sherlock acknowledging that it is not as easy as saying no more drugs for me

The 'Why Omegaverse' Question

I’m a very self-indulgent person, and so I like analyzing why I like the self-indulgent things I like to read almost as much as reading them. And well, currently I’m reading a Johnlock Omegaverse fic and it made me wonder why I almost always enjoy it so much.

Usually when the subject comes up, I’ve seen things like people enjoy the world-building, the gender dynamics exploration or the porn (usually that bit’s implied). To be honest, I’ve never actually seen people talk about it much. Not that people in fandom are all that shy about our porn, but wank happens just with the top/bottom discussions, forget Alpha/Omega discourse (not that I’ve actually ever seen that). It doesn’t completely translate. Like, I think people usually write Omega!John and bottom!John differently, although there’s more overlap in Omega!Sherlock and bottomlock. The storyline about how both Omega John and Sherlock resist their secondary gender’s stereotypes to be BAMFy fits both of them in different ways, just as the whole Alpha strut and self-confidence can be spun to fit them both. I think in my case, I find both options more pleasant in Omegaverse ‘cause often there’s more explicit characterization work to justify the differences in the fic’s John or Sherlock. Like, I’m a very picky reader that’s super sensitized to OOCness, and I think Omegaverse helps me 'cause the characterization divergence is there but is more consciously constructed as an AU. So I’m like, okay this is a bottomlock universe or a toplock universe, and I can go with it 'cause it’s never presented as the 'natural order of things’, so to speak. Of course, this is ironic 'cause the mainstream concept of the gender dynamic in-universe is usually all about the 'natural order of things’ being Alpha/Omega pairings. It’s just that you’re still dealing with these implicit or symbolic issues (feminization, projection, etc) a lot in regular fics, but I feel like it’s defanged if it’s directly acknowledged by the narrative.

This might be why it’s awkward to talk about enjoying Omegaverse porn, in a way. At least speaking for myself, there’s an underlying sense of discomfort in 'un-queering’ the pairing, even if you keep the characters’ equipment. At least if you’re not reading Alpha/Alpha or Omega/Omega fics (which are rare and I myself usually don’t read). I think for me, there’s an appeal in the absolute normalization of it, sort of the same way I enjoy 18-19th century novel Sherlock fusion fics with no homophobia. Like, you could say it’s erasing the queerness of the characters by making them play essentially heteronormative roles in the society (especially when one of the characters was literally male and one female in the original novel). Or you could say it’s simply that the fic’s erasing the other people’s problem, which is external to the actual relationship dynamics between the characters. In the case of Omegaverse, you’re still usually problematizing the gendered aspects of the relationship (ie, it’s not usually portrayed as absolute smooth sailing, ala a fluffy het romance), but you’re not coming at it from the same angle so it’s still refreshing. Is that what *I* like about it, though?

It’s a bonus, certainly. In the end, I do like the thinky world-building and the gender exploration stuff, but it’s not enough by itself. What makes Omegaverse a true guilty pleasure is usually the trope aspect: the chance to enjoy a classic iteration of the fuck-or-die trope combined with a soulmate trope. If you look at the usual fuck-or-die fics these days, they’re not generally romantic. They tend to be more straightforwardly dealing with issues of consent and trauma if they’re not pure rapefic PWP, whereas a lot of Omegaverse fic still allows you to have consent in-universe along with a focus on characterization and romance; PWPs are relatively rare. My point is, the trope’s original conceit was that both people secretly want it, and may be wary but interested and compatible (and at least initially/partly capable of consent, though you could have angst about the subject in many fics). It’s obviously problematic rather than romantic in a more realistic context, but this is why I enjoy the sci-fi premise of the Omegaverse. It’s quite possible to create these results using a different sci-fi/fantasy scenario (certain magical artifacts, alien spores, sometimes Sentinel/Guide, etc), but Omegaverse provides a ready template, whereas everything else requires constructing a complex plot from scratch. Of course, this is partly why I enjoyed them back in the day, but most fics I’ve seen lately just go with drugs and/or a villain as the immediate cause. Both of these are traumatic, being sort of the antithesis of a happy ending scenario. So… me no likey.

With the seemingly romantic soulmate trope taken alone in fics, most of what I see is also less than romantic, with the usual point being to problematize the soulmate bond scenario somehow. Otherwise it’s considered 'boring’. I just like my bond fics being about a happy, even joyous union, with the drama coming from the difficulty getting together or some other external source. Omegaverse fics generally use this type of approach. Call me old-fashioned. I know I am.

