Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's All a Dream

IT WAS ALL A DREAM
     In 1985 (if I recall this correctly), Dallas was a very popular TV show. At the end of the season they killed off Bobby Ewing, a main character. Great cultural angst. No internet to speak of, but people made their shock and outrage known.

     Apparently the actor and the producers managed to come to terms on his contract, because the next season premiered with this scene.

     Yes, it was all a dream. 

     We're going to have to deal with the possibility that by the end of Season 4, we'll learn that everything we've watched up til now has been a long series of hallucinations, lived in the "Mind Palace" of a brilliant young inmate housed in solitary in a mental institution in 1895. The entire modern version of Sherlock was "just a dream."


After all, Sherlock's always known he was a man out of his time.

When the counter got stuck, Sherlock suggested it was done deliberately as a clue. Then he decides, "It's just a glitch."

If you look at John's blog, you'll see it's no longer stuck on 1895. In fact, there is no counter at all. I don't know when it got unstuck.

Maybe some techie at the hosting site finally figured out the problem and fixed it.

Or maybe, whatever age Sherlock was when he had his break with reality, in his mind it is always that same moment of overweening trauma that sent the boy into a psychotic never-never land. 

So - if we learn this in Series 4, then what will Series 4 be? One of the questions we really need to ask is: why was everyone so depressed after the shoot? Benedict has never suggested he won't do more Sherlock. WTF happened?  I lost the heart to write this blog for a couple years because there was no sense in any of it. Mofftiss self-contradicted and lied to fans so many times, it seemed a useless enterprise. They also don't let their actors in on things until the last minute according to several stories by the actors, themselves.

Actors take their characters seriously. Benedict probably more than most.  Fans know this from his staunch support of Assange, Turing and even Khan. How would he feel if
HOME, SWEET HOME?

everything he believed about his character for six years, was suddenly a lie?  A lie he helped sell the very fans he has so often expressed his gratitude to?

THE PREMISE:

Sherlock's Mind Palace is the reality he created for himself after he was incarcerated in - where? An institution?  Some private hospital Mycroft arranged for him?  Or, like the mad wife in Jane Eyre, a room in Mycroft's home?  A padded cell?  Caretakers sworn to secrecy? SILENCE - like the Diogenes Club?

SERIES FOUR: Sherlock gets out. Benedict has said often that when the show started we saw Sherlock younger than he's ever been portrayed. He's 27. And the 33 year old actor pulled that off with no problem. He's 40 now. The age most Sherlocks have been. A man in his mature prime with established professional contacts, papers written, an international reputation. If it was always 1895, if Sherlock became disabled at a young age, perhaps 17, he could have emerged 10 years later to try and have a normal life.

In A Study in Pink, where did Sherlock come from before he moved into 221B? He was established at the hospital. At Saint Bart's. John met him in hospital.

We see Sherlock in his flat, at the hospital or on cases. Sherlock doesn't jog. Or shop.  Or go to the theater. Except on a case. He's either at home or on a case. Even at Saint Bart's, he is researching something having to do with a case. What happens when he doesn't have a case? He panics. He does drugs. Anything to fully engage his mind so he doesn't have to think about what he went into psychosis to avoid thinking about.

We can posit that this represents one of two scenarios:

1. Sherlock is still locked up and the flat represents his room, Bart's is the place he is in, the people are orderlies or therapists. His cases, when he is out in the world, are his escapes into the Mind Palace. He sees his world not as the one he occupies in 1895 and after, but as a place more modern.

A MAN OUT OF HIS TIME - OR JUST OUT OF TIME?
2. Sherlock has been released, but is still out of touch with reality. He brings his Mind Palace fantasies with him to allow himself to function even minimally in the world. Mycroft hires John to be his companion and watchdog during this time of adjusting to the outside world.


THE ESSENTIALS


PRIMARY: "Obliquity of the Ecliptic"  When Lestrade comes with his interesting series of murders, Sherlock tries to blow him off, not wanting to be distracted from the one thing of utmost importance. Understanding the obliquity of the ecliptic. So that's the next post.

