The Guardian Angel in The Six Thatchers: How one quote and The Doctor further support my Unreliable Narrator Meta in BBC Sherlock
Yesterday I wrote a theory explaining how the timeline since Sherlock was shot in the middle of His Last Vow and up through the end of The Six Thatchers has been Sherlock recounting events to Ella as he understood them to happen, even going so far as to place himself into moments and memories he has no actual part of, thus proving to be an unreliable narrator. Check out this theory if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think – if you try reading the rest of this before you read my original meta then you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.
It’s a pretty deep, involved theory that would be very complicated to pull off, however, something struck me this morning that furthers this imagery and meta.
Benedict Cumberbatch told the BBC in a recent interview that Sherlock is like a “Guardian Angel” in regards to baby Watson this series/episode. This symbolism doesn’t match Sherlock and the baby in The Six Thatchers, because Sherlock doesn’t spend very much time with her. This reference matters more to John, as if he’s been a guardian angel to him – very often placed behind John in the camera shots, like a silent guardian. You with me so far? Great.
If it is to be believed that Sherlock has inserted himself into scenes he has no part of, then Sherlock being behind John is simply Sherlock placing himself into the narrative where he belongs – in the back as the protector.
Here’s an example: Sherlock tells the story as if he and John went to Morocco to fetch Mary, but it is absolutely possible this unreliable narrator didn’t go with John, but tells the story as if he did. That’s why he’s sitting in the back of the room as John and Mary have a serious talk – he should not be there. That’s because he wasn’t there. That’s the Guardian Angel’s spot, the back of the room, a silent sentinel. This is why we also see Sherlock flip a table to protect John Watson without any regard for himself getting in the line of fire – that’s Sherlock’s job. He wasn’t in any danger of getting hurt. He wasn’t there.
This is also why Sherlock sits behind John in the cab as Mary gives birth. Why would Sherlock be the one back there and not the actual doctor? Because Sherlock wasn’t there at all. This is just how he assumed things would go if he had been there. The real scene was John driving, Mary in the back, screaming for him to pull over and help. Sherlock was there in spirit.
This is also why Sherlock is behind John on the airplane back from Morocco. He is the guardian. He’s not actually there.
Take a look at this image:
Almost seems eerily similar to this, doesn’t it?
Angels that can manipulate time and space in the blink of an eye? This is exactly Sherlock’s role in The Six Thatchers as an unreliable narrator.
Now I don’t watch a lot of Doctor Who, but I think this writer is repeating himself….
That feeling when you start a new show after having your heart and soul torn apart by the last one and you can already feel yourself getting obsessed and you’re just like ‘oh no am i really going to do this to myself again’ but then jumping into the future grave of your feelings whole heartedly like
(1) i always thought the way mary's videos appeared was a bit weird and it reminded of something but i didn't know what. now i get it, it kind of reminds me of lady kovarian from doctor who. im not sure you're familiarized with it, but there's a few episodes she appears out of nothing in amy's mind and although it's not really video it kind of looks like she's opening an window in her mind before it's revealed that amy is not really there,
(2) she was actually kept like a prisioner by madame kovarian the whole time. it’s a very diferente show of course, but it made me think, if the theory that mary’s alive and controlling them with td12 is right, the videos would be there like to show mary is the one manipulating everything and creating like a fake version of events.
OH WOW, is that not just eerily similar. I have watched that series yes, but I only started doing Sherlock/Doctor Who meta at series 9 I think (??) so I’m not as familiar with it. But omg, Kovarian scared me so much at the time!
And as you say that is such a good indicator of Mary/Kovarian ‘interrupting’ John/Amy’s dream, before it’s even revealed that it is a dream.
And this gave me chills:
The first time Ganger Amy saw Kovarian, she appeared at the little girl’s bedroom door at Graystark Hall Orphanage in a hatch in the door. Amy was startled and asked who she was. Kovarian ignored her and said “No, I think she’s just dreaming”, then disappeared. (x)
So Mary is the Kovarian of John’s nightmare, interrupting what he thinks is ‘reality’ and controlling the ending with her “posthumous” DVDs.
Six: Mm, we could, you know, go for a walk along the beach later…
River: We could…
Six: And I spy a little store selling ices at the end of the pier!
River: Oh yes!
Six: We could, um, dream… a little…
I’m not okay with how adorable these two were in The Diary of River Song, not in the slightest. What did I do to deserve a scene where Six and River have tea together and he bashfully proposes a date inside her dreams? What did I do to deserve any of the Six/River scenes? (I know they had to save the world ‘n all… I kinda wish they had been able to dream together I’m so schmaltzy…)
Read ‘Mary saved Sherlock’s life’ as 100% symbolic, and it works.
Here’s how i interpret all this hogwash. Mary’s reveal as a murderous assassin back in HLV was symbolic of the revelation that the promise of heterosexual domestic bliss is a lie. John and Mary’s shotgun marriage had moved, within a month, to the “This was a fucking huge mistake” stage. The show hinted heavily at their failing marriage as HLV opened, then symbolized this very relatable experience in a more dramatic way than how it generally unfolds in real life; the reveal that Mary was, in understated terms, not who John thought she was.
The villain reveal also guaranteed Mary’s departure, and John’s eventual freedom. Which opened John up for a relationship with Sherlock. If Mary hadn’t been revealed for what she was (good at crimey/evil tasks), she possibly wouldn’t have been “helping them on cases”. In TST, Sherlock used her impressive CV to justify inviting Mary to help on a case. If her secret was still safe, she wouldn’t have ended up shot while out on a case. If Mary hadn’t been revealed for what she was, or in fact, not even been what she was, then John might have stayed with her. Forever.
To John, Mary Watson represents heteronormativity as a prison, but AGRA is the discovery that heteronormativity is a deadly lie and an empty promise.
Sherlock’s apparently unavoidable ‘death in Samarra’ is a major theme that comes to a climax in TST. The inevitability of Sherlock’s death is symbolic of the persecution and death of gay people, of gay characters in stories (i see him as symbolically trying to outrun the bury-your-gays trope). The world wants him dead. Well, not really, it’s not personal. They just don’t want him to remain alive. He could be anyone, it doesn’t matter. Because history says he’s gay and therefore he should be dead, especially before he experiences anything resembling happiness.
So when Mary takes the bullet, she dies for him. That is to say, she dies instead of him. The slow-mo bullet was the death that has been coming for Sherlock all his life, and Mary jumping in front of it was heteronormativity dying, and the gay surviving.
We interpret the death in Samarra story to mean that Sherlock will always be running from death because the question is asked, ‘can Samarra be avoided?’. But I think the reason we hear the monologue at this moment in TST is that… Sherlock escaped his fate, because Mary died instead. Not for him, instead of him. [Remembering that Sherlock’s death is a metaphor for heartbreak. To quote Dale Pike, “love is murder"]
The suppression of the love story symbolically destroys Sherlock and John, gradually and painfully. S4 was the climax of the love story’s death, with heteronormativity victorious and Mary [the napoleon of het] narrating and literally dictating the terms of the relationship that would be “canon”, from beyond the grave - her posthumous revenge.