not literally, because he’s dead. or even figuratively. from what i’ve heard, he was kind of hilarious, just wanting to noodle around with his historical writings that no one else liked as much as he did. i’m just saying fuck him. rather, stop using him as an excuse for this.
it’s simple math. you have two main characters, you write about two characters. joan taking the lead in dead clade walking (for the whole eight minutes that she did) didn’t work because she was outright being sherlock, repeating his unique behaviors, even speech patterns, instead of going about things her own way like someone who’d been a practicing consulting detective for over a year would have done. since this isn’t something they’re going to continue, because we don’t actually need two sherlocks, ultimately it didn’t do much to move her or their developing relationship forward. that’s why it fell flat to me, not because joan was overstepping her bounds as a watson.
speaking of. admittedly, i’m not all that invested in acd (in case you didn’t notice) or doing right by the legacy. the ritchie movies are fun are hell. the bbc show has its good points. the granada films prompt fond memories of hanging out in my grandma’s apartment. but it’s elementary, and especially joan i care about. my deal is their adherence to their own concept. i hear “partners” and i don’t think it will translate to one trailing behind the other, her development almost completely in reaction to his. and i don’t applaud that as an admirable narrative device. all i see is evidence of the staff’s massive writer’s boner for sherlock and further proof of their “tell, don’t show” problem. they say joan is equal to sherlock, often. they need to back that shit up.
joan IS a selfless person, a hufflepuff through and through, and that’s big chunk of why i love her. while she does see her own worth in a lot of ways, she doesn’t think she’s particularly special or deserving of attention compared to the other people in her life. the show not focusing on her is not illuminating that aspect of her personality, but textually validating her negative opinion of herself. they’re saying, “you’re right, joan. you’re not that interesting. just stand there and be awesome for sherlock for the next twelve episodes.” allowing us to see more of her backstory and motivations and relationships, exploring why this life works for her when she dropped everything to pursue it would not warp her character. it would only enhance it. imagine how much more impact the reveal about her father could have had if we’d known ahead of time that she does work for the homeless, if we’d been able to see her looking out for people with mental illness.
imagine getting moments like that on a regular basis.
imagine joan being a fully fleshed out person.
now imagine not being ass over teakettle in love with her.
as sherlock would say, poppycock.
It’s the middle of the night and I’m feeling the feels right now thanks to No Lack of Void. I’m torn because I’m gutted that an interesting character as Alistair (though sadly mostly through allusions to his personality/character than from actual screen time) was killed off, but the conversations it provoked about addiction and the meaninglessness of time were really juicy and wonderful.
And the Beckett, oh the Beckett, that was just perfect. I love literary allusions, especially when they’re done well and tie into the story without being clunky or too precious. We get the play, and then we get Alistair’s ghost showing up to have deep exchanges about life (and quoting Hamlet’s father’s ghost - an allusion within an allusion!) under the guise of a chat while Sherlock is waiting for something to happen. He is the optimistic Vladimir to Sherlock’s misanthropic Estragon, cheerfully and artfully probing the deepest recesses of his heart.
But he’s just a ghost, and sadly won’t be around for out of body chats in the future (as much as I’d dig that, I can’t see the writers engaging with the idea). And so Joan is the other Vladimir in this episode. I’m reminded of a scene in the play where Vladimir is concerned for Gogo (Estragon) and is asking him how he came to be beaten and Gogo shouts “Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me! Stay with me!” And so Joan breaks a plate and stays with him and we have this incredible scene about the ever present struggle that is life for recovering addicts, the way 30 years can collapse into an instant and everything learnt in that time is forgotten, becomes meaningless - just as in the play Vladimir and Gogo muse on the pointlessness of their waiting only to return the next day to do the very same thing.
And Joan’s monologue about getting up yesterday/today/tomorrow/the day after that, the repetition and actual mundane nature of recovery (and of life) tied in with the earlier part of the quote that Alistair says to Sherlock at the end - also from Vladimir to Estragon - about that very struggle: “Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot?…Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He’ll know nothing.” Playing with the concept that every day is an addicts first day? That it’s a necessary time-loop?