THEMES: We go back to the beginning, to "the story we have been telling all along." A troubled, in fact broken, marriage. A doomed father who dies violently. Two siblings, an older boy and younger girl. And Sherlock's constant flirtation with his own death. Gender confusion. Another post.

WHO'S WHO? We can't possibly figure it out until the series reveal, and possibly we won't really know then. But we can look into the possibilities, if we accept that nothing is consistent from moment-to-moment and dream fragment to dream fragment. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a policeman is a child and friends and enemies are just other versions of self. 

ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION: I'll make one now. We will never see any version of Johnlock. Or Sherlolly. Ever.

Even if my speculations are close to what we'll see, there is still the mystery to be solved. What happened?


Sunday, January 31, 2016

THE ABOMINABLE BRIDE: REALITY 1

60 minutes in - we first see reality in The Abominable Bride. In BBC Sherlockian reality, it is these parts we can take at face value. (If one can take anything that way in Moffatt-make-it-up-as-I-go-and-lie-to-the-public-Land.)

What facts can we glean?

1. Per Mycroft, Sherlock has O.C.D. Presumably meaning "obsessive-compulsive disorder." We've never seen a hint that Sherlock has O.C.D. No counting, no repetitive actions, no problem being dirty in the drug den.  But it's classic Mofftiss to mis-use a psychiatric term.

However, they did introduce the concept last season in His Last Vow when Sherlock makes the knocker crooked after Mycroft straightens it ("he's O.C.D.") alerting Sherlock to his presence.  Of course, Sherlock is unaware he readjusts it. So, even though we've watched an O.C.D.less Sherlock for five years, he has suddenly developed the condition.  But only as it pertains to door-knockers, apparently. Is it a continuing joke? Or something being set up as a plot point for Series 4?

No way to be sure, but when they introduce something apropos of nothing and make it such a minor detail in the story, it's almost always a writer's way of setting up a future plot device.  But even if true, there's no way out of context to know what it might be, so it's a waste of fan-hours to worry about it.

2. More interesting is Mary checking Sherlock's phone and observing he's been reading John's blog.  ".. the story of how you met ..."  But Sherlock's answer, that he likes to see himself through John's eyes because he seems so much smarter, narrows down what he was reading to two different blog entries.  The first on January 29th.

But the 7th of February entry also starts out talking about what happened when John met Sherlock. Do we believe Reality Sherlock doubts his own cleverness so much he wants to see himself through John's eyes to boost his ego?  Or is he just distracting Mary from what he was really interested in: The Tale of the Killer Cabby. With Moriarty "back," would Sherlock waste 5 minutes? Where did he first hear the name? In The Study in Pink - the Tale of the Killer Cabbie.

What did Mofftiss say about Series 4? "It's the story we've been telling from the beginning."

He was high before he got on the plane. The drugs eased Sherlock's separation from John and Mary, from his life, and to his fatal assignment. But as he searched for clues to Moriarty, the drugs took him on an unplanned journey into his own subconscious.

3. Sherlock was in solitary confinement for a week before his departure. That's a lot of time to think. What would he have to think about?  Possibly how he made his last big mistake.  He assumed. He might start checking old assumptions.  He might know Mycroft was making arrangements for his last, fatal assignment. He might be wanting to solve his oldest case. The mystery that made him make himself into what he is.

4. Mycroft may not be a "proper" big brother.  This statement is easily interpreted as "If you were a good big brother like other big brothers, you'd be doing this for me."  But it might also be meant more literally.  That Mycroft is not a "proper" brother.  That would make him a half-brother or step-brother or an adopted brother.

As we recall from His Last Vow, there seems to be another sibling of Mycroft's. As he told an official when negotiating Sherlock's fatal assignment in place of his imprisonment and was accused of ".. some expression of familial sentiment ..."

"Don't be absurd. I'm not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one."

