I remember some posts about the fact that Sherlock doesn’t eat in episodes where things are bad for him. In “Tremors” he cooks lots of Yorkshire puddings and… deliberately throws them in the garbage, admitting he doesn’t want to eat.
Yeah man, this episode was really shitty for him.
oh! I posted about that last season (damn you tumblr or I’d find a link) but completely forgot about it this season. And with Mycroft & his restaurants, there’s another layer to consider: who feeds Joan? Sherlock made breakfast her in We Are Everyone and An Unnatural Arrangement. Mycroft cooks for her/them in Step Nine and The Marchioness, and Sherlock ate at his restaurant in Blood is Thicker. Watson meets Joey at a diner, twice, and turns down Sherlock’s offer of eggs. She makes her own dinner in We Are Everyone one night and (presumably) goes out to dinner with her date another.
No surprise in On the Line that the closest Sherlock comes to eating is tossing a full coffee cup on the ground at the gas station when Bundsch lured them upstate. Watson sets a mug down on the table for him during his “not a nice man” speech but he never touches it. (No eating in Poison Pen either, although he does make tea while talking about being bullied.)
In Tremors, besides the uneaten Yorkshire pudding, Watson implies she made enough dinner for him when she comes upstairs to find him doing Science! but he didn’t have any.
Let’s make a recap, then:
2.01 Step Nine: Watson drinks Mycroft’s tea. Mycroft is cooking when Joan wakes up. Watson has dinner with Mycroft. Sherlock didn’t eat a single slice of bread and there were some bad situations for him to deal with in the episode (Mycroft owning 221B, his concern about Mycroft wanting to sleep with Watson, his relationship with Lestrade and his further disappointment, Mycroft blowing up all of his stuff).
2.02 Solve For X: Watson drinks coffee with Joey (twice). Sherlock makes eggs, offers to Watson and is about to eat them in the beginning of their discussion. Watson drinks tea while he makes exercises. Sherlock and Watson ate at the police station and we can see their empty food-boxes when she cracks the case. The episode was good for him.
2.03 We Are Everyone: Sherlock and Watson share a lunch and talk about romantic love (but I watched the scene again and his plate is empty while hers is not). Watson eats her salad upstairs. Sherlock makes the elaborate breakfast to please Watson, but he doesn’t eat while she eats/smiles at the food. Watson goes to dinner with Jeff. This episode had a nice start, but then Moriarty’s letter arrives and everything becomes bad for him. He deals with food, but he does not eat it.
2.04 Poison Pen: Sherlock makes tea for himself and Watson in the kitchen scene but never drinks it. No more signs of food in the entire episode and no need to explain the heaviness of the episode and how terrible must have been to him to remember all the abuse he suffered through his life.
2.05 Ancient History: Watson and Jennifer talk about Sherlock in some sort of cafeteria and Jennifer is drinking tea while Watson is not drinking anything. Sherlock didn’t eat anything either. THIS EPISODE WAS SO BAD THAT EVEN WATSON AND HOLMES DIDN’T BOTHER EATING OR COOKING ANYTHING, NOT EVEN COFFEE.
2.06 An Unnatural Arrangement: Watson drinks coffee in the police station at Friday night and Sherlock doesn’t want anything. Watson drinks coffee again when she confronts Sherlock about her case. Sherlock makes tea and the Tibetan bread to Watson for breakfast. Watson makes sandwiches for them but he doesn’t eat. This episode was not so good for Sherlock but it wasn’t so bad (he was involved with food, but didn’t eat). He and Watson were fighting like a married couple, which made him reflect about the relationship.
2.07 The Marchioness: Lots of food in the episode, but Sherlock again is not eating anything. Nigella, Watson, Sherlock and Mycroft are at Diogenes but Sherlock leaves. Watson drinks tea. Mycroft cooks and Sherlock realizes there’s no food at home. Watson and Mycroft have a dinner and invite Sherlock over, he tastes the food just to make Mycroft stop talking and after that everything turns to shit. Nigella, Watson, Sherlock and Mycroft are at Diogenes again and nobody eats anything again even though there is food now in their plates. Sherlock eats against his own will/sits on the table in company of a person he hates twice (Mycroft / Mycroft and Nigella) and things go bad for him.
