"I’m a different man now, Watson. It’s a different city. London is always a different city." - Sherlock
"Sherlock is addicted to being himself." - Mycroft
- Shutdown: Sherlock mentions being in a “trance” during his support meeting to Joan. Considering that the last few times Sherlock had a shutdown (at the beginning of their acquaintanceship), Joan threatened him, it’s safe to say that she wasn’t with him during the meeting. Otherwise, he would have relied on finger stims to get through the stresses of the support meeting.
- Sherlock’s idea of a compliment: “You’ve been tending to your self defense. Well done” [to Joan].
- Sherlock’s idea of a compliment: “When it came to those at Scotland Yard who agreed to work with me, he was the best of a bad bunch… We were never really that close, despite the fact that as a detective, he was utterly adequate” [in regards to Lestrade].
- Social niceties (or lack thereof): Sherlock’s extreme discrimination against fat people appears more than once. He uses it as a reason why Joan should accompany him to London (his fear that he would have to sit next to a fat person, or a child, on the plane). He also introduces Mycroft to Joan as, “Fatty”, insinuating that Mycroft’s prior weight was to be ashamed of. Later on, Sherlock says that if Joan and Mycroft were to sleep together, then it would be a “transference”, since Sherlock set clear boundaries that the partnership between himself and Joan would not be a sexual one. The only boundaries he is concerned with at this point are his own, which is a character flaw that at some points seems to improve, but then return to its former state.
- A study in Sherlock’s childhood: Sherlock tells Joan that he and Mycroft went to separate boarding schools. This could be because of the age difference (which would fit Doylean canon). It could be because Sherlock may have needed to go to a school specifically for disabled students at some point. It is another aspect of his early life that so far has barely been explored.
- Hyperfocus: The smell of the 3D printed bullet at Nicholas Ginn’s home led to Sherlock smelling the apple on the table.
- Genetics: The rapprochement of the Holmes brothers in the final scene together, the destroying of Sherlock’s things from 221B, makes Sherlock realize just how alike they might be, despite his earlier statement, “our relationship is entirely genetic”. While it is within the personal opinion of the mod that this adaptation of Mycroft is not Autistic (which you may disagree with), it certainly brings up the question of how complementary the Holmes’ respective neurotypes are. Or, at least, how both brothers’ stubbornness and prior inability to communicate with each other led to the explosion. “Art in the blood… it takes the strangest forms”.
Literally the only semi major issue I have with the first season of Elementary is that I feel like they wasted a lot of potential with Irene.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this version of Irene and Natalie Dormer has my loyalty forever with GoT. That said, the whole plot with her felt…lackluster.
I love Irene in the original story. I love who she is as a character and what she means to the other characters. (Spoilers for A Scandal in Bohemia ahead. Pretty sure this isn’t nessesary but I’m nice.)
In the original story, Irene Adler not only outwits Sherlock, but she leaves him. She doesn’t stick around because he’s the only one on her level or whatever, she basically runs off into the sunset with her new husband. She’s not a love interest for Sherlock, she chooses who she wants to marry. Sherlock never gets the chance to prove that he’s better, he never gets a redo. That’s why to Sherlock she’s THE woman (which is actually pretty gross and I hate that they adapt that line into the show, but that’s a discussion for another day). She beats him at his own game and that’s it. He lost.
Making her both Moriarty and Sherlock’s love interest just ruins all of that. No, I don’t have a problem with Moriarty being a woman. I have a problem with A) Moriarty being Irene and B) either one of these characters being Sherlock’s love interest. It just…whyyyy?
Irene doesn’t care about mentally sparring with Holmes. She just wants to be left alone. She doesn’t get caught up in Sherlock’s weird elitist thing. That’s why it’s so grating that in the show she decides to randomly dedicate a large amount of time and energy to fooling Holmes all the time. She literally goes out of her way to prove how much better she is (which is a big part of what leads to her arrest). Newsflash: Irene does not need to try to be better than Holmes, she’s better than Holmes inherently.
