

that’s five instances of rhyming in two measures. let me repeat that: five instances of rhyming in two measures. the example i cited has hamilton doing four instances of rhyme in three measures.

burr’s intelligence and command of the english language is at least on par with hamilton’s, if not greater, as evidenced later by their partnership as lawyers; but lin-manuel miranda manages to portray that just in four measures.

that’s how to develop a character musically.

Viewer Mind Palace (VMP): How All of Series 4 takes place in the month after John’s wedding

This sounds crazy, but hear me out because this would make for a great fix-it fic even if none of this is real and I’d love to read it. 

So. Remember the beginning of His Last Vow? We see John dreaming and Sherlock doping again? These two ideas hold a lot of weight in the narrative of series 4 and TAB. I believe we’re seeing alternate realities converge into one to create a mind palace sequence that doesn’t belong to any character, but belongs instead to the viewer. 

Remember when Molly said “Forward or Backward?” as Sherlock got shot? The answer was backward. I think everything shown from that moment on has been something either Sherlock or John has fantasized before that moment – in the month of their separation. We saw the narrative as going forward, when really we were being filled in as to what happened “backward”. 

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How about we talk about the way you’re misinterpreting the last quote of TFP

For someone who loves to read so much into everything and analyze this show to death,the meaning of the last quote sure went over your heads or you’re choosing to ignore what it really says because you want it to feed into your collective hysteria. So let’s have the quote, right?

 “I know you two. And if I’m gone, I know what you could become, because I know who you really are. A junkie who solves crimes to get high and a doctor who never came home from the war. Will you listen to me? Who you really are doesn’t matter. It’s all about the legend, the stories, the adventures. There is a last refuge for the desperate, the unloved, the persecuted. There is a final court of appeal for everyone. When life gets too strange, too impossible, too frightening, there is always one last hope. When all else fails, there are two men, sitting and arguing in a scruffy flat, like they’ve always been there, and they always will. The best and wisest men I have ever known, my Baker Street Boys, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”

What Mary’s saying, simply put, is exactly what we know about the characters. At their core Sherlock is a junkie who solves cases to get high, and John is a doctor who never left the battle field, each one an addict in their own right, which isn’t exactly a stellar review or personality trait. 

What Mary is saying is that it doesn’t matter that they’re a couple of adrenaline junkies, because their adventures, their stories, the persons they’ve helped, the lives they’ve saved and will save, is their legacy, and are the the basis of their legend, and that’s what they’ll be remembered by, not their demons.

They are the last refuge for the desperate, unloved and persecuted. The last hope for everyone when life gets too strange, impossible and frightening.

Who you really are doesn’t matter” is not an insult, it’s absolution. It’s releasing them from their status of flawed and imperfect and damaged, allowing them to fulfill their potential.

A Stand-Alone After All - Some Thoughts About TAB

I have been thinking about this episode and its meaning for the show as a whole. They sold it as a stand-alone, then it was revealed (and deduced by people in here) as being closely connected with HLV. But after S4 I would say that TAB is a stand-alone after all. 

And this is quite easy to prove because nothing, really nothing, we learn in TAB has any connection to the next episode, i.e. TST. Let’s have a closer look: 

  • The drugs: Apart from one allusion during the Lady Smallwood scene at the beginning, there is no mention of Sherlock’s overdose. He seems frantic at the beginning, but it is never explained. Until TLD we get no evidence of him being in withdrawal or on drugs or even in danger of relapsing. 
  • The list: never mentioned again. 
  • Mycroft’s notebook: Vernet, the number, not mentioned again. And we knew about Redbeard before. 
  • Mycroft’s words to John. “Look after him.” Remember all the speculation about Mycroft’s impending death? Not pursued in TST. 
  • “I know exactly what he’s going to do next.” - In TST we see Sherlock waiting for Moriarty’s next move but he never seems to know what is going to happen. 

One could switch just like that from the view of the returning plane and the video to the scene in the cabinet office at the opening of TST. Sherlock being pardoned because Moriarty seems to have returned. 

TAB does not have any impact on the plot as such. The only reason that this episode exists at all is to allow us an insight into Sherlock’s mind and feelings, his sexuality, his regrets, his ambivalent relationship with Moriarty, his dream of there always being two of them. 

Which to me also proves what I always assumed - that nothing we have seen in TAB was real, that all modern scenes were happening in Sherlock’s mind. 