I’m probably not articulating the connection very well, but it feels clear as day to me. And in the end, Waiting for Godot was always about (for me at least) the tragedy of wasted time, from the pointlessness of lives lived waiting for something to happen instead of actually making it happen (“We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.”), and isn’t that what Joan and Alistair were ultimately saying? Do the necessaries, but LIVE your life, live it and don’t wait for or expect bad things to happen - they’re not inevitable.
First of all, marrying off one of your two lead characters is Risky. Especially considering that about 50% of the show consists of these main characters’ interactions in the apartment that they share together. Having one of them get hitched and move out would unavoidably change the dynamic of the series. It is Risky. But I still want them to do it.
In the original books, John Watson is a straight man who marries a woman, Mary Morstan. In Elementary, Joan Watson is an apparently straight woman who has only been seen to date men but who has yet to be introduced to anyone we can recognize as Mary Morstan’s equivalent on the show.
This show has demonstrated a willingness to play around with the genders and relationships of Conan Doyle’s original characters to add a new twist and keep the viewers on their toes. It has taken two iconic Holmesian Male characters and reimagined them as women, and it has even established Ms. Hudson as a transgender woman. Not only does this keep the show engaging and surprising, it has the added benefit of providing better representation to frequently under-recognized or under-respected groups.
Because of this trend on the show, I very much want, and do not think it is unreasonable to expect for Joan Watson to eventually get married to Mary Morstan and for Mary Morstan’s character to remain a woman.
I am not alone in this desire, and I know there are people watching the show hoping for a story arc about Joan being in denial about her sexuality and her coming to the realization that it isn’t a man she wants it’s a woman.There seems to be a great deal of desire for this sort of denial-to-realization character arc. But, personally, that is not the direction I am hoping the show will go in.
What I want is for Joan to just one day meet Mary and start flirting and then dating without Joan ever acknowledging that this is outside of the norm for her.
Naturally, Sherlock would react to this with surprise (as, most likely, would the viewing audience), because it is contrary to what Joan’s past behavior has indicated of her sexuality (i.e. only going out with men). And Joan would calmly explain that she is bisexual; she never mentioned it because it never seemed relevant, and it’s not her fault he assumed she was straight. And then that would be it. No more talk about Joan’s sexuality. End of discussion, moving on. Because Sherlock has demonstrated repeatedly that he is perfectly comfortable with gender and sexuality issues that others can have a hard time accepting, so once he has this new data there’s no reason to harp on about it. It just gets added to the pile of information he knows about Joan, and then he proceeds to react to this relationship in the same way he would to any of her others.
I’d prefer for Joan to be openly bi than have the show drag out the whole denial and realization drama, for a couple of reasons.
(please don’t hate me)the ‘Character Coming To Terms With Their Sexuality’ plotline has been done. It is a Good plotline, and it is Important and Relatable for a lot of people. But sometimes I feel like it’s all we get to see of queer characters on tv. So much of the queer tv narrative is about characters “coming to terms” with their sexuality, and not enough of it is about them just going about their relationships and having regular relationship drama rather than sexual identity crises and coming out issues.
Second, bisexuality does not get enough representation. There are so many issues with bisexuality not being recognized as a real orientation, and the need for apparently straight characters to determine that they’ve been pursuing the wrong gender all along before they can be established in a queer relationship perpetuates that. It would be really nice to see Joan as a bisexual character who is comfortable with her sexuality and whose relationships with both genders are treated with equal respect and legitimacy.
Third, it highlights the problems with making assumptions about other people’s sexuality. So we’ve only ever seen Joan date men. That doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not she is interested in women. We have a tendency to think of sexuality in binary - one or the other - but that’s generally not the way that sexuality really works. And no matter how many people of a single gender you see somebody date, you cannot know for sure what their sexual orientation is unless they explicitly tell you.
ALSO, as an added bonus, establishing Joan as bisexual and having her marry a woman would help to subvert the notion that lesbian and bisexual women are only queer because they haven’t met the right man yet - an extremely damaging notion which Stephen Moffat has been decried for perpetuating with his representation of Irene Adler on ‘Sherlock’. And I think there is a wonderful quality of poetic justice to one Sherlock Holmes adaptation acting to repair the kind of social damage that has been perpetuated by another.