Also, as progressive as Elementary is, I don’t like that the only match to Sherlock’s intellect (as both Moriarty and Irene) loses to him because she’s in love with him. WHAT.
Overall, combining the criminal mastermind and Irene into one character and making that character a love interest (which she is, even if Sherlock ultimately rejects her) kind of defeats the purpose of either character. And also adaptations where Irene is a love interest make me want to punch walls.
1- I do think that having Watson beat her instead of Holmes was pretty great.
2- I’m 70% sure she’s in the next season so maybe she’ll be better then.
3- With the exception of the whole love thing, I’m mostly criticizing her as an adaptation. If I ignore the original, she’s not a bad character in her own right (mostly). She’s interesting, impressive, and a lot of fun.
TL;DR: Basically, my thought’s about Irene in the first season are a mixed bag of “:/” and “:)”.
[SPOILERS AHEAD: ELEMENTARY, “NO LACK OF VOID”]
This may be up there with my favourite episodes of the series, so I’m going to do a brief parsing of it. (Please note, my quotes from the episode are rough paraphrasings.)
I think this is a landmark of character growth for Sherlock.
**Slight tangent, but an important one: I do want to mention that I would love and the show needs to see more character growth in Watson. I’m not sure that the writers know how to utilize or develop her fully yet; they seemed to have more of an idea in Season 1, but right now Watson is a presence of solidity and guidance, and unfortunately because of the context of the show, this makes her for the time being essentially nothing but a tool to enhance Sherlock’s character. Which sucks, immensely. I mean, let’s be real, some of the secondary characters have experienced more growth in the second season than Watson. Moriarty definitely had more development. Which is great, but we need more Watson growth post-haste.
Upon very close examination, one may find that Watson is written very similarly to Sherlock, but her characteristics are opposing. I don’t think this is a typical example of “Strong Female Character used to make male character better”, because I know that the show is better than that — they’ve proven as such before, and Watson doesn’t fit that particular tropic mold (thank god). But I do think that the writers are using her in a very two-dimensional fashion. She is the omniscient voice of reason and stability, with the occasional side story to remind us that we like her and that she’s actually human. But this doesn’t really make for a very interesting character, unfortunately; as much as I admire the things that she is — resilient, compassionate, calm, intelligent, patient, and sweet. And then some.
But getting back to the good parts of “No Lack of Void”. The parts that worked.
When the episode begins, we see Sherlock practicing poetry recited by his friend, Alistair. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen or heard of Allistair — he is the likable close associate of Sherlock’s who helped him during a particularly dark moment of his addiction. I like Allistair as a secondary character. I like the actor who plays him (Roger Rees). And in the early moments of this episode, we can see clearly how much Sherlock adores him. Miller is very good at subtly conveying this — his excitement over practicing a Northern Irish dialect, his exuberance at the prospect of having breakfast with his dear friend.
Which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Sherlock tells Watson (and us) that Allistair has died.
We’ve seen Sherlock deal with grief before; profound grief, even. But that grief was different, and becomes a much different thing later on, when the whole Irene/Moriarty bombshell happens. But we haven’t seen him deal with this particular type of grief. Moreover, how he deals with his internalization of Allistair being a former addict and that this eventually lead to his death is very interesting.
Sherlock becomes rash and impulsive, swallowing his feelings and internalizing them in an unhealthy and dangerous way. He has “visions” of Allistair talking to him. Which, in all honesty, is even more heartbreaking, because it feels so real. We can imagine that this is what Sherlock imagines Allistair would say to him. Allistair feels real, true, and consistent. And the fact of Sherlock missing him is all the more tangible for it. Additionally, it is a stinging visual reminder that Sherlock has not accepted his friend’s death.
When Sherlock finds out that Allistair died from a heroin overdose, and not a simple heart attack, it sends him into a spiral. “Thirty years sober he had,” he says. “Can you even imagine?” This awakens a self-centric anxiety within Sherlock, though. There is an internal struggle within Sherlock that is questioning whether or not his sobriety is stable — whether or not he will ever be free of the threat of relapse.