I think rather than the porn (which is really hit-or-miss in terms of how well even a good writer does with it), I’m into the soul-bonding and pheromonal attraction aspect of the trope. This might also be another reason why I don’t really care much who’s the Alpha or Omega: usually the desperation (another favorite trope!) goes both ways emotionally. The whole nature of the Omegaverse is about breaking down personal boundaries and forming a more perfect union, both physically and emotionally. I mean, usually this is a theme in most romantic pairings, but here it’s being made both emotionally explicit and natural (in-universe), whereas I tend to view super-fluffy fics (especially involving long-term commitment themes) with suspicion. This probably has something to do with me being a 'cold-prickly type’ reader. Normally, reading about marriage (essentially) would seem OOC or over-the-top to me somehow, whereas if you’re soul-bonded as an Alpha/Omega couple, well, you can’t really avoid it. There’s usually no (easy) divorce and/or polyamory option, etc. You’re just kinda stuck being in fluffy love forever, haha. I know a lot of people would find that stifling or even less romantic, but it suits me just fine. Though I could do without the babies, generally, in the end I even make the baby exception for Omega Sherlock (poor boy, haha). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile. I don’t often engage in hefty meta, but this one has had my knickers in a twist for, well, about two months now. This is a post about why I didn’t like Mary Morstan from the start. Popular fandom opinion seems to have gone: The Empty Hearse: love Mary! The Sign of Three: really love Mary! His Last Vow: a) omg hate Mary! or b) still love Mary, but with certain explanations (“she’s a complicated person”/“she had no choice”, etc). For my part, I didn’t even like her at the beginning, and here’s why. Read on, if you dare…

Reasons I didn’t like Mary even before she shot Sherlock:

1. She assumes too much with John.

“I’m the best thing that ever happened to you.” While John is fumbling through his awkward-as-arse proposal, Mary is quick to step in and assert this unfinished statement of John’s. Even having barely met her at this point, this rubbed me the wrong way. Usually you let the other person say something like that. This could be interpreted as just Mary being “adorably” forward and cheeky, but it read to me like she was informing him, as though John wasn’t allowed to make up his own mind about that statement. More about that to come.

2. She manipulates John.

There’s the obvious example here, where Mary clearly wants both John and Sherlock out of Baker Street for awhile, for whatever reason (assuring their guarantee that it will take awhile). Again, this could be interpreted as a concern for either or both of them, and all around “cute”, but Sherlock and John never needed their friendship micromanaged by a third party in the past and they don’t now. Even after John’s reaction over Sherlock’s revelation in The Empty Hearse, he was already softening within twenty-four hours, shaving his moustache off the next morning and going to visit him after work (or trying to, at least). And the minute he’s smoke-free and able to return, he does. I doubt very much that that was all Mary’s magical machinations so much as it was John’s honest desire to see the friend he loved, lost, and thoroughly bloodied upon their reunion. John has a fierce temper but he wouldn’t have stayed permanently angry with Sherlock. He says openly that he loved Sherlock and grieved his loss. Sherlock’s inept self-revelation wouldn’t have broken that permanently. Again, Mary is assuming too much, and asserting herself too much. They are hardly reliant on her to make their friendship happen.

“You can’t go, I’m pregnant.” First Mary badgers John about his choice to go and be neighbourly (his words for needing an adrenaline fix, whether or not he’s also being neighbourly in the bargain), then she uses her pregnancy to manipulate him, and when that also doesn’t work, she insists on coming along. Why? To supervise? This is Captain John Watson we’re talking about, not a kid who needs a babysitter. Why so domineering, Mary?

3. She demeans John.

When John decides to go find/rescue Isaac Whitney, Mary asks, “Why you?” Why the hell not John?! He’s had enough military experience in an active combat zone to have made captain and understands the neighbour’s dilemma over not wanting to go to the police. It’s a good turn, and who better to go than someone like John Watson? Mary’s question strips John of his capabilities, shows a profound lack of respect for all that he is able to do and to contribute to any particular situation. This simple question is the most straightforward example of Mary’s attitude regarding John, and it comes up again and again. She goes on to ask “What’s the matter with you?” over John wanting to go and help. What’s the matter with John? What’s the matter with Mary?? Why is she so set on leaving Isaac Whitney to his fate, or preventing John from saving him? And then, when John responds snappishly that there’s nothing wrong with him, and catches himself over having raised his voice, Mary is pissy over that, yet fully unapologetic about her own ungenerous behaviour regarding both John and Isaac.