#in the first episode of ‘Elementary crushes my soul: Second Season’: THIS SCENE. #was I supposed to look at this and not choke up on my feelings? because it didn’t work #just… just look at it #and think about all these little moments when somebody says something to us that both seems like exageration and is flattering to us #and the first instinct is to brush it off #and not because of false modesty but because it really doesn’t seem possible for this person’s words to be truth #not EVER having friends? seems impossible. everybody HAS a friend. #so Joan’s first instinctive reaction is this little shake of her head and playing it off more as a compliment to herself #(that she doesn’t think she deserves btw I mean she doesn’t think she did anything special by befriending Sherlock) #than as a very sad statement about Sherlock’s personal life #AND THEN #every single time something like this happens #after the instinctive reaction is off - there is this moment of clarity #that this is in fact TRUE #and there is this silent ‘OOOOH’ behind her eyes and leaning back against the chair and then the stilness of her movements and realisation of what she’s just heard #(first level of pain) #BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE (AND HATE) ABOUT THIS THE MOST #this little something that passes her face between the blinking and looking back up at Mycroft #which I personally choose to read as not being sad because Sherlock’s such a sad man #but being sad for all the people who pass judgement on him without even trying to know him #because Joan has SEEN Sherlock behind the mask he wears and most people see #she’s seen him saving lives and catching murderers because poeple MATTER to him #she’s seen him with Gregson and with Marcus and with Mrs. Hudson #she’s seen him carrying for victims and their emotional state #she’s seen him struggling with his OWN emotions #she’s seen him hugging a woman who’s been someone’s sex slave locked in the basement #she’s seen him at his best and at his worse #and she KNOWS what all those people are missing on #of course trying to befriend Sherlock is not easy #but Joan of all the poeple knows that he’s worthy of friendship and trusting him #and the fact she sits here in front of Sherlock’s OWN BROTHER how tells her he has no idea how to BEFRIEND him #I think it kind of kills her a little bit inside
I’m all caught up on elementary now, and I’m pleased to see the writing improving significantly from the midseason doldrums.
SPOILERS FOR NO LACK OF VOID
Is Sherlock not tactile? From what I understand of the word, I think he is, to an extent, probably more so than Joan is. Judging from the looks of the satisfied women leaving the brownstone in the morning, he appears to be good in bed, and I can’t imagine he could be so without having a good grasp of sensual touch. Sherlock was expressive with Irene in bed, tracing her beauty marks, caressing her face. If you argue that he is only “tactile” in bed or when sex is involved, then you need to take into account that he was very hands on when he reconnected with Irene and saw her “alive” for the first time. He was also very tactile with her when he confronted her about the missing beauty marks - not in a nice way but still very hands-on. And again this season when he is comforting Moriarty and walking her out to the police in The Diabolical Kind. He is also not afraid to use touch to comfort victims - the Russian girl that was being kept as a sex slave for one, and I think he also, altho’ this one I’m not 100% sure of, this season, he physically comforted the female victim of the serial killer as she was being released from her captivity.
All this led me to think about Joan and her tactileness. Has she hugged or held anyone’s hand, or stroked a shoulder in comforting anyone or expressing concern? I don’t remember seeing her (that doesn’t mean she didn’t). I know there are those with a more encyclopedic memory of Joan than I, so feel free to chime in and correct me. Joan handshakes Oren’s fiance, I don’t remember her hugging her mom, she doesn’t touch Liam or Ty when she meets with them (does she?). I don’t remember her hugging or touching any of her friends (handshakes don’t count) - Carrie, Emily, Jen, etc. She refuses the “married guy’s” kiss on that set up first date - I don’t remember his name. Does she ever touch Bell outside of when he was down on the ground after being shot? I do have a vague impression that perhaps she held the hand of her former sober client, the woman who was the chef - but I have no true recollection of that either. And then there’s that horrid and awkward greeting with Mycroft where he goes to kiss her on the cheek and she moves to shake his hand.
Question: who is less tactile Joan or Sherlock?
Frankly, I think the most tactile of all the characters is Gregson. He is unafraid to put an arm around Sherlock or take Joan’s elbow when he thinks they need it.
