so first things first: i completely understand how someone could consider what mary has done unforgivable and mary herself unlikable. i do not think that subscribing to either or both of these viewpoints is an indicator of misogyny. i don’t mind if people don’t like her,…
I love both of these responses. Since HLV aired, I haven’t known what ˆto make of Mary Watson, her actions, and her motivations. To be honest, I really am not sure what to make of anyone’s actions and motivations on this damned show.
I do think that there is a clear distinction between the murders that Sherlock and John committed, and her shooting of Sherlock, the most obvious one being betrayal ( no matter what her intent or motivations were.) The cab driver and Magnussen, though unarmed as well, were clearly antagonists, and did not have an emotional bond with their respective shooters. Mary and Sherlock and John did share a bond. A seemingly strong bond. One that was so strong, in fact, that Sherlock’s confidence barely wavered when he responded, “No you won’t, Mrs. Watson,” when Mary threatened to kill him.
( I particularly like the, “dude…I thought we were bros!” face he makes in the split second after she actually shoots him. Classic.)
I also think that Mary’s shooting of Sherlock runs much, much deeper than “John mustn’t know about my past, because he won’t love me anymore.” There is not a doubt in my mind that Mary was in danger, and that Magnussen’s blackmail threats were only the tip of the iceberg.
I can only hope that showrunners delve into what that danger was in Series 4. If they don’t, then not only will they do a massive disservice to the fans of the show, but also completely drop the ball in regards to Mary’s character. She’s a character that deserves to be fully fleshed out and examined, and I can’t say that series 3 did her justice in that regard.
Quote: "I can only hope that showrunners delve into what that danger was in Series 4. If they don’t, then not only will they do a massive disservice to the fans of the show, but also completely drop the ball in regards to Mary’s character. She’s a character that deserves to be fully fleshed out and examined, and I can’t say that series 3 did her justice in that regard." End Quote. This, right here, is the whole crux of the matter. HLV left far too many loose ends in multiple areas. Some questions demand to be answered and, furthermore, in spite of everything that happened - the character of Mary was completely left hanging. Undeservedly so. On the flip side, I gotta say Moffat and Gatiss have given her more time and background than anyone else - either in canon history or all the reinventions. They deliberately wrote her to illicit conflict, strong emotional response, and to mirror other characters sense of betrayal. It’s not surprising there’s extreme polarity where Mary is concerned. Still, I’m hoping the Christmas Special will address the loose ends of HLV, or my interest in this show will wane, if not disappear, very quickly.
so first things first: i completely understand how someone could consider what mary has done unforgivable and mary herself unlikable. i do not think that subscribing to either or both of these viewpoints is an indicator of misogyny. i don’t mind if people don’t like her, or think that disliking her says Bad Things about a person, or have a desire to convince everyone or indeed anyone to appreciate her.
what i don’t understand, however, is why she has been singled out for such intense dislike, and why people who like her—or even just welcome the possibility of a redemption arc for her—are so thin on the ground in fandom. i can’t think of anything that mary has done—lying, killing, lying about killing, et al.—that john and/or sherlock have not.
I thought long and carefully before adding my thoughts to this post, especially as Mary is a sensitive subject in our Sherlock fandom. But, your meta is beautifully written and I really appreciate your point of view and critical analysis. It’s nicely done! Even though I don’t share your opinion, wholly, you do raise excellent questions and there are very few thoughtful conversations on this subject. At least without people attacking one another.
I believe everyone, without question, should be able to like who they like, for whatever reason they choose. It just seems like a moot point to me - no matter what. It’s something no one should ever have to justify. Mary Morstan in canon is a lovely character and I’ve always liked that canon John Watson found someone he loved and chose to build a life with.
I’m not happy with how Mary was re-invented in this contemporary version. To be honest, I’m not offended that she was a former CIA operative gone rogue, that she has a history as an assassin and, especially, that she wanted to build a new life for herself. I wish she would have told John, however, at least gave him some indication that she had a past she wanted to bury. Then again, look at all the angst we would have been spared.
I don’t see Mary’s actions, regarding shooting someone, remotely similar to either Sherlock or John. For me, any similarity begins and ends with a gun. The motives and mitigating circumstances were entirely different.
In ASiP, Sherlock was, in fact, in imminent danger. The man John shot was a serial killer - a man, who had previously taken the lives of several innocent victims and, by his own admission, intended to continue, for profit no less. He was not armed with a standard weapon, but instead used extreme psychological terror and intimidation.