I am not sure what this means for S4 as a whole. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

@ebaeschnbliah, @isitandwonder, @monikakrasnorada, @loveismyrevolution, @tjlcisthenewsexy, @deducingbbcsherlock, @may-shepard, @moffat-rocks

The Irene Question (redux)

I haven’t really felt the need for a new reading of BBC Sherlock, but I think I’ve become much more skeptical of certain kinds of readings– or should I say, I’m a lot more insistent now that the surface reading is important. I’ll never again trust any analysis that doesn’t fully 100% integrate the surface reading of any character or episode in Sherlock, unless there’s symbolic analysis of the ‘comparative lit’ kind. This is what I was wrong about, I think. That is, there’s a difference between saying ‘these are the intersections with other texts’ or ‘these are the cultural implications’ and saying this is what the text means or is trying to communicate. I was always concerned with this, but now I’m especially concerned, because I wrote things that (in retrospect) should have set off alarms in my head, like when I admitted that I read HLV and TAB fundamentally differently. So, I’ve learned two things, as far as understanding intent and/or trying to make the narrative coherent: 1) the details and/or definitions of things don’t really matter, most of the time, because they’ll rarely return; 2) conversely, the themes are important, and will generally be implicitly followed up on

‘Generally’ is a tricky word here. The episode I want to think about is ASiB, and I want to argue that the themes of ASiB are the most important aspect of it, at the same time as I have to admit that the aspect that relates to Sherlock’s sexuality is the one we have seen left hanging (and/or implicitly resolved at best) in TLD. I’ve long compared the approach to subtext and its relationship with the surface narrative in ASiB with HLV, and well… look how that turned out. I have to be careful. In general, it’s always a good idea to be careful in one’s analysis, though.

Still, I’m confident in being wary of any approach that projects the need for ‘realism’ or certain cultural norms onto the narrative (particularly the typical young Tumblr user norms), and readings that seem too concerned with making things fit too neatly, as of Series 4. Aside from that, as I said, I would need to integrate any reading I’m going to support with the surface narrative, without getting hung up on realism, details or definitions… unless those definitions are canonically addressed or prove thematically important. And so, John’s declarations of ‘not gay’ are certainly repeatedly addressed enough to be a theme, but in retrospect, are a good candidate for a running gag (read: John’s really no homo, so to speak), on one level. Authorial Intent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, of course, and then there’s the fact that ASiB confuses its own definitions in multiple ways. What to make of the confluence of Martin Freeman’s acting, the insistence he’s ‘not gay’ and his response to Irene saying it doesn’t matter, ‘cause she’s gay herself, while still trying to respect the surface narrative? 

There’s no simple answer. The surface narrative is devilishly ambiguous in ASiB, which is (of course) what tripped me up in HLV. In many ways, though, ASiB is much more complex on the characterization level. Regardless, I still think that BBC Sherlock makes the most sense if you believe ‘the underlying ideas determine the slant of events’ in analysis, even if that doesn’t translate to canon Johnlock. So, let’s sum up what I still see in ASiB:

  • Sherlock was fascinated but not sexually interested, and I definitely still disagree with @hubblegleeflower that Sherlock is in love with Irene, although she has romantic/sexual feelings for him, and I admit that the text wants us to wonder and to consider it possible (and so does John);
  • Irene was being manipulative and playing a game, but the theme of the episode and her blatant mirroring with Sherlock suggests she did feel love;
  • John was jealous, because there’s no obvious other reason for the fixation on the text alerts (and suggesting baby names, etc), not to mention the acting:
    • but it’s plausible that he isn’t canonically bisexual even if he’s effectively bisexual. I don’t base my entire reading of John on ASiB, obviously, but his behavior re: Irene and Sherlock overall in ASiB is too suggestive to dismiss no matter what the intent.
  • Based on their behavior, one must thus disbelieve both John and Irene to some degree at Battersea, except insofar as this is what they think. There’s ambiguity; there’s no getting around that. In a sense, one should believe them, as one should believe Sherlock thinks he’s a ‘high-functioning sociopath’ sometimes. Really, there is no character on this show who may be blindly believed about almost anything (especially things they say about themselves), except if there’s supporting evidence. 
    • Note 1: it’s fine if you critique this as misogynistic or lesbophobic. I’m simply saying I think this is the text.
    • Note 2: an exception is characters set up as the narrative voice or ‘in the know’ (Mycroft, Mrs Hudson in TLD, Eurus, Irene, Moriarty, Mary in TFP) commenting on Sherlock or John in the right context.
  • So in a sense, Irene really is gay and John isn’t (and I think this means he’s also not trying to self-identify as bisexual even if he is). Either way, the implication is that ‘it doesn’t matter’ because Sherlock is always the exception to everything for both of them. 
  • Sherlock is functionally unavailable to both of them for different reasons in ASiB, but the difference is that Sherlock and John are already together as a ‘couple’, as Irene says, and Irene and Sherlock never will be.
    • ‘Romance’ and ‘couplehood’ and ‘attraction’ as concepts are being played with in ASiB, though, and the line between romantic and non-romantic attraction is textually fuzzy (see: brainy is ‘the new sexy’). I think Irene is saying that sex/sexuality is irrelevant and so even if John’s attraction is nonsexual, her attraction is too– sex doesn’t matter to her.
  • As Moffat said, for Sherlock, sex is sublimated or dislocated so it’s about ‘thinking’, and Irene parallels that, being a mirror of Sherlock’s sexuality. In other words, for Moffat, sex just doesn’t matter for Irene or Sherlock (from different directions). Of course, Moffat has also said Sherlock’s feelings in ASiB are ambiguous and mysterious to him too (and Gatiss said that’s as it should be).

