Author Topic: Sherlock  (Read 3664 times)

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Offline LucasM

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2017, 07:48:23 PM »
NOTE: Spoilers in here, unspoilered.

Final ep was intense.  Lots of deductive reasoning going on, but like CJones said, no real 'detective-ing' going on, and like MartyS basically said, no 'case' (unless you count the sister: who was a 'head case' ;D).

I anticipated 'no glass' LONG before it was revealed, I doubt I'm alone.  [An easily-predictable reveal is not a reveal, unless it is a red herring to distract from an actual event that one might miss by noticing the 'fake reveal'.]

Anyone else reminded of the extended M*A*S*H TV finale by the 'dog' reveal?
BathTub: given how little value the entire Holmes' brood places on 'regular' people as adults, it seems possible to me that Redbeard could have easily been considered and treated as Sherlock's 'pet' by the entire family (parents included), despite the reality.  Dehumanizing others by thinking of them as 'less than oneself' is unfortunately all too common.

Also, I think the 'drop down a rope'/'chains' could've gotten at least a line of dialog or brief shot in a montage to explain how easy getting out appeared.

Despite these, and other things (some of which were brought up by others here), I was generally OK with this being a potential final episode.  [I might not have gone with the '70s cop show freeze-frame-on-a-jump-towards-camera for the final shot, however. ;)]  Moffatt and Gatiss have said that basically this series (to this point, if it continues) has by accident developed the characters of Holmes and Watson from where they were in s01e01 to the point that the original books started (personality and relationship-wise).
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 07:50:28 PM by LucasM »
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Offline MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2017, 08:59:00 PM »
Wow, it is the same as what happened with Hawkeye's memories in the MASH finale.  I didn't think of it because I kind of block out all the tragic stuff that happens in that episode.

Offline RoninFox

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2017, 08:59:54 AM »
[I might not have gone with the '70s cop show freeze-frame-on-a-jump-towards-camera for the final shot, however. ;)

Right after that moment I started laughing and told my wife, "They gave them the Batman and Robin run!"
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Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2018, 08:15:55 AM »
I agree with most of the sentiments expressed about the last season of Sherlock.  But I did a bit of a deep dive into analyzing the season and discovered the reason for most of the problems with characterization and plotting etc.  They were sacrificed for theme.  The theme of the season - and the series - is responsible for EVERY creative choice in this season.  Theme drives EVERYTHING in this last season.  In fact, the entire last season is actually one long story, with the three episodes acting as the three acts of the story.

So while I will admit to being disappointed with the season, for the reasons expressed here (and more), that disappointment PALES in comparison to my astonishment at the tour-de-force writing required to unify every element of the three stories to the season and series theme.  The level of craftsmanship at work here truly BOGGLES the mind.  I've never seen its like in television or film.  Just in a couple of great works of classical literature

Just to break it all down for myself - to see how intricately the work was done - I wrote a couple essays which focused on the THEME and on the STORY.  I'll share a link to them but I don't know how long the documents will remain there, so I'm posting the essays as comments as well.

Sherlock - THEME Analysis


Sherlock - STORY Analysis


Note: I wrote these as an exercise for myself in identifying integration in art.  In them there are references to numerous philosophic concepts.  They are not meant to be taken as my own, but are simply the identification and explanation of what the writers are saying and/or referencing in their work.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 09:02:16 AM by blspro »

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2018, 08:20:03 AM »
Since its inception, the creators of “Sherlock” have stated Sherlock is NOT “a good man”.  They have said the goal of their series is to ‘humanize’ Sherlock.  Their goal is to have Sherlock learn to be “a good man”. 

So the question becomes: what do the writers think is “a good man”? 

To answer that question, one can start by looking at what the writers explicitly have Sherlock say about himself:  when invariably accused of being a psychopath, Sherlock always corrects the accuser, identifying himself as a “sociopath”.

Now psychopaths and sociopaths share a particular, defining characteristic: lack of empathy.  However, there is a supposed distinction between them in this respect.  Whereas a psychopath has little to no regard for others, a sociopath has some such regard – some empathy.  In other words, as the textbooks state, a sociopath - like the rest of us - has a “conscience”.  He has a “little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong.”  And we definitely see Sherlock has this voice – though, like Jiminy Cricket, it takes the physical form of John Watson (and, to a lesser extent, Sherlock has them inside his mind palace - where those little voices manifest as people he knows in reality).

This stands in contrast with a psychopath, who supposedly has no conscience, no empathy for others.  A psychopath sees others simply as things - as objects to be used for his own benefit.

That is the nature of Sherlock’s primary villains. 

The writers do not leave this conclusion to imagination or inference.  They affirm this conclusion explicitly.  In “The Lying Detective” (TLD, 4.2) they have the villain Smith state:  “Dead people look like things.  I like to make people into things.”

That is what Moriarty, Magnussen (ie CAM), Smith, and Eurus do: they all treat people as things.

What’s more, that is what Sherlock does as well.  That is what makes him a sociopath.  With rare exceptions (which is why he is not a psychopath), Sherlock generally doesn’t care about people.  He has little empathy – little love – for them.  He doesn’t even consider himself “people”.  That is how divorced he is from the rest of humanity.

People are NOT what Sherlock loves. 

