dammit I was going to make my 5000th post something special and I just blew it
"you make my heart beat in iambic pentameter."
no you don’t understand shakespeare literally writes to the beat of your heart
- that’s why shakespearean actors will sometimes pound their chests in time to the words during readings
- that’s why you use fluctuations in the rhythm to track your character’s emotional state - any irregularities in the scansion are like the character’s heart stuttering or jumping or skipping a beat
- that’s why when characters share the rhythm - switching off in the middle of a foot - those characters inevitably have an extraordinarily intimate connection
shakespeare fucking writes viscerally, he is literally in your body, and that, my friend, that is why the best shakespearean actors don’t posture and emote
you have to be fucking alive and passionate and electric - it can’t be intellectual, in the end, it has to be about connection and the sweating, cheering, jeering, bleeding masses you’re performing to, because make no mistake, shakespeare may go to lofty heights, but he only works if you’re just as grounded in the earth. he has to be in your body. he has to be in your body.
holy motherfucking shit i love shakespeare so much, get him in your bones, breathe him in, stomp and rage and pine, dadum dadum dadum dadum dadum, it is literally to the beat of your heart
Whenever I teach verse or direct a Shakespeare play, this is the FIRST thing I say. People need to be reminded that Shakespeare is human. It’s maybe the most human text you’ll ever encounter. It’s easy to forget that, especially because so many of his words are so iconic. But those words are as alive as you. Hell, they even breathe the same way.
Warning: this is ridiculously long. So long, I went all college and wrote a short abstract to sum it up if you prefer the short version. While there are lots of great metas out there on how Sherlock realized he was in love with John during TSoT, mine is a slightly different take (with the same happy/not happy ending). :)
Disclaimer: I’m not saying I 100% believe the writers did this intentionally, although I do think it’s possible. Obviously, there are other interpretations/theories that totally work, too. But this is how I prefer to view the Mind Palace scene, because it does fit, and (for me) it makes the entire episode even more beautiful and poignant.
The Mind Palace scene in TSoT consists of not one, but two rooms. One is the courtroom, representing the brain, logic and reason, ruled by Mycroft. And the other is Baker Street, representing the heart, love and lust, ruled by John. In this scene, we are watching Sherlock try to work out the Mayfly Man mystery, but his heart (John) keeps interrupting to point out the clues from stag night that indicate their feelings for one another. Sherlock doesn’t put the pieces together until the end of his best man speech (“it’s always you”).
Why do you think Baker Street is a Mind Palace room? In short:
John’s unexplained change of clothes
(Actual Baker Street and Actual John)
(Mind Palace Baker Street and Mind Palace John)
the sudden appearance of food Mrs. Hudson prepared (that differs entirely from what she made for John) despite the fact that Sherlock doesn’t eat when working
and the sudden appearance of seven laptops when we’ve never seen more than two (including John’s) in Baker Street.
All three of these go unexplained. John could have brought a change of clothes for stag night. Mrs. Hudson could have cooked up a completely different meal and brought it up to Sherlock. Sherlock could have been stowing various laptops around the flat for years (yet continued to borrow John’s without permission) and thought this would be visually easier than just opening several tabs on his one laptop despite the fact that we’ve never seen him do such a thing. (And it does admittedly make a visually neat contrast – one laptop for each woman.)
I’m not being sarcastic – those are all legit explanations. I could be entirely wrong about this Mind Palace thing. But there are other oddities later which (in my opinion) indicate that once Sherlock enters the courtroom, the rest of this scene takes place entirely in Sherlock’s mind, which I’ll explain if you want to read further. :)
Here we go!
The long version
Let’s start with the morning after stag night. Stag night calls for a meta all its own, but here’s my take in a nutshell – they got drunk, John’s repressed sexual/romantic feelings for Sherlock rose to the surface, John (subconsciously or otherwise) gave Sherlock all kinds of clues about this (I don’t mind; am I pretty; the fact that he chose Sherlock’s name for the Rizla game). Sherlock was too drunk to pick up on these clues and make a deduction at the time. (What a wasted opportunity!)