Mary chastises John in front of their neighbour for his seeming tactlessness. This is possibly merited, but not in front of someone else like that. A month into their marriage and she’s not presenting a united front with him in front of other people? That’s not on. When your partner fucks up, you bring it up with them in private. To the world, you’re a team. Outward signs of disrespect like this erode a relationship.

When John arms himself with the tire lever, Mary laughs, points at it and asks, “What is that?” Again, this suggests that John – who shows just a minute or two later that he doesn’t need any sort of weapon other than his own hands to handle the drug den and its occupants – can’t handle a weapon or doesn’t know what he’s doing. Is this just resentment that John didn’t want her coming along? Or why on earth is Mary behaving so rudely to her husband? It’s as though she thinks of him as completely incapable of handling a potentially dangerous situation, despite years in a war zone and then embedded in London’s crime scene with Sherlock. John then answers her question, stating the obvious, “It’s a tyre lever” and Mary responds with “Why?”, as though there’s no conceivable reason that John could have to arm himself in there, or as though he wouldn’t know what to do with it in the first place. Sherlock, on the other hand, knows exactly how useful John is in a dangerous situation, and does the opposite: he brings along John’s gun in foresight (The Great Game, Vauxhall Arches scene). Sherlock certainly knows that the man who shot his would-be killer within twenty-four hours of having met him knows his way around a spot of trouble. Why doesn’t Mary give John this credit? It was a bit satisfying to see John’s cool response to Mary’s seeming attempt at something like an apology (calling it sexy that John has armed himself with the tire iron) here. Her comment not only a) doesn’t undo what she’s said numerous times in this scene: that she thinks John isn’t capable of handling himself here, and b) implies that his sexiness regarding the whole thing is a new concept. It isn’t. John has been sexy in dangerous situations for a long time now and plenty of people are well aware of it. He doesn’t need to be told that, particularly not hard on the heels of being demeaned by his own partner.

Speaking of Sherlock, Mary also discredits John’s belief in Sherlock. We don’t get all the details of the backstory of their opening conversation with Kate Whitney, but when the latter doesn’t recognise Sherlock’s name, Mary looks pointedly at John and says, “See? That does happen.” This suggests that John thinks that Sherlock is more widely recognised/renowned than Mary does. Mary’s barb here suggests that her version of reality is more accurate than John’s. It’s another subtle way of taking the floor out from under John, of demeaning him – and again, in front of a third party. In that same bit of conversation, Mary reduces John’s feeling of not having seen Sherlock “in ages” to the prosaic “about a month”: correcting John’s experience of the situation. It’s all part and parcel of the same behaviour: Mary knows best; John doesn’t view anything accurately. And yes, one could certainly argue that many married/long-term coupled people behave the same way, but this is the first month of their marriage. This is unhealthy behaviour upon which to be establishing a relationship.

4. She’s not a nice person.

We could start with the screamingly obvious, that nice people don’t become professional assassins, but that seems just a little too easy. Although, just to address that head-on, I’ve seen some of the Mary-lovers out there claim that both Sherlock and John have killed people, so why hate on Mary for doing the same thing? I’ll say right up front that I’m a pacifist and don’t ever believe that killing is the only option. However, if you’re going to kill someone, there had better be a damned good reason for it, like saving a life, preventing the spread of evil political power (futile as that is, and I’m looking at you, war in Afghanistan). You know what isn’t a damned good reason? Money.

Professional killings aside, “she’s put all that behind her now” aside, Mary still isn’t a demonstrably nice person in any way. Sure, she puts on the stroking-the-arm-of-the-distressed-neighbour act, but when it comes as a surprise?

Bill Wiggins: Please, can I come? I think I’ve got a broken arm.

Mary: No, go away.

John: No, let him.

Mary: Why?

Why the hell not, Mary?? Why can’t she accept John’s decision to have rescued someone else as long as he was there? (Never mind that this is only because it was John who injured Bill.) What would it hurt her to let Bill come along? He’s a person trying to escape from a terrible place. Why is she so ungenerous to the people in need around her? She demonstrates this same kind of behaviour again later with Bill when he’s posing as a homeless person. Not only does she refuse to even look at him when he asks for change, just gives a brisk no without stopping, but then, at the end of the conversation when Bill says “keeps me off the streets, doesn’t it?”, a tongue-in-cheek comment about the fact that he’s being paid to pose as a street person, she refuses to engage with him as an actual person, doesn’t acknowledge the humour and just says, “well, no.” And walks away. Not a nice person.