As Sherlock states at the beginning of “The Six Thatchers” (T6T, 4.1), he loves “the Game”.  Like Moriarty, he considers people to be “boring”.  In fact, that is what made “Sherlock” a relatively unique show.  Most detectives on tv are shown to care somewhat about their cases, the human lives involved, and the consequences of those cases.  Sherlock was different.  He didn’t care about the people.  He didn’t care about the consequences.  He only cared about solving interesting cases.  He only cared about proving himself clever. 

Sherlock only cared about entertaining himself – keeping himself from being bored.

That is why, at the beginning of T6T, Sherlock is once again shown being inconsiderate to everyone around him.  He is loving the Game (as he explicitly states in the first scene) at the expense of loving others.  Beating people is his ultimate standard (thus his attraction to the kindred soul: the dominatrix “Irene Adler” ie someone who is ‘paid to beat people’).  That‘s also why, at the end of T6T, Sherlock is shown dissecting Mrs. Norbury mercilessly.  Despite Mary’s warning, Sherlock doesn't consider anyone but himself.  He just wants to beat her - prove he’s the cleverest person in the room:  “Vivian Norbury.  Who outsmarted them all.  All except Sherlock Holmes.” 

For Sherlock, people are still supposedly just the means to his ends.  People – like his drugs – are but the things he requires to keep from being bored. 

That is why Sherlock is not a “good man”.  He shares the same characteristic of the villains he battles.

So what, specifically, is that characteristic? 

Well, the writers again do not leave this to speculation or imagination.  They have Sherlock himself name the characteristic in TLD, when describing Smith and those “monsters” like him:  “Ego”.  For the writers, Ego is “the signature in human destruction”.  It is the killer “hidden in plain sight”.  It is the destroyer one witnesses every day - but which one can’t, or won’t, recognize as a destroyer. 

Ego – Self - specifically Love of Self.  That is what destroys.

Empathy – Others – specifically Love of Others.  That is what saves.


Ego destroys – Empathy saves.   That is the theme of Season 4 – and of the series in general. 

To become a good man, Sherlock must eliminate the characteristic in him which destroys all: his Ego.   To become a good man, Sherlock must embrace the characteristic in him which saves all: his Empathy. 

To become a good man, Sherlock must learn to love others - not selfishly (as a means to his ends - as things), but selflessly (for the sake of others - as humans).


Now the question arises: why can’t Sherlock simply be a thinking machine?  Why should he care about others at all?  Why does it matter if Ego destroys others?

A clue to why the writers think love “saves” people is given in the most unexpected of places:  Moriarty’s Christmas joke in the Series Finale (“The Final Problem”, TFP 4.3).  Surprisingly, this joke is a key to the entire episode (and the entire series).  Specifically, it ties into and explains the Eurus reason/good/evil/emotions issues she acts out in her “games”.

To recap the scene: when Moriarty first enters Sherrinford on Christmas Day, he plays with nativity decorations and tells Mycroft:  “I wrote my own version of the Nativity when I was a child: The Hungry Donkey.  It was a bit gory.  But if you’re going to put a baby in a manger, you’re asking for trouble.”

Now I burst out laughing when he said this - that is REALLY funny. But it wasn't until I went to email it to a friend that it dawned on me The Hungry Donkey is actually a reference to an analogy in philosophy pertaining to morality and its use as a guide to human actions. It is more formally known as Buridan's Ass. And the example is that of a hungry ass placed equidistant between two bales of hay. In the example, the donkey starves because it has no means of choosing between the equal bales. It has no way of choosing one bale over the other and thus dies.

Buridan summarized the problem thusly:

Should two courses be judged equal, then the Will cannot break the deadlock, all it can do is to suspend judgement until the circumstances change, and the right course of action is clear.
— Jean Buridan, c. 1340

In other words, in the face of equal alternatives (of alternatives between which there is supposedly no difference), reason cannot guide one's choice. No -rational- choice can be made.

Reference to some OTHER standard must be made.

Now that certainly fits with Eurus and her personal dilemma, as well as all the games she sets up.  To her, there is no difference between the choices in the world (not even moral differences - she's too "clever" to fall for those 'subjective' - ie unreal - differences).  So reason alone cannot tell her what to do.  That is why she is ‘stuck, alone, in a plane and cannot land’.  She is stuck in a world where every choice is the problem of Buridan’s Ass.  She is stuck in a world where everything is the same - everything is meaningless - and thus every choice is equal - equally absurd. 

Eurus is -stuck- Existentially.

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2018, 08:22:27 AM »
This horrific condition is what the existentialists identify as the individual's 'starting point' in life. It is sometimes called "the existential attitude": "a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.”  THAT is why this episode looks and feels like a Horror film - and in fact draws from many of them, from The Shining and It to Saw and The Ring - because that is supposedly the 'natural' condition of the individual - the one we all face from the time we are children (which is why Eurus is shown as a child in her mind - she's still stuck in that condition. She is like that ALL the time).

Existentialism proceeds from the premise there is no "Creator" of existence to imbue things with any meaning.  There is no God who has a "plan" for all of his creation.  For Existentialists, the absence of such a plan is what renders everything the same: absurd - arbitrary - pointless - meaningless.  This absence of a Creator - and the consequential absurdity and horror of existence - is alluded to by the Governor (in TFP, 4.3), when Watson (about to shoot him) asks "Do you want to pray or anything?" to which the Gov replies:

"With Eurus Holmes in the world, who the hell would I pray to?"

