Reichenbach - A Study in Johnlock. Part 2 - The Aftermath
So, as promised, here is the 2nd part of my Reichenbach meta (you can read part 1 here X). After having discussed John Watson’s immediate reaction and if there is any interaction between him and Sherlock Holmes before the fall, I am now going to look at the aftermath. The question is quite simple:
How does John Watson cope with the death of Sherlock Holmes?
I will start again with “The Spider Woman”, the Rathbone/Bruce version of the fall. The death of Holmes has been announced in the papers. Next we see Watson reminiscing over an old photo album while Mrs Hudson is gathering stuff for a museum. Watson seems nostalgic but there are no clear signs of mourning or tears.
The Russian Holmes series (2013) gives us a subdued Watson on his way back from Switzerland. At the beginning of the next episode “Baskerville Hound” we see him writing up his account, drawing Holmes and adding the words “my friend” to the printed “Sherlock Holmes” on the cover. He has married in the meantime and has turned his friend’s old room into a museum. He preserves his memory but has clearly moved on. It is true that this Watson marries only after Holmes is dead, but he has proposed before the fall so it is just a logical conclusion to show him married.
This is Granada Watson in “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House”. He lovingly caresses Holmes’s cigarette case and starts to write his account of the fall. In the next episode we see him reminiscing about his friend and walking down Baker Street where he stops in front of no. 221. He is still living alone which is not necessarily due to his mourning but to the fact that the Granada version omits the Mary Morstan marriage altogether.
Now for Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows”. We get a mourning Watson who is sitting apart from his wife and Mycroft during the funeral service, obviously wishing to be alone in his grief. There is no gravestone but a memorial plaque in the church. Next we see him in his study, typing up his account of Holmes’s death. He seems slightly subdued and Mary comforts him. Then he gets a parcel in the post and his face lights up because he realises that this may be a hint that his friend is not dead.
This is Vitaly Solomin in the older Russian adaptation. He reacted very emotionally at Reichenbach and is now shown in deep mourning. He even tries to play the violin as a gesture of remembrance. This is the most emotional and devastated John Watson we have seen so far.
And then there is BBC Sherlock giving us the most comprehensively mourning John Watson of all. His grief extends over three episodes and is mentioned again in Sherlock’s best man speech. We get to see John needing therapy again, John sitting numbly and barefoot in his chair, his speech at the grave, a crying John inserted into Sherlock’s headstone, his military stand at attention.
We get him still coping with his grief and nearly losing it while watching the old birthday video.
And then, finally, two years later, when he is about to propose to his girlfriend, he again visits the grave looking like shit. We see him sitting lonely in the tube carriage and lingering in the hallway, imagining their laughter and hearing the faint echo of Sherlock playing the violin. This is a man who is definitely not over Sherlock’s death, who - two-and-a-half-years after the fact, is still grieving for him like a widower. Something in him is broken and will not mend until Sherlock is back.
Imagine: Finding out your best friend Dan has a crush on you…
Dan was the first youtuber you’d ever met, he’d invited you over to his flat to film a video and you were over the moon that a big time youtuber has taken an interest in your small channel. That was in 2010, now in 2015 the two of you are almost inseparable because Phil jokes you are both the same person.
Whenever you came to London for a meeting Dan refused to let you stay in a hotel, instead offering you a place to stay with him and Phil. Once Phil would go to bed you and Dan would stay up to the early hours of the morning talking, browsing Tumblr and watching anime which Dan had gotten you hooked on.
Today was not your day, the weather had started off lovely on the train ride down to London so you’d worn a lovely summer dress however the moment you got into London the heavens opened.
You were unable to hail a taxi and you’d left your umbrella back at your house like an idiot. You had to make do with the underground which you hated due to the excessive amount of people, you messaged Dan and he simply told you not to get on the tube if a carriage was full and to wait for a more empty one. Little things like this made you smile, he cared for your safety and health. In all fairness Dan was the only person you’d told about your anxiety and promised to keep it a secret and to help you out.
After a rather cramped underground journey you resurfaced to only see more rain and you had a good ten minute walk to Dan and Phil’s flat. Your dress and hair were clinging to your skin as your flats filled with water making a tiny swimming pool for your toes.