But those clues are stored away in Sherlock’s Mind Palace. And just like he does on two other occasions in this episode – with Janine and the impotent potential boyfriend, and with Mary’s pregnancy (both of which also happen to be love/sex-related deductions) – Sherlock is about to make one more deduction than he was expecting.
After his breakfast with Mrs. Hudson, during which she gives us all sorts of delightful foreshadowing on how things are going to turn out for John with Mary (a whirlwind thing; I didn’t know what he was up to), John heads upstairs and finds Sherlock working on the Mayfly Man case.
Except not. Because this is what Sherlock has really been doing.
(note the name: James Sholto. James as in Moriarty. Sholto-Sherlock: victim. John-Jonathan: Mayfly Man. For more on what this could mean, here’s another meta.)
Sherlock’s jealousy of Sholto is pretty blatantly obvious throughout the episode, starting with when he first learned about Sholto while helping Mary with the seating arrangements. So here we are, morning after stag night, and the first thing Sherlock does is….research this man that apparently used to be so important to John and was so unsociable and got more death threats than even Sherlock, etc. TSoT jumps all over the timeline, but consider this: at this point in time, Sherlock has no idea Sholto will be the Mayfly Man’s victim at the wedding. Sholto is not a person of interest as far as work is concerned. He and John had a night of drunkenness, and the next morning…he’s Googling this guy from John’s past. Secretly.
I’ll leave you to your deductions.
Anyway, the second he hears John coming, Sherlock closes the Sholto story.
Sherlock jumps into work mode the moment John walks in. “There are going to be others [victims].” This is the last time we see Actual Baker Street and Actual John in his blue jumper. Note that the transition to the courtroom is abrupt, no fading, no effect, indicating Sherlock is entering his Mind Palace now, at this moment as he looks at the map. (Also, Sherlock’s clothes don’t change.)
Sherlock narrows down the women to the ones he believes had dates with the same “ghost” as Tessa. Note that Sherlock is talking to these women online. With the exception of Tessa (who doesn’t appear until later), he hasn’t met them, they’re chatting in a website forum. Which means these physical appearances are not necessarily accurate. They are simply visual representations of the victims Sherlock created in his Mind Palace.
Three of the women are vaguely similar to Tessa: medium height, brown hair.
And then there’s Vicky.
Even here, in this first shot of each girl, there’s something different about Vicky. The other girls look Sherlock in the eyes with honest, earnest faces; Vicky looks him up and down in a very flirtatious way. She is sexual from the start, and her answers to his questions hit like punchlines to dirty jokes. (Lovemonkey; he had a mask on; dungeon.)
Vicky – or rather, this version of Vicky Sherlock created in his mind – does not look like Tessa and the other girls. They are dressed in muted colors; her outfit is a screaming red flag. She is short, her hair is blond, she has a round face. Sound familiar? Many other metas have pointed out that Vicky represents John’s sexuality in Sherlock’s Mind Palace. More evidence of that to come.
Vicky is going to play an important role here as Sherlock struggles to work out two mysteries. The first, obviously, is the Mayfly Man mystery, also known as the ghost, or the Invisible Man with the Invisible Knife – the “most perfect” locked room mystery of which, Sherlock says during his best man speech, he is aware.
And that’s true, because he’s not aware of the other locked room mystery…not yet. Sherlock wants to live a life ruled by logic and reason – to be a sociopath. But to quote Moffat, “he’s so fucking not.”
The wonderful drama of Sherlock Holmes is that he’s aspiring to this extraordinary standard. He is at root an absolutely ordinary man with a very, very big brain. He’s repressed his emotions, his passions, his desires, in order to make his brain work better — in itself, a very emotional decision, and it does suggest that he must be very emotional if he thinks emotions get in the way. I just think Sherlock Holmes must be bursting!” (x)
Emphasis mine. This quote perfectly describes what’s happening in the Mind Palace scene – Sherlock is repressing his emotions/desires about John, without realizing it because this is a lifelong habit, in order to maximize full use of his brain and solve this case. But his heart (John) keeps getting in the way.
In other words: Sherlock’s heart is locked. Or was. But someone is in there. This is the metaphorical locked room mystery – Sherlock’s heart. From now until the end of this scene, we’re in his Mind Palace. The courtroom is his brain, Baker Street is his heart.
