S1E3: The Great Game
Watson was only an Army doctor in a combat zone, why would he know a thing about wounds?
Sherlock gives us the police finding on her death:
"So, dead two days. According to one of her staff, Raoul DeSantos, she cut her hand on a rusty nail in the garden. Nasty wound, (which John leans over to take a look at) tetanus bacteria enters the bloodstream - goodnight, Vienna."
HOLMES: The cut on her hand, it's deep, it would have bled a lot, right?
HOLMES: But the wound's clean. Very clean and fresh. .... How long would the bacteria have been incubating inside her?
WATSON: Eight, ten days.
Sherlock smiles knowingly. The dull fellow with the medical degree who can't manage to figure out that this woman couldn't possibly have died of tetantus without many days of increasingly serious and obvious symptoms, who was in combat but cannot recognize a fresh post-mortem wound, finally manages to work that out:
WATSON: The cut was made later.
LESTRAUDE: After she was dead?
HOLMES: Must have been.
Here is just some of the information (from Mayoclinic.com) that Dr. Watson, combat doctor, seems to have forgotten:
Signs and symptoms of tetanus may appear anytime from a few days to several weeks after tetanus bacteria enter your body through a wound. The average incubation period is seven to eight days.
Common signs and symptoms of tetanus, in order of appearance, are:
- Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles
- Stiffness of your neck muscles
- Difficulty swallowing
- Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
- Painful body spasms, lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light
- Elevated blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
|Painting by Sir Charles Bell, 1809: tetanus spasm|
No one could have found this woman simply lying dead one day with no warning signs. The cut on her hand would have been clean from the washing of the body and not re-bled, obviously, but Watson would have seen immediately that the cut was not a few days old.
We learn later that Sherlock, naturally, figured it all out from the injection sites on her forehead which instantly suggest botox to most casual viewers.
S2E1: A Scandal in Belgravia
When the elderly woman is attacked, the doctor gives her a hug.
He does not: take a pulse, look for pupillary reflex, or even note if they are the same size or note injuries to her face, feel her zygomatic arch for fracture, and then ... he lets the old lady walk down stairs unaccompanied while he hangs back to ask what's going on.
A woman of this age, or a man but especially a woman with a more delicate bone structure, can suffer brain damage, similar to an infant, from any strong blow to the head which creates a whiplash effect. Our guy has her walk downstairs alone (remember, she has a bad hip) after some sort of attack still a mystery to him and apparent shock and serious emotional reaction. (Perhaps Sherlock should have put a blanket on her as a sign to the doctor.)
SERE - EEE - ESS - LEE?
Where's the doctor? The one who, when there is a patient in front of them takes charge, because the welfare of the patient is paramount? They couldn't spare a few seconds for him to do even a cursory check? What "very good" medical man of military experience does not become Alpha Male Extraordinaire with a patient in front of him? A patient he has a personal affection for?
Note to writers: You have Martin Freeman. It's bad enough an actor as talented as this is burdened by his character's medical duncery. Please stop inflicting it on your viewers. If you don't want to pay for a full-time medical adviser, Google is your friend. There is room on this show for more than one clever hero. You knew that in the first episode. Sherlock wanted John because he is "very good."
Sherlock was wrong. He never needed an assistant. He needed a partner. Give us a Dr. Watson for the 21st century.