Eventually you make it to the flat and knock on the door, by this point you look like a drowned rat and you just want to break down and cry because the whole world was against you.
An overly perky Dan opened the door and the second he took in your appearance his smile turned to a frown as he ushered you inside the warmth which you were grateful for.
Dan: ‘Y/N are you okay? Here let me take your bag, take a shower to warm up and I’ll lend you some of my clothes so you don’t catch a cold. Phil also got some hot chocolate in so I’ll make you a mug as well.’
You can’t help but smile at the flustered Dan in front of you, what did you do to get such a great caring friend such as him? You knew the fans shipped you together but you and Dan had never really spoken about a relationship, you both just assumed it would be better if you stayed friends. Though there was a small part of you that wanted to jump Dan’s bones and kiss him, but you’d never show that side.
Y/N: ‘I don’t deserve your friendship Daniel.’
Dan shoos you down the hallway towards the bathroom and you laugh at his attempt to be a mother hen around you. Yes there were two years between you but neither of you were concerned.
Dan: ‘Shower and get warm before you catch a cold.’
You roll your eyes and stroll into the bathroom.
Y/N: ‘Yes mum.’
*20 MINUTES LATER*
You didn’t want to leave the shower, the water was warm and you felt more relaxed. Because you didn’t have any toiletries you used Dan’s shampoo and shower gel and you took a moment before stepping out of the shower to sniff the air around you, you smelt like Dan and that made you happy.
You quickly opened the bathroom door with the towel wrapped around you and noticed a pile of clothes Dan had left by the door like promised. You bring them into the bathroom and lock the door. You slipped on one of his many Dan & Phil shirts along with a baggy hoodie you always saw him wear and a pair of sweats which were three sizes too big for you but you didn’t care and rolled up the legs.
After towel drying your hair you check out your appearance in the mirror, you snuggle closer into Dan’s hoodie before throwing your hair in a messy bun and waltzing from the bathroom. It doesn’t take you too long to find Dan sat in his browsing position on the sofa.
He looks up at you when you enter the room and motions to the coffee table in front of you.
Dan: ‘I hope you’re feeling better Y/N. I added whipped cream and marshmallows to your hot chocolate.’
Y/N: ‘Thanks Dan, what would I do without you?’
Dan: ‘Crash and burn.’
You chuckle and slump down next to him, he moves his laptop from his lap and lets you rest your feet across him before resting the laptop on your legs. You reach for the hot chocolate and take a sip while Dan continues to browse Tumblr.
Dan: ‘I think I’m in love with you Dan, this is the nicest hot chocolate anyone has ever made me. I want you to make me hot chocolate everyday.’
Dan stiffens slightly before relaxing, he turns to face you and laughs but quickly covers his mouth.
Y/N: ‘What’s wrong Dan?’
Dan: ‘Here you have a little something on your nose.’
He leans over and wipes cream off your nose. You blush slightly and bury your face into his hoodie.
Dan: ‘I like seeing you wear my clothes Y/N.’
Y/N: ‘I love wearing your clothes Daniel, they smell like you and that makes me feel safe if that sounds odd.’
You lift your face back up and notice Dan staring at you, he smirks.
Dan: ‘I need to tell you something Y/N. I’ve finally worked up the courage.’
You sit up and pull your legs from under the laptop taking in Dan’s serious tone. You wonder what he needs to tell you. He runs a nervous hand through his hair.
Y/N: ‘Dan you can tell me anything.’
Dan: ‘I’m in love with you Y/N. I’ve liked you since we made our first video together, your laugh is contagious and when I’m around you I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not…I understand if you don’t feel the same way…’
Okay now that was an information overload, Dan liked you as in actually liked you for real. You knew how hard this must have been for him to spill out, Dan didn’t like sharing his emotions. Your heart skips a beat, finally you know he feels the same way you’ve felt for a long time.
Y/N: ‘Dan I’ve had a crush on you since before we met. You were the first youtuber I ever watched and I remember telling myself that I’d never get to meet you. Now here we are five years later and we both have a crush on each other.’
Dan: ‘What do we do now?’