In other words, even the Gov is shown to indirectly recognize the supposed truth of Existentialism.  And it is this truth - that existence has no meaning - which Mycroft references when he first describes Eurus to Sherlock and John near the beginning of TFP:

In the scene, Mycroft ‘remembers’ himself skipping pebbles while Eurus watches Sherlock and “Redbeard” engaged in ‘frivolous play’.  In his adult form, Mycroft picks up a pebble.  We cut back to 221b and he is still holding the pebble is his palm, saying:  "She knew things she should never have known...as if she were somehow aware of truths beyond the normal scope".  After being 'disturbed' by the memory, the pebble is no longer in Mycroft's hand.  We hear it having been dropped into the water.

This scene is a direct allusion to Sartre's famous Existentialist ‘novel’ "Nausea".  It exactly mirrors the inciting incident of “Nausea” - when the protagonist, Roquentin, first becomes aware of the "existential condition" of man.  Roquentin had picked up a pebble, wanting to play "ducks and drakes" ie "to throw a pebble into the sea like [the children at play]".  But he "stopped, dropped the pebble and walked away".  This was his initial experience of "the Nausea: this blinding revelation" that there is no meaning to anything.  Existence is but a horror show of absurd existents.  It is a quivering, smothering mass of “things” which just “are” - nothing more.  At that moment, holding the pebble, Roquentin became aware of "truths beyond the normal scope":  the truth that the entirety of existence is meaningless - leaving him in isolation, feeling great "terror" and "angst" smothered by a universe of “brute things”. 

That, according to Existentialism, is Man’s normal condition.

And that is Eurus in total - given to us in just 25 seconds.

That is great writing. 

The above tells us Eurus is not insane.  She is not suffering from some mental illness or from some cognitive defect with which she was born.  She doesn't have a split personality nor a chemical imbalance etc.  Rather, as Mycroft states explicitly, Eurus is so intelligent that she is “aware of truths beyond the normal scope”. 

As noted about Sartre’s protagonist:

"Roquentin's problem is not simply depression or mental illness, although his experience has pushed him to that point. Sartre presents Roquentin's difficulties as arising from man's inherent existential condition. His seemingly special circumstances (returning from travel, reclusiveness), which goes beyond the mere indication of his very real depression, are supposed to induce in him (and in the reader) a state that makes one more receptive to noticing an existential situation that everyone has, but may not be sensitive enough to let become noticeable. Roquentin undergoes a strange metaphysical experience that estranges him from the world. His problems are not merely a result of personal insanity, without larger significance. Rather...they are victims of larger ideological, social, and existential forces that have brought them to the brink of insanity. Sartre's point in Nausea is to comment on our universal reaction to these common external problems."

In other words, Eurus isn't suffering from a psychological problem which somehow prevents her from grasping reality.  Eurus is suffering from a philosophic awareness of reality - of everyone's natural condition - to which much of the rest of the world is blind.   Her vision of herself as a helpless little girl, eternally trapped in a plane - alone and terrified - is her metaphoric grasp and expression of that 'natural condition'.

The ultimate problem for Existentialism is meaning (“context”). How can one find meaning in the meaningless? 

How can one resolve the problem of The Hungry Donkey?

That is THE Problem – the “Final Problem” - the problem from which all other problems arise.  And the show’s solution to that problem - to existential angst and despair - is the love of others.  To be alone – to love the self rather than others – to turn people into things – is to render them as meaningless as every other thing in reality.  To be selfish is to forever imprison the “soul” in that existential “hell”.

One can only gain release from that prison of “doom” and despair through selflessness.

Selfless love of others is the only thing which provides meaning – provides “context” for action – for life.  And that is ‘neither good nor bad’.  It just, as the show states numerous times, “is what it is”.

So the reason the theme is “Love Saves” is because it is the answer to The Final Problem - the answer from which all other answers flow.  Loving others and being loved by others saves one from the existential hell into which all individuals are born.

As Benedict Cumberbatch said when asked to summarize Season 4: “Love conquers all”

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2018, 08:25:36 AM »

Given the above, one can view Moriarty as the Existentialist who accepts reality as meaningless and stops there - rejecting anything as capable of providing life with meaning (“context”).  Moriarty’s only answer to the “problem” of life - the problem of existential dread (and the nauseating boredom he suffers due to its ‘sameness’ - i.e. no differences between anything) is, ultimately, destruction and death i.e. Nihilism (“Staying Alive” is the problem from which Moriarty wants to “Break Free”).  Note Moriarty’s solution to The Hungry Donkey dilemma: he has the Donkey EAT the innocent baby.  Moriarty EATS people.  He chews them up.  That is why the writers have him reference cannibalism when entering the Sherrinford prison.  Moriarty consumes people as sustenance.

Much like Smith, Moriarty doesn't love people.  He purposely destroys them.

The Nativity example is the PERFECT synopsis of Moriarty's character:  when presented with supposedly the best human being who has ever lived - the one who instructed “Love thy neighbor as thyself” - what does he do?  He literally consumes him.  He destroys him in the most disgusting manner possible.  THAT is Moriarty.  That is his answer to everything - to The Final Problem.

This answer is reflected perfectly not only in the writer’s choice of “Break Free” as Moriarty’s ‘theme’ music, but also in where he stops the song:

“I want to breaaaak freeeeeee.  …  I’ve fallen in-”

Moriarty stops it there because the very next word is “love”.  And love is NOT his solution to the Final Problem.

These are examples of brilliant thematic integration - of great writing.

Eurus is the Existentialist who accepts reality as meaningless, but who also knows love/others can provide reality with meaning (“context”).  Unfortunately she has “no one” to provide her that love:  “I never had a best friend”.  Sherlock never ‘saved her soul’ by being her best friend.  She was ‘doomed’ - left lost and alone, desperate to be saved - and angry at those who abandoned her to this hell. 