The "brotherly compassion" is his own as a brother. The "other one?"  Someone to whom he is a brother. A sister or another brother. But that doesn't necessarily make them Sherlock's sibling. If Mycroft were either a step-brother or half-brother, he could have a sibling entirely unrelated to Sherlock by genetics or family tie.

The language is carefully constructed not to reveal anything about "the other one." Including their gender.  This also happens in another place in this episode. In the Mind Palace, Mary, John and Sherlock are under the church watching the hooded figures chanting and marching by.

Mary explains about Mycroft: "He likes to keep an eye on his mad sibling."  Sherlock's reaction in this scene is to nod agreement. "He needed a spy to hand."

Wait ... what?  If Sherlock isn't the "mad sibling" then who is? Who did Mary follow into the basement of the church in Sherlock's drug-warped Mind Palace?

But there is one more place where the writers carefully avoided mentioning an important character's gender. In the very adventure Sherlock was reading on John's blog in Reality before his descent into 19th century Sherlock. In A Study in Pink. From Anticipating Series 3: the Next Moriarty:

 But when Sherlock and the audience first hear the name "Moriarty," it is from the mouth of the Killer Cabbie. (Tale of the Killer Cabbie.) Supposedly, Sherlock's "fan" and the cabbie's "sponsor."  Yet, neither the fan nor the sponsor are ever referred to by gender. ("I have a sponsor," the cabbie tells Sherlock, "For every life I take, money goes to my kids. ... The more I kill, the better off they'll be.")
It's taken an extra series to get there, but there was a lot to set up.

Assumptions are dangerous things, as Sherlock was reminded. This writer has always assumed the fan and the sponsor are the same person. What if they aren't?  Most people assumed "James Moriarty" who killed himself on the roof of St. Bart's was the analog of the Professor Moriarty of the Conan Doyle novels. What if Jim was Not Moriarty?

5. Jim Moriarty is dead. Reality Sherlock states it unequivocally near the end of the episode. He was there, a foot away. He saw the brains, the blood, the bits of bone.


Unless it's twins - but it's never twins, is it?



Sunday, January 19, 2014

S3E3: Moriarty is Dead. Srsly.

Hero.

His Last Vow will require multiple postings to explore the characters, story, and brilliant performances of Cumberbatch and Freeman. 

That said, the first topic is, of course, generated by the last scene: the return of Moriarty.  The James Moriarty we knew, the James of the pool, who dated Molly, who met Sherlock on the roof, is dead.  Before exploring the possibilities for Series 4, it's important to a make a distinction between:

Moriarty's image.
Andrew Scott's image?
The image at left is a graphic displayed in the show. The picture at  right is a screencap from something shown after the show was completely over, and the very last credit had rolled.

 The image at left is supposed to be James Moriarty. It was not represented as a live shot. But the image at right, a cap from a short message from a living person, who is that? Moriarty or Andrew Scott? Have we missed Andrew Scott? Oh, hells yes!  But will we ever see James Moriarty alive on the show again?  No. Barring flashbacks.


RETURN TO THE SOURCE


Sherlocks and Moriartys
"The Sherlocked Blog"  explored Moriarty before (Professor Moriarty: Out of the Shadows).  But what we want to do right now is go back to Canon, to Conan Doyle, because Mofftiss always do.

Here is the first mention of the name "Moriarty" in Canon, in "The Final Problem," in which Doyle kills off Holmes by having him plunge to his death into the Reichenbach Falls, taking Professor Moriarty with him.  But it is not Professor Moriarty's name Doyle mentions first:
 "It was my intention to have stopped there, and to have said nothing of that event which has created a void in my life which the lapse of two years has done little to fill. My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother, and I have no choice but to lay the facts before the public exactly as they occurred."
I was surprised in the show, when Moriarty was named "James," and not called "Professor" or even presented as having the credentials a Professor would.  This could be explained simply by an error Conan Doyle made when he brought Sherlock Holmes back.  He forgot what he named the brother and also named Professor Moriarty "James."  Sherlockians over the decades have explained this discrepancy away in ways both serious and humorous.  In fact, there may have been three James Moriarty's in Canon, by the time Doyle was finished.*

MORIARTY WILL APPEAR IN SERIES 4 - BUT AS WHAT?