Speaking of not being nice, it seems clear to me that Mary understands that Sherlock feels a great deal for John, much more than John sees. I found her comments to Sherlock at the wedding particularly insensitive, regarding that. John and Major Sholto is an essay for another time (personally I don’t see any romantic connection there whatsoever; they’re much too formal, but I do see John’s desire to impress a former commanding officer, absolutely), but Sherlock’s jealousy over John wanting to impress Sholto is patently obvious to Mary. She seems to go out of her way to aggravate Sherlock’s jealousy, choosing things to say that make Sherlock seem less important to John, such as her statement that John talks about Sholto to her but not to Sherlock, and then that Sholto is more reclusive than Sherlock is (trust Sherlock to take that as an insult, but the point is that Mary knew that he would). She adds, with a(n irritating) giggle that “neither of us were the first, you know”, a statement I interpret as meaning, “neither of us were the first person that John ever cared about”, just to further reduce Sherlock’s sense of importance to John. When he irritably tells her to stop smiling, she just giggles and simpers that “it’s my wedding day!” and goes off to talk to other people, leaving Sherlock to simmer in his unhappy insecurities. Of course it was Mary’s wedding day, but if they’re all such good friends and she can see that this is difficult for him, she could have been a whole lot more sensitive about this. 

The night of Sherlock’s revelation, Mary’s quick switch on stances bothered me a whole lot. At first she reacts with proper anger, even horror at finding that he’s still alive, given what his supposed death put John through, but she’s awfully quick to decide that he’s all right after all, even siding with him against John. John has every right in the universe to be absolutely furious with Sherlock – I don’t think a person on the planet would disagree with that. And even if Mary thought he was overreacting, let me reiterate my above point that couples should back each other up in public. She could have told him later, in private, that she thought it was a bit much. Instead she sides with Sherlock, even on the point of John’s (horrible) moustache, and honestly – she could have lied to spare his dignity about that. God knows she’d lied to him about enough other stuff by that point already; she could have raised the moustache point at some decidedly less sensitive point. It’s like she finds it all a bit funny. Why isn’t she more sympathetic to what John is going through at this point? (Oh right, because she’s a psychopath and incapable of sympathy.) She could have heard him out, let him vent, given him her fullest understanding and feeling that he wasn’t alone in thinking that this was a rotten thing for Sherlock to have done to him before telling John that she’s decided that she likes Sherlock. She should have been right behind him when he stormed off to hail a cab, even if she had sneaking sympathies for Sherlock’s side of the story. That could have come later. I mean, frankly, Mary’s opinion on Sherlock is completely irrelevant at this point, in my opinion. This was Sherlock and John’s reunion. John’s reaction was the only one that mattered, that had any place in this. Mary had no right to even be there, as far as I’m concerned, much less to insert her own opinions into it all. Even the outrage at the beginning. It just didn’t have a place there. Nonetheless, given that it was there, she should have sided with John, unshakeably. Instead, she left him feeling alone. It felt like adolescent popularity politics to me: Mary decided that Sherlock was the cooler kid and abandoned John to side with him at the first available opportunity. And when Sherlock – jealous, left-out Sherlock – talks to her and comments on John’s seven-pound weight gain, she should have been the first to say “no, I think it’s only four”. Where the fuck is Mary’s loyalty?

And that’s all before she shot Sherlock. 

2

Christmas

Christmas had never been Sherlock’s favorite time of the year. Growing up with a brother like Mycroft and parents as intolerable as theirs made for endless, horrifically boring Christmas dinners which were torturous affairs for everyone but their mother, who insisted on all but glueing her husband and sons to a seat on the table for a civilized family meal. 

As an overcompensation of sorts, he had taken to treating Christmas as just another perfectly ordinary day. Things changed slightly to accommodate Mrs. Hudson, then John, but all in all, Sherlock viewed Christmas as an occasion that warranted no celebration or acknowledgment.

So the first time he had woken up on midnight of Christmas Eve to the sound of his bathroom window opening, the last thing he expected to see in the meager living room of the SRO he was renting while hiding from Moriarty’s network was The Woman. Not that her appearance in itself warranted any celebration or acknowledgement (or so he told himself), but he had to admit, it was a surprise. 