Sherlock asks the women a few questions. When he gets to Vicky, John interrupts. "He had a lovely –" "You okay?"
There is so much going on in these few seconds. I’m really going to pick this apart, and it might seem like overanalyzing (and maybe it is!) but however much time I end up spending on this meta, it’s a drop in the ocean in comparison to the amount of time writing, shooting, and editing this Mind Palace scene must have taken. We have multiple actors in two separate locations seamlessly moving through conversation. So I have to believe that every detail counts. This shit is meticulous.
So check out that gif. The first and most notable thing?
Sherlock is standing upright in Baker Street.
He raises his hand, lowers it to “pause” Vicky, turns to John and is in Baker Street. Why is this important? Because if Actual John had interrupted Sherlock in the middle of chatting with Vicky online, Sherlock would be hunched over a laptop typing. Frankly, that would’ve been a lot easier to shoot. But the motion was intentionally filmed and edited so that it appears as if Sherlock and John are standing there and the background changes behind them. They did this on purpose, and they did it for a reason.
Welcome to the Baker Street room in Sherlock’s Mind Palace.
Edit 1: Someone suggested looking at the lighting as a way of judging how much time has passed – if this is later in the day, John may have gone home, showered, changed, returned, and Mrs. Hudson prepared lunch/dinner for Sherlock. Excellent point! So I looked into it and made these gifs (unfiltered). Here’s John walking into the flat (blue jumper):
And here’s the next time we see Baker Street:
The lighting is the same. Bright white light streaming in from the window, lighting up Sherlock’s left side, his right side shadowed. Look at the lamp in front of the bookshelf – exact same shadow position. Look at the map – lit up near the front of the table, in shadow the closer it gets to us/the camera.
The fact that the shadows haven’t moved at all, indicating little time has passed, yet John is suddenly in a different outfit, a plate of food is on the table, and seven laptops have appeared that weren’t there before, has me even more convinced this is a Mind Palace room.
John and Sherlock are intentionally made to look as though they are stationary while the room changes around them.
Worth pointing out that Baker Street in this scene isn’t the only time we see an Actual room become a Mind Palace room.
And there’s so much more happening here. (I’m copying the same gif in so I/you don’t have to keep scrolling up. :)
First: we have a literal connection between John and Vicky. He interrupts her statement (“he had a lovely…” and wow, the way she says that definitely implies she’s about to say something kinda dirty) and says “you okay?” Sherlock pauses her and turns to John. Another sign Vicky represents more than just a Mayfly Man victim. Hell, John even looks Sherlock up and down a lot like Vicky did in the beginning.
Second: John is wearing different clothes, and he appears in the courtroom/MP first. This is MP John, not Actual John. And remember last night, when Sherlock said beauty is a construct based entirely on childhood impressions, influences, and role models? Take a closer look at what Mind Palace John is wearing.
(For fun: remember when I said Vicky’s outfit was a red flag to call attention to her physical resemblance to John?)
Edit: Uber thanks to DoctorWhovian for pointing out that Mind Palace John is wearing the outfit from The Great Game pool scene – the night John offered to sacrifice his own life to save Sherlock’s:
(alrighty, back to Baker Street.)
Third: John stares at Sherlock until the very second Sherlock turns to face him, then he looks down. Body language and positions are really important in this scene. Mycroft towers over Sherlock, Irene faces him, John is at his side. This is all very intentional. And here, Sherlock is aware of John’s presence but they don’t look directly at each other – they avoid eye contact. They see, but they don’t observe.
Fourth: The very first thing John does is nod at the plate of food that has suddenly appeared next to the laptops and say “you’ve let your food gone cold. Mrs. Hudson’ll play hell.” This show’s food/sex metaphor starts in the pilot episode, when Sherlock outright says he avoids eating when working on a case, and that he’s intentionally celibate (“not my area”) because he’s “married to his work.” It’s driven home by Irene with the not-so-subtle “let’s have dinner” line we hear repeatedly. (“Why would I have dinner when I’m not hungry?”)
So to sum: Sherlock’s in his Mind Palace interrogