*This post contains spoilers* *All pictures via Tumblr, or occasionally Google images; all credit to original owners (generally the fandom or the BBC)*
If you live in the UK, or have BBC elsewhere, you’ll most likely have seen / heard of Sherlock. Based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, it takes the famous detective and puts him into a 21st century environment, and into the body of Benedict Cumberbatch. John Watson is fantastically played by Martin Freeman – I was very pleased to hear, not long ago, that both of them are going to be in the Hobbit. That, my friends, will be a movie to see.
It often seems nowadays that television is going downhill. I’m a massive fan of Doctor Who and anyone who knows me or has been following my blog for more than a fortnight will attest to this. But I will not hesitate to say that the most recent series disappointed me, because it tried to be too clever. The story arcs were contrived and long-winded, and though individual episodes may have been good (The Girl Who Waited, the Doctor’s Wife, etc.), I felt the series as a whole was lacking what I’d seen in, say, series two or four.
And most people blame Steven Moffat, the head writer, and mourn the days of Russell T Davies. But Moffat is also in charge of Sherlock and that’s fast becoming one of my favourite programmes – even when it had most people in tears yesterday.
So why was that episode so good?
*Second warning – this post contains spoilers for Sherlock – “The Reichenbach Fall”, which aired on 15th January 2012*
It had, in the words of my friend, ALL OF THE EMOTION.
Last week’s episode had me laughing out loud and then too tense to breathe; this week’s had me laughing out loud and then far too close to tears for my liking. It was big and dramatic, but that wasn’t what was important. What was important was Sherlock taking John’s hand and telling him to run, because we know he didn’t want to run alone.
What was important was that his friends meant more to Sherlock than his own life, because he couldn’t be sure that whatever he had planned was going to work. What was important was his figure on the roof top and his words – “This phone call is my note. That’s what people do, isn’t it? Leave a note?”
It hit home with things we’ve all felt.
Most people have lost someone in the past, so most people know what it is like to beg them just not to be dead, for it all to be some sort of sick joke and for them to come back. And most of us would be too blinded by tears to stay by the grave for long enough to see them come back. Most of us, like Watson, walk away crying. I think also that most of us know what it’s like to be kept in the dark, because Sherlock said that he had to do this alone and he walked away from his best friend. Doesn’t it hurt when someone does that? Won’t let you help, and thinks they can cope alone?
The characters provoke our sympathy.
We’ve all felt for John through the series as his association with Sherlock not only makes it impossible for him to get a date, but also renders him ‘guilty by association’ whenever he’s in trouble. We feel for Molly, because Sherlock constantly insults her and puts her down, without even realising he’s doing it. When he at last registered that she was a good friend to him and that she understood him – and oh, who wasn’t affected when she said, “You look sad when you think he’s not watching”? – we knew what she would be feeling: glad, perhaps, that he trusted her, but also miserable because he was. Mycroft is just a human like all of us. He’s clever, yes. But he made a mistake and he’s trying to get somebody else to make up for it so that he feels less guilty.
Look at his face when he sees the newspaper at the end. Look at it, and then say you don’t feel something for him.
We keep thinking it’s going to be all right.
After they announced on 7th January that there would be a third series – and Steven Moffat confirmed that it had been commissioned at the same time as the second, which hopefully means the wait will be slightly shorter than the one between series one and two – we knew that it had to work out. We watched Holmes and Moriarty on the roof top and we felt like something had to sort itself out. When Sherlock was right on the edge, we tried to predict what he would say when he started laughing, and thought of all the ways it could work out. All the ways he wouldn’t fall.
And across the UK, Sherlockians on Twitter were yelling at Moffat and Gatiss, who just sat there smugly and saying they felt quite accomplished by what they had achieved. Across Tumblr, the fandom was frantically putting its collective heads together to work out what must have happened, resulting in a fully developed and realistic enough theory just half an hour after the episode finished.
“Stop being dead.” That’s what John said. “Just please, don’t be dead.”
Haven’t we all felt that in the past?
I think most people did yesterday, when Mrs Hudson and John Watson stood by the grave and stared at the name on it. I think even Sherlock’s unexpected appearance didn’t help all that much, because they had already felt ALL OF THE EMOTION and cried ALL OF THE TEARS.
Yes, he was alive, but that didn’t change one thing –