She was dressed in one of his shirts – what was her fascination with his clothes, anyway? – and sitting on the worn couch, her knees drawn up to her chest. Sitting on the table in front of her was one of the candles he had been saving for an experiment under the sink. She barely looked up at him when he entered the room, instead she addressed the candle’s flickering light.

“It’s Christmas.”

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “I’m aware.”

She still didn’t look at him. She seemed mesmerized by the candle’s flame. “I died for the first time last year. Remember?”

Remember? How could he forget?

When he woke up on Christmas Day, she was gone. He would think it was a dream, some kind of hallucination his half-drugged brain had created, except… except the candle was burnt down to a small waxy stub, and his shirt and his sheets smelled of Her.

And then there was nothing.

No sign of her, no news of her whereabouts. He didn’t actively seek her out, because he had no reason to, and also for fear of what would happen if he were to do so. What could they say to each other that wouldn’t make the situation worse between them?

He did keep an ear out for whispers from Moriarty’s slowly dwindling network… any rumours of a Woman arising from the bottomless pit that was the criminal underworld. 

But there was nothing.

Twelve months later, in a hotel in Montenegro – exactly a week before he had to leave for Serbia, and a month before his return to London – his window opened again.

This time, she wasn’t alone. 

The infant in her arms stirred and opened its blue eyes, which were the exact replica of his own.

“It’s Christmas,” she said, by way of explanation. And nothing else was said for the remainder of the night.

He held the baby – his baby, his brain automatically supplied, even if he was still having trouble processing it – once. Only once, while its mother was asleep. 

It was tiny… so tiny… and fragile. Why were human beings so easy to break? There were so many things that could break this impossibly tiny thing… Himself, included.

He wasn’t surprised to find both Woman and infant missing the next day.

It was for the best, he told himself as he eased awkwardly back into his old life in London. He could barely take care of himself, much less an infant. Such a thing would only weigh him down, would be another vulnerability. 

He didn’t know what had made the Woman bring it to term and actually keep it. Sentiment, perhaps… a chemical defect that had the audacity to grow into an actual human being.

Though he would admit, he did think about it sometimes. 

When the Woman appeared in his mind palace, she was still as unspoiled as ever… but this time, she would sometimes be accompanied by a baby’s thin cry, or the smell of the infant’s soft head trailing after her perfume.

Three weeks before Christmas, he and John passed by a certain store, and he spied it. 

He didn’t know what possessed him, but he returned to the shop later without his friend, made sure it was appropriate, and brought it home. His illicit purchase was hidden in 221C where he was sure neither John nor Mary would find it.

When the window opened this time, there was a bassinet waiting in the living room of 221B. And the Woman smiled at him knowingly before placing the sleeping baby – who was no longer an infant, but a year-old Child; no longer an it but another she – inside.

He shrugged. “It’s Christmas.”

Christmas Day found the bassinet empty except for the blanket the Child had been wrapped in. The soft, clearly expensive material carried the scent of the Woman’s perfume and strawberry-scented baby shampoo.

The bassinet would later make its way to the pile of baby shower gifts for Mary after he had deduced her pregnancy, but the blanket remained in his possession.

Mary… whose bullet had nearly killed him.

There was a rose at the foot of his hospital bed when he awoke, but there were no unexpected-yet-expected visitors the next Christmas.

This Christmas, he found himself standing beside his best friend with Magnussen’s lifeless body at his feet and his hands in the air, having just done what he had sworn he would never, ever do.

“Jesus, Sherlock…!”

“Give my love to Mary,” He turned to John. “… She’s safe now.”

Which she had he been referring to – Mary? The Woman? Or the Child? Did he even know…?

But the moment Magnussen had detected the scent of the Woman on his hand, he had known. From that moment on, he’d known exactly what had to be done.

And if it led to his exile or his certain death… well, wasn’t that a small price to pay?

He knelt on the floor and thought of John and Mary, who were safe now from the threat that had been Magnussen. He thought of The Woman, wherever she was, whose death would remain permanent in the eyes of the world. He thought of the Child, whose existence would remain a secret. She whom he had never known, had only held once – an experience that would never be repeated again.

“Oh, Sherlock… what have you done…?”

The game is never over, John

Did you miss me?

Sherlock, promise me?


Moriarty is dead. No question… more importantly, I know exactly what he’s going to do next…

It was New Year’s Eve. Exactly a week after Magnussen’s murder. Three days after his overdose on the plane.