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2016 Video Game Awards

Best Mobile and Handheld Game: Pokemon GO

Best fighting: Street Fighter V

Best VR: Rez Infinite 

Industry Icon: Hideo Kojima

Best Art Direction: Inside

Best Independent Game: Inside

Best Action Game: Doom

Games for Impact: That Dragon Cancer

Trending Gamer: Boogie29

Best Esports Team: Cloud9

Best Music and Sound Design: Doom

Best Performance: Nolan North

Best ESports Player of the Year: ColdZera

Best Sports/Racing Game: Forza Horizon 3

Best Narrative: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Game Direction: Blizzard for Overwatch

Best Multiplayer: Overwatch

Best Esports Game: Overwatch

Best Action Adventure Game: Dishonored 2

Game of the Year: Overwatch

The Continuity Axiom Strikes Back

For what it’s worth, even though I admit I was wrong, it seems a bit ironic that the main arguments people have against TJLC still ring false to me. Possibly because they haven’t evolved with the times. Quite the opposite: there’s many signs of the same old fannish polarization we see in society at large in response to divisive social or political issues. I guess saying ‘well, that wasn’t what they were going for after all, but good points!’ doesn’t quite give people that certain… schadenfreude. So the arguments I do hear are, 1) Moffat and Gatiss are bad writers; 2) Moffat and Gatiss should simply always have been taken at their word. There’s also 3) we’re reading too much into things and indulging in confirmation bias. One is perhaps a little subjective but largely obviously incorrect (look at the awards, if nothing else), and two is objectively ill-advised, since they’ve said they lie and cannot be trusted multiple times. Personally, I’ve always had a particular sore spot for the argument that boils down to 'Moffat and Gatiss are bad writers’, and I take issue with those who argue against or otherwise mock the idea of canon Johnlock without both understanding and loving the show first. Even so, I realize it can be difficult to understand both perspectives at once. I just think it’s important to integrate if there’s any desire to engage with the different sides of the Johnlock fandom, and honestly the Sherlockians at large at this point.

The core of the issue cognitively might be summarized by the TJLC interpretation of this quote by Moffat: he initially said they wanted to do the show not just to update it but to correct everyone else, to say 'Now this is the way it should be done’. This ties in with all the hype– and the hope– about the BBC LGBT report and the way the BBC hyped Series 4 as 'making history’, though I personally was taking a break from fandom at the time and in any case, always take such things with a grain of salt (at best). My point is that there’s certainly been circumstances aside from 'confirmation bias’ that lead people to think something a bit bigger and more exciting than… Sherlock’s origin story and journey to being a 'good man’ was going on, which culminated in TFP, as @ivyblossom described. That is (more or less) what I currently think Mofftiss were *going for* with that quote, but the fact is that Gatiss admitted he’s interested in 'flirting with the homoeroticism in Sherlock’, and they certainly followed through with that on a large scale. I think that it’s a bit of a case of po-tay-to/po-tah-to, honestly. When you build a character growth arc where the main character is being 'humanized’ by his relationship with his colleague/best friend/conductor of light/family, *and* you add many classic romantic tropes and rampant queer coding and subtextual homoeroticism… what you have is a love story, pure and simple.

Regardless of intent, it exists and is valid at least as much as an accented pronunciation of the same word would be equally 'valid’. In Sherlock’s case, I would argue they’d gone far enough (too far) with the subtext and tropes, and indeed the romantic reading became the primary, most fully correct textual reading. At this point, I imagine this situation got out of Moffat and Gatiss’s control… which is a huge challenge for any writer, and one that they didn’t really address (in part because of a penchant for self-indulgence, I think), but this still doesn’t make them *bad writers*, per se.

