philosophy, TV, Watch

Sherlock S3 Ep3, With Spoilers

Wow. This episode … intense. I’m going to break it down into three parts: the overall episode, Mary, and the murder. Here goes.

Overall: It was a fantastic episode. Very Sherlock Holmes-ian in tone, with its twists and surprises and shocks. Intense, spell-binding, and breathtaking. I usually click over to Twitter once in a while when watching, just to share some immediate thoughts or feelings, or check Instagram on my phone during a slow bit, or at least allow my thoughts to skitter distractedly. I just don’t focus well on TV shows/movies (unlike books …). This time, however, I barely dragged my eyes away from the screen once, and there was no way I was going to get distracted. It was just so IMMENSE.

I love seeing Mr and Mrs Holmes, and the deepening of the relationship between Mycroft and Sherlock. This season has really fleshed out all the characters, taken them beyond caricatures to be much more real. I mean, not really real, as none of them are exactly the type of person you might meet in real life, but they’re at least believable. They aren’t stock characters meant to represent something, without having any life to them. They grow. (Molly walloping Sherlock over wasting his gifts with drugs! LOVE SO MUCH.)

Magnussen was perfectly slimy and creepy and appalling. I almost preferred Moriarty’s madness and obvious wickedness to Magnussen’s calm, controlled, deliberate evil. *shudders*

Seeing Sherlock’s mind palace was kind of awesome, especially the parallel between his mind palace and Magnussen’s mind vault. I like that as Sherlock becomes more human, we get to see more of how his mind works.

Side note – I find the likelihood of Magnussen  being able to remember all that information ridiculous, honestly. It would be more believable to me if he held that info, but somebody else used it, or vice versa. But that his mind holds all that information, and yet he’s still able to plot and scheme and be diabolical … um, no. Then again, nothing about Conan Doyle’s world is actually believable, so I suppose Magnussen isn’t that much of a stretch.

I was unhappy with the Janine storyline, mostly because I’d really liked the dynamic between her and Sherlock in the Sign of Three, but I did appreciate that she called Sherlock on his terrible behavior, and tells him they could have been friends. Because they could have been, and it was a good reminder for him that not all people have to be used.

Mary: Argh. I admit, I was really disappointed about Mary. She’s still awesome, but not in the same way she was before. Before, she was awesome BECAUSE she was ordinary and yet still able to be unintimidated by Sherlock, supportive of John and Sherlock’s friendship, a worthy member of the team, etc. Now, she’s just awesome because hey, she’s a brilliant assassin! It’d be like coming to the end of Lord of the Rings and discovering that Sam is actually a supernatural being disguised as a humble gardnener sent by the gods (or the Eldar or Valar or whatever Tolkien’s god-types are – I got bogged down in the Silmarillion, okay?) to make sure Frodo achieves his quest. Imagine the letdown!

I think Moffat has a hard time with ordinary characters. One of the things I dislike about Doctor Who, from the end of Donna’s tenure through now, is that there are no ordinary companions. Donna, who was beautifully ordinary, turned out to be chosen and special after all, blah blah blah. Then we have Amy, who is special. Rory, who starts out ordinary but turns special. River, who is extra-super-special. Clara, who is special.

(Oh my goodness. I’m suddenly seeing a ridiculous parallel between Sherlock/John/Mary and the Doctor/Rory/Amy, and so help me, if John becomes an immortal Roman centurion next series, I am going to be SO MAD.)

John is, of course, ordinary, and I think much of that is due to Martin Freeman’s immense acting ability. Many other actors would either make him a buffoon or play up his physical abilities to make those almost superhuman, but not Martin. His John is perfect. And I so wanted Mary to be an extraordinary ordinary person, but I do still like her, even though she is now an extraordinary extraordinary person. I also feel kind of cheated in regard to Sign of Three, having loved it so much and now seeing it in a completely different light. And yet … another sign of a brilliant, sneaky, tricksy show, I guess.