As a means of having the audience understand and sympathize with her horror and anger, the writers mirror Eurus’ predicament at the beginning of TFP with the ‘torture’ suffered by Mycroft.  Sherlock subjects Mycroft to an absurd nightmare straight out of monster movies.  In the face of this incomprehensible nightmare, like Eurus, the terrified Mycroft cries out to his sibling, Sherlock, for help in escaping the madness. 

And, also like Eurus, Mycroft is terribly angry at Sherlock because Sherlock is the one who put him in that nightmare world.

Eurus suffers the same torment - but has been subject to it unceasingly for decades.  Thus her terror - and anger - are exponentially greater.

Sherlock is the Existentialist who begins like Moriarty, and is thus bored with life because of it. 

The difference between Sherlock and Moriarty is where they begin.  Moriarty is a “psychopath” - he has no empathy, no love for others.  That is why he is a consulting criminal.  Sherlock is a “sociopath” - he has some empathy, some love, for others.  That is why he is a consulting detective.  This is why, when they meet in “The Reichenbach Fall” (TRF, 2.3), Sherlock truthfully states he is on the side of the Angels but is not one of them. As Sherlock admits, he IS like Moriarty.  He starts from the same existential point - that everything is meaningless and thus the same - i.e. “boring”.  Both are ego-driven existentialists.  They both act to satisfy themselves, but in their alienation - isolation - from others, they are left spiritless unless they can find a temporary fix.  That fix is beating others.  It is something they crave.  Thus they seek it constantly and desperately.

However, Sherlock has empathy - for some people.  As such, Sherlock is ultimately able to learn, through his acquaintance and subsequent friendship with John, that selfless love provides life with meaning (“context”) [and he learns it essentially doesn't matter WHO that other is - be it Irene, a “dominatrix”, Mary, a “hit-woman”, etc - as John declares at the end of TLD] and thus Sherlock is saved by love (by his love for, and the love from, John and the others).

In demonstrating how love saves, the show again mirrors Sartre's "Nausea".  At the end of TFP, Eurus has become completely isolated.  As Mycroft states: "She won't talk.  She won't communicate with anyone in any way.  She has passed beyond our view.  There are no words that can reach her now."  But Sherlock goes to her repeatedly, playing his violin.  It is through (initially mournful) music that she is finally brought back from the abyss of total alienation - through music she learns she is loved - that she isn't alone anymore.  And it is the two, playing together, which finally makes her happy - which saves her from the terror of meaningless existence.

This is (another) direct allusion "Nausea" - specifically its ending.  Roquentin considers existence to be "beyond words".  Words are "lies".  And he thinks the same about music.  It too doesn't "reach" existence.  Existence "is beyond - always beyond something, beyond a voice, beyond a violin note.  Through layers and layers of existence, it unveils itself, slim and firm, and when you try to seize it you meet nothing but existents, you run up against existents devoid of meaning."  Music is as meaningless to Roquentin as the rest of existence.  It is just noise - just another meaningless sound.  As with Eurus, it has no “beauty” for him.

But then Roquentin actually listens to the music:  "Behind these sounds which decompose from day to day, peels away and slips towards death, the melody stays the same, young and firm, like a pitiless witness."  Witness to what?  To the lives of others.  Roquentin thinks of the person who created the music, recognizing that he suffered just as Roquentin suffers. It is that kinship which stirs Roquentin.  “There was nothing very pretty or very glorious" about his life or suffering, "but when I hear the song and I think that it was that fellow who made it, I find his suffering and his sweat...moving  He was lucky."  Roquentin recognizes "this is the first time for years that a man has struck me as moving.  I should like to know something about that fellow.  I should be interested to find out what sort of troubles he had... not at all out of humanism...but because he made that [song]."  "I don't suppose it would make the slightest difference to the fellow if he were told that in the seventh largest town in France, in the vicinity of the station, somebody is thinking about him.  But I would be happy if I were in his place; I envy him."  In other words, he “put himself in another’s shoes”.  He had empathy for them.  And that made him “happy” rather than producing “nausea” in him.

Roquentin listens again, this time to the woman singing the song "Some of these days You'll miss me honey" and thinks "That makes two people who are saved: the [composer] and the [singer].  Saved."  He is struck by the recognition that they have 'justified their existence' - that by giving this of themselves to others, they have been saved.  It is this idea of "empathy" - of placing one's self in another's shoes - which suddenly gives meaning.  The recognition that you are all in this absurd world ‘together’.  You are not alone.  You can take comfort - solace - from your shared experience.  “This idea suddenly bowls me over, because I didn't even hope for that anymore....I feel something timidly brushing against me...something I didn't know anymore: a sort of joy." 

And Roquentin imagines he can do this himself - do something like performing music, and then give it to others and they would think of him as he had thought of the composer and the singer.  And then he too would be saved.

This is what happens between Sherlock and Eurus.  As music saved Roquentin from the existential terror of existence, so too it saves Eurus.

Empathy - love - doesn't make the world any less absurd.  It just provides the much needed meaning (“context”) to the madness - transforming it from horror to farce.

One can see this reflected in the fact that the writers have Sherlock (as a child)  playing a fictional pirate: "Yellowbeard".  Why choose for him a fictional - rather than actual - pirate (like Redbeard, Blackbeard, etc)?