2.08 Blood Is Thicker: Sherlock drinks coffee while Watson eats cereal. Sherlock has dinner with Mycroft and enjoys it. Sherlock was feeling good in the episode until Mycroft’s conversation. All his interactions with food were before that. After that, he didn’t eat anything.
2.09 On the Line: Watson makes tea only for herself. Watson brings coffee for her and Sherlock but he throws the coffee away. Watson makes tea for him but he goes away. No need to stay that the episode sucked for Sherlock.
2.10 Tremors: Sherlock cooks Yorkshire pudding and deliberately throws it at the garbage. Watson brings food to Bell and herself. Watson cooks dinner but Sherlock is not interested. Another episode that sucked major ass for Sherlock.
How interesting. So far, Sherlock’s emotional decline can be associated to his “food pattern”. He is eating far less than in Season 01, he was forced to eat and things got ugly (The Marchioness), and in the worst episode for his emotional health (Tremors) he rejected the act of eating.
And yes, I went through all the episodes I have in my computer to write this post.
Marcus Bell is so strong. He’s between 20 and 30 years old, has a beard and a mustache to make him look his age, is so serious and job-focused to prove his worth as one of the youngest people on the force, and has this group/sacrifice mentality since his childhood when he was probably living in less than stellar conditions with a mother who needed him, a brother who was itching to leave the nest, and no father to be seen. He probably had to grow up so fast and work so hard for people to take him seriously. He’s resilient and a team player for Gregson and the Commissioner. He’s tough and independent for Holmes.
But with Joan, we see his vulnerability. He knows she’s compassionate. He knows that revealing that he’s not in tip-top shape won’t lower her opinion of him. So he lets his guard down while being level-headed and seeing the best and worst of outcomes. He questions the future, and he does it in front of Joan.
I liked this episode. The courtroom setting, the flashbacks. It was a nice change from the usual format. As I had predicted, it was sort of a continuation of “On the Line”, and it showed us the consequences of Holmes’ “above the law” attitude.
Not that ne seemed to care. He managed to upset the judge right from the beginning, and proceeded to lie through most of his testimony. Way to go, Sherlock. Even Gregson would’ve strangled him once or twice if he had the chance. The poor guy doesn’t know what else to do to get through Sherlock’s thick skull but I think when he suggested to the Commissioner that tossing him would open all their old cases it was his way to show that he cares about his reckless “son”. Yes, I do see their relationship as father-son…
All the other officers at the precinct (or most of them, anyway) are still wondering about the validity of their work and questioning their methods. I imagine them making fun of the two consultants in the locker room or while on patrol and at the crime scenes. Sherlock Holmes doesn’t break the law. People just leave their doors open for him. Wouldn’t be surprised if another cartoon of the two of them with puppies appears in the bulletin board.
I did love Sherlock’s conversation with the lawyer about the quote he left on her planner and their history of addiction. For a moment I wondered if he was being nice to her because Gregson had instructed him to be or if it was all sincere. Then there was his smile right after he said that an innocent man was freed. Because things like this matter. It has to matter. Or they might as well just dissolve the institution and start again. That was a great moment. Try to convince me again that this is an insensitive guy. An acerbic, cruel person. And JLM rocks. Just saying.
Joan is becoming increasingly frustrated with him. She’s still being the voice of reason and trying to act as his conscience pointing him in the right direction, but you can tell that her patience is growing thin, and I really want to see her snap. She barely looked at him after the judge recommended that they be terminated, and left the room with Gregson without a second thought. He, on the other hand, looked appropriately devastated. Not for him. For her. Because he sure realized what that meant to her. I don’t remember ever seeing him crushed like that, and the scene where he’s sitting alone in the courtroom was great.