Obviously, I’m not saying this in self-defense or to 'prove’ explicitly romantic canon Johnlock at this point. Besides, I do think that critique number three makes a good point, in that plenty of meta *was* reading too much into things, but you can say that about any type of meta, of any flavor. For example, I realize I tried way too hard to deny the surface reading of HLV, which… I clearly should have integrated more closely instead, if the Mary storyline resolution in TST is any indication. And many, many people enjoy speculation and pattern-matching and playing with metaphors or symbolism, but don’t make a hobby of analyzing either their own thinking or other people’s, perhaps understandably. Many fans who had donned the 'conspiracist hat’ haven’t been as vigilant as we could be about other people’s analyses, never mind our own work. Anyway, overall, I still think any truly competent literary/media critic of BBC Sherlock I’ve ever seen would have to acknowledge the queer/romantic subtext in it at some point, even if they disagreed or simply wouldn’t care about it becoming explicitly textual. So just as a total lit nerd, it’s unfortunate that people can now continue to think that being dismissive and heteronormative is somehow a superior mode in analysis. And it’s also unfortunate that 'bad writing’ continues to be a one-size-fits-all approach to excusing one’s lack of understanding of the show’s deeper layers, more or less.

Basically, my point is that I still believe that Moffat and Gatiss are good– or at least intelligent, often complex and certainly fundamentally competent– writers in many ways. They do have their own preset ideas about what they want and don’t always communicate those ideas to the broader audience effectively. And I have to further qualify that by saying that the thing I object to is dismissive thinking and 'explaining’ stuff that doesn’t make sense in the text with the offhand response that 'the writers suck’; I don’t mean you can’t simply have that as a subjective opinion, obviously, or critique the lack of follow-through in the writing. I definitely need to admit that they can be sloppy and leave plot holes when they lose interest in following up on the details, or introduce significant plot elements that they try to build and build without slowing down and integrating properly. I think @girlofthemirror’s postmortem on what went wrong in Series 4 definitely speaks to this issue of too many 'spinning plates’ in the plot and no room to breathe, particularly starting with Series 3. Just like Sherlock, they can get arrogant and try to be too clever for their own good. Worse than simple plot holes fixed by mild retcons, like Eurus shooting John with a tranquilizer, or the genre-related writing choices that @plaidadder took issue with in TFP, there’s the truly unfortunately executed stuff like Mary’s arc or that baby. Including a baby as a plot device to keep John and Mary together and then basically doing nothing else with it is inexcusable. Even with all those caveats, Moffat and Gatiss are so good in other ways that I really don’t think you can hand-wave all analysis with 'it’s just incompetence’, surely.

And after all that, in the end I still believe in the Continuity Axiom as a default media analysis framework.

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TFP explained (YMMV)

monalisa72 replied to your postWhat is a plausible theory?

So looking at your older post, you talk about checking to see whether a theory fits the plot arc, whether a reading integrates with character development. What do you do when faced with a canon like TFP, where things have gone so off the rails that it seems we’re expected to suspend even the laws of physics? How do we determine what is a reasonable theory when faced with implausible canon?

This is hard for me to answer, ‘cause I have to assume and integrate a response that I just didn’t have as a viewer, myself. Still, I’ve been trying!  

Basically: separate what’s implausible from what’s not your headcanon, a genre mismatch issue, or simply flawed execution of a fundamentally sound resolution on its own terms. A critique can coexist with comprehension, or seeing how a development does fit into Sherlock’s arc… even if it’s not the way I would have done it. I’m sure confused people would prefer more details, though.

So in my estimate, these are the main types of problems people have with making sense of The Final Problem, regardless of the evaluation of its success or failure:

  • The ‘laws of physics’ or genre issues.
    • Like I said in response to @marsdaydream’s post, I don’t think it’s so out of nowhere or shocking as all that, genre-wise; however, I admitted in response to @silentauroriamthereal’s plot-hole post that certain things (like, for example, jumping out of 221b) were hand-waved too easily, and we weren’t meant to think too much, which is lazy. 
    • Basically: you’re not supposed to suspend physics, I think? Just… Mofftiss want the audience to squint a bit, but they did that in TAB and TLD too (just in different ways, so in that sense I find TFP continuous and/or the problem to have started around Series 3, as @porcupine-girl described). However, Series 3 and Series 4 have pretty significant genre continuity. Obviously, YMMV.
  • Moriarty use issues and/or why is it even ‘The Final Problem’, anyway.
    • I answered this in my comment on Ivy’s post. A lot of this is people being unhappy with how Moriarty is used, which I can only shrug at. I changed my mind about Moriarty being alive with TAB, and in my last farewell to that theory, I mentioned that it made sense that the ‘Act II villain’ would be a lot more grey than the Act I ‘black and white’ villain like Moriarty.  
    • Essentially, in TFP, Moriarty is still ‘the virus in the data’ at Sherrinford just as he actually was at the end of HLV, so that TAB clearly provides a fair amount of foreshadowing in this regard.
    • Note: some people thought this meant Mary would be the Big Bad, but I thought this was unlikely ‘cause she was never really the type to think on a grand scale of villainy; she’s only concerned with herself, which is not how a Big Bad operates. Basically, like Ivy said, Mary just makes really bad knee-jerk decisions. Neither Moriarty nor Mary were cut out to be the ‘Final Problem’ in this show.
  • Eurus being too deus ex machina, out-of-nowhere and too powerful.
    • In many ways, that’s a valid critique. I do wish they’d set it up better and planned out the show better in general. I agree with @girlofthemirror about Moffat and Gatiss’s intent and the entire interest in Sherlock’s origins being difficult to accomplish in an open-ended serialized context, so this is partly an issue with execution, and partly a structural concern. 
    • I still agree with Ivy that TFP plausibly addressed Sherlock’s relationship and intimacy issues as part of his arc, so it’s not out-of-nowhere and it fits, even if it’s a retcon and therefore distasteful.
  • Sherlock’s childhood issues and/or his arc being in response to Eurus being too much of a retcon, not enough attention paid to realism.
    • As I mentioned re: Eurus, I’m probably most sympathetic to this. It is a retcon, and it is problematic structurally. Still, as I said about this earlier, what ‘made’ Sherlock the way he is was always a question (particularly in TAB), and so there was set-up. As I agreed later in the thread, you can critique the writing, you can say this is an unfortunate direction for them to have gone, but past trauma has certainly been a hinted at potential for awhile now (see: Redbeard in TSoT). 
    • The issue with realism and the trauma not being shown continuously… that’s more about personal priorities. If one’s suspension of disbelief breaks based on psychological realism and the lack thereof, that’s more or less a genre mismatch thing. I still respect @porcupine-girl’s argument that a Sherlock Holmes story also requires really strong ‘archplot’ type causality because of his very nature as a force of deductive reasoning. All I can say is that while I relate, it’s still a personal priority as a Holmes fan. Sherlock the character in BBC Sherlock has never really been as fundamentally rational as ACD Holmes (see: Sherlock’s presentation of himself as a pirate in TFP). BBC Sherlock is a ridiculous man in a ridiculous show, more or less.
    • As in the thread critiquing TFP on these grounds, I still have mixed feelings about this. It depends so much on what kind of thing you consider to be ‘enough’ or the right kind or degree of realism, and I don’t think stories are necessary to judge on that metric in any case. 
    • Some of people’s responses are probably generated in part because Sherlock has only shown continuous and intense psychological consequences in response to John, because John is his ‘conductor of light’ in all ways, realistic or not. Still, for what it’s worth, Victor mirrors John.
  • The ‘plot holes’ like John’s chained feet (or John’s letter in TST).
    • I’ve explained why I don’t think the letter is an instance of ‘Chekhov’s gun’ or even a plot-hole (though it depends how you define it). Overall, sometimes there are definitely some (or many) plot-holes, but it’s a genre and/or writing style thing which has always been there on Sherlock. Trying to fill in plot-holes to force the plot to line up too much is probably less rational than letting them be, but YMMV.
    • In general, I agree with many details in @thecutteralicia’s comment in that list of people’s nitpicks of the show, particularly that they are often simply opinions in disguise (though we obviously disagree on actual fandom-related opinions). 
  • The characterization stuff like Sherlock not following ‘Vatican Cameos’ or John not being worried enough about Sherlock’s solution to the John vs Mycroft scenario at Sherrinford, Sherlock being called ‘the adult’, etc.
    • The two of them being in ‘soldier mode’ explains a lot; like I said initially, I read TFP as John being back to the ‘good old days’ after they’d resolved their major issues at the end of TLD, so what do people really expect? This is definitely an issue with people’s characterization headcanons conflicting. 
    • As for Sherlock… initially I said that this is just Sherlock still thinking he can handle it himself when push comes to shove (he didn’t lose all his old flaws), but you can also argue that’s Eurus’s canonical effect in play.
    • Sherlock being called ‘the adult’ by his mum when she’s mad at Mycroft doesn’t seem too surprising to me. She’s upset with Mycroft. (Of course, a lot of things don’t seem too surprising or implausible to me… the same old caveat.)
  • Sherlock and John’s relationship overall being too shallow/not close enough compared to the other eps.
    • This is more subjective, obviously. All I can say is that I didn’t see it that way, and I still agree with Ivy that the natural conclusion of TLD is implicit Johnlock, which makes them a solid unit and a ‘family’ in TFP. Even in the platonic partnership sense, they are not as distant or estranged as they have been in Series 3 and most of Series for by TFP.  
    • Specifically, they have planned their little prank on Mycroft together and it was John’s idea (which is huge!) The sheer casualness of Sherlock saying John’s family and John accepting it is unprecedented, even if it’s always been true. And John actually calling Sherlock to watch the emotionally-loaded second message from Mary, because they share these things, they’re honest with each other now… and they coparent. That isn’t shallow. That is real intimacy, sans drama.
    • I also agree with Ivy that the Johnlock-friendly reading certainly requires one to fill some blanks and read between the lines, and this requires one to either disregard what they say or simply focus entirely on the text. One can certainly do that easily enough, even if I find the lack of confirmation frustrating and problematic. So yeah, once again, as with any shippy reading issue, YMMV (although I still think Johnlock is unique in the way it makes the story work).
    • In the case of BBC Sherlock, Authorial Intent is very hard to discern properly and is only important socially in fandom. It definitely seems like intent and what’s on the actual show have… diverged at some point. It’s certainly quite possible to disregard it and see Johnlock in TFP, and I have done an implicit Johnlock reading myself.  
  • The use of Mary and/or Mary narrating the last few minutes.
    • I agree with Ivy that the narration isn’t a big deal, and ‘someone had to narrate it’. I realize that plenty of people think John ‘should’ have narrated for various reasons, but that is an opinion. It is not a fact.
    • Mary’s resolution in TST was complicated in many ways, and reasonable people may disagree. Only addressing her role in TFP: it was minor. YMMV.
  • The marketing and Series 4/TFP promotion mismatch and/or TFP not ‘making history’.
    • I wouldn’t trust promos; promos aren’t really trying to be honest and reflect what actually happens so much as drum up excitement. In regards to the specific promo pic promoting TFP, it does make sense on the metaphorical level as a reflection of the plot. 
    • I also find it plausible that Mofftiss would have thought that the new take on Holmes’s past is groundbreaking, because I think they’re kind of self-involved, like @gloriascott93 suggested.