You found it cute how nervous Dan had gotten, it looked like you were going to have to take the lead. You crawl towards him and cup his face before bringing your lips down on his gently. Dan’s quick to react and soon takes control of the kiss, you never in a million years thought you’d ever get to taste Dan Howell’s lips and never in a billion years did you think the two of you would get together.
Reichenbach - A Study in Johnlock. Part 3 - The Reunion
This is the third and last part of my Reichenbach study (read part 1 and 2 here X and here X) . Maybe I will add another post with some conclusions but first we shall look at the return of Sherlock Holmes and his reunion with John Watson.
We all know how the reunion happens in Canon - Holmes taking off his disguise, Watson fainting, Holmes opening his collar and reviving his friend with brandy, everyone happy. But as Moftiss have pointed out, this is not a very realistic scenario.
So let’s have a look at the adaptations I already examined in part 1 and 2 - with the exception of Ritchie Holmes since we are still waiting for the third film showing us the reunion.
I will start again with Rathbone Holmes which - not very surprising - is the least dramatic of them all. A postman brings a parcel to Watson. He says something a bit not good about Holmes, gets whacked by Watson, and only now reveals himself. Watson is comforted with a sip from a hip flask and a friendly shoulder pat.
Then we have the new Russian Holmes. Here we get a different story altogether. Because - spoiler! - it’s sometimes twins. Mycroft and Sherlock, that is. Or at least they could be twins.
When Sherlock returns, he pretends to be Mycroft. After an investigation Watson takes him home to serve him coffee as Mycroft is totally drunk. When he starts swearing, Watson definitely knows that this is the other Holmes and punches him. Then we get a faint but not from Holmes but from Mrs Hudson who has become Mrs Watson by now. After she has been revived and Holmes answers with a sassy “Sorry for being alive!” she whacks him as well. So there is a clear parallel with TEH except here it is played mainly for comedy. Afterwards Holmes gets the opportunity to explain what he happened. Here we get a prolonged reunion scene but free from any romantic undertones and with a strong comic element.
This is the reunion scene from Granada Holmes, “The Empty House”. It is very close to Canon with Holmes attending the surgery dressed as the old bookseller. He reveals himself prompting Watson’s faint. Holmes revives his friend with a sip of brandy and loving stroke to his face. Watson is happy as a clam and shows Holmes the Reichenbach letter which he had framed and keeps in his study. Watson is happy to hear Holmes’s story and more than eager to start their next adventure together. There is no anger, no bitterness. (We should keep in mind what Moftiss said about this version being implausible. On the other hand we should remember that Canon Holmes did not pretend to commit suicide in front of Watson).
Now for the older Russian Holmes version. As shown before, we have a highly emotional Watson. He faints dramatically. We get a heartfelt hug which Holmes returns. And then something I have not seen in any other adaptation: Holmes overcome by his feelings and starting to cry. This is maybe the most emotional reunion, dominated by happiness, without any violent reaction. This is why I would rank it second after BBC Sherlock because it gives us an important part of the emotions one would expect: relief, sheer happiness, both men being moved to tears. But of course this is only one half of the emotions one might expect. What is missing here is rightful anger, the feeling of betrayal, of having been excluded.
Now for BBC Sherlock. We get the same pattern as with the fall and the aftermath - everything on a grander scale, more dramatic, more emotional, more realistic, more personal.
Sherlock appearing in a thin disguise - hiding in plain sight - before revealing himself to John. But there is no faint here, no tears, no overwhelming joy, but violence, bitterness, grief, anger. As Moftiss said, this is how a man would realistically react to what he must feel is the ultimate betrayal. John Watson is a heartbroken man, even when he proposes to his girlfriend and even after Sherlock is back. And what do we see after Sherlock’s bravado has evaporated? Helplessness and shame.
Followed by the violent reactions of John to respectively Sherlock’s inappropriate joke, his admission that lots of people knew about the fake suicide while John did not, and, finally, to Sherlock’s attempt of luring John into his world again, of appealing to his love for danger and adventure (and maybe his love for Sherlock, too.)
But of course this is still not enough because Sherlock craves forgiveness which John is not willing to grant. We get a first heartfelt “I am sorry” after the bonfire night, a second desperate attempt in the tube carriage, and another apology months later during the best man speech in TSoT.