Like I said in a previous post, I should be mad at him, but I can’t. This is a guy who has no idea how to deal with feeling and emotions, being it his feelings or other people’s. He does not know what the “right thing to do” is most of the time when it comes to “social conventions” or what kind of behavior average people expect from him. I guess it has to do with his upbringing, because if you haven’t experienced love and care then how else would you describe a visit to your sick friend other than an “empty gesture”?
“I hate what happened to you , and whatever role I played in it. That’s why I’ve been avoiding this visit.” He just does not apologize to anyone so he obviously cares about Bell. He asked why they waited 5 days to perform the surgery, he asked what his chances for a complete recovery were. He thanked him for saving his life, and he tried to help him the only way he knew how: looking for the clinic with the highest rate of recovery. Then Bell tells him not to visit him again (which I totally understand) and there’s the crushed expression again. I’m sure as he was sitting there alone he thought that being sincere and expressing his feelings doesn’t really pay off after all, and that he was right about the “banal bromides” but I’m convinced that they want us to think their relationship is worse than it actually is so they will be okay in the end.
Random quotes worth mentioning:
— “He’s a brave and brilliant instrument of justice. All we got to do is stay out of his way, and he’ll lead us right to the truth.” Loved this line. And how Aidan Quinn managed to keep a straight face through it. A glimpse into Sherlock’s mind and how he sees himself and the work he does. No surprise there.
— “Not my first thought. I tend to have thoughts in rapid succession.”
— “Oh, you’re upset with me.”
“You know, for a genius, you can be a real nimrod.” *claps* Well said, Watson. You took the words right out of my mouth.
— “Why do we get to be about the rules?”
“Because our methods work, and I’m comfortable that our actions are guided by a morality which supersedes any clumsy employee manual.” In the end, it’s all about the results. Whatever it takes to get to the end. Just like he explained when he solved Watson’s case. Hope he realizes that there’s more than one shade of gray.
Other random thoughts:
— I have this vision of a young Sherlock making Yorkshire pudding with his governess every Sunday that just doesn’t want to go away…
— I had a Dana Scully moment when Watson was in the morgue handling the victim’s internal organs.
— Wouldn’t want to be that dummy he was hitting to death. And I loved how he threw the single stick and left the room right after Joan did.
— Remind me again why JLM hasn’t won any awards, please?
— It’s going to get ugly. I can feel it.
I feel like one of the problems I have with the overall “brilliant but anti-socialized protagonist” trope that seems proliferate in TV shows these days is that there’s a sincere lack of consequences for this behaviour, especially when they feel they are above the law. Sherlock kinda danced around this but it ended up with Sherlock killing himself instead rather than live with the problems he might have caused.
Elementary took that and really drove it home that you really can’t exist as a person like that forever and not without sincere penalties to your very few relationships. It makes me sad though because we had seen a lot of character development over the course of the last two seasons for Holmes, especially in regards to how he treats Watson but this season really has pushed the point that Sherlock really is still not a nice person, even carelessly so and definitely criminally. The fact that it got Bell hurt and to the point of not wanting Sherlock around him upsets me because I liked Bell but it’s a very reasonable, realistic and beneficial move on Bell’s part as a character.
If someone inadvertently got you shot through his own hubris and callousness towards other people’s lives, even if you stepped in front of that bullet yourself, you wouldn’t want to be around that person either.
I wonder if this is setting up some sort of schism’s in Sherlock’s progress that might force him into whatever trap is inevitably waiting for him at the end of the season.
Last night’s episode wasn’t as bad as I originally thought (and I was definitely suffering some Grey’s Anatomy feels hangover), but I still didn’t like it as much as some of the other recent ones, and I’m still really unhappy about the place Sherlock, Joan, and now Bell are in right now. I’m having trouble seeing a way out of the pit of disaster the narrative is digging itself into. This episode was 90% painful feels, 10% Clyde and stress-baker Sherlock cutesy feels, and 0% resolution of anything. I crave resolution. I want the emotional infrastructure of this show repaired immediately. Also I’m on the we-want-more-Joan train now, so that too. I shouldn’t be spending the beginning and ending segments of the show wondering where she went.