The book had been waiting on the mantelpiece for exactly a week, but the window remained resolutely shut.

He had been doing his best to hide the residual effects of the overdose from John and Mary, and he had been doing a good job of it. Good enough that he had been allowed his first moment of privacy since the plane, while the good doctor tended to his pregnant wife.

But in his solitude, there was no denying that the effects of the drugs still lingered, and it was this residual toxicity that made him think he imagined the small, high laugh from the living room of 221B.

But when the laugh – a child’s laugh, he now registered – was followed by a familiar voice, he shot up immediately out of bed and lurched into the living room.

The Woman was sitting on John’s chair in front of the fire, with the Child in her lap. The Child was reading the book he had left for her, and she was pointing out something in the book for her mother to see.

He released the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding for a whole week.

The Woman looked up at the sound of his shaky exhale. They looked at each other silently for a long time.

“It’s Christmas.”

His voice was hoarse from disuse and it rasped out of his throat with unexpected relief and anguish at the same time. The dim light softened the Woman’s features and reflected the unexpected moisture in her eyes. It cast a soft light on the Child sitting quietly in her lap.

“Christmas was a week ago.”

Her words were meant to be teasing – she loved to be contrary– but her voice was quiet. The Child stirred, her blue gaze moving from her mother to this stranger she only saw once a year.

“No, it wasn’t.” He dragged himself onto his chair opposite her. For a moment, he watched them both. Then he smiled, and it coaxed one out of her as well when she realized what he meant.

“It’s Christmas.”

____________

By SorrowsFlower

Sorry for the long post. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and it’s almost here, so… suffer my Christmas Adlock feels. Ugh, I shouldn’t be allowed to write fluff at 1AM.

“The Abominable Bride” meta - Part 6 - the Reichenbach Falls and a theory

Alternative title 1: Why Moftiss were honest when they said it is an one-off but it still proceeds some things
Alternative title 2: Why I still leave a small room in the hopes Moriarty isn’t literally dead yet.

Alternative title 3: Why perhaps there aren’t as many layers - levels as you think!


All TAB metas can be found in this link.

So, I took a break before going on with last three scenes which basically are the terror of this episode.

Let’s start with the most important one: The Reichenbach Falls. 

As I’ve already said many times, all the victorian scenes we had seen so far were nothing more than the actual modern show transferred in the victorian era. (See part 1, part 2 and part 5 if you want all the parallels.) The modern scenes were the ones which brought the element of the new by giving us more information about what happens inside Sherlock’s mind and heart. The modern scenes so far were dreamy sequences of the Victorian Holmes. We will need to get to the end of the episode to see whether this fact changes.  I’ve also stated my firm belief that there is an over-analyzing going around - there are not 7,8 or 9 mind palace drug levels in TAB. There are 3 or 4 at the maximum, it depends on the viewpoint. In my opinion, the Victorian scenes so far were level 1, the modern ones were level 2. Sherlock doesn’t go deeper and deeper every time - he goes in and out of his stupor. So this makes for two levels so far.

After the corpse falls all over Sherlock (which is the ultimate proof the modern scenes are fake), Holmes wakes in the Reichenbach Falls, Moriarty watching him. 

Now, BEHOLD THE PROBLEM:

Keep reading

Fandom, shipping, and (potentially) abusive relationships: one perspective

The past fortnight or so seems to have set off an interesting but often acrimonious discussion of two overlapping issues in the Sherlock fandom:

  • is Johnlock valid? Is Johnlock a healthy relationship?
  • WTF are we supposed to think about Mary? Do we like Mary? Is Mary good?

The discussion has also raised a number of interesting but difficult questions about how Sherlock as a TV show deviates from our world, especially when it comes to morality and ethics. Many have noted that Mary and John’s relationship can be seen as problematic. Many have also noted that John and Sherlock’s relationship can be seen as problematic.

violethuntress hit upon one aspect of the situation when she asked (as part of a larger post you can see here) this:

Q: Does shipping a white-male couple whose behaviours might be seen as emotionally and physically abusive have real-world effects that we ought to be wary of?

I’m answering in my own post because otherwise I think it’d come across as directly attacking her, which is not my intention, and because I think my reaction deviates greatly from the original discussion, mostly because of my own bias on the topic.

Note: I say this from the perspective of someone who may have experienced an emotional abusive relationship. I found fandom around the same time I started trying to extricate myself from that relationship.