As for John and Mary’s relationship – still love it. That she wasn’t playing John, ever. That Sherlock wouldn’t lie to John about her (I REALLY REALLY loved that). That John didn’t immediately forgive her, but that he came around in the end. That he admitted he was still angry, but willing to move forward. That she still wouldn’t let him pick the name for their daughter. That they’ve been shaken, but they’re still a team. It’s not a sappy “love conquers all” story, but neither is it “our trust has been broken everything is ruined TRAGEDY” story.

Murder: What is murder? No, seriously, this is the question I was pondering most by the end of this episode. We consider Sherlock’s action to be murder because Magnussen wasn’t actively threatening John and Mary’s lives with a tangible weapon. And yet …

The first thing I thought of was the Star Trek: TNG episode where Data is driven relentlessly by logic and reason to attempt murder when all else has failed, against a man who was technically helpless, yet had proven himself to be completely amoral and ready and willing to destroy others on a whim. Then I thought of Agatha Christie’s Curtain, where (*SPOILER! No, seriously, don’t read this next bit if you’ve never read Curtain*) Poirot murders an Iago-type, a man who takes twisted pleasure in driving others to murder, without ever actively involving himself. The law cannot touch him, yet he is responsible both for the deaths of many and the moral destruction of those he incites to murder (seriously, at one point he even convinces Hastings to murder his daughter’s supposedly unsuitable boyfriend) (it’s okay, though, Poirot drugs Hastings so he can’t follow through with his plan), and so Poirot kills him, and then commits suicide because he does not believe a man who takes the law into his own hands is safe anymore, and does not trust himself to not play God now that he has done it once. *Done with Curtain spoilers*

I read someone sum up Data’s decision as showing the difference between ethics and morality, and I think that’s a really brilliant way of putting it. Data was programmed with ethics, but he did not have the instinctive morality that (most) human do, and that’s a gaping wide chasm of difference. And that, I think is what it boils down to with Sherlock as well. Whereas John, in that situation, is frustrated and helpless, seething with hatred of Magnussen yet unable to do something about it because Magnussen has not actually, you know, pulled a gun or knife on them (despite the fact that Magnussen has explicitly threatened Mary with death), Sherlock looks at it detachedly and says “This man will destroy all the people I love (and let’s not forget he was after Mycroft ultimately) if he is not stopped, and I have exhausted all the other options for stopping him, therefore I must now kill him.” And he does.

I’m not saying he’s right. I’m saying that Sherlock doesn’t have the same basic programming most human being do. He has ethics, not morality. Logic, not instinct. Therefore in his mind, it was not murder. It was as legitimate an act of protection as John shooting the cabbie to save his, Sherlock’s, life back in Study in Pink.

I really must emphasize again I’m not saying he was right. But I think this makes for a far more compelling character development than just “Oh well, let’s be a murderer!” And I’m curious to see what the show does with this next series. (WHENEVER THAT HAPPENS)

My final thought from this episode: You guys all picked up on Mycroft’s casual reference to “the other one” when speaking of his brother, right? With the implication that this “other one” did something far worse than Sherlock, and was treated far worse in return? I think the supposed return of Moriarty is a blind, and that the third Holmes brother (I have not read all the books, so is that book canon?) is going to be the Big Bad in Series 4. And how cool would that be?

Whew. It’s probably a good thing there’s only three episodes a series for this show. I would have to start getting a lot more concise in my posts otherwise.

TV, Watch

Sherlock S3 Ep2 (With Spoilers)

loved this episode. I’ll have to re-watch it to be certain, but it just might be my favorite episode of the entire series thus far. I felt it even cleared up some of my frustrations with The Empty Hearse – because here, finally, we got to see the heart of Sherlock.

We got to see that he does have emotions, he just doesn’t have the ability to understand them, and so he ends up making huge missteps, both to try to stuff the emotions back down and to try to work around/with them. So messing with John’s head about the bomb? Not necessarily being manipulative and sneaky, but more “I have all these weird things that I think are called feelings and I don’t know how to process them or work with them and I don’t know what to do so I’ll just do this stupid thing and hope somehow it helps.” Goodness knows I use humor – occasionally inappropriately – to get me through an awkward situation or a time when my emotions are threatening to overwhelm me.