Well, this is probably more or less the best I can do. I’m definitely still game for answering more specific questions or concerns if people have any. I do have more caveats about the limitations of anyone explicating plausibility in a text as polarizing as this one, though. At certain point, the divergence in fannish priorities and in the audience response is just too deep. Alas.

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my fallout 4 oc, Carver :0 she’s probably gonna live forever just out of spite

Moriarty never came back - it was all in Sherlock’s head

I am not completly sold on this reading, but it’s the one I tend to most at the moment.

Mycroft says Sherlock was already high, when Sherlock got on the plane. I don’t believe this. Instead I think, everything we see in TAB happens in Sherlock’s drug induced mindpalace. His mindpalace even starts in HLV.

Sherlock says goodbye to John on the tarmac and then enters the plane. The moment the plane takes off, Sherlock takes whatever drugs he has at hand. So everything after the moment the plane took off, happens only in Sherlock’s mindpalace.

  • the miss me-video and people reacting to it
  • Mycroft calling Sherlock to come back
  • the whole Victorian story line and all the switches back to the plane
  • the false modern scenes that Sherlock recognizes as not real
  • Sherlock getting of the plane -  “Moriarty is dead, but I know exactly what he’s up to next” (still in his mindpalace)
  • getting back to Victorian John

Sherlock might have actually over-dosed. And this is what makes the plane return. There is no mysterious Moriarty-video. S4 might take off with Sherlock in rehab/hospital. Or they might skip several months and just start where they want to start again. Nothing might be explained or just acknowledged in a few sentences. “btw Mary died” “remember the time you had this dream about Moriarty returning from the dead and almost died yourself?” 

ETA: Clues to back up this reading

this plot is a heaping pile of bullshit and like can they stop implicating a child like he…….. did something wrong?? alice cooper dial it the fuck back

they did not demonize grundy enough, the only person who admitted she was a child predator was alice “irrational over-reaction to everything” cooper so like,,, they basically didn’t even admit she committed a crime and i’m ready 4 death

narratively, they just messed up ….. gave it a pardon…… they have time to come back from it but tbh i doubt they will

[Season 4] is going to be… I suppose you’d say… consequences … [T]here’s a sense of… things… coming back to bite you. It’s not a safe, sensible way to live.

Steven Moffat

When we hear the word consequences, we think of Mary, who’s definitely going to be getting some consequences in S4, namely: death. But let’s talk a bit about John and Sherlock - who, after all, are the main characters.