Also, after further thought on the problem of Sherlock and ‘niceness,’ I remembered this quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door:
"[His] problem is to learn to adapt while remaining wholly himself."
Sherlock needs to preserve the integrity of his identity, but he also needs to do something to prevent his life from falling apart around him. He needs a way to balance and/or integrate the two.
So I want to talk about Watson for a minute. I want to talk about Watson, and what Watson’s relationship with Holmes means for each of their respective universes.
I’ll start with BBC Sherlock. John is Sherlock’s conscience. He’s Jiminy Cricket. That’s his main role in that friendship. Sure, he’s a playmate and a partner in crime and many other things. But for the most part he provides the boundaries that Sherlock is unable or unwilling to provide for himself.
It’s sort of cute. But it has a huge and negative impact on Sherlock’s development as a character. Namely that he doesn’t have any. He doesn’t have to grow his own conscience if John’s right there doing it for him. Remember when Lestrade said that Sherlock Holmes was a great man, and someday he might even be a good one? That can’t happen if John is there to clean up Sherlock’s messes. Hell, Sherlock casually drugged John and let him have an absolutely terrifying experience, and John just forgives him right away. There are no consequences, and therefore there can be no significant growth.
Add to this the fact that they openly ID Sherlock as a sociopath, and the BBC writers have deliberately hobbled any potential for change. No version of Sherlock Holmes is a sociopath. He’s a wad - he’s always a total wad - but he can learn and change and for god’s sake, become attached to people. If he was a sociopath he’d just be … Moriarty.
Now, Joan Watson’s place in Sherlock’s life is very different. She isn’t his conscience. Hell no. She refuses that role. He’s got one of his own, as much effort as he expends pretending he doesn’t.
You see, that’s the key thing about Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes - he knows that his detatchment is an act. He knows this because he got pulled down into the muck with all the plebes when he became an addict. He doesn’t get to be superior any more. He has to take that fearless moral inventory if he wants to stay clean. His failures matter as much as his successes.
And Joan is his guide. If John Watson is Jiminy Cricket, then Joan Watson is the North Star. She will always help him but she will not do the work for him. She knows he is perfectly capable of doing it himself, and she fully expects him to pick his ass up and learn like everybody else. Joan will not let Sherlock off the hook. She will not have low expectations for him. Instead, she holds him to the same standards she has for herself. That is a huge compliment.
Because if he is going to rejoin the human race - if he’s going to become a real boy - then coddling him won’t help at all.
Oh man. I don’t know what to make of this episode. It left me feeling so…flat, and I can’t figure out why because on paper I should really love it: lots of narrative jumps and Sherlock getting lectured by everyone.
Interesting that despite his disdain for his father, Sherlock deals with Bell the same way his father dealt with his addiction: buying him the best medical care.
I found it curious that Joan’s insistence on Sherlock’s gesture/words being helpful to Bell seemed to be so far off the mark. That’s highly unusual for Joan, especially considering the time she spent visiting Bell. Surely he would have mentioned that he didn’t want to see Holmes?
I’m not a sucker for tears, but that first scene of Bell in the hospital trying and failing to pick up the ball brought them to my eyes and gave me a massive lump in my throat.
This is such a great point. Sherlock has such disdain for his father (and by extension Mycroft) and yet he employs their methods to “help people” or convince them (Mycroft and 221B keys, his father and rehab, Sherlock paying the kidnapper in A Giant Gun, Sherlock giving 20,000 dollars to Watson, and now this).
Instead of art in the blood, the canon quote at the end of Step Nine should be modified to money in the blood, because damn.
Oh yes - great point about money as the one-size-fits-all solution because obviously (to Sherlock) sympathetic words are useless and meaningless. [There is a difference between apologizing/making amends — which we’ve seen him do repeatedly — and offering sympathy and comfort.] It’s my head canon that he has no experience being on the receiving side of such words (I doubt he had any friends or colleagues to speak to when Irene was murdered, and clearly no family was aware of any of that, then or now). Remember, he is not a nice man, acerbic to the bottom; why would anyone be satisfied by banal bromides from him?