For whatever it’s worth, serial killer (rapist, kidnapper and necrophilia) Ted Bundy used no weapons either, other than his charm, a fake cast on his arm or leg and a set of crutches. He admittedly murdered over 36 women and girls, all of which were brutally tortured before murdered and 12 who were decapitated. He alluded to more victims of which he never disclosed their location. I’m sure those victims, or their families, would have been extremely grateful had someone come along and interfered - thereby saving the lives of their loved ones.
Jeffry Dahmer, raped, murdered and ate, 17 boys and men. He used no weapons either, other than charm, sexual favors and lured them into his home.
The point I’m trying to make is just because someone is not wielding a gun or knife, does not make them any less dangerous, or the circumstance less exigent.
The character of Sherlock Holmes, both in canon and the contemporary version, is a detective who investigates cases that are generally unsolvable by normal police procedures and dark in nature. If we were to look at his cases outside the filter of fiction, television and film, most of his cases would be extremely disturbing to say the least. He, nor John Watson, are people who shy away from danger, but instead attracted to that particular lifestyle. Both men exhibit a heightened immunity to personal safety by placing the well-being of others before their own. The same, however, could be said as true for First Responders, Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Bomb Disposal, Investigators, Detectives, etc. They are able to move through the ‘Fight or Flight’ response and motivated to take action.
The body’s biological response to ‘Fight or Flight’ is similar within all of us. An excessive amount of adrenaline is released into our system enabling us to either seek out safety or confront the danger head-on. The psychological and emotional response once the danger or circumstance has been averted, or dealt with, is individual. But, it’s absolutely not unusual, or uncommon, for someone to have a paradoxical reaction. Meaning, laughter, joking, dismissiveness - as an example. It’s a biological, emotional and psychological coping mechanism - as well as an avenue to expel any residual adrenaline within our system. In other words, our mind is attempting to efficiently work through the experienced trauma. I’m speaking, of course, to John and Sherlock joking and laughing after the cabbie incident in ASiP. We can only see what these men are showing us, not what they’re feeling, or how they’re possibly violently shaking on the inside from the adrenaline and other hormones released into their system. The cabbie was an extremely dangerous man, who posed a terminal threat to the safety of others. John, although not a police officer, used reasonable force, after quickly assessing the situation and taking the only action available. Lestrade, or anyone else on his team, would have done no differently had they been in the same position.
Magnussen was different, however, and even more dangerous. Exposing Mary’s past was simply the avenue to leverage what he really wanted: Mycroft Homes and control of the British Government. In essence, he was staging a one man coup - not through weaponry, but through coercion, blackmail, and psychological terrorism. He even states this much, while peeing into the fireplace at Baker St. Although, he is directly responsible for at least one death that we know of: the suicide of Lord Smallwood. Very similar to what the cabbie was doing in ASiP. He is also responsible for the fall of Minister John Garvey. We have no idea if the basis of those allegations were true, but according to Magnussen - it doesn’t matter. Media spins the story to manipulate the believability of the masses. Both Garvey and Smallwood could have been eventually exonerated of any wrong doing, but by the time the dust settled and their names cleared - the damage was done, and their reputations / lives destroyed. Magnussen has built an empire doing this to thousands of other people, including countries. Make no mistake - he is dangerous.
Sherlock discovered, during his second meeting with Magnussen at the restaurant, that there was a possibility he had a mind palace. He couldn’t be sure, however, and went into making a deal with CAM that gave him two options: The first, and preferable option, was entrapment by using Mycroft’s position. The second, his assassination. Sherlock’s face at CAMs, when he discovers Magnussen does in fact have a mind palace, is heartbreaking. His face indicates pain, horror, grief, and extreme conflict. He is not going into this easily, lightly, or without conscience. As a matter of fact, he encouraged John to allow Magnussen to humiliate and abuse him as a way to muster more courage to do what was needed.
Sidenote: I simply do not believe Mycroft’s computer contained any British State Secrets. Sherlock’s comments to John at the beginning of the episode about Magnussen not storing sensitive information on computers mirrors this. Instead, the laptop was simply a tool used for entrapment. Additionally, had Sherlock not shot Magnussen, he and John would have been arrested, but released fairly quickly. There were no secrets to sell, and Magnussen knew this. However, this scenario would have given Magnussen what he wanted all along - the most powerful man in Britain: Mycroft Holmes and control over the government. Sherlock’s actions would have guaranteed this.
Each of these scenarios indicate the desire to either protect life, liberty and / or the continued safety of Queen and Country. There is a higher and more selfless purpose at work. Sherlock’s actions regarding Magnussen is also a huge nod to the canonical Holmes, during the War when he became a British Intelligence Agent against the Nazi’s. He was a war hero and had a thing for Queen Victoria.
