Regarding Sherlock's complete asshole behavior and utter 180 from the Sherlock we've come to know and love: some people were bleating on about him being a sociopath, but I don't believe that for one second. swissmarg
actually said this, but I agree 100% with what she said: "I totally agree with this. The series has shown over and over again that the 'sociopath' label is complete nonsense, and to use it to excuse or explain how he acts in this episode is a cop-out. His entire attitude toward and treatment of John in this episode is inconsistent with every other episode we've seen (and as you point out, inconsistent with his actions toward every other character). He is sensitive to John's feelings many, many times in previous episodes. He makes genuine efforts to be a good friend. He's abrasive, yes, and a jerk, but he also shows opposite behaviours. There was none of that visible here. He was arrogant, selfish, manipulative, and cruel. Not just emotionally immature or unaware. I get that he may be having feelings that are too big and deep for him to handle, and he's using humour or inappropriateness as an outlet, but where are the deeper moments of connection that should come out of it?"
There were multiple things about this episode that grated on me the wrong way, but the main reason I think it was so jarring is because the foundation of the show-- Sherlock and John's relationship-- was significantly missing, despite the fact that everyone from Ben and Martin to Mark and Steven to the directors and Sue said that the whole center of this episode was resolving the tension and strain on the Holmes-Watson friendship. This... totally didn't do it for me. Someone (wisely) pointed out that despite Sherlock's complete and utter disregard for anything in line with John's feelings/emotions, he was pretty up to par in the remaining relationships shown. I'm going back through my mental thesaurus on this episode and realizing that the moments he has with everyone else-- from Lestrade and Molly, to Mycroft and Mrs Hudson, to even his previously-unseen parents
-- seem genuine and in character with his established canon. It's John that's the problem, and that's a huge issue for me, and not for the fandom Johnlock reasons.
The Epic Bromance is the glue of this show, and if they cannot re-establish that, the whole thing is going to crumble. I think that's why this episode seems so jarring and disjointed: because the foundation of the Holmes-Watson relationship is markedly missing.
It seemed so off
to me from almost the very beginning (disregarding the 100% Sherlockian scene at the beginning with Mycroft undercover, because that was brilliance and gave me --apparently unrealistic-- extremely high hopes for the rest of the episode). The coffee cups morphing into John's eyes? Little tacky for what we've come to expect from this caliber of BBC drama.
John was the worst part of this for me. I missed everything about their Ozzy and Harriet-like Epic Bromance. I wasn't expecting it to be all sunshine and daisies from the word go, but I certainly wasn't expecting every scene between the two of them to be like an episode of Coupling.
All fandom assumptions/unrealistic expectations aside, their relationship is what makes this show so incredible to watch. It's what keeps us hooked for literally years
between seasons. It's the glue of the whole show, and I'm 99% convinced that's why this episode just kind of fell apart: because the Holmes-Watson foundation was so incredibly shaky and out of character.
The more I think about it, the more frustrated and upset I get, and that's not exactly a good thing. I'm praying The Sign of Three is going to re-establish some kind of grounding between Sherlock and John, because without it this show has absolutely no future.
What's weird is that I was so worried about Mary coming between them and making the Bromance less impacting, but realistically, it was Sherlock
who actually ruined it. Mary is wonderful! I am shocked at how much I like her already, actually. I was not pleased (read: sodding livid
) when I found out they'd cast Amanda as Mary, but she works really well in the role. I'm pleasantly surprised and impressed with her addition as of now. I suppose we'll have to see what happens in the remaining two episodes, but for now, I'm actually OK with her.
The Mind Palace music video of doom was a bit much for me. The first time we watched it, scarletcurls
and Hunter hated it, whereas I didn't mind so much. On the second viewing, however, I'm with them 100%. It was gratuitous and unnecessary and it completely ruined the flow of the show. That, and the fact that they pulled it three times
. My husband said it best: when John tells Sherlock in that tube car "Use your Mind Palace!" it almost seemed like a "Use your magic powers Insert-Superhero/Anime Character-Here!" It was overdone and what was seen was shown for too long. In an episode where every second counts, using precious minutes for the 80's style music video was a little excessive. Keep it to the visual street map from SIP, the internal wikipedia from Baskerville and the location atlas from TRF please.
Now, onto the most deplorable scene of the show in my book: that climactic moment in the tube car rigged with explosives. I was SO HAPPY when it looked like we were finally going to get some kind of catharsis for their friendship. I'd been waiting for it for two freaking years. I was over the moon at seeing Sherlock panic, and seeing his face when John basically pours his heart out to him and forgives him, and then he fucking RUINED IT by laughing. Now, I've actually calmed down quite a bit, and I realize that everything up to him finding the obnoxiously convenient off-switch
on the bomb was genuine, but that beautiful moment was cracked and scattered for me by the resultant mockery. Now, madlori
brought up a good point, which I'm glad she did, but here's what she said: "Everything said on the train was real. Sherlock's fake-out was cover, pure and simple. He needed to say things, John needed to say things, they both needed to HEAR things, but they needed an out of a heightened emotional situation so they could shrug it off and go back to their normal relationship. And that last scene between them, the "I heard you" scene? Gold. I thought the train-car scene was brilliant."
I like her interpretation of this better than all the others I've seen. I was (and still am a bit, though I'm calming down) absolutely LIVID with the way that scene played out. The Sherlock in this episode was not the Sherlock I've come to love over the story arc of the last six episodes. There was none of the vulnerability, none of the reluctant humanity that makes the character likeable in my opinion. It felt like Mark took one facet of Sherlock's character, ran with it, and just kind of ignored the rest of it for the time being. The issue I have with that is that he took one of the ugliest sides of his personality... and if that's how he's going to play it, he might as well be Moriarty.
What angered me is that we finally seemed to have gotten a modicum of emotion out of Sherlock, only to have him cruelly laugh at John's heart felt response. If he'd laughed it off in an awkward, Sherlockian I'm-not-good-at-this-emotional-soup ("Not good?" "Bit not good, yeah.") way, I would have been fine with it, but he actively mocks
John's hurt and anger and real emotionalism, and that I was decidedly not OK with.
That being said, I like her interpretation of the train scene, because it makes their relationship marginally salvageable. I haven't forgotten that ending scene-- which, to me, rang truer to the rest of the series than any other part of the whole sodding episode-- but it was still a little off-kilter to me.
I'm holding out for the rest of the series. They've been brilliant for six episodes; hopefully they'll pull it off again. I was spouting honesty on the way home to my very patient husband and basically said that I was worried I'd read too much fanfiction, because this episode didn't feel real to me yet. It felt better the second viewing, but it still doesn't feel like it fits with the established canon. That's mainly what I'm concerned about with this episode: that it didn't fit with the rest of the show, and I'm hoping that it's not the tone of the remaining episodes.