Fandom started out as my safe place. I was excited to see female characters with real agency, to see depictions of queer characters that went beyond stereotypes, creative expression, and all the good stuff fandom (and especially fanfiction) is known for.

But I have also seen the darker side of it, the part of it that leads us into a mindset where “extreme circumstances” and “the needs of the story” allow us to fully justify character’s actions without discussing how they’d be totally unacceptable in real life, and analyzing why we’re okay with said actions within the presented media.

First of all, the question is, Sherlock&John within the show, or Sherlock&John as they’re often seen within fandom?

Does shipping Johnlock within the show have real-world effects that we ought to be wary of?

Possibly.

  • Seeing no (or very little, or very minimizing) discussion of Sherlock drugging John without his consent is rather scary. The person who probably abused me tried to get me to stop taking necessary medication instead of drugging me without my consent, but for me the parallels are clear. In general, the idea that someone can drug someone else (even if it is “for a case” or “for Science!”) and not suffer long-term consequences is worrying. While of course people don’t see TV shows and think that they’re the same as real life, seeing depictions like this without discussion of how “not okay” many character actions are is worrying.
  • Seeing John forgive Sherlock for pretending they were gonna die in order to get John to forgive him is pretty scary. My possible abuser threatened to hurt himself if I didn’t forgive him several times. 
  • Seeing John apparently give up his therapist in exchange for “chasing criminals and almost dying therapy” (copyright Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes) is slightly scary. A number of abusers (my potential abuser included) attempt to isolate the abused person from support networks, including psychiatric help.

Obviously, Sherlock!morality and social norms deviate from those of our world. However, while it’s easy for a view to see people killing other people and know that such behavior isn’t okay in real life. However, Sherlock is just one example of media where characters have fucked-up relationships (be they between family, friends, lovers, or whatever) that remain in some ways unexamined.

Does shipping Johnlock within fandom have real-world effects we should be wary of? 

Not all Johnlock, but some of it:

Countless times, I’ve started reading fanfiction (especially Sherlock fanfiction, although The Avengers has this issue, and basically every other fandom has it to a certain extent), only to have to stop because it reminds me too much of my past relationship. And I’m not talking about stuff that’s tagged, I’m talking about fanfiction that’s supposed to be fluff, or Johnlock case-fic, or something.

Those fanfics where they fight and John decides to go sleep on someone’s lilo for a night and Sherlock calls him a million times and maybe threatens/insinuates that he might ‘have to’ to hurt himself and take drugs if John doesn’t come back? Those fanfics scare the everlasting shit out of me. Because that was my life for months.

Probably. Fandom often normalizes relationship dynamics like theirs, often without accepting and discussing how problematic they are. Someone, like Sherlock maybe, “needing” someone else in order to stay alive, telling that person that if they leave he’ll use drugs/hurt himself (as happens in many a fanfic), pulling John away from his friends…

it doesn’t fucking matter that they’re white and male. Reading stuff where a fucked up relationship dynamic is A) not recognized as messed up and B) romanticized is just as messed up, just as problematic, and is just as likely to send this thought creeping insidiously into my mind that I was wrong and what he did to me was right, was out of the purest love, was what I should have been looking for my entire life, was not something I should have rejected, no matter the gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, nationality, species, or other identifying characteristic of the characters involved.

Actually, it might be worse when they’re two men, because it perpetuates this myth that it can’t be abuse if you are the same gender, and that power imbalances don’t matter in a non male/female relationship. 

But media (and fandom) fail to question possibly abusive relationship all the time, or even glorify them.

Would I have been less susceptible to ending up in a possibly abusive relationship if I hadn’t seen (and loved) Spike and Buffy, in all their fucked-up glory? I don’t know.

Would I have left it sooner if I’d never read Twilight or if James Potter’s way of wooing Lily hadn’t been held up as the epitome of romance? I don’t know.

But those questions are many levels below the question that society asks me (if I was in an abusive relationship, and if I’d ever told anyone), and that I constantly ask myself: 

Was I just too weak?  

If I wasn’t so weak, maybe I’d never been caught in the relationship in the first place. Or maybe I’d have noticed and identified the problems in the beginning. Maybe if I hadn’t been so susceptible to stuff that’s “just a story, not real life,” then I wouldn’t be found hiding in my room with tears in my eyes after finding yet another fanfic that began as a lovely story and ended up with a romanticized and maybe borderline-abusive relationship. Maybe I’m just a side of fandom that should stay out. I don’t know. What I do know is that…

the fact that I can’t think of a single major TV show, movie, or book with an active fandom that DOESN’T have a problematic relationship is exactly why we need to talk about this sort of thing.

