The following is a guest post.
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Sherlock Series 3.
Looking back at my musings concerning the most recent season of Sherlock just two and half short weeks ago, I wasn’t completely off the mark when it came to my series three hunches. Much like a medium or fortune teller, my predictions were general enough to fit a number of scenarios.
John’s speechless rage at Sherlock’s sudden reappearance, executed skillfully by Martin Freeman, was tempered by Sherlock’s anticipated ridicule concerning the doctor’s prominent new facial hair.
Mary Morstan was not, in fact, who she claimed to be and looked to be quite a sinister character, for a few moments at least.
And finally, this season’s denouement involving cold and creepy blackmailer Charles Augustus Magnussen ended badly for the villain when he pushed Sherlock to perform a desperate act in order to keep a secret safe for all time. Essentially, Magnussen paid the price for threatening someone Holmes cares about.
Other points of interest about series three included an unplanned pregnancy, Redbeard, guerilla wedding planning and, I felt, an inordinate amount of time in Sherlock’s mind palace talking to people who really weren’t there, or were they?
Series three was much less about blowing us away with incomprehensible deductions and solving dangerous cases and instead allowed us a small glimpse into the soul of Sherlock Holmes. In a way, we were presented with an occasionally unsure, more relatable Holmes this time around.
Let’s face it, as much as we like the eccentric, Asperger-ish, impatient-with-mere-mortals Mr. Holmes, he has to evolve or the character becomes a cartoon. I believe Sherlock was made more human in the following ways:
In this series we learn more about Sherlock’s past through his relatives. Apparently, like the Crane brothers of Frasier fame, the Holmes boys were miles ahead of their peers intellectually, if not socially.
Then of course we get to meet the actual people who begat the most famous detective in London.
We find out later that Sherlock’s mother was a brilliant scientist in her day and that his father is just the normal one. And if the idea that Sherlock has parents isn’t bizarre enough for you, the actors playing them (Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton) are Benedict Cumberbatch’s actual mum and dad as well.
Regular People Things
We also witness Sherlock doing some pretty normal things, for him at least, such as organizing an intimate and exclusive stag do then getting drunk and playing “Who Am I?” with John before his big day.
Investigating a case while under the influence and vomiting on a possible crime scene is not such a conventional thing to do, but spending the night in a jail cell might be a typical Saturday night for some.
Sherlock also gets a girlfriend this season though when dealing with Sherlock Holmes, you realize nothing to do with him can be taken at face value.
Finally we learn of Sherlock’s unlikely love of dance, a man of hidden talents.
The Friendship of John Watson
Even after John blows up at Sherlock about hiding the whole faked death thing from him for a couple of years, Holmes doesn’t realize how much John cares for him until this exchange takes place:
At this moment, Sherlock is truly taken aback and touched that John considers him to be his best friend. From this point onwards, I believe Sherlock makes a concerted effort to be a better friend to Watson as well.
It’s not that he never falls back into his irascible old Sherlock habits, but you can see him trying in so many ways, none more heartfelt or unexpected as his best man’s speech at John and Mary’s wedding reception. We can be assured that Sherlock is self-aware when he lists his own faults while in the same breath praises his best friend’s virtues.
Perhaps Sherlock’s most selfless act of friendship occurs when he reveals John’s bride’s ruse, that she is not actually Mary Morstan, but was some sort of secret agent/assassin who has taken on the identity of a dead woman in order to leave that life behind.
This act in itself might seem advantageous to Sherlock in that it might actually break the pair apart; however when Watson despairs about the fact that “she wasn’t supposed to be like that. Why is she like that?” Sherlock simply replies, “Because you chose her.” He affirms John’s instincts and choice of Mary as his life partner despite the fact that it might mean less time with John for himself.
If that doesn’t demonstrate the evolution of Sherlock Holmes, I don’t know what does.
What did you think of the Sherlock episodes just gone by? Are you sad it’s over so soon? Or did the kinder, gentler Sherlock leave you feeling flat? We’d love to hear your comments!
Carmen is an American wife and mother of two college students who live away from home. With her yellow lab Malcolm by her side, she watches and writes about British television for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK I Learned from the BBC. Read more of Carmen’s posts here.