And TAB shows us that at least in his mind Sherlock is still not over his faked death and what it did to John. The whole disaster of series 3 - the engagement, the marriage, being shot by John’s wife, the less than credible reconciliation, Magnussen’s death, Sherlock’s exile - has been caused by Reichenbach. Its reverberations are not over.
In BBC Sherlock Reichenbach turns into a trauma - because it separates the two people who belong together, because it disturbs the whole dynamic of their relationship, the balance of the show. And this imbalance extends into series 4. It still has to be solved. Reichenbach is not over.
John, hands (I'm honestly obsessed with both his and Sherlock's hands and the difference in their size but John's compact little hands are the death of me)
(This is a sequel of sorts to this ficlet, though you don’t necessarily have to have read the other to understand this one.)
“John, why are we cutting through the park?”
John squeezes Sherlock’s hand and keeps walking. “You’ll see.” Sherlock huffs in irritation, but John can see right through it. He knows that Sherlock loves surprises, whenever John can actually manage to keep something from him. He smiles to himself in the darkness, glad that he’s been able to keep this particular surprise hidden.
They walk hand-in-hand down the path that leads toward their flat, but as they come to a tree, John pulls Sherlock aside to stand under the dark canopy of leaves. Sherlock looks wary when John turns to face him.
“Do you remember this spot?” John asks.
Sherlock’s face softens, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiles. “Of course I do,” he says. “This is where you first kissed me.” As if to prove that he remembers, he bends his head and brushes his lips against John’s in a sweet, chaste kiss.
John’s head swims with the memory of that first kiss, with the feeling of Sherlock’s lips on his now, with the knowledge of what he’s about to do. When they part, he has to shake his head to clear his thoughts and refocus on the task at hand. He looks up into Sherlock’s eyes, finding comfort and clarity in that gaze, and says, “I kissed you right here under this tree a year ago today. I should have done it so much sooner.” He takes both of Sherlock’s hands in his, marveling for the hundredth time at how much larger Sherlock’s are than his and yet how they still fit so well together despite their differences–a bit like the two of them, really.
“I should have kissed you that day on the sofa, when I came back up to the flat after our dance lesson. I wanted to. I held you and wiped away your tears and listened to your quiet confession, and when we both finally realized that we wanted the same thing, it would have been so easy to kiss you then. But I didn’t want everything with Mary still hanging over us, so I didn’t kiss you. I waited.”
Sherlock opens his mouth to interrupt, and John shakes his head. “Please, I need to say this.” Sherlock nods, so John squeezes his hands and continues.
“I should have kissed you that day in the tube carriage with that bloody bomb. But even though I forgave you, I still didn’t know if I could trust you, so I didn’t kiss you. I should have kissed you when you walked into that damn restaurant with that stupid, drawn-on mustache. But I was so angry at you for leaving me, for letting me believe you were dead and then just waltzing back into my life as if you’d only been on holiday, so I didn’t kiss you.”
John swallows against the growing tightness in his throat and makes himself keep going. “I should have kissed you before you jumped, before Moriarty ruined everything. I should have kissed you after you called me your conductor of light. I should have kissed you when you stole me an ashtray from Buckingham Palace. I should have kissed you after you ripped that bomb off my chest, after you rescued me from the Black Lotus, after I shot that cabbie to save you. I should have kissed you at breakfast, over takeaway, watching telly, in front of the fire, on our doorstep. I should have kissed you every single time I wanted to, every time I thought you were the only one I’d ever want to spend my life with, every time you took my breath away with your beauty and your brilliance. I should have spent every minute of every day kissing you, but I didn’t. I waited. And even though it took us so long to get here, it was worth the wait.”
John glances away and tries to blink back the tears gathering at the corners of his eyes, and now it’s Sherlock’s turn to squeeze his hands instead. He takes a deep breath, steadily blowing it out as he looks back up at Sherlock, who already has a wet trail down each cheek but a smile on his face. “It was worth the wait,” John says again. “But I don’t want to ever have to wait again. I love you, and I want to spend every day of the rest of my life kissing you. So…” His tongue darts out nervously. “Sherlock Holmes, will yo-”
Sherlock’s mouth presses against John’s, cutting off the rest of his words. He pulls back long enough to whisper yes against John’s lips before kissing him again.