Mary’s actions, in my opinion, did not demonstrate any higher purpose other than protecting herself, her history, and thereby sparing John the pain of her betrayal and, worse yet, destroying his love for her. Mary acknowledged - which she stated - that if John knew who she really was, he would no longer love her. Unfortunately, she never gave him the chance to prove otherwise. Her actions against Sherlock were unprovoked, especially as he stated, "Mary, let me help you." Her intention was clear, as she also stated: "Sherlock, I swear if you take one more step I will kill you." Also, as a ‘wet’ contract assassin, Mary has suppressed her conscience, thereby gaining a skewed objectivity and perspective regarding human life. She does not question the moral implications of her hits, or whether there is a legitimate justification - she simply carries out a job, dismissing all sense of human interplay and connection. This is not a personal opinion, btw, but something Mary shares with the viewing audience.
I believe if Mary’s intent was to truly kill Sherlock she would have shot him in the head, or through the heart, made it a clean finish. Nevertheless, she did intend to cause lethal harm, and shooting him where she did was, more or less, saying: "Up to you now, Sherlock. If you survive - we’re gonna have another go. If you die, it will be sad for John, but I’ve comforted him through your loss before and I can do it again." In this moment, Mary was willing to risk the continued happiness and love of John Watson for her own gain. It’s not a meaning I’m implying through a jaded filter, but said and demonstrated by the character herself. As Sherlock survived, she used intimidation tactics and threaten his safety immediately after his surgery, when he was anesthetized, vulnerable and unable to communicate. He feared for not only his safety, but that of John’s and even the unborn child. He left the hospital to entrap Mary so John would know not only who is wife was, but what she had done and why. In this confrontation Mary, again, threatened Sherlock’s life - this time for John to hear. This is not remotely anything similar to what John or Sherlock did in their respective experiences in ASiP or with Magnussen.
I clearly understand that Sherlock told John he could trust Mary and, in some ways, this was the case. Her secret was out, cards laid on the table and it was time to focus on other business: CAM. I don’t believe, and this is only my opinion, that Sherlock ever intended his comment to be accepted broadly. His words were chosen and used carefully - and the danger surrounding all of them extreme. Sherlock did what he had to do to quell the most immediate threat - Mary.
Sherlock Holmes, in canon, has always had a unusual sense of justice, which adheres to his moral compass. Perhaps he did forgive Mary, or set aside what happened, enough so that he could move forward with his recovery, keeping John and his unborn child safe, as well as plan out the Magnussen case. My opinion, no doubt, is unpopular, but In spite of what John said, I don’t believe he forgave Mary. Nor do I believe it’s as simple as saying “I forgive or don’t forgive.” Relationships at their best are complex and, in this case, it’s a cluster fuck. There are no easy answers or solutions. It is regrettable and sorrowful.
Sherlock plays a long game and it’s my opinion that in spite of what’s said and shown, there’s a plan at play where Mary is concerned. There’s no proof, of course, just my perspective. Personally, I consider her very dangerous and unstable. It wouldn’t be the first time that words are used as a form of deception on this show, to disguise what’s going on under the surface. They’re used as slight of hand - a magic trick. In the mean time, everyone should enjoy who and what aspects of the show they find most appealing, as well as try to respect one another in spite of our differences.
I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS SCENE. It’s not even funny.
It is so short, and yet there is SO MUCH HERE…
1.) When did this take place? I’m guessing it happened shortly after The Fall when Sherlock needed a place to stay in London without anyone seeing him. Later on, he travels throughout Europe in order to dismantle Moriarty’s network. He must have started in London and moved on gradually from there. Also, Sherlock doesn’t know Tom, so Molly must have started dating him after Sherlock left.
2.) Was it just a one-time thing or did he make several visits? Was he moving frequently between his hideouts? Did he stay for long periods of time or was it one night in each place? Molly’s answer doesn’t give any us any hints.
3.) Molly’s smile. It’s obvious Molly is holding back a lot of information here. The question is what kind of information. Is it related to her involvement in Sherlock’s plan? I tend to think it must be a lot more significant than Sherlock’s explanation indicates. When Sherlock thanks Molly at the train guy’s apartment, he really stresses her importance. Simply faking a death certificate and falsely identifying a body doesn’t seem to warrant this earnest appreciation (“you made it all possible”,”the one person who mattered the most”). Surely Mycroft could have taken care of that quite easily. There has to be more to it. Or was she smiling because of the personal nature of this admission? She may be feeling a bit awkward telling this person (whomever it may be) about her private life.