I believe the answer lies in who, or more specifically, what "Yellowbeard" was: an absurdist comedy.  It serves as a mirror to Eurus' existential horror.  In other words, both Eurus and Sherlock inhabit the same "absurd" reality.  But, because Sherlock has a best friend - has love - instead of being terrifying, the existentialist's nightmare world is transformed, for him, into a harmless, humorous farce (much as the ‘nightmare’ Sherlock inflicts on Mycroft transforms into a mere “pantomime” as Mycroft calls it - which is defined as ‘comedic family entertainment’).

In other words, the name “Yellowbeard” is an allusion to how love "saves".  Love transforms all of existence.  It “conquers“ all.

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2018, 08:26:48 AM »
From the beginning, the creators of Sherlock have insisted their show ‘is not a detective show, but a show about a detective’.  Why did they want to create such a show?

Mary’s “PS” video epilogue provides the answer.  And, once again, it’s an allusion to “Nausea”, specifically to Roquentin’s expressed desire at its close.  Mary says: "I know who you really are: a junkie who solves crimes to get high and the doctor who never came home from the war.  Will you listen to me?  Who you really are?  It doesn't matter.  It's all about the legend.  The stories.  The adventures."

This is Roquentin.  He knows who he is - what he is - and knows he is nothing to speak of.  But what he is doesn't matter.  What now matters to him - what gives him meaning - is being like the composer and the singer:  "Could I try...Naturally, it wouldn't be a question of a tune...but couldn't I in another medium? ... It would have to be a book: I don't know how to do anything else.  But not a history book: history talks about what has existed - an existent can never justify the existence of another existent. ...Another kind of book... [one where] you would have to guess, behind the printed words, behind the pages, something which didn't exist, which was above existence.  The sort of story, for example, which could never happen, an adventure.  ... A book.  A novel.  And there would be people who would read this novel and who would say: "It was Antoine Roquentin who wrote it...and they would think about my life as I think about the life of [that singer]: as about something precious and almost legendary."

This is what the “Sherlock” writers are saying about Doyle (and indirectly - or perhaps directly - about themselves).

"There is a last refuge for the desperate, the unloved, the persecuted.  There is a final court of appeal for everyone.  When life gets too strange, too impossible, too frightening, there is always one last hope.  When all else fails, there are two men sitting, arguing, in a scruffy flat - like they've always been there and they always will."

This is the gift Roquentin sought to create for others.  It is the gift Doyle (and the creators of “Sherlock”) give to everyone who suffers from the existential angst of living in a terrifyingly absurd world: the legendary love and adventures of these two "best and wisest men" - in the hope that gift of love will "save" them all.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 08:28:22 AM by blspro »

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2018, 08:32:34 AM »
WTF is going on here with all these long-winded posts ???

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2018, 08:35:36 AM »
WTF is going on here with all these long-winded posts ???

As you know from TLJ thread, since MartyS asked about my thoughts on Sherlock, I told him I would post them here if a Sherlock thread existed.  It did so I am.

You are certainly free not to read them if you are not interested in them.

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2018, 08:35:59 AM »


Story-wise, the writers integrated the entire last season of “Sherlock” into an indivisible whole so as to tell, essentially, one overarching story - wherein the individual cases in each episode unite to reflect the larger tale of Eurus and Sherlock.  Taken as a whole, they represent the final steps on Sherlock’s road to becoming “a good man”.

The essence of Story is conflict.  In this case, thematically, the conflict is within Sherlock’s soul.  The conflict is between his ego and his empathy.  To concretize this internal conflict, the writers shape Sherlock's villains to be manifestations of his own demons  - reflections of his own ego, his own selfishness.  In battling them Sherlock is essentially battling himself.  All of them are “monsters” - including Sherlock.  As Mary tells John, Sherlock is simply “our monster”.  Each of them - including Sherlock - treat people as things, things to be consumed to satisfy their own egos. 

As Sherlock must arrest those villains, so too must he learn to arrest his own ego.

This is the rationale behind the writers creating Eurus as Sherlock's final antagonist.  She is the ultimate mirror to Sherlock.  The writers created her specifically to show why Sherlock needed to be ‘humanized’ - why he needed to embrace empathy.  Eurus is the writers’ justification and ultimate expression of their entire thematic arc.  She is Sherlock absent the love of others - absent empathy.  Eurus is essentially Sherlock absent Watson (“I never had a best friend”).  She is essentially Sherlock at the beginning of the series (magnified, of course, to make the distinction more apparent – ie she is a near psychopath to Sherlock’s sociopath).

This is also the rationale behind choosing Smith as the villain leading up to Eurus - to firmly establish ego (selfishness) as the destroyer - to mirror the element in Sherlock “hiding in plain sight” which causes so much damage.

And this is the rationale behind choosing Norbury as the pitiful little villain at the start.  She is the mirror which finally makes Sherlock understand that he and the villains are the same: petty, insignificant egos causing devastating human destruction.