"My rational brain knows that relapse is an inevitable risk with all addicts. Of course it is," Sherlock says. "But it just… it bothers me and it… it bothers me." We see a part of Sherlock fracture here.
This all boils over to the point where Sherlock very unexpectedly impulsively throws a plate onto the ground, shattering it. He proclaims, “I apologize!” before fleeing the room. Sherlock is unable to process. He’s unable to reconcile the death of his friend with the looming ghost of addiction that also haunts him.
Watson approaches him, and shatters a plate of her own. “Huh, that didn’t really solve anything, did it? Weird, huh?”
I’ve seen criticisms of this action on Watson’s part being patronizing or condescending, but I think that leaves out the entirety of the importance that Watson does this. For those of you who haven’t experienced it or don’t know what it might be like, someone who is impulsively throwing and breaking objects in your very near vicinity is scary. It can be really scary. Especially with someone like Sherlock, who has proven himself capable of tremendous violence in the throws of grief. Despite his apology, despite his fleeing to cool off, Watson follows up with him and holds him accountable for his action. In a subtle way, she is saying, “Hey, I can do this too.” which can operate as a taking back of the power dynamic and balance between them. Furthermore, she doesn’t storm off after that. She stays, and points out to him once more that he needs to confront his feelings about his dear friend’s death and his deep-set fear that his addiction might return to take him over.
And what does Sherlock do? He apologizes again. This is why I trust this show so goddamned much. He offers some explanation, but he accepts the lesson Watson is trying to teach him. He backs down, and admits that he can’t quite emotionally grasp that his friend is dead, and it’s because he was an addict. (Watson is harsh on him while she explains this point, but she’s right, and Sherlock knows it.) Watson reiterates the point that what Allistair did is what Allistair did, and not what Sherlock will necessarily do. What Sherlock does is up to Sherlock. This goes for his addiction, and for his actions, like breaking the plate.
This whole exchange between Watson and Sherlock is a prime example of why they’re so fucking good as partners.
What’s more, Sherlock acknowledges the fact that he “twisted the death of a friend into a narcissistic episode”, and that the fact that he did that was also bothering him. He’s come to grips with how he feels and why he feels it, and he’s finally acknowledging his guilt.
At the very end of the episode, we see Sherlock standing before Allistair’s grave. Allistair reappears to Sherlock once more, and Allistair chides him for “becoming such a cliché” (this is also a nod and a shrug to the old “friend stands by friend’s grave and cries” scene that is found in so fucking many shows and films).
They have a brief, very sweet conversation, during which Sherlock says: “What you did has nothing to do with me. I understand that.” And then, voice breaking, he finally spits out a deeply honest sentiment. “I came here because I wanted you to know that I loved you very much. And you will be missed.” Allistair disappears, and Sherlock walks away.
What we have from this result is a slightly more responsible, grown-up Sherlock. He’s acknowledging his process, how he thinks about himself, and the fact that no one but Sherlock is in charge of and responsible for what Sherlock does. And that’s an important lesson both for Sherlock and for everyone, and it’s done in a very effective way this episode. I enjoyed this episode immensely because Sherlock is also held accountable. For everything. When he does something really, really stupid in the middle of the episode, he gets called out for it by Watson and the police. When he does something borderline violent, Watson calls him out on it, and what’s more — she teaches him to examine where that feeling is coming from.
The end of this episode made me tear up, which is quite impressive, I think, considering the death was regarding a character we’d only seen twice before, and the end scene was so typical. But it was very well done, so I applaud it.
This scene was actually when I went from feeling more or less neutral on Joan to actively disliking her.
Because wow, that was patronizing.
I loved that scene in Elementary.
1) Firstly, because it immediately deconstructs the “hero throws and breaks something in frustration” cliche (Sherlock throwing a glass slide in HoB, anyone?) it might even be seen as a parody of that cliche.
2) Secondly, because the dynamic is different between a man and a woman than it would be between two women or two men, the visual of a man smashing something in a temper in front of a woman can be taken as threatening or borderline abusive. Joan Watson immediately shows that she is not intimidated by Holmes’ behavior.