John doesn’t know how long they stand there, wrapped up in each other, sealing this promise with lips and tongues, mingled breaths and happy tears, but when they break apart they start to laugh because they’re both such a mess. John wipes his face as Sherlock does the same, and when they’re somewhat presentable again, John takes Sherlock’s hand and pulls him back toward the path that leads to Baker Street. “Come on,” he says. “Let’s go home and go to bed.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock replies. “I remember what we did the first time there, too.”
Notes: I swear I didn’t mean for it to be this long.
I knew it was coming as soon as I sat next to that guy on the tube. I hadn’t thought why there were two seats left empty beside him when the carriage was so full. It didn’t look like he was a serial killer or a drunk. He was dressed in a sharp business suit and had a briefcase in between his legs; all I could think about was getting to rest my feet.
I had been out all day on the other side of the river, walking to so many different places that I lost count of them all and in that moment the only thing I could think about was how I didn’t want to have to spend the long tube journey home standing up.
OK so four thousand years ago I went to the BFI screening of The Empty Hearse, and whenever I watch the episode I always think about the Q&A.
Not the weird car-crash fanfiction reading, or Caitlin Moran’s terribly researched questions.
The audience were able to ask a few questions, and someone asked Martin if the scene in the tube carriage was hard to film. And he looked super confused and said “not really, I was just sitting there?” because even though we had literally just seen the end scene, he thought they were asking about the beginning.
And that’s what I always think about when I watch TEH.
As I sit on the tube home, in a carriage of deflated fans, I wonder to myself if Zayn might indeed have been happier as an English graduate living somewhere quiet, tending animals and growing crops. I quickly remember the Versace dressing gowns, the supermodel waiting in his bed, that 13-person entourage and realise that’s unlikely: yes, he is torn, global megastar on one side, introverted artist on the other. But for now Zayn Malik is living the life he wants, finally, on his own terms.
Diagram from John Yorke’s ’Into the Woods’ (classic book about narrative structure).
I’ve read a lot of excellent analysis of Sherlock, but none that explicitly addresses narrative structure in terms of acts. If we assume each act is a series, and each episode is one step within each act, this does seem to fit with Sherlock falling in love with John. (The use of ‘problem’ is unfortunate terminology in this case, but if we consider that Sherlock sees emotion as abhorrent, then it is a 'problem’ in that sense. Bear with me.) I’m not suggesting that the writers have deliberately explicitly followed this structure (Moffat has said he hates discussing structure and just tells the story), but that (as Yorke explains) good writers cannot help following this structure because THIS IS HOW STORIES WORK.
Act/series one: from no knowledge of what love feels like to a knowledge of it as he and John meet and become close, saving each other’s lives.
Act/series two: from a refusal to acknowledge that he loves John (separating himself from him physically frequently in ASiB, eg the hitchhiker scene, Battersea Power Station where he is present but unseen), to an acknowledgement of it (TRF).
Act/series three: Experimenting with the knowledge - testing out John’s feelings (eg in the tube carriage in TEH), key knowledge about John (take your pick from everything in TSoT), and experimenting with key knowledge of problem (making sacrifices for John and Mary).
Act/series four: Consequences. Fear. Anxiety. (All of which fits with what we’ve been told.) Full knowledge (an actual confession of love?). The worst point (Mary-related? Moriarty? Mycroft? All of them? Gaaaahh).
Act/series five: Final choice (John vs some major aspect of The Work?), final battle (Moriarty/another antagonist kidnaps John, perhaps?), then mastery of knowledge (canon Johnlock relationship, throwing of confetti, uncorking of champagne, much merriment throughout the land).
If anyone has more on this idea I’d love to read it.
Tagging a couple of excellent people below for your thoughts if you’re interested.
Okay so, in the tube carriage when Sherlock said he couldn’t find anything in his mind palace to diffuse the bomb John started to panic. He looked like he went into his own mind palace? and then it cut to Sherlock’s explanation of how he survived which Anderson was taping on his camera. Then it cut back to the tube carriage.
Why? It seemed really odd, like it was totally out of place. I don’t get it. Please help.