One of the biggest character flaws that Sherlock is overcoming is that he lies to John and shuts him out in order to protect him. He’s not like Mary; he does to protect John, but it’s still a major problem in their relationship because they’re not equal partners.

Sherlock doesn’t understand just how much John trusts him. He thinks John loves him for the hero-worship and danger aspect - the sociopath persona aspect - so he shuts John out.

Sherlock’s improving. In HLV, he’s already done more than he did in TRF to bring John in. Sherlock’s taking steps, not going cold-turkey - which makes perfect sense. He did the Empty House Reveal after he realized Mary was Moran. He told John some things, which was more than he did in TRF. In TRF, when John would ask him things, Sherlock would just tell him he wasn’t going to tell him. Now he’s telling John a minimum of information. But still certainly not even close to everything.

One of the biggest character flaws that John is overcoming is his inability to talk about his feelings. He can’t talk about them so much that it’s crippling him. He can’t tell Sherlock’s gravestone that he loved him.

He’s getting better, too. He tried to talk to Sherlock in ASiB. He tried again a couple times in TSoT, most notably on the park bench. But John’s not completely better with being able to talk about his feelings, yet, either.

Both Sherlock and John fell into their weakness after Mary shot Sherlock.

Sherlock didn’t tell John that Mary worked for Jim, that she meant to kill him, or that he doesn’t trust her. (I mean that he didn’t tell John this after the Empty House Reveal. Obviously he couldn’t tell him then. But he could’ve told him in the hospital the next day. But he didn’t.)

John didn’t tell Sherlock that he doesn’t love Mary anymore, that he doesn’t trust her, that he wants to send her to jail, or that he read the flash drive. Instead of working with Sherlock about Mary, he went to Mycroft. John doesn’t tell Sherlock this because he a) thinks Sherlock is in love with Mary, and b) doesn’t want to have to tell Sherlock he’s in love with him.

Right now, Sherlock is lying to John about Mary to keep John safe, and John is lying to Sherlock about Mary to keep Sherlock safe. They’re both working against Mary, and neither of them know it.

There are going to be some consequences for John and Sherlock not talking and not overcoming their respective weaknesses.

John is going to be furious when he finds out that Sherlock knew that Mary was Moran the whole time and didn’t tell him. He’s going to leave Sherlock (temporarily). That’s Sherlock’s consequence. Jim calls it The Pain of Loss.

Mary is going to try to kill Sherlock again and actually shoot John. That’s John’s consequence.

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 I hope DA4 has a battle mode similar to ME3’s Narrative Mode. I play on Casual all the time, and even then it feels like some battles can drag on for decades. After 2-3 playthroughs, I just want to make different story decisions, enemies be damned! I’d also just love to be able to pick off super tough enemies really easily… It made me feel good in ME3, it’d make me feel good killing a dragon in 5 seconds. I just want an easy breezy game sometimes. Bring on Narrative Mode, DA4!

Mod Note: Please correct if wrong but isn’t Casual Mode in Dragon Age pretty similar to Narrative mode?


I don’t think The Johnlock Kiss fits in The Three Garridebs. I know a lot of people really love this idea, but I don’t think it fits with the tone Mofftisson have set up. It has to do with the fact that it’s not a detective show; it’s a show about a detective.

When I think about the really moving moments of the show (above), what comes next in that series of pictures isn’t this:

It’s closer to this:

I picked these two pictures because, at first glance, they look very similar, but on closer inspection, they really aren’t. If you’ve seen both movies, you know that the immediate cause of the first one is “We’re destroying Voldemort and we almost died” and the immediate cause of the second one is an argument about emotional stuff. And that definitely shows in the the kiss itself.

Sherlock is a classic romance, not an action story. The Three Garridebs Kiss is an action-movie kiss. I think we’ll be getting a classic-romance kiss because I think that’s what fits with what we’ve already gotten, particularly in season three with the Watsons Have A Domestic.

If John and Sherlock can only manage to admit their feelings when they’re drunk or high on adrenaline or when they think the other one might die? Eh… they’re not really ready for an adult relationship. But that’s why they’re having this painful character development: because they’ll need it to get Johnlock via a classic-romance kiss. They don’t need as much painful character development to get Johnlock via an action-movie kiss. But we’ve got painful character development, and we’re going to keep getting it, which tells me classic-romance kiss, which tells me not The Three Garridebs.

We’ve had the ultimate action-movie kiss in this show already:

The cool hero sweeps in after a death-defying feat, kisses the love interest, and sweeps out, on his way to save the world. But this kiss wasn’t real - and it was kind of laughed about in the show (in a friendly way by Greg). I think The Johnlock Kiss will have a fundamentally different feel - be a fundamentally different type of kiss - than either of the two in TEH… because it’s fundamentally different. Basically what I’m saying is that not only did the joking kisses between Sherlock and Molly and Sherlock and Jim rule out the possibilities of those ships ever happening on the show, they also ruled out those types of kisses.