3) Lastly? One of the running themes of Elementary is the deconstruction of Sherlock Holmes as the solitary, antisocial genius, and his becoming a member of a community. Holmes’ gifts are given their due respect, but no one in Elementary plays the game of Because Sherlock Holmes is a Bloody Genius He Can Do Whatever He Wants So There. When Sherlock goes after Moriarty (“M”), Captain Gregson suspends him. When Sherlock doesn’t want to talk about his addiction, Alfredo says “You’ve got to get over yourself.” And when Sherlock behaves like a spoiled child, Joan tells him “Use your words.”
You see Joan patronizing Sherlock. I see a member of Sherlock’s community teaching him how to behave like an adult member of that community.
alistair getting an effusive letter from a verbose fan, not realizing until the end with “signed Sherlock Holmes, aged ten” that it’s actually the most precocious kid he’s ever encountered, showing it off to his wife and putting it in a safe place
pre-teen sherlock noticing alistair’s name listed in an ad for a small-time production of Waiting for Godot, dragging a semi-reluctant mycroft along, waiting outside after the play, thrilled beyond the telling of it when alistair remembers his letter, remembers him
alistair noticing right off, because of his actor’s eye for body language, how sad and attention-starved this boy is, offering private lessons in reaction to his non-stop questions on what else is in his repertoire besides the yorkshire dialect from the radio program and the irish brogue he put on for the play
sherlock consciously scheduling his lessons several days after returning from school breaks, not wanting alistair to see the bruises and maybe think less of him for them
sherlock, high off solving a difficult case, taking alistair from an after-party to the tattoo parlor to get the ink covering his scar, telling him about the time he broke his arm and hid it from his father for almost a week
alistair trying and failing and trying again to reconnect with his son, mostly for his own reasons but partially because he doesn’t want to be the failure sherlock has described
sherlock meeting jeremy by chance and being completely incapable of sympathizing, unable to reconcile the alistair who has always been there for him with one who has a son angry at him for some very good reasons
sherlock cutting himself off mid-sentence to stop up a nosebleed, not looking surprised at all, scoffing at alistair’s sigh of “I do hope you know what you’re doing”, and responding with “Have we only just met? Now, about this case…”
sherlock seeing alistair right after an exchange with rhys, exploding at alistair’s concern, revealing that he’s known for years about alistair’s problem yet never said a word and would appreciate the same courtesy, especially since for him it’s not a problem
alistair sending very carefully worded emails after his move to new york, trying to find out what sherlock’s been up to without setting him off again, dismayed when the replies start getting rarer and less coherent
sherlock stumbling out of his dealer’s apartment building, knowing he overdid it, their cries of how he shouldn’t be alone ringing in his ears, the address coming almost unbidden to his lips as he gets in the taxi
alistair flushing sherlock’s heroin with shaking hands, resolved never to allow sherlock to apologize for seeking him out that night, if that apology should ever be attempted
I love the symmetry, the mirroring, the lighting, the muted colors of this scene. Each stands on a threshold almost mirroring the others stance, both focused on the images in front of them. They talk in quiet, hushed tones sharing information. They lean on the wall between them; a wall covered in soft green patterned paper, part of which is torn away to reveal the flowered wallpaper that lies beneath, perhaps symbolic of the glimpse we get into Joan’s interior life in this episode. Even though a wall stands between them, there is intimacy to this scene, a closeness in shared purpose and feelings. They may as well be leaning on each other. Her tshirt speaks volumes all by itself.
I am up to “Dead Clade Walking”.
There is a dinosaur.
I forgive the faults of the rest of the season. There is a dinosaur in my Sherlock Holmes adaptation, and it isn’t in the adaptation we commonly call “The One With the Dinosaurs”.
(I am only, like, seven minutes into the episode, the rest of it might suck, but DINOSAUR.)