Since the beginning of Season 3, the writers have been laying the groundwork for the Eurus backstory and the ultimate confrontation between her and Sherlock.  By the penultimate episode of Season 4, TLD, the writers had seeded all the clues necessary to identify the reveals they would make in TFP.  Specifically, they set up four major clues:

The first clue was from T6T.  It is Sherlock’s ‘premonition’ caused by the missing Thatcher statue.  That was essentially a very subtle callback to the episode “Hound of the Baskerville” (HotB S2E2).  In a key scene of that episode Sherlock must deduce a computer password to unlock the mystery of the HOUND.  That password was MAGGIE, as in Margaret Thatcher.  And it is that password which leads Sherlock to realize the victim in the case had suffered a devastating emotional trauma in childhood – a trauma so shocking (the murder of a loved one) he not only repressed the memory, but actually transformed his recollections of a person into a false memory of a dog (which he ‘named’ a “HOUND”)

The second clue (set of clues, actually) was Sherlock’s fragmentary memory (from S3 on) of playing (pirate) by the water with his dog “Redbeard”.

The third clue was from T6T again, specifically in the texting between John and Eurus.  John notes that she is up late and asks: “Night owl?” to which she replies “Vampire”.  Besides being a good character description of Eurus (and others who share her traits), this is a reference to one of the original Doyle stories: “The Sussex Vampire”.  That story revolves around a blue-eyed sibling who is “murderously jealous” of a brother and so tries to kill him – and who practices by murdering the family dog.

The final clue was, of course, Sherrinford.  Sherrinford is the name Doyle was originally going to call Sherlock (thankfully he changed his mind at the last minute).  However, since then, it has always been fan lore to consider Sherrinford as a third Holmes brother.

Given all these clues, one was able to deduce the primary elements of the finale:  Sherlock has a blue-eyed sibling (sister) whom he didn’t remember because of some childhood trauma.  That trauma would involve the supposed killing of his dog “Redbeard” by means of drowning (a watery death deduced from all the linked water/death symbolism strewn through the episodes from “The Abominable Bride” (TAB, 4.0) onward – ex the water reflections on Sherlock’s face when thinking of death and the missing Thatcher statue in T6T).  This cruel killing of Sherlock’s dog would be by his sister, out of “murderous jealousy”, which she would then turn on Sherlock himself.  And, of course, as happened in HotB, it would turn out the trauma was so deep that Sherlock actually transformed his memory of a loved one into a dog.  And that fictional dog was called Redbeard in his mind because the person Eurus killed was playing with Sherlock as the pirate Redbeard.

Being able to weave all those plot threads together into a single unified tapestry – most derived from the original Doyle stories in one form or the other, but transformed into a wholly new story to serve their theme – is great writing in and of itself.  But that was all just the groundwork for the third episode – for TFP.  The writers still had to create individual stories/cases for the other two episodes.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 08:39:40 AM by blspro »

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2018, 08:38:38 AM »
WTF is going on here with all these long-winded posts ???

As you know from TLJ thread, since MartyS asked about my thoughts on Sherlock, I told him I would post them here if a Sherlock thread existed.  It did so I am.

You are certainly free not to read them if you are not interested in them.
Not sure he was looking for a microscopic-level dissection of the show but whatever..

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2018, 08:39:05 AM »
Having set this foundation for the final conflict, the writers went into integration overdrive, selecting each element of the individual episodes and orchestrating them so they would set up and mirror the steps Sherlock needed to take so as to reach his thematic destination: being ”a good man”

“Sherlock” employs two primary motifs throughout Season 4 - Names and Fictions - as symbols of its overall theme.  Besides being used to show and reinforce the thematic universality of these two symbols, their repetition is used to ‘take the curse off’ any qualms a viewer might have about the story’s climactic reveals.  By establishing them as regularly occurring - as seemingly commonplace - the viewer is led to easily accept the twist at the season’s end - that Sherlock suffers from corrupted memories, all revolving around a single name - rather than the viewer dismissing that twist as a far-fetched contrivance. 

The transformative power of a single thing - love - is the theme of the series.  Love has the power to give meaning (“context”) to everything. It changes everything. This is the lesson Sherlock has to learn:  how something so simple, so familiar, so seemingly inconsequential - something “hidden in plain sight” - can so totally transform the world without one recognizing its ability to do so.

To concretize this singular power, the writers created “Redbeard” -  ‘a name Sherlock instantly recognizes’.  A name which, to him, is innocent, benign and seemingly of little importance.  Yet that single name ultimately ‘tears his world apart’ - i.e. transforms it - and him - completely. 

Of course the power of love to transform the world is not limited to Sherlock alone.  It is a universal principle.  It applies to all human beings.  As such, the writers mirror their concretization of that power across the whole of the season.  Not only is Sherlock’s life transformed by a single name (Redbeard), but numerous lives are thusly transformed by particular names:

Mary - by AGRA
Ajay - by AMO (ie the code name LOVE)
Sherlock - by NORBURY
Faith - by ANYBODY
Eurus - by NOME (i.e. No One)

And of course, as previously indicated, these are all callbacks to the episode HotB, specifically two names: HOUND, which transformed the victim’s life; and MAGGIE, which solved the entire mystery.

As noted above, HOUND is the original source for the idea that a single name can transform a person’s life.  It is an acronym (like AGRA) for the names of a group of scientists.  And mistaking that name as a thing (an actual hound, rather than a person) is the source of the mystery.  As Sherlock says, the choice of the word/name Hound is “why I took the case”.  Basically, the writers have retroactively made this an instance of foreshadowing - which is a neat trick.

Also as previously noted, this is a subtle callback, made near the beginning of T6T,  to the HOUND case.  The missing Thatcher statue leads Sherlock’s subconscious to alert him to….something - something he can't quite identify yet; what he calls a “premonition” but which is really a recollection of his own past.  As such, Sherlock recognizes it as the approach of evil: “something wicked this way comes”.  And, combined with that recognition, we get the overt introduction of watery death imagery.