But here, in The Sign of Three, we get to see Sherlock coming to terms with the fact that he does have emotions, and attempting to communicate them, and it’s beautiful. Despite the fact that the speech is planned and choreographed, it’s still genuine, and he’s never just saying the words because it’s what society expects (well, until he gets to the funny stories).

This was one of the funniest episodes in the series, and I loved that, loved the combination of the solemnity of Sherlock trying to express what John means to him and then getting to see the two of them interacting and being utterly ridiculous. The stag night drinking, and trying to solve the case while completely out of it, and Lestrade’s glee over having to get them out of jail – LOVED IT.

And oh my, Sherlock’s decision, whether conscious or unconscious, to include Mary in his group of “people he protects,” because John loves her and she loves John – beautiful. The scene with the usher, where Sherlock threatens him if he ever tries to weasel his way into Mary’s affections, was both funny and poignant, because for him to do that meant that Mary, now, was one of his. And of course he reiterated that at the end, much more bluntly.

(Side note: the “yeah, okay” to Archie’s request to see corpses was brilliant. I chortled.)

Speaking of Mary … can I just say how much I love her? Playing John and Sherlock off each other so they go solve a case, reassuring them and incidentally getting them out of her hair at the same time? “I’m not John, Sherlock, I can tell when you’re fibbing.” ZING. Teasing Sherlock at the wedding about neither of them being John’s first. She is completely unthreatened by their friendship, completely unintimidated by Sherlock, treats him as a human being, lets them do their mystery-solving thing but joins in when necessary without forcing anything, and in short is pretty much my favorite character on the show. If they kill her off in Episode 3 I am going to be SO MAD.

The mysteries were a side note here to the human stories, and I think that’s why I loved it so well. We got to see – everyone got to see – why John and Sherlock work so well together, that John is not an idiot but chooses to focus on people rather than problems, while Sherlock deals with problems over people, and how well they balance each other, even while sometimes they drive each other mad. I could go on and on, detailing every aspect that I enjoyed, but really, that sums it all up.

characters, TV, Watch

Sherlock S3 Ep1 (Spoilers!!)

I, being the patient part of the fandom, waited to watch Sherlock S3 until it aired here in the States. And then I waited one more day because a 10:00 start time is way too late for me, especially when the next day is a school day and I must have some semblance of a brain in order to teach.

But now! Now I’ve watched it, and I’m exploding with Thoughts.

(Spoilers follow. You’ve been warned.)

(I personally don’t mind spoilers for some things, but I did, very much, want to watch Sherlock without anyone else’s thoughts or reactions influencing mine, so for this one I did avoid spoilers like the plague.)


I loved it. Mostly.

Side note: I have struggled, in the past, with calling myself a fan, because I don’t obsess over things, or have to know every detail, and because I don’t mind admitting when the Thing I Love has flaws. But I’m getting over that, and even though I say yes, Sherlock has flaws, and even though I waited to watch it until a sensible time, I really am a fan. Just not a fanatic.

So yes, it had flaws. I really dislike how the show has gone from Sherlock being aware of social conventions and how people will react to him, and merely choosing to ignore it, to how he is utterly clueless about everyone. Before he was well aware that the things he said were hurtful, and just didn’t care. Now, especially with John, he hasn’t got a clue. “No, of course John won’t mind that I never told him I was dead! Of course he’ll think it a big joke that I surprise him in a restaurant, in public, while he’s on a date, to reveal that I’m alive!”

Um, no. Sherlock Holmes is many things, but he’s not dense.

(I also don’t like how the viewers are invited to wink wink, nudge nudge, snicker snicker along with him whenever he plays John. The raw pain of John’s goodbye last season is not something I care to giggle about now that it’s over. Sorry.)

But! I love Mary (really, really, surprising even myself, love her character). I love how smart she is (she figured out the code within moments!) and her common sense, and her adventurous side, and her warmth, and pretty much everything about her. I hope she sticks around for the rest of the show’s duration, because it would be tragic to lose her.

