Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Journey to Reichenbach Five: Reconciliation

In this scene from "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock Holmes completes his evolution into "the most human human being" that John Watson has ever known.  We see Sherlock suffering, as Adler executes Moriarty's plan to neutralize "the Holmes boys," as she calls them, knowing he put Mycroft in this position. It is perhaps occurring to him, as My croft pointed out in the first episode of SHERLOCK: they belong on the same aide.

Moriarty didn't sic Irene Adler on Sherlock only to obtain the translation of an email.  Moriarty targeted the Holmes brothers specifically.  Knowing how much animosity there was between the brothers, Moriarty can assume Sherlock, will operate in isolation from Mycroft with Adler,  allowing him to design a script that will play out unhindered, something Moriarty learns during  The Great Game, when Sherlock locates the missile plans while ignoring Mycroft as much as possible.  

Using Adler,  Moriarty defeats both Sherlock and Mycroft.  The  counter-terrorist plan is neutralized, Mycroft forced to submit to demands financially burdensome to the government, his own career ruined when he must "pop off and talk to people" and explain why they are helpless against a woman generally regarded only as a notorious prostitute.   Thus Moriarty arranges the neutralization of  both brothers as effective opponents.   Mycroft would be demoted and replaced at the very least and Sherlock, the pawn who leaked top secret information to the enemy, would never be used by the government again, including Scotland Yard. 

Sherlock checking Adler's pupillary light reflex.
But there was something Moriarty nor Mycroft took into account:  sentiment.  Sherlock has the mind of a scientist, a constant researcher.  He is a man so exceptional even a gay dominatrix finds him irresistible, a circumstance neither Moriarty nor Mycroft are capable of predicting.   Sherlock Holmes, beyond the callowness, self-centered narcissism and juvenile antics, is at his core a man of character and self-discipline, who, when he is working, is working and has the presence of mind to take her pulse, note her physiological responses, even while playing the role of naive seducee.

Sherlock Homes prevails prevails precisely because he is not a sociopath.

That is the essential fact driving Sherlock ineluctably to the the ledge: he is not a sociopath.  He can empathize.   He compartmentalizes his feelings in order to ignore suffering and inflict pain for the sake of larger and suitably worthy goals.  But he is not without feeling or the ability to understand feelings in others.   Journey to Reichenbach Four: The Savage Dance,  explores Sherlock Holmes experiencing Molly Hooper's pain, which he caused after attacking her on Christmas Eve, which provokes from him an act of compassion.  But she is not the enemy.

No mercy.
The great poker player Barry Greenstein once wrote that to be successful, a player needs both empathy and a total lack of compassion at the table.  The player must know  others' feelings in order to bluff, wheedle, intimidate and manipulate the opponent's chips into his stack and take every last chip from every player he can, even if he knows their baby needs milk and their wife a cancer treatment.  As another poker legend Mike Caro says, you can lend them money away from the table, but during the game, there is no such thing as mercy. 

Sherlock takes everything from Adler.

"Everything I said, it's not real. I was just playing the game," she tells him, hoping if she reveals her true feelings for him, he might spare her.

"I know.  And this is just losing," he responds, handing her destruction to Mycroft.  For the first time, as he offers the unlocked camera-phone,  we hear Sherlock address Mycroft with filial respect as: brother.  Sherlock offers his apologies, as well, "I hope the contents make up for any inconvenience I may have caused you tonight."

"A Scandal in Belgravia" is a film in itself, a story that can stand on it's own.  But it actually  ends when Sherlock leaves Adler with Mycroft after she had begged for mercy, acknowledging she won't last six months without the protection of her camera-phone's contents.  Sherlock exits, coldly remarking to, "Sorry about dinner."

That's the end.  The next thing the viewer sees, is not a continuation of  S02E01, it is the start of "The Reichenbach Fall."

The real opening scene of The Reichenbach Fall.

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