It's interesting in this episode that Sherlock is given a full name: William Sherlock Scott Holmes.  One wonders if Mycroft might also have a name, like "William Mycroft Russell Holmes."  There are obvious parallels drawn between Sherlock and James in earlier episodes.  Why not two Moriartys named "James?"  We can have Moriarty as twin of a dead brother.  We can have Moriarty as something else, a sister even, as has been suggested in The Next Moriarty, and still have Andrew Scott back in flashbacks and faked footage.

And, as seen on this blog, if James was being handled by a Moriarty who stayed in the shadows, we can draw a direct parallel between Mycroft and the Moriarty Doyle referred to as Professor.  From the post linked above:
The pure and quite sane psychopath would be Professor Moriarty; and if there is a candidate for high-functioning sociopath on the angels' side, it is the Iceman:  Mycroft Holmes. Each man is the hidden mastermind of  his respective domain.

Professor Moriarty was, in Canon, a professor of  mathematics.  So was Mummy Holmes, as we found out in this episode.  Did she mentor a psychopath?  Did he use her work on the Dynamics of Combustion to wreak havoc?  Is that the real reason she retired to the wife and mummy life?
The original Drama Queen?

What happens when Mummy turns "absolutely monstrous?"  Why do Daddy Holmes and Mary Morstan, the assassin, recognize one another as "the sane ones?"  And where is that briefly-referenced "other" brother Mycroft referred to?

This blog has a lot of ground to cover in a year.



*This excerpt from Wikipedia illustrates the confusion over how many "James" Moriarty's there were:
The stories give contradictory indications about Moriarty's family. In his first appearance in "The Final Problem", Moriarty is referred to as "Professor Moriarty" — no forename is mentioned. Watson does, however, refer to the name of another family member when he writes of "the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother". In "The Adventure of the Empty House" Holmes refers to Moriarty on one occasion as "Professor James Moriarty". This is the only time Moriarty is given a first name, and oddly, it is the same as that of his purported brother; to wit The Valley of Fear (written after the preceding two stories, but set earlier), Holmes says of Professor Moriarty: "He is unmarried. His younger brother is a station master in the west of England."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

S3E2: The Sign of Three - Service and Set Up

John, Sherlock and the Elephant
According to iPlayer, this episode is one hour, twenty-six minutes long, the first thirty-two full of engaging often humorous moments between the characters.  It's Sherlock at his borderline personality disorder best.  

"The Sign of Three" serves a variety of functions.  It assures the fans that Sherlock and John are closer than ever.  It reveals more background of the characters and plants seeds and set-ups for Episode 3 (His Last Vow).  And it services the fans in a Sherlockian  "flirtation" with the head bridesmaid and the Johnlockian antics of the boys during a 20+ minute long version of John's bachelor party, consisting of Sherlock and John sharing a drink in every street where they have discovered a body. 

Debauchery by the numbers.
They repair back to Baker Street where John ends up on the floor between Sherlock's open knees, his hand on Sherlock's thigh.  Screencappers and photomanipulators everywhere salivated in delight.

But before this could lead to what so many insist is the inevitable conclusion to a night of lowered inhibitions between them,  a client appears.  The drunken investigation leads to Sherlock passed out with his butt high in the air for John to admire.

