Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's 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

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?


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.

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.


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


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?