Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sherlock Backstory 3: The Holmes-Moriarty Connection


What was Holmes senior having... an affair... a nervous breakdown... his solicitor change his will... gender-reassignment surgery?

The above quote (from the DVD commentary on "The Great Game") hints at the backstory Mr. Gatiss seems to be slowly paying out like fishing line for a shy trout.  Apparently he wasn't quite ready to share so much here, or possibly was shooting a future flashback. Part of what we do see is Mycroft threaten to "order" his recalcitrant brother to find the missing memory stick.  Sherlock Backstory 2: The Privateer theorizes that Sherlock Holmes not only acts as a consultant to the police, but also contracts on a case-by-case basis with the British government.  The threat, perhaps, a subtle bit of backstory, then.

Outside of this curious reference to what was cut, bits of the Holmes brothers enticingly mysterious past leak through the fabric of the plot-lines from the very first episode.
Even before Sherlock finds Mycroft waiting for him at the end of "A Study in Pink,"  we had hints from the Killer Cabbie, who taunts Sherlock, "Still the addict."   How would he know anything about Sherlock's addiction?  His sponsor Moriarty told him, apparently.  See Tale of the Killer Cabbie.  From that post:

"In any case, Sherlock must not be shot.  He must be one of the suicides. Moriarty wanted more than his death, only Sherlock's defeat would earn the final payment.  The words from the cabbie's mouth are Moriarty's, the method to entice him, appeal to both his ego and his inherent reckless disregard for his own safety.  He'll risk not breathing for the sake of "brain-work" because "breathing is boring." 

It was personal from the very beginning. 

In "The Great Game," the episode that brings Sherlock and the viewer into direct contact with James Moriarty, a pink phone is sent to Sherlock in an envelope addressed specifically to him, connecting the crimes and the perpetrator to the Killer Cabbie and his sponsor, Moriarty. 

In Lestrade's office, some light dialogue suggests that the kidnapper has gone to some trouble to make it look like Jennifer Wilson's phone because he read John's blog.  But in the basement, when they find the shoes, Sherlock says quietly to himself,  "The curtain rises," and when John asks what he means replies,  "I've been expecting this for some time." 

Expecting what?  Old shoes?  A bomber who kidnaps random victims?  To find Moriarty had already invaded his personal life, putting shoes in the building where he lives?  Sherlock has  been expecting Moriarty to approach him; it's personal, somehow.  In "A Study in Pink," the Killer Cabbie came to get Sherlock at his flat, we saw him come walking right up the stairs.   In "The Great Game," the first explosion is so close to 221B it blows the windows out of the flat and knocks Sherlock off his feet.   Moriarty's first words to Sherlock are, "Hello, sexy." Through the second victim, Moriarty says to Sherlock, "This is between you and me."

What's between Moriarty and Sherlock?  At the end of "A Study in Pink," Sherlock tells John he has no idea what "Moriarty" is.  How can anything be between them, if Sherlock has no clue what "Moriarty" might mean?

Starting at the beginning, why did that cabbie seek out Sherlock at all, much less at his flat?  He had no reason to think Sherlock would find him, he drove away after Sherlock  dismissed him.   Yet, he put himself at risk, trying to conquer and kill Sherlock Holmes in a way which would humiliate him in memory and invalidate his reputation.   The great Sherlock Holmes would fall victim to a funny little man driving a cab.  It foreshadows "The Reichenbach Fall", where Sherlock "will die in disgrace."  Of course, that's the point of this, James tells him. 

Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty are tied together from childhood, from the time the detective describes as "where I started:"  Carl Powers.  And if the words in the cabbie's mouth are Moriarty's, it's a very small leap to that cabbie actually being Moriarty.

Recall what Sherlock said to him, "Either way, you're wasted as a cabbie."  True.  Because  he wasn't a cabbie at all.  In this case, we didn't see Sherlock force the name of his "sponsor" from him by inflicting pain on him.  Moriarty senior was declaring his identity:   calling for his son to step up and take over the payment of the debt, that which he owed to Sherlock Holmes.

Moriarty.  So much more than just a man.  What's more than a man?  A family.  A clan.