I like the playing with all the different theories the fandom has concocted explaining Sherlock’s demise, and that we’re never exactly sure how it really did go down. I do hope that the explanation Sherlock gives Anderson is at least partially correct, because that was MY theory – the before part, not the actual jump part.

I was certain, upon my last watch of Reichenbach Fall, that Sherlock and Mycroft were playing Moriarty from the beginning. It seemed impossible to me that he could trick Mycroft the way he claimed to, or that Sherlock could really be two steps behind him all the way. I wasn’t quite sure of their purpose in playing him, but I knew that they were. So when Sherlock told Anderson that he and Mycroft had it all planned, in order to discover the extent of Moriarty’s network, I felt rather pleased with myself. I don’t care if the jump part is right, but I very much want that aspect to be true.

I like the relationship between Molly and Sherlock, and how she humanizes him more than John, even, maybe because he got used to John and didn’t listen to him after a while, but he’s not as familiar with Molly and so still pays attention to her. I  love how she’s not intimidated by him anymore. All in all, it was the women of Sherlock that really won me over this episode (Mrs Hudson, of course, was spot on as always. Her little comments during Sherlock’s exchange with Mycroft in the flat were priceless.).

The mystery itself was fairly uninspiring. I never felt much tension over it, or even cared that much – but that was okay. The focus of the episode was clearly on Sherlock coming back to life, and that’s as it should be. I did hate the scene at the end, where Sherlock tricks John into forgiving him, and John finally breaks down and laughs, ha ha, you’re a jerk Sherlock but that’s okay, everything’s fine. Um, no. Mary, please slap both of them upside the head.

Although I did like how they poked gentle fun at the shows where, with one minute left on the ticking clock, the scene plays out for fifteen or so minutes. I was sitting there snarkily going “well, that’s the longest two minutes ever,” and then you find out Sherlock stopped the clock and it really wasn’t meant to be two minutes at all. Well played that, show.

All in all, it was a great episode, and I do like how they’re trying to show Sherlock becoming more human. It’s a fumbling effort on their part, but that’s okay, because one can only imagine Sherlock is fumbling in it too. He’s very adept at pretending to be human, but he sucks at the real thing. It’s okay if the show drops the ball here and there, too.

Have you seen it? What are your thoughts, if so?

characters, heroes, Life Talk, TV, Watch

Television Heroes

I’ve done a list of my favorite literary heroes, but never of favorite tv heroes. Silly me! Lately I’ve been looking at the rather disparate list of characters I love on tv, and trying to figure out what it is about them that draws me – whether there is one common theme, or if I like each for completely different reasons. So then, naturally, I decided to blog about it.

Here, then, is my list of top five television heroes, with one thrown in as a bonus at the end.

