Friday, March 15, 2013

The Holmes Boys Stalking Moriarty

You don't want to piss off the Holmes boys. Seriously.

A casual viewer of SHERLOCK might not know about these two from the Canon, but Cumberbatch's modern Sherlock is quite as brilliant as his Conan Doyle counterpart.  From the Canon, we know Mycroft is even more brilliant.  Sherlock said so:

 "...Mycroft has better powers of observation than I. ... If the art of the detective began and ended in reasoning from an arm-chair, my brother would be the greatest criminal agent that ever lived." (from: "The Greek Interpreter.")

No dinner for Adler.
In SHERLOCK, the brothers have been estranged for years until Moriarty through Irene Adler plays them off against one another.1 At the end, Sherlock calls Mycroft brother for the first time and offers his acknowledgement of his own mistake.  Mycroft had already done so.  Sherlock walks out and leaves The Woman for Mycroft to deal with.

Imagine two such formidable intellects joining forces to obliterate Moriarty and his band of agents.  The real journey to Reichenbach starts in the next scene, the brothers having quietly formed a plan.

Their first move: to deceive John Watson as well as any surveillance gadgets that may be secreted in Speedy's Cafe or listening devices trained on the flat at 221B.  Just as TV writers give characters someone to talk to in order to convey information to viewers, so Watson will become the way Sherlock and Mycroft feed their scenario to Moriarty.

The first evidence the viewer gets for the existence of this arrangement between Sherlock and Mycroft appears when John Watson finds Mycroft smoking in the rain in front of Speedy's. "You don't smoke," Watson says.  "I also don't frequent cafes," Mycroft replies.  Mycroft is doing something quite out of character.  And "out-of-character" is the thread carrying right through the rest of this episode, "Baskerville" and into "The Reichenbach Fall."

Journey to Reichenbach, Scene 1.
Mycroft leads John into the cafe to convince him  Adler is dead.  Whether John tells Sherlock she died or that she is alive and well in America,  "Adler's dead" is the message Mycroft and Sherlock want John and Moriarty to believe.
 
Why not bring Watson inside? Because John Watson, stalwart, courageous, crack marksman and possessor of nerves of steel, is a lousy liar.  Just as Doyle's Sherlock deceives Watson to apprehend a killer in "The Case of the Dying Detective," (later Holmes asks: "You won't be offended, Watson?   You will realise that among your many talents dissimulation finds no place ...") bringing in John would be dangerous to the plan and to him.
Sherlock says "please."
After John decides to only tell Sherlock Adler is in America, Sherlock asks for her camera-phone to keep.  John certainly remembers what Sherlock said on their first adventure together: "If she'd left him, he would have kept the phone.  People do: sentiment."  Logically then, John will assume Sherlock wants the phone because she has "left him" and he cared for her.

For his part, Sherlock was content to let John walk away with the file and camera-phone until it seemed as if John changed his mind and would tell Sherlock the "truth."  Sherlock forestalls John by asking for the phone, which John finally hands over.  As he leaves, John asks if Adler ever texted Sherlock  again.  Sherlock replies,  "Once, a few months ago."  What did she say? "Goodbye, Mr. Holmes."

Now John is convinced that it would be very unkind to admit Adler is actually dead because Sherlock believes the witness protection story and obviously had feelings for her.  After all, when John refused initially to give him the phone, Sherlock said "Please."  Please?  Sherlock always demands from John what he wants, he would have gotten up, come around and taken the phone.  Sherlock is far out of character, here, and John is struck by it.  As are the viewers.

Cutting it close.
But the writers want us to know Adler is alive, we see Sherlock remember saving her from beheading in Karachi.  So why would he need her camera-phone?  If Sherlock has, indeed,  fooled Mycroft into believing she is dead, why would he need to convince John by asking for the phone? 

This is Sherlock and Mycroft working together and the most obvious questions are not asked:
  • Why wasn't Irene Adler in prison for trying to blackmail the British Government?  
  • Why is she someplace in Pakistan and how does Sherlock know enough to be there and rescue her?  
  • Is it possible Adler has "come over" to the side of the angels and is working for the government? 
Possibly, she is in a "witness protection scheme," only not in America.  At this point, Irene Adler is the only living witness who can testify that James Moriarty was manipulating the action when she tried to blackmail the British Government.  Her personal mobile phone has pictures of Sherlock leaving his flat in a sheet, pictures Moriarty sent her.  In Pakistan, her death becomes more convincing to everyone and she is easier to hide amongst millions of other women in abaya and niqab.

Mycroft is the careful planner, Sherlock the more impulsive actor.  Mycroft hates "legwork;"  Sherlock bounds over rooftops to intercept a moving cab.  Mycroft is "the most dangerous man you'll ever meet." Sherlock will torture a dying man for information. What might one be planning the other is willing to carry out?


Next: The Most Dangerous Game



1 See Journey to Reichenbach Five: Reconciliation

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