On the other hand, I imagine Marcus to be very protective of his own self-sufficiency and would see unsolicited material support as insulting or demeaning. He can take care of himself, thank you very much, and has done so for a long time. That need for self-protection would only be exacerbated by the physical and emotional trauma of being shot and the terrifying possibility that the career he loves is over.
I think the commissioner’s highly manipulative request that Marcus decide Sherlock & Watson’s fate plays a role here too: he apparently said what the commissioner wanted to hear (gotta keep those closed cases closed) and sublimated his own pain to the greater good of more solved cases in the future. He’s certainly in the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” camp, but having to be the one to make it so, before he even knows his own fate, would only add another layer of emotional turmoil to the experience for him.
If Sherlock had shut up after apologizing, perhaps they might have sat in stony silence for ten minutes without Marcus needing to push him away. Instead they were at utter cross-purposes.
"Money in the blood:" damn straight.
I don’t think Joan miscalled whether Sherlock should see Bell; she failed to account for what an utter complete unmitigated fuck-up Sherlock would be about it. Sherlock left the visit for far, far too late, and then failed to follow Joan’s advice — what you have to offer is yourself, and that is both sufficient and the central point of it — and instead offered Bell money, or as good as.
It also didn’t help that he was an arrogant git who didn’t once ask Bell how he was doing, nor what he needed, instead presuming both that he knew what Bell needed, and that Bell had been on tenterhooks about how Holmes was faring through all this.
And I know I already ranted once about how little patience I have for his not visiting Bell earlier, but: really, no excuses. There are plenty of character reasons for his not knowing how to do this properly, but honestly, he has all the pieces: the whole speech about most communication being haptic, a year and a half of watching Joan’s example (which he has successfully mimicked on occasion — witness the “if you need to talk” offer to the abuse survivor early in the season), and successfully providing this kind of support for Joan more than once. The only thing he had to do here was trust Joan and follow her instructions. Tag along on her coattails for that first Marcus-is-awake visit (or potentially the second, but no later), and follow her “you need to stop talking now” cues. That is literally it. He could have awkwardly hung back behind her and been that useless-in-hospitals lump who is too self-conscious to be genuinely useful, and he’d quite likely still be on speaking terms with Bell now.
BTW, tagging along on Joan’s coattails? That’s how most of us we-had-to-learn-our-social-stuff-consciously types learn to negotiate hospital visits: you find someone socially competent, and you follow her every move. Holmes consults domain-experts at the drop of a hat, and he knows Joan is the domain expert here. (When he tried to comfort Gregson over his separation, he offered to make Watson available to him!)
I just. Trust Joan. That’s all you had to do, Holmes. Trust Joan, and follow her lead.
And he didn’t.
Consequently, I am so fucking down with Bell walking out on him. The first thing out of Holmes’s mouth should have been an apology for leaving that visit so late. That was the thing that needed discussing. And Holmes didn’t do it, and then didn’t do it some more, and then didn’t do it some more after that. And then he insulted Bell with money.
one little thing that made me happy in 2x10: Watson texted her own contact, apparently on her own initiative, and got an ID for The Knight. It’s the sort of investigative reflex Sherlock employs an average of once an episode. IIRC it was the first time we’ve seen her draw on her pre-existing social & professional network in this particular way. She did exactly what he does, but it had nothing to do with him and his network; it was all hers.
Although we saw it happen through the frame of Sherlock’s testimony, I don’t see any indications of narrative unreliability in this moment, so I’m inclined to take it as given.
My love for, long-winded thoughts, and analysis/meta on “Tremors.”
Under the cut due to major spoilers, and because it’s kind of multiple short and not-so-short metas in one post. If you’d like me to split this up into individual, more detailed, metas, let me know.