Chakotay (Star Trek: Voyager):  Carl and I recently started re-watching the Voyager series (re-watching for me, first time for him – true love!), and I was astounded to discover that it was nowhere near as awesome as I remembered from when I was watching it as a teenager. I mean, the basis is awesome, and the acting is brilliant, but the writing, oh the writing. It’s pretty much “The Janeway Show,” and none of the other characters really get much development until Seven-of-Nine shows up. Then it’s the “Janeway and Seven Show.” And that sucks, because really, it could have been so amazing. And Chakotay was one of the most amazing characters on it. A basically kind, gentle man with enormous compassion and such strong ethics, forced by his principles into a life of violence. So much conflict in him, and clashing loyalties, and his rarely-seen but wickedly delightful sense of humor … yeah, even after all these years, and even with the major issues I now see with Voyager, Chakotay is still one of my all time favorite television heroes.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS): Ah, Gibbs. I knew I loved him from the moment I heard his preferred method of dealing with politicians was to shoot them (actually, that’s his preferred method of dealing with most people, come to think of it). Taciturn, rude, terrible people skills … Gibbs still manages to win the hearts and loyalty of those who work with him. Probably because along with all those negative traits, he’s also fiercely loyal to his people, protective, deeply loving, and almost always right. The NCIS team really is like one big family, and Gibbs is unquestionably the father-figure to them all (well, aside from Ducky, who is most definitely the eccentric great-uncle of the clan). If I were ever in mortal danger, it’s Special Agent Gibbs I’d want protecting me.
Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly): I hate to admit that I was kind of on the fence regarding Mal at first. It wasn’t until the end of the episode “Safe” that I made up my mind on him. When Simon was asking him why Mal came back for Simon and River, Mal says “You’re my crew.” “Yeah, but you don’t even like me,” Simon pointed out. “You’re my crew,” Mal said blankly. “Why are we still talking about this?” And that’s when I fell irrevocably in love (not really, Carl). I love Mal’s stubborn loyalty, the fact that he will do anything at all to protect his people, whether he likes them or not. The fact that he never, ever gives up, even when he is utterly beaten just adds to his endearing qualities. As someone whose stubbornness goes far beyond reasonable limits (be quiet, Carl), I like seeing that portrayed as a good quality in fictional characters.
Carson Beckett (Stargate: Atlantis): It is entirely possible that much of my fondness for Carson is influenced by his adorable Scottish accent, along with his habit of calling people “son” or “love” or even “wee man” (that last one delivered with killing sarcasm). Mostly why I like him, though, is for his Everyman qualities. In a company made up of scientists, military persons, and administrators, Carson is the one normal guy (though a perfectly brilliant MD in his own right), the one who genuinely cares for everyone, who treats each person as an important individual, who is never too busy with his own tasks to take the time out for others. He’s perfectly sweet, and did I mention the Scottish accent?
The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who): The Ninth Doctor was my first introduction to the show. I’m still tremendously fond of him, but oh, the Tenth Doctor. That unique blend of remarkable kindness and ruthlessness, compassion and cold-bloodedness … not to mention his delightful sense of humor, his zest for life. His occasional rudeness, usually followed by sheepishness at having been rude adds to his charm. And his loneliness just breaks my heart. Weep, weep! If Gibbs is the person I most want to have my back if I’m in danger, the Tenth Doctor is the one I think would be the most fun to have around when I’m in peril. Even if he caused much of that peril to begin with.
And the promised bonus: Sherlock Holmes, my dream husband.

I expected to like Watson best in the latest BBC adaptation of Sherlock. On the surface, I do like him best. Sherlock is an egotistical maniac, cold-hearted and quite thoroughly amoral, self-described as a “high-functioning sociopath.”

And yet … it was Sherlock that I dreamed was my husband (literally – I dreamed Carl and Sherlock were the same person). It was quite a friendly dream, actually – Sherlock/Carl, John Watson and myself, solving a mystery together, the two of them totally in character, nothing racy or anything I’d be embarrassed to have my mother read on this blog. Sherlock/Carl and I just happened to be quite happily married, as well. And somehow, every time I watch the show, I find myself more drawn to him. No idea why. I’ve quit trying to analyze that one.

“John, stop chattering on this phone – the game’s afoot!”

So, in looking over this list, describing the characters, I am indeed seeing a pattern. Ruthlessness when necessary, compassion and kindness, fierce loyalty and protectiveness toward “their” people, and a wry sense of humor. Not exactly the dashing, noble hero of traditional fiction, nor even the typical anti-hero such as Han Solo or Jack Sparrow … but it works for me. And also explains a lot of the hero-characters I find myself writing!

Who are some of your favorite tv heroes, and why?

Disclaimer: I really don’t watch a whole lot of tv. So I’m sure there are some fabulous characters out there that I just haven’t discovered. If I left your favorites off, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like them! 

Disclaimer #2: I know there aren’t any female characters on here. I’m going to do a post later on with favorite tv female characters. I’m not sure why I separated them, except that maybe that helps me squeeze two posts out of this topic instead of one? Or maybe that it’s so much harder to find strong female leads on tv (which is a post in and of itself, but not one that I think I’m fit to tackle), so it’s going to take me a bit longer to figure out five that I really love as much as I love the five mentioned here. But I’ll get there eventually!