Thus the JOAN HAS A PET DINOSAUR fanart. :-D
I am soooooooo happy you finally got to the dinosaur ep! Because DINOSAUR EPISODE.
AND THEN THEY DESTROYED THE DINOSAUR AND I SHALL NEVER FORGIVE THEM. THAT POOR NANOTYRANNUS. SURVIVED THE KT EVENT BUT COULDN’T SURVIVE A STUPID ASS ACADEMIC.
(I was excited that I finally understood the science babble, though. Math episodes? Those go to you. Dinosaurs? I AM THERE.)
…I am in this weird place where I’m having trouble coming up with empathy for the destroyed fossil, given what they did to the indigenous human remains in 2x01. (And how, at the time, everyone ignored that because they were too busy bewailing the Picassooooooooo.)
And I know it’s not zero-sum like that? (And I would never class you as part of the problem here. I do not begrudge you your feelings about dinosaurs, because I know you have appropriate and consistent empathy for humans, even — especially! — systematically disrespected and objectified ones.) But. For me. It feels like there’s been a few times this season where they destroyed some art-like object and asked us to have big feelings about it (which may be them building up to something that piggybacks on Moriarty’s comment likening Sherlock to a piece of art, taken together with Moriarty’s giant-ass artwork of Joan), and I just… can’t come up with those feelings. Probably because the first time I was asked to feel that, they had simultaneously treated alleged indigenous human remains with massive disrespect, and everyone seemed to ignore that in favor of the OH NOES ORIGINAL ART. And I’m still in NOPE land from that.
Um, no, that’s a totally legit thing to be fucking pissed about? I am a terrible human being and had actually forgotten about that, in part because I haven’t watched 2x01 since it aired and don’t remember a single thing about it, but that is waaaaaay more awful than fossils or Picasso. WTF? I clearly need to rewatch 2x01 if I am forgetting about that (and, admittedly, the Picasso too— I honestly don’t remember a single thing from 2x01).
Fuck fossils, man. The remains of indigenous peoples take precedent, obviously, and I’m sorry if I hurt you by zeroing in on the fossils.
It was an “atmospheric” throw-away; I think most people missed it. When Mycroft was listing a bunch of Sherlock’s crap that he had to clear out of Baker Street, one of the items was a shrunken head. Which upset me mightily in and of itself, that indigenous human remains were treated narratively as some haha-isn’t-Sherlock-quirky objet d’kitsch. I mean, c’mon, the NMAI repatriated all of the ones in their possession back to Ecuador. SHRUNKEN HEADS ARE HUMAN REMAINS NOT NEATO TOYS.
(Well, the authentic ones are. Apparently the exotic-shrunken-head-trade was swamped with fakes made from animal parts. But even if that item the Holmes brothers had was actually just a sloth head, that doesn’t really make it all better, because the “coolness” of such an item still comes from the “edginess” of trading in human remains of indigenous people, and the episode was totally buying into the illicit “coolness” of that.)
Anyway, that head presumably ended up in the storage unit that Mycroft then torched. And everyone was all “DID MYCROFT BLOW UP AN ORIGINAL PICASSO OH NOES!?” (as if Picasso didn’t have a skillion-bazillion extant works, a lot of them pretty minor), and the writers were all “HAHAHA YES HE DID!”
And I was all fuck Picasso, what about the human remains?? Because that’s the horror I was feeling.
…there was fix-it I was planning to write for it — because I couldn’t have sympathetic feelings for Mycroft without first believing that he’d treated that head with appropriate respect, and thus it wasn’t in the storage unit at all — but I didn’t get it written because comps. And then more Mycroft storyline happened, blah blah, plus various S2 resentments and disinvestments blah blah blah blah.
But my feelings about it are still kind of there, and it colors my reaction every time the writers do something that has “whee, let’s destroy some unique and irreplaceable object, so that you will have feeeeeeelings!” overtones to it. :-/
(And to be clear, it’s not so much that your feelings about the fossil hurt me. It’s more… I can’t follow you there, because the thing with the indigenous human remains in 2x01 is blocking my path.)
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.