This is another callback - to “His Last Vow” (HLV S3E3).  AGRA is the name that changed John’s life completely - for what it revealed about Mary. He discovered that his seemingly innocent wife was once an “assassin”. 

Additionally, in T6T, the name AGRA comes back to haunt Mary, transforming her life this time. 

Established for the first time in T6T is the name AMO.  The writers chose this name for its double meaning: being the code name for Lady Smallwood -and- being the Latin word for LOVE (thus making the name both the abstraction and the concretization of the theme at the same time - another neat trick).  And the writers use this dual thematic context to great effect, applying it to the theme of empathy vs ego:

Love, in the form of Lady Smallwood, is used to save lives.  Love selflessly saves other.  In this case, Love seeks to rescue hostages from terrorists. 

However, false love, in the form of Vivian Norbury, is used to murder.  Love of self, rather than of others, is used to destroy.  In this case, AMO transformed the life of Mary’s colleague Ajay, leaving him to be tortured senselessly for years.  In other words, because there was actually no Love, Ajay was abandoned to “hell”.

This is the name which transforms Sherlock’s life at the end of T6T.  It is Sherlock recognizing, in himself, the monster he is fighting in others - his petty, destructive ego. The deadly consequences and subsequent transformation he experiences due to his realization that he, too, is a “monster” - are so profound, he informs Mrs. Hudson that if she ever sees him being too full of himself again, she merely need say the name Norbury to him.  He will understand instantly. 

That is the transformative power of a single name.

This is the name Eurus brings to Sherlock’s attention in her guise as Faith in TLD.  It serves three transformational purposes:

First, it completely changes the life of “Faith”.  As with HOUND, Sherlock takes her case because “your whole life turned on one word...but HOW can that word be a name - a name you instantly recognized that tore your world apart.”  “Okay, well, how?” she asks, to which Sherlock replies “No idea.  Yet.” 

Next, it’s the clue, for Sherlock, which is the solution to the mystery of Smith: that he is a serial killer.

And, finally, it is also Eurus’ clue for Sherlock, serving as a key to unlock the name in her own mystery - i.e. NOME.

This is the name Eurus references (“No One”) as the key to unlocking her song’s meaning (it is the “context” for the song) which leads Sherlock to ‘save her soul’.

This, of course, is the name which all the others mirror and foreshadow.  It is the name which Sherlock instantly recognized and which tore his world apart’.  It is the name - and the transformation - to which the series had been consciously building since Season 3.

The reason names were chosen for all these instances of transformation is also thematic.  Love (empathy) does not identify a thing.  It identifies a relationship - how one feels about another person.  It is people, not things, who give existence its meaning.  And people have names.  Thus it is thematically important that the concretization of the transformative power of love is manifested, not by words (which describe things) but by names (which identify people).

That's more great writing.

Amusingly, and for emphasis, the writers did a reversal of this motif in TFP.  In Eurus’ Coffin Game, Sherlock is told he must guess a name from a clue - that clue being “I Love You”, printed on the coffin’s name plate. 

Even the writers’ humor is thematic.

And, just to tell the audience how important names are to the season, the writers broke with a long standing tradition.  Previously, before each season aired, the writers would give one word clues as to the nature of each individual episode.  For the last season, however, they explicitly stated they were departing from that practice and would instead be giving a single name as the clue for each episode: THATCHER, SMITH, SHERRINFORD. 

Choosing names rather than mere words as clues for each episode reveals how important the writers consider names to be in regard to the season’s theme.

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2018, 08:40:53 AM »
Besides names, the other recurring motif through all of Season 4’s episodes are fictions - stories people tell themselves to hide, evade, or forget the truth.  They are examples of what Smith calls “Bliss.  Opt-in ignorance.”  People simply don't want to know the truth. 

They don’t want to know the truth about existence.  They don't want to know the truth about ego.  They don’t want to know the truth about empathy.  There are countless truths people simply don't want to think about or know.  Truth can be painful.  Truth can be a form of hell (and, thematically, is the ultimate, existential hell in which we all supposedly burn).  So people make up fictions - lies.  They write “better stories”.

From Sherlock erasing the fact “the Earth goes around the sun” from his mind (“Not important?  It's primary school stuff!  HOW can you not know that?”  “Well if I ever did, I deleted it” because it's not “useful” to know - The Great Game, TGG,1.3), to the childhood trauma of Henry, the victim in HotB, which causes him to misremember HOW his father died (“You’d started to piece things together, remember what really happened here that night.  It wasn't an animal, was it Henry?  Not a monster.  It was a man.” 2.2), to Moriarty attempting to corrupt Sherlock’s achievements into fraud in the mind of the public (“Everybody wants to believe it - that's what makes it so clever.  A lie that's preferable to the truth.  All my brilliant deductions were just a sham.  No one feels inadequate.  Sherlock Holmes is just an ordinary man” - The Reichenbach Fall, TRF, 2.3), to Mary lying about her entire past so that John will love her (“John can never know that I lied to him.  It would break him and I would lose him forever.  And, Sherlock, I will never let that happen.  Please - understand. There is nothing in the world I would not do to stop that happening” - His Last Vow, HLV, 3.3) - the series is littered with instances and examples of people trying to forget, corrupt, or otherwise evade the truth.