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one of the things i love the most about black sails is how the whole narrative revolves around 4 recurring and interconnected concepts:

1. shame:

i think captain hume’s line in 1.01 explains it quite nicely: “you see, gossip is what holds civilization together. it reinforces shame. and without shame, well, the world is a very dangerous place.i’ve explored it a bit here and @chadwika​ did it much better than i could here. using one’s shame to manipulate them into submission or into doing a particular thing is a recurring theme. 

but what i think is the most important is, the narrative around flint and the hamiltons when it comes to this is about letting go of shame: “and then i spoke and bade you cast aside your shame” and “know no shame”. miranda also says this about thomas: “you think i can play devil’s advocate. thomas would have played that game with you from dusk until dawn. and everything you hold sacred, he’d leave in tatters. not from malice or hate, but from love. from a desire to see the yoke of shame lifted from your shoulders.

2. monsters vs. civilization; who are the real monsters; and “civilization needs its monsters”:

james takes thomas to a public execution when he 1st met him to show him the crowd’s reactions: “no mercy!” and “go all the way to hell!” and he says “no, i don’t think [whitehall wants piracy to flourish in the bahamas], but i think they’re aware of the cost associated with trying to fight it. and i think that that sound [of the crowd] travels.” 

people are always looking for something to hate, someone to vilify. someone better and more coherent than i am could explain and make an association between this and the concept of shame. alas, i’m afraid i can’t organize my thoughts enough for it, but the connection is there.

on a bit of a side note, i find it interesting that the black sails fandom feels the same need to assign a villain, depending on whose side they’re on, or whom they favour. (villainizing england because you love the pirates even when it’s clear they are not always much better; villainizing certain characters because they oppose your faves, etc.) even when the whole point of the show is that nothing is as black and white as one might think, and no one is 100% good or bad, that narratives can be manipulated. it can be annoying but it’s also a perfect representation of people’s need for there to be a monster, someone or something to fight against. the idea that whatever you oppose may have it’s merits makes people uncomfortable. demonizing others makes it easier because it means you’re right.

3. the “villain”

the idea that everyone is a monster to someone. since you are so convinced that i am yours, i will be it.” and “if you insist upon making me your villain, i’ll play the part.” how you have people who are assigned  the role of a villain against their will, because someone needs it to make themselves the hero of the story, which takes me to the next concept:

4: black sails is a story about stories:

people have already talked about this better than i probably can. you can check @mrbarrow​‘s lovely gif set over here to get an idea. black sails is about the power of stories, of being able to bend the narrative in your favour. of creating legends. of having the power to create your own story, to be able to control what people say about you, to control the narrative. woodes rogers says: “my advice? you want some say in how they speak of you? write a book.” 

as people have pointed out before as well, it’s much better and more important to be a good orator that a good fighter in the world of black sails. 

we see them creating the legend of captain flint in the beginning of s3: “we’re fighting a war to protect nassau. a war in which our most effective weapon is the fear that we can instill in our enemies. we’ve succeeded in making captain flint the name of grim death to all of them. the only way that we can ensure that that story continues is if he is the one telling it.” and “that story is telling itself, and you know it. we’ve been assigned responsibility for raids we were nowhere near. jesus, i’ve been given credit for having been a part of some of them. they are so terrified of you, they’re terrified of me.” and we witness billy creating the legend of long john silver, at the end of the season.

Mary foreshadowed

In TAB Sherlock clearly perceives Mary as the most powerful element of their group, cleverer than Mycroft, dominating them all. 

In the Victorian scenes it is her who dresses up to insinuate herself into 221B, secretly works for Mycroft, leads Sherlock and John to the women’s cult and verbally humiliates Sherlock. 

In the modern scenes she reveals that Sherlock read the blog, orders John to take her home from the cemetery, criticises MI5 security, doubts that Sherlock ODed, leaves the plane immediately after Sherlock as if to keep his tail, sees through Sherlock again and again. 

All this foreshadows the direction the show is going to take. We do not need a living Moriarty as long as we have this dynamic of four. It is not a positive dynamic, not four clever people solving mysteries, but about power play. This is the new constellation that will be explored and does not contradict any important theories about Redbeard, the Other One, etc. Mary is the key - not in a nice but in a necessary way. She will be crucial for the narrative arc as well as Sherlock’s and John’s relationship arc. 

Inspired by this post X by @thebisonwitheadphones.