BUT FIRST, A CASE IN WHICH DULLNESS IS ONLY EXCEEDED BY UNBELIEVABILITY

There is a great deal of character development and backstory in this episode and the audience would have been quite a bit happier with a case that suited this tone.  Something akin, perhaps, to Sherlock solving the disappearance of Bluebell, the glow-in-the-dark rabbit.  And, what with taking up probably two-thirds of the show with non-case activity, one would think the case, itself, would be interesting and tightly written.
sigh  Without retelling what should have been left in the bin, let's simply acknowledge that stabbing someone in the back does not produce an abdominal wound, and no matter how well-trained to ignore distraction or how tightly one wears their belt, they surely notice when they are fatally skewered.  And for a show that includes the line "What do we say about coincidence?"  "The Universe is rarely so lazy," the coincidence of the woman who once dated the murderer showing up in Sherlock's flat - are writers often so lazy, then? 
BUT BENEDICT IS BRILLIANT


Sharing interests.

Surely, they will put Benedict up for the BAFTA for "His Last Vow."  But it will be a huge mistake.  This is the episode, the Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch Master Class in Acting as Artform.  Benedict Cumberbatch has created the most complex and truly three-dimensional character ever seen in any form of theater.   Only he could take this peripatetic version of a human by multiple authors and weave a stunningly seamless and perfectly believable character from the disparate threads he's been given.

"Why are you all doing that?  John?"
Martin Freeeman is a wonderful actor, a "Spencer Tracy for the new millenium" kind of an actor, and as fine as there is in any normal world.  But normal worlds are sometimes made extraordinary by the presence of the mysterious: that which we can hardly believe exists.  Benedict Cumberbatch, while always present to other actors, hovers just above them all, inhabiting some plane of existence in performance others only occasionally glimpse, and most don't know exists at all.

Sherlock is powerfully confident intimidating Mary's old flame and perfectly at ease treating a child as his equal.  He is confused by laughter and frightened by tears, calling out to John when his audience responds so inexplicably during his wedding speech.  Sherlock is jealous and desperate to please, he is cold, dangerous, brilliant, focused and absolutely clueless.

The BAFTA-winning moments.
He is perfectly Alpha and totally vulnerable.  Yet, he is all of a piece and not one of those things rings false for even a split second.   This role in the hands of any lesser actor would simply be a mess of contradictions.  But this actor, through intelligence and enormous talent, discipline, and inspiration, determination and courage, makes Sherlock a living breathing human being.  In reality, the Sherlocks of the world are unlovable, friendless, and never anyone's best man.  But this one, created in the genius of this actor, makes believable the mystery and miracle of love from and for Sherlock Holmes.



Alone.



Rage and sarcasm and smugness don't need an actor of this caliber.   Serviettes do. In this moment and all like it, art resides.

Benedict Cumberbatch is breath-taking.   

S3E1: Fan Bashing and Fan Service - the Solution Substitutes

Guardian interview, January 2012
Here's a quote from the interview:

"There is a clue everybody's missed," he says tantalizingly. "So many people theorising about Sherlock's death online – and they missed it! We've worked out how Sherlock survives, and actually shot part of what really happened. It all makes sense."

Of course, Moffat's problem was: we didn't miss it.  Some Reichenbach theorists figured out his solution.  Then, other Reichenbach theorists showed why that solution was flawed.  Did they know it was Moffat's solution?  No, it was just one of many possibilities.  But Moffat knew his  "all makes sense" solution was a bust.  In point of fact, in light of what is seen on screen, no solution can make sense.  Moffat's problem became: if he answers the question: How Did Sherlock Survive the Fall?  he looks like a fool no matter what he answers.

THE MOFFAT SOLUTION?  PORTRAY THE FANS AS MISFITS, MORONS AND MADMEN


The Reichenbach Theorists.

And here we have them, the Reichenback theorists, à la Steven Moffat: almost all young (except for the creepy obsessed older guy, Anderson) including the cos-playing fan and the semi-goth fat chick (back turned to us here).

In the opening scene, when we cut to Lestrade and Anderson, what does Lestrade say?  "Two years and the theories keep gettin' more stupid." 

Moffat's answer to having no answer was to give no answer at all and portray fans who came up with solutions as a bunch of losers.  In the end, we are told to be like John Watson.  We are simply to accept without complaint that we will never be told because we are so grateful to have Sherlock back at all.  And whatever we do, do not point out that the emperor has no
He's not telling John.
clothes.