Season 4 takes such instances and retroactively makes them mirrors and foreshadows of what is to come.  Again, besides expressing the theme, this is done so as to ‘take the curse off’ any viewer incredulity toward the final reveal about Sherlock.  All these prior examples, and the new ones created for the final episodes, are used to show (as the writers have Smith explicitly declare) that such “Opt-in ignorance” is what “makes the world go ‘round.” 

Everyone does it - even Sherlock.

This episode establishes the corrupted memory/”better stories” motif immediately.  In it’s opening scene we are shown the “Top Secret” government “Cabinet Office” corrupting the official record of events pertaining to the death of CAM (HFV).  Now, instead of Sherlock having purposefully killed CAM, a “better story” (that CAM was accidentally killed by “some overeager squaddie with an itchy trigger finger”) was manufactured so the truth could be avoided.  It is “a lie which is preferable to the truth.”

Of course, the episode then goes on to the Thatcher statues - which are, again, a callback to HotB.  So we have that corrupted memory being alluded to throughout the episode; an allusion which is Sherlock’s subconscious essentially screaming at him that he, too, suffers from the HotB memory corruption.  Closely connected to this, we have Sherlock’s “premonitions” - his “deep water” memories - constantly intruding on his thoughts.  These are also his subconscious trying to warn him of truths he has repressed.  Then we have John lying about his marriage - pretending to be happy in it while “cheating on Mary” via text with (a lying) Eurus.  And we have the story of Sherlock, as a child, literally “rewriting” a story he didn’t like:  “Appointment in Samarra...The merchant who can’t outrun Death.  You always hated that story as a child….  You wrote your own version, as I remember.  Appointment in Sumatra.  The merchant goes to a different city and is perfectly fine.”

And, finally, we have Norbury lying to AGRA, pretending to be LOVE so she could keep the truth about herself hidden: that she is a traitor selling State secrets.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 03:44:56 PM by blspro »

Offline blspro

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Re: Sherlock
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2018, 08:41:33 AM »
This episode also starts with lies - in fact, lies within lies.  In the very first scene, when asked by his “therapist”: “Is there anything you’re not telling me?”  John replies “No.” when in fact, he is lying to her and to himself.  John is lying to the “therapist” because he is hiding the fact that Mary is ‘haunting’ him at that very moment.  And John is lying to himself because he treats that figment of his imagination as if it were real.  John tells Mary he has to lie to his “therapist” because “She thinks you’re dead.”  John ‘sees’ Mary as alive because that lie is preferable to him than the truth.  It is “better” for him to forget the truth.

In the very next scene, we’re introduced to Smith and his “obscene” confessional - where he drugs his friends and family, tells them true horrors, and then lets the drug wipe those truths from their minds (as well as “corrupt” other memories they may have had before the traumatic confession).  Smith describes this as nothing out of the ordinary: “If you think about it, civilization has always depended on a measure of elective ignorance”.  This is, of course, a nearly direct mirror of what happened to Sherlock as a child.  He experienced a trauma so severe it not only caused him to wipe some of his memories, but corrupted others.

Immediately after this scene, we then meet “Faith” in 221b.  “Faith” tells Sherlock she is tortured by a memory she cannot recall, one which involves a murder of someone she cannot name.  Again, this is a direct mirror of what happened to Sherlock.  He is haunted by flashes of memory (about Redbeard, deep waters, Samarra, etc) and premonitions of death.  He grasps that something is wrong, but cannot identify or understand what yet.  They have both ‘forgotten’ an important truth.

Sherlock takes “Faith’s” case, which allows him to take the case Mary gave him: “Save John Watson”.  Mary’s case involves Sherlock concocting an elaborate plot to seemingly place himself in mortal danger, so that John will rescue Sherlock and thus, ultimately, himself.  As the very title of the episode identifies, all of it - from the ‘descent’ into ‘uncontrollable’ drug use, to the ‘lethal’ medicine in his IV drip - are lies.  Sherlock is lying - acting - telling a story - in order to “save” John.  Even the music the writers choose as the overture to this plot is an allusion to the elaborate web of lies Sherlock is about to weave (as well as an allusion to the fundamental plot of TLD): a comedic opera in which “clever manipulation” is used to “restore a man’s love”.  It is the overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Sherlock’s dance of deception here revolves around Smith - the serial killer hiding in plain sight.  Smith is the horrible truth sitting in front of everyone but which no one can, or wants, to see.  Thus we get numerous, pointed, public references by Smith to being a rogue, a murderer, a serial killing - right down to the name of his hospital: “Saint Caedwalla”, the patron saint of serial killers!  The truth is in front of everyone but they refuse to believe it.  Like the meaninglessness of existence - like the facades in HLV (“Can’t you see it?  The lie.  The lie of Leinster Gardens, hidden in plain sight…. People live here for years and never see it.”  A whole row of houses that are not houses at all, but merely “empty” shells) - people just don't see the truth of Smith.  They prefer to ignore the truth or laugh it off.  It’s easier to just accept the facade.  This is why Smith claims “Opt-in ignorance” is “what makes the world go ‘round.” 

He is the proof of it.

Of course, after Sherlock exposes the truth about Smith, we learn the biggest lie of all has been staring Sherlock and John literally in their faces the entire episode:  Eurus.  She has been hiding in front of them from the very first scene (and even before - on the bus with John in T6T).  Eurus has been telling “better” story after “better” story, “preferred” lie after “preferred” lie.  She has continually pretended to be “someone else”:  she has been John’s texting paramour.  She has been John’s therapist.  And she has been Sherlock’s client, “Faith”. 

Eurus is the truth hiding behind everyone’s lies - including her own.