‘I Love You’: a man’s perspective
I haven’t made the rounds yet this morning, but already last night I’ve seen multiple posts that seem to want to either downgrade or erase the meaning behind Sherlock’s words to Molly Hooper. I find it insanely amusing, because had those words been to John Watson, people would be wetting themselves, but because it was for Molly, people are climbing all over themselves to again deny this character her actual fair due.
My husband, who watches Sherlock with me, had some very interesting perspectives on The Final Problem. He tends to read the show textually, without shipping or all the other nonsense we as fandom people get into. I tend to trust what he says only because he has no ulterior motives, like zero. Even my own ship doesn’t really mean a damn thing to him. He knows I love it, but he’s not swayed by my reading or my desires at all.
His reading of The Final Problem was that this was Eurus effectively unlocking the original Sherlock Holmes. This was Sherlock’s sister, bringing him home, just as he was bringing her home. To do that, she had to undo what she did when she took Victor Trevor away from him at that young age. She took a little boy who was filled with bright, wonderful, hot emotion, and she made him lock that away. She made him like her, and to my husband, it seemed like that was never what Eurus wanted.
The scenes inside Sherrinford were about systematically making Sherlock face each single, major emotion that he’s refused to feel all these years: anger, fear, sadness, and above all…love. And no, I don’t mean love for your best friend, that’s already been addressed, and that was already the easiest thing for Sherlock to unlock in himself. He basically did that in S1. Sherlock loves John, his best friend, just like he loved Victor. The parallels are spelled out for you in the clearest of ways.
Sherlock’s locking away of his ‘sexuality’ was already broken open in S2 with Belgravia. Irene Adler represented a part of Sherlock that really, really wanted out. It was confusing as hell for him, as we saw, but he still managed to deal with it. Sex is sex is sex. It’s meaningful, and at the same time, can also be meaningless. I personally never saw Irene as meaningless, far from it. But I do think her special place in Sherlock’s “unlocking” was more physical than emotional. Hence, we were reminded of this by the moan of her text tone. I personally think Sherlock’s sexuality is firmly unlocked at this point, no need to revisit it again and again. Something that remained hidden though, very deep down, was Sherlock’s ability, willingness and understanding of a deeper love, and what that means. This is where Eurus comes in.
The scene with the coffin was very carefully done, both by the writers and on the part of Eurus’ planning. In fact, if you listen carefully to Eurus’ words, she states exactly why she did it: you lost, look what you did to her, look what you did to yourself, all those complicated, complex emotions, emotional context. All of those things are things people feel when they love someone (romantic love, since I’m sure I need to spell it out for some viewers). You feel elated, but you also feel scared. You may also hate yourself because you probably feel the person you love deserves BETTER than you. Should you act on it or let them go find someone better. Do you have the strength to give up parts of yourself for them? Do they have the strength to give up parts of themselves for you? It’s scary as hell, y’all!!
My hub says, to him, the first time Sherlock says ‘I love you’ to Molly Hooper, he didn’t mean it…or at least Sherlock thinks he didn’t mean it. Then, the second time, he did mean it, and he knows it. That is why he smashed the coffin…that was perhaps the biggest emotion he’d locked away, and he was consumed and confused by it. For a man who has spent decades pushing love away, it came roaring in within 3 minutes, and he couldn’t push it away. Eurus wouldn’t let him push it away, and more importantly, Molly Hooper wouldn’t let him push it away. That’s why she turned the tables on him and made him say it first. She inadvertently helped Eurus, which I’m sure was her plan all along (if you believe she’s as much of a supernatural badass as she’s shown to be).
My husband’s purely textual reading of Sherlock’s smashing the coffin with ‘I love you’ on it is that he DID mean it, but he wasn’t sure what that meant to him, and it scares him, greatly. He said that looked like a man who was pissed that he LOVES. He spent his entire life working at not loving, and here he is, loving this woman, but now he isn’t sure what to do about it, because he’s not even sure what that really means. He doesn’t understand it…yet. Love like that is incredibly strong, true love I mean, not “Hey let’s bone” love. He said that wasn’t the actions of a man who doesn’t really care. He said, as a man, if I had to get a woman to say that and I didn’t really love her, I wouldn’t care as much. I surely wouldn’t care enough to smash an entire coffin to bits with my bear hands.
Lastly, my husband said something I thought was incredibly interesting about how he reads Sherlock. He said he thinks the reason Sherlock hasn’t really pursued any other relationships with women, not seriously that is, is that on some level he really knew he loved Molly, but that he felt HE wasn’t good enough for HER. He thinks Sherlock, for all of his arrogance, actually doesn’t think he’s a good man. He knows Molly Hooper deserves a good man, someone to love her exactly how he thinks she should be loved, and he’s terrified he ISNT that man, or he CANT be that man. His rage at smashing that coffin was basically anger at himself, anger at himself for loving this woman who really deserves more.
So, from a man who views this show with as much pure text as possible, he thinks that “I Love You” was real, but he thinks Sherlock simply doesn’t know what to do with it, doesn’t know what it means. He said love is the scariest thing, especially to someone who’s lived closed off. He’s had an upbringing that, without going into details, was a bit devoid of emotional support from people he needed it from. That means that learning how to show love was incredibly, incredibly difficult for him. Trust me, I’ve been here for the entire thing. It took years for him to learn how to show it. It took me years too…in fact I still have massive trouble with it. People who’ve lived not understanding how to love since young childhood…it takes us a very long time to learn how to do it.
My husband and I are not the kind of people who go on romantic ballroom dancing dates and snuggle on the Tunnel of Love ride. We’re just not those kind of people…but we do love each other very much. We have our way of showing it that works for us. There’s no one else I’d rather trust my mind, body and soul to. That was first built on friendship, then trust, then love. For us, I think that’s kind of where Sherlock is starting to head. We may not ever see that adventure, as that’s not what Sherlock’s story was about. But, finding how to love, that was his story, and Molly Hooper is an irreplaceable part of that. No one can deny that, not ever.