4.) Someone commented (and I agree) on the weirdness of this scene and how it resembles The Office. Who is Molly talking to? She is facing the camera talking to an unknown person out of the shot. Lestrade? Mary? John? Someone entirely different? The only other scene I can think of that resembles this is in TEH when Sherlock is giving his explanation to Anderson. Sherlock speaks directly to the camera and we (the audience) become Anderson in that moment, like he is telling us directly (and like Anderson we are left to wonder about the how much of this explanation is true). This scene has that same feeling, as if Molly is speaking directly to us and giving us subtle hints.
5.) Also, this scene brings up all these images of Sherlock hanging out in Molly’s apartment. Did he just use it as a place to sleep? Or did they spend a lot of time together (i.e. order takeout, watch tv on the couch, did Sherlock hang out with her cat when she went to work, etc.)? (Yes, I attempted a fanfic about this.)
In any case, it must have had a dramatic effect on their relationship. When someone is staying in your place, you get to know them in a whole new and intimate way. I’m not saying anything romantic happened, but their trust and familiarity with each other would have grown quite a bit. Sherlock trusted Molly to help him with his plan, keep his secret, and now we know it went beyond that by him staying in her home.
I wrote all that and then I came across this great analysis. I always assumed Molly was talking about the time frame after Sherlock faked his death. It didn’t even cross my mind that he could also have used the hideout after his return as well. Sherlock returned around the end of October and the beginning of November (the bomb was set to go off November 5th). John and Mary got married in May. Sherlock got shot sometime between their return from their honeymoon and Christmas. This is a period of several months where things were happening that we don’t know about. When Janine was staying at his place, Sherlock may have felt that his personal space was being invaded and could have went to Molly’s to get away. The thing that I can’t quite figure out is why Molly’s bedroom. If this was when Tom was still in the picture and they were still “having lots of sex”, wouldn’t this mean Molly’s room was occupied? Tom wouldn’t be using the spare bedroom surely. If this was after Molly broke up with Tom, then the spare bedroom would be free for Sherlock’s use. It is just fascinating to me that Sherlock’s idea of a safe place was IN MOLLY’S BEDROOM, not just her apartment or the spare room. That’s the most personal and intimate place that one has. Sherlock wanted to be there. He felt safe there. Molly is his safety net. In ASIB, Mycroft calls the morgue Sherlock’s “home from home” and Molly is there waiting. It appeared that Mycroft might have even called Molly himself, recognizing her importance to Sherlock. I think Molly has become this for Sherlock, his home and his safety, and Molly’s bedroom as a bolthole signifies this.
I believe Molly was sharing this information directly with the audience. Moffat and Gatiss used this technique in first Empty Hearse flashback, when Sherlock was leaving St. Bart’s. They said it was deliberate so the audience knew Sherlock was looking directly at us to inform us the first theory was wrong. This info came from a recent interview with Steven Moffat. Also, Lestrade was busy with not only John, but met up with Mycroft in his office, who later met with John at Baker St. Mary, on the other hand, and as we now know, directly sought out Anderson (per Sherlock), who led her to Sherlock’s location. My last thoughts on why I don’t think Molly shared this information with anyone in the Sherlock circle is because, upon receiving that information, they - like us - would want more information. Just as John did when he discovered Sherlock had a “girlfriend.”
Mary and John were married on May 18th, per the invitation. When John finds Sherlock in the crack den, he says, "One month, Sherlock, that’s all it took. One month." I think it’s safe to assume, then, the timeline is around June 18th when that scene takes place. He and John met up that same evening at Magnussen’s office at approximately 7:30pm and by 8pm Sherlock had been shot. He was in the hospital for one week before bolting to take care of the Mary business - at least that’s what he told the paramedics when he collapsed at Baker St. His recovery was very long, especially for his liver to repair itself.
I wrote a meta a while back regarding the timeline of when Sherlock used Molly’s home as a bolthole. These are just my thoughts, of course, but I think he began using Molly’s home shortly after John and Mary’s wedding. This is when he began ‘seeing’ Janine and allowed her easy access to his flat. He wasn’t able to use Baker St to work on the Magnussen case, so he had to do it somewhere, right? He also didn’t have any case evidence on the wall behind his couch, which is where he puts everything he’s working on.
Molly’s comment about Sherlock using her bedroom, however, is very revealing. She could have easily said “my home” instead of the specific area. I think it’s her way (the writer’s) of informing the audience of their changing dynamic. Bedrooms are intimate spaces - so the implication of her words is duly noted.