Because that would mean we don't love Sherlock.  John said, "I don't care how you did it..."  And neither, according to Moffat, should we.  Only the morons, misfits and madmen care.

THE BETTER SOLUTION

A little humility would have gone a long way here.  A bit of honesty.  Less passive/aggressive fan-directed rage.

He could have simply told the press some people did figure it out.  He could have referred back the the missing scaffolding he thought he could count on.  He could have said, "I'm not saying which solution came closest."  He could have chosen some other path.  But he chose fan-bashing and waving his scepter.  And to placate everyone - he gave us fan service.


Sherlock kisses Molly. ... Sherlock almost kisses Moriarty. ... Sherlock has a tender moment with Molly and kisses her again. ... Cumberbatch's parents show up. 

Yup.  All the feels.

And the word went out from on high: "IN SERIES THREE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO AT ALL TIMES IS: MAKE SURE BENEDICT LOOKS FABULOUS."

The beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch.
Let there be Cumberbatch.  And there was Cumberbatch.  And it was good.

More beautiful than we have ever seen him.  Having far too much fun.  Winking at the ladies.  Kissing everyone in sight.  Dancing a pas de deux with his coat.

The story was thin, the solution was lame and Moffat is an ass.  But he is right about one thing:

As long as we have Sherlock and John and Molly and Lestrade and dear Mrs. Hudson, he can pretty much get away with his arrogant bullshit.  But be careful, darlin.'  There may come a moment when you piss on us one time too many. 


 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

S3:E1 - The Empty Hearse

Wait ... what?
I have said many times that whatever explanation Mofftiss came up with would not fit what we saw on screen and would be, in the end, unsatisfying. 

I'm not that happy to be proven right. 

That said, there was rather a lot of "fan service," but all with an undertone of contempt for fans.  They did seem to work very hard to make every shot of Benedict Cumberbatch reblog worthy or gif-ready.  Lots of close-ups, lots of perfect hair, lots of perfectly lighted angles of the star's incredibly photogenic face.   

The Rebloggable Sherlock.
All included: cheekbones, collar, hair, the great mouth and sea green eyes.

The great moments between people, the ones we expect from Gatiss, included a lovely scene between Sherlock and Molly, Lestrade's reaction to his return and a fine scene of game-playing  between Sherlock and Mycroft. 

I loved Mary Moran, but we know what happens in the books.  They don't always go with Doyle, though, so perhaps we can hope for her continuing presence.  I think Ms. Abbington adds a much-needed element to the show and all her scenes are a delight to watch.  Oddly, her on-screen chemistry with Benedict Cumberbatch is even better than with her real-life partner, Martin Freeman.

I will save specific comments until the show airs in the U.S., but I can say this: I'm glad he's back.  Sherlock doesn't like being Sherlock half as much as we like him being Sherlock.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Killers Conundrum

Who is that Guy at the Bottom?

The top image is the picture in the file Mycroft shows John at his club.

The second image is of Sherlock just after the man saves him from being hit by a bus and a frame before the man is shot dead.  It's obvious that the top two are the same person.

The third is in Mrs. Hudson's flat while Sherlock is on the roof of Saint Bart's.  In fact, he showed up at 221B while John was off talking to Mycroft at the Diogenes Club.  We are supposed, apparently, to believe he is ready to assassinate Mrs. Hudson if Sherlock doesn't jump from the roof of Saint Bart's.

But how would he know?  He'll get a call on his mobile, presumably.  If so, why does he need his gun within inches of his hand in his toolbox with the lid open?  Just for the convenience of the camera?  Or is he protector rather than assassin?

Why is this Guy on the Stairway?





It seems as if we are supposed to think he is there to kill John.  But he was one of the "assassins" Mycroft showed to John, and they were all supposed to be sent by potential customers of Moriarty's for his computer code.

They protect Sherlock while trying to find the secret code. Are we supposed to assume Moriarty hired him away from his original handler and set him up to kill John?