The four Irish kingdoms eventually broke into five nations under the High King, or Ard Righ. These royal lines would later produce such great kings as the fourth century King Niall of the Nine Hostages who died in France while cutting off the retreat of the Romans from Britain, and King Brian Boru who died in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, finally expelling the Vikings from Dublin and Ireland.
 
The grreat Gaelic family Moriarty emerged in later years in county Kerry. This distinguished Irish Clann were descended from O'Muirtheataith, who was descended from Domhnall, King of Munster, and possessed the "Flock abounding Plain" of Aisde on the river Mang in that county. They also held Castlemaine Harbour. They lost much of their territories in the Anglo/Norman invasion of Strongbow in the year 1172 and they were ousted by the Fitzgeralds. They also branched to Kells in county Meath but this was also confiscated. The Moriartys were a strong ecclesiastical family and the Rev. David Moriarty was Bishop of Kerry, but many of them lost their right to preach under the Penal code of 1714. Notable amongst the family at this time was Father Thady McMoriarty.
During the 12th century, 1172 A.D., Dermott McMurrogh, in his fight for the position of Ard Righ, requested King Henry II of England for his assistance. This was the first intrusion onto Ireland of the Anglo/Normans. Many native Irish families lost their lands and possessions. This was followed by Cromwell's invasion of 1640, when further loss of the land befell the unfortunate Irish people. Ulster in the North was seeded with protestant Scottish and English. And, again many Irish families lost their ancient territories.
Black raptor on the chest of the cabbie's son.
It is noted in more than one newspaper story in "The Reichenbach Fall" that Moriarty was "Irish-born."  Noting that the Moriarty Coat of Arms is a black raptor (or eagle) on a silver field, we can find two instances of raptors in "Sherlock" that are both related to Moriarty: the picture of the Killer Cabbie's children, and the wings left on the wall outside 221B Baker Street in "The Reichenbach Fall" as Sherlock and John escape the police. The wings are also seen in daylight as John runs from 221B and back to Sherlock after finding Mrs. Hudson unharmed.

Black raptor wings on the wall: Moriarty owes Sherlock.
Weaving a thread through the episodes from what seem like disparate elements and taking into account the remarks of the writers that the most frightening thing about a terrorist is his acting with disregard for his own life, an ancient feud fueled by old wrongs unrectified and new hurts by a perceived historic enemy would be right in line with bringing Sherlock into the modern world.  Holmes is also a family name traceable to the 1200s at least, and some of the English Holmes "moved to" and "settled in" Ireland.  It's hardly difficult to assume as part of or closely related to invading forces that usurped the lands of Irish clans.

The Killer Cabbie may have been a man with an aneurism, he also is easily cast as the senior Moriarty, a proper genius, father to James, intent on destroying the son of Holmes senior, his enemy.   Moriarty plays the role of the "funny little man driving a cab" well, right down to the shaving foam on his neck.  Why?  Always the question for Moriarty in any form: why are you doing this?  What's it all for?
Carl Powers, John.  It's where I began.


Who did Holmes Senior possibly run off with?  The only woman we've seen who makes a good candidate is the one torn from the picture of the Killer Cabbie's children.  Was it an affair?  Or did he disappear with her to rescue her and her children from a psychopathic husband and father who helped one of his children murder another child?

Who would have put Holmes Senior onto the crime?  Sherlock, the boy genius who knew Carl Powers' shoes would have been with his clothes.   Sherlock said, "I made a fuss, I tried to get the police interested, but nobody seemed to think it was important."  Perhaps his father listened to him more carefully than he knew.

Mycroft somehow blames Sherlock for whatever happened, for what made him have to assume an adult's role at home and "play mother" to Sherlock.  Even assuming the senior Holmes didn't share his investigation of the Carl Powers case with his son, it's easy to imagine the hyper-astute Sherlock noting behavior patterns and physical evidence that would lead him to perhaps blurt out that his father was keeping company with another woman.  If Holmes senior left, it could have led to the breakdown of his wife, or even her suicide. 

If Mycroft blames Sherlock for being the catalyst that started the reactions leading to the breakdown of the family, Moriarty senior and the child psychopath James, the boy taken from his father's side, surely also blame him.

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