Love Conquers All (On Sherlock Season 4)
I’m currently re-watching Season 4, simply just to indulge myself, and mainly because I personally loved it. I thought I was done expressing everything I have to say about the matter in this post, but there has been an unending sh*t-storm still looming over S4 that has gone beyond what I had expected. Not to mention that things I’ve seen on Twitter earlier regarding the so-called Norbury movement.
I am not dismissing the fact that this season had its flaws, but there’s a significant meaning to it all that some people are dismissing because they’ve been blinded by their own illusions that I would want to highlight. For someone who had cried over and mulled over these episodes more than the past 3 seasons, this season gave my love for existentialism a baseline that tugged at the heart – the very reason why I wanted to talk about it.
Just a brief explanation, existentialism is the belief that life has no meaning in general. To quote Moriarty, “Staying alive… So boring, isn’t it? It’s just… staying.” However, what I like about it is the idea that society or any other factor is not responsible for giving life it’s meaning – it is solely up to the individual to discover it on their own.
With that said, I think this is why this season resonated with me so much, and I find the chaos in some parts of the fandom frustrating, especially to the point that the writers are being attacked for this. So as usual, I have to say something about it. Because instead of writing articles for work, I’m thinking about Sherlock.
Anyway, I’m just gonna go ahead with my point.
The Six Thatchers : Horrors Of The Past
This may be my least favourite among the three, but the message of this episode is clearly simple: we all have horrors that will come and haunt us in the future – and how we face it all comes down to the path we choose.
We live hundreds, and even thousands of roles throughout our lives. And we all have our past; things that we regret, hate, cringe at, miss, still believe in, etc. But whatever that past might be, what I got from TST is that you can never run from your past as it catches up to you, but it is one facet of your life does not completely define you.
Death has been played with through the past seasons that it seemed all too mundane to us now, in terms of the context of the show. But S4 is here to correct this notion in Mary’s persona. With Mary saying that Mary Watson was the only life worth living, it showed that we get to choose which part of our lives we live out the most.
Same with John and his ‘cheating’. To be fair, I’m pissed at the fact that this was completely out of character. But when the series culminated, I understood why they have to do it. We saw what we wanted to see in these characters as they were presented to us – John was supposedly honourable, kind, and courageous, but what is this? Who is this new John?
This is where I head to my next point.
The Lying Detective : Being Alive And Human
This episode made me cry buckets, to be honest. And it is because this is all about changing what you know about these characters and seeing them all in a different light.
Here we see a Sherlock not led by the mind but the heart, a John who was weak against temptation, a cheater, someone who looked jealous from having the spotlight all on the detective – it showed that no one is ultimately good and that someone’s facade is not who they entirely are. It shows that everyone has their ups and downs because that’s what humanity is about. It illustrated that everyone was capable of being angry, desperate, conceited, weak, lonely, alone, etc. It highlighted how these characters are broken – especially Sherlock – and how redemption can mean so much more to a person.
We all have our flaws, our downfalls, our agonies; but who are we really, at our most vulnerable? And who are the people willing to believe in us even if we’ve shown them our true, and sometimes, faded colours?
“Taking your own life. Interesting expression, taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everyone else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.”
This is a plea. That shutting down and ending your life is and should never be the answer. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue I have ever heard, and it’s a very upfront message about warranting a value on your own life. And for people to threaten the writers of the show that they are the ones who caused the lives that are put in the line or the self-harm that will happen due to their distaste for TFP is devastating to me.
And yes, there have been people tweeting Mark and BBC that they are and will be responsible for these lives, which is just unfair.
The Final Problem : On Love And Redemption
I’ve seen people questioning why Benedict said ‘love conquers all’ in one interview before the season aired. There has also been statements that this season will be ‘groundbreaking’, which others failed to see why, leading to the claims that the showrunners are queerbaiting.
Now, every single show, every single actor, not just in Sherlock, but basically everywhere, is being put in the microscope because they need to identify with something, and that they need to represent a cause — which I get! I advocate for this! But, just when the world is being careful about mixing up their characters or when they are inserting a gay character just because now, society is demanding them to, Sherlock had already presented that years before (note that some TV shows only became more open to having gay characters around late 2014, early 2015-ish onwards because people are becoming more vocal about it as inspired by those bold enough to make a first move, e.g. Glee).
Here, we have an openly gay character (which is still another topic of debate but I stand by it when I say Irene used the term gay loosely), had openly gay actors play brilliant and unstereotypical roles, and for God’s sake, Mark Gatiss is a gay man who is behind this brilliant show, and that’s the very reason they passed it off as normal. They didn’t do it in a way that we always have to be reminded that the character is gay, that there has to be a sex scene just to prove that they’re gay… it’s just there – again, as one facet of the characters. Sex, as something that has been explicitly expressed in the show, isn’t the only thing that defines a character or their relationships with someone else, and I appreciated that. They had a story to tell – the story of these characters as a whole and not just one side of them.
And personally, I did see why they made their claims as indicated by my chosen title. When this season ended, Sherlock who claimed to have never been attuned to his emotions, had his eyes open and had embraced that he was also human, flawed, and is capable to love IN ALL FORMS.
He learned to value his life because of what happened to Mary, he had admitted that he also succumbs to his impulses with Irene Adler (texting or beyond that, depends on what you want to believe), he fully realised that he would never ever want to hurt and make Molly feel like she’s being used by him because she’s his friend, he was able to extend a more human side of himself to John more than he did before, he finally understood and accepted Mycroft’s intentions and actions which I think mended their relationship significantly (this one hits me to the core so much), and lastly, he discovered that if he was left in the air in isolation, he might have ended up like Eurus, which is why he never wanted to make her feel alone again.
To me, it is groundbreaking because it left that cliche of someone running off into the sunset in the end and it’s all butterflies and rainbows. They wrapped it up with the characters still broken, but living through it day by day because someone chose to love, accept, and help them heal despite their flaws.
It is what it is, they keep on saying, because that’s how life is. It can be unbearable and it can most certainly be shit, but in the end, whether you ship Johnlock, Adlock, Sherlolly, Sheriarty, Mollstrade, Mystrade, etc., if we all let love – self-love, romantic love, familial love, platonic love – all kinds of love in our lives, it will help us conquer all, within and beyond this show.