I’m not saying don’t ship Johnlock. (I ship Johnlock, but also John/Mary, Mary/Sherlock, Sherlock/Lestrade, Irene/Sherlock, Molly/Lestrade, Lestrade/Mycroft…I ship anyone in the right circumstances.) John and Mary are fucked up in similar (but possibly less codependent and more just 'lying to each other’) ways.

Most fandoms have relationships and OTPs that make me cringe. I cringe and then I go read the fanfic and it’s amazing and glorious and sometimes it addresses underlying problems, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some days, certain fanworks are fine for me. Other days, they’re a minefield. 

We, the fan community, love broken characters, we love messed-up relationships. There’s no inherent problem with that. However, there is a problem when we love these fucked up relationships without acknowledging, accepting, discussing, and deconstructing both what’s wrong with them and why we like them, or while refusing to let others analyze and discuss the fucked-up aspects of them.

Basically what I’m saying is that a ship being someone’s OTP isn’t a valid reason to ignore the fact that it appearing romantic may reveal some pretty important things about how our society treats relationships, romance, and abuse.

Here’s my Abominable Bride theory.

This episode was wild, and I mean wild, but the ending does not sit right with me.

The parallels drawn in this episode are almost too many to count, and definitely too many to go into detail with for the sake of this theory. But ultimately, the entire Bride case was so similar to Moriarty’s, that the ending is just too glaringly obvious.

The point of the mind palace in this episode was for Sherlock to figure out how Moriarty did it in Reichenbach, and to figure out how Moriarty is back. And by the end of Abominable Bride, we think we have the answer. There is a cult of followers keeping Moriarty ‘alive’, even in death.

But that’s just too obvious.

The secret to what really happened, I believe, lies in the subtle clues strewn throughout the episode; even some clues that we thought were just humorous one-liners. The secret comes from the original Holmes stories.

(Now, I can’t take 100% credit for this theory, because this story research was done by a fellow fan, but I am going to use what they discovered to fuel my theory.)

In the original stories, Professor Jim Moriarty had a younger brother, Colonel James Moriarty and Professor was much smarter than Colonel. Where else have we recently heard one brother referenced as smarter than the other? Throughout the show, it was offhandedly suggested that Mycroft is the smarter brother, despite Sherlock’s dazzling intellect. If the entire episode was one giant parallel, those little clues, combined with the original existence of a second Moriarty, is enough reason to legitimately believe that there is a Moriarty duo here as well.

In the show, Sherlock repeatedly (and heatedly) refused to acknowledge the possibility of twins, lookalikes, or siblings in general. While this is a quick and easy rebuttal to my theory, I don’t think it’s legitimate enough. Back to the mind palace. Every time Sherlock denies those possibilities, it is within his drug-induced mind palace, where everything has a Sherlock bias on it. If Sherlock doesn’t want to believe that there could be a second Moriarty, it stands to reason that he would deny it so vehemently inside of his mind. When John suggests twins, Sherlock dismisses this as a foolish explanation, but at several other points during the episode, Sherlock applauds John for being much more brilliant than he is ever given credit for. I believe that John is right, and Sherlock knows it, but his unwillingness to accept that answer keeps him from acknowledging its credibility until the very end of the special.

That being said, I believe that Colonel Moriarty was the one that died on the roof of St Bart’s, and the real Professor Jim Moriarty is very much alive and well. Moriarty is, indeed, dead, as Moffat has announced in interviews and as Sherlock announces at the end of Abominable Bride. But Moriarty, a second one, is still out there. Sherlock rightly says at the end of this special, “Moriarty is dead, no question. More importantly, I know exactly what he’s gonna do next.” Moriarty is dead. And the other Moriarty is about to do something.

Did you miss me?

POSTSCRIPT:

There’s one little thing that needs to be addressed, one little connection to Reichenbach that can not be a coincidence, especially with all the other connections to the Reichenbach episode that were either hinted at or explored during Abominable Bride. One of Sherlock’s cases, after his Reichenbach case success, centered on a criminal named Peter Ricoletti. That’s not a coincidence, especially now, especially when you have Moffat and Gatiss in charge of all this.

I’ll let another fan figure out what’s up with that. Reference at 2.28 in this video: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xnqbah_the-reichenbach-fall-part1_shortfilms