This was Steven Moffat back in 2015 for an interview re: What happened to Irene. Also - remember he did write something about Irene and Sherlock but it never happened, but the evil genius WROTE SOMETHING ABOUT it BECAUSE HE WAS CURIOUS. And then here goes 4x2 The Lying Detective with John:
“How does this work? You and the Woman. Do you guys go to a discreet Harvester sometimes? Is there nights of passion in High Wycombe?”
AND SO THIS ANSWERS TO WHAT THE POSH BOY AND THE DOMINATRIX DO FOR THEIR NIGHTS OF PASSION YOU CANNOT TELL ME OTHERWISE. OH MOFFAT, YOU KNOW HOW I HATE YOU BUT I LOVE YOU, YOU EVEIL GENIUS!
“Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a more vicious motivator.” // Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler
I believe that this quote purely summarises Sherlock and Irene’s relationship. How? Let me explain in detail.
First, look at the photos under the sentence “Bitterness is a paralytic.”
When they first met, Sherlock was caught off guard. Not a lot of people can surprise him, but clearly, Irene did this successfully. In my opinion, Sherlock’s bitterness was not necessarily towards Irene but to himself and Mycroft. He proudly claimed he will get the compromising photos by the end of the day and yet, there he was, unable to deduce a single thing about this woman. I think Sherlock was internally cursing himself for giving Mycroft another opportunity to spite him. When John started to put on his charm on Irene, we can see Sherlock tongue-tied as he tried to get Irene’s attention back. His ‘bitterness’ towards his own internal confusion whether or not he was taken by this woman made him malfunction for a short while.
When Irene started to text him, he dismissed her advances. According to John, Sherlock will “outlive God to say the last word”. I see this as another form of Irene paralysing Sherlock. He doesn’t know how to reply to her and I think Sherlock hates himself for it. Usually, when John starts to tell him the obvious, Sherlock would give out a snide remark, but throughout ASiB, when John comments on Irene’s texts or his phone being in his coat, Sherlock simply dismisses him.
In the literal sense of paralysis, on the other hand, we saw Sherlock’s reaction when he opened Irene’s “Christmas present”. His voice was different, the look on his face was different… If you remember ASoT, when Sherlock asked the women about the Mayfly man on whether or not they have secret they haven’t told anyone and they replied too quickly, Sherlock deduced they were lying— I relate this to when John asked Sherlock if he was okay after hearing Irene was ‘dead’, Sherlock gave him a quick ‘yes’, shutting the door on his face.
Also, the great Sherlock Holmes was actually fooled that it was Irene’s cadaver in front of him? Could it be that his bitterness to the truth made him overlook the facts, thus making him agree to what was in front of him to be able to suppress reality and reach a quicker conclusion?
Then we saw that Sherlock was so fixated on figuring out the code of her phone. I may be looking at this too deeply, but I think it was because it was one way of knowing Irene. He ‘liked’ her, was interested in her because she was somehow a counterpart of him, and yet, he lost her just when he was about to figure out what his interest in her means. As we all know, he was unsuccessful.
When Irene appeared on the plane with him and Mycroft, Sherlock said that he was still not clear on some things. Irene walked past him, telling him she was done with him and we can see that as Irene and Mycroft discussed the matters in the older Holmes’ house, Sherlock was still trying to comprehend what was happening. He was suppressing the signs, bitter that Irene ‘betrayed’ him (more on this later) that his thought process was being clouded.
I believe he was able to figure out what the code was when Irene showed interest in another man, at the same time, mentioning ‘love’ —all of which related to Jim Moriarty, which was his nemesis. It was an insult of sorts and a revelation.
Now we move on to the next part, which is ‘Love is a more vicious motivator.’
Whenever Sherlock submits to his ‘feelings’ towards Irene Adler, he was more driven to answers. One of these instances would be that greeting he gave Irene on New Year. It was a simple gesture, one that was utterly surprising coming from the detective. I believe this roots from Sherlock’s brother complex. Mycroft was a person of significance (to the entire nation) and I believe Sherlock (although unconsciously) wants to be needed as well. He only gives his trust to a few, all of which has shown that they need him and when he found out Irene was alive and the reason why he sent her the phone was for safekeeping, Sherlock felt that she trusted him. When she seeked refuge in Baker Street, that trust (or connection, if you would want to call it that) grew deeper. We saw that he had an exchange of compliments with Irene (which John interrupted by suggesting baby names, haha) and by recognising that he shared a moment with Irene, he was able to crack the one about the flight plan. Opening himself up to the possibility of acknowledging this woman made him function better again—see? Motivator!
Going back to that scene in Mycroft’s house, when Irene mentioned ‘love’ and showing that she preferred Jim Moriarty, we saw Sherlock finally figuring things out. My deduction? It was because he opened himself up to the possibility that Irene could want him, that he saw the signs unravel right in front of him but he was trying to dismiss it because by recognising the connection he had with Irene, he would have to take into consideration what may happen in the future. He realised he malfunctions with her around, that they are logical people and when tainted with emotions, they get distracted and paralysed. When he accepted all of those possibilities, his ‘love’, his ‘jealously’ and the pain of being betrayed motivated him to search for the answer—and that he did. Plus, I would like to put this out, “Oh enjoying the thrill of the chase is fine, craving the distraction of the game— I sympathise entirely—but sentiment? Sentiment is the chemical defect found in the losing side.”We pay attention to the part when Sherlock used the word sentiment and yet we miss out his initial statement. Irene was the distraction of the game and this was Sherlock’s confession: he does crave for her, he noticed her, he admits that he was taken by her but unlike Irene, Sherlock chose logic over his feelings for her.
Lastly, saving Irene from Karachi. As we have seen in the beginning of ASiB, Sherlock doesn’t even want to invest in cases that are less than a 7. He was very particular with his cases, very meticulous and very straightforward if something is worth his time. Needless to say, Sherlock is hard to motivate if he finds something not worthy.
But flying thousands of miles and risking his life to save Irene Adler? Hmmm… What does that say about his heart?