Joan uses her pockets a lot here. Does she love/need/look for pockets because of many years of wearing a lab coat with mighty handy pockets? Now she doesn’t seem to carry much in her pockets. It is a great thing for her to be able to do something with her hands. Sherlock has a lot of hand signals and Joan has some too. Often Joan putting her hands in her pockets seems to be a way of “sitting on her hands,” restraining herself from doing some action.
Alistair would have been even more of a loss if we had all known he was meeting periodically with Sherlock. They need a little more lead time with the writing to get stuff like that in I guess.
To me the message about addiction was worth the loss of a really memorable character. It was about Sherlock but it wasn’t just about Sherlock.
I do wonder if Sherlock would have really told Joan in his own time?
Oh and very glad NYC was not the target of the anthrax attack.
Otherwise it was sort of like - there was a mystery in there? Although it did take me a while to figure it out. It was not too transparent. I think it was the right amount of procedural for this episode.
I want to know what Joan and Bell talked about on the drive to the farm.
Avoiding the big picture this week, going for details in various posts (see Heiot’s entry for a great analysis of No Lack of Void)
Upon Sherlock entering quarantine and asking about the file rather than about Gregson, Bell and Watson’s condition
W: None of us were exposed in case you were wondering.
S: My lack of wondering comes not from the absence of concern ….
Upon telling Joan he has not been exposed to anthrax -
S: Feel free to express your jubilation.
Neither Joan nor Sherlock are pleased by their partner’s lack of appropriate concern about their anthrax-free condition. And both express their feelings in snarky ways. Snark is good, it implies a level of trust and intimacy in the relationship. I don’t think either has any doubts about how much the other cares for them. Their friendship/love shines through with a blinding light when they play confessor for each other in those intimate talks at the brownstone when they allow each other to share what they most likely share with no one else.
Personally, I had really hoped for at least a reassuring hand on the shoulder in this episode (the elusive Watson/Holmes hug I fear may never be captured, at least not this season).
I think for me the crowning point of that episode, and in fact one of the reasons why I think this show is so good, is how they show drug addiction in a realistic way.
Some other shows that have characters addicted to drugs often just brush it off. They’ll relapse, be a bit off their game for a bit, have a shower and everything be back to normal. They tend to show drug addiction really REALLY badly.
Elementary doesn’t do that. Elementary shows that the battle with drug addiction is constant, dangerous and hard. They don’t romanticise drugs, nor make the struggle seem easy. They show it for what it really is.
They show that addicts have to stay away from addictive substances (like alcohol) and even cut out people from your life who could trigger a relapse (like the old drug dealer). They show that even after several decades of being clean, something can happen that can cause a relapse.
Elementary has it’s faults, like any show does, but their take on drug addiction is brilliant and realistic.
…And this isn’t just a case of a character showing up after a long absence. “No Lack of Void” asks us to understand a depth of mourning that makes Sherlock hallucinate the departed—the first such stylistic leap the show’s employed. We’ve been told they’re close, and this episode specifically elaborates that their shared experience has brought them through some terrible events and at great risk. Had we known him better, Allistair would have been a terrible loss, and Sherlock conjuring him to provide some level of connection, or control, could be read as an ex-addict trying to process grief without chemical additives. Given the circumstances, it just seems like kind of a big ask.
…I know that I was also hard on the show’s treatment of Joan the last time I was here, and this episode only reminded me why it’s so disappointing when Joan doesn’t get the narrative weight she deserves: so much of what makes Sherlock and Joan so resonant this episode is how it calls back to these first-season dynamics, giving them some emotional friction to work through and underscoring how far they’ve come, and how far they have to go. (It’s a long way; I love the beats of doubt that still linger.) But part of why it’s so resonant is that those callbacks belong to a season in which Joan’s journey was equal to Sherlock’s. Both writers for this episode have given Joan some of her best moments of the current year: Liz Friedman in “Tremors,” in which Joan confronts what it means to work with a man who’s never going to take the law as seriously as he takes his work, and Jeffrey Paul King in—speak of the devil—“Solve for X.” Both episodes held suggestions of Joan positioned for her own arcs, finding a parallel to Sherlock’s journey out from under the specter of Irene and Moriarty. Instead, this week, Joan remains on the verge where she started, and Sherlock gets an Emmy reel’s worth of quietly devastating grief for a man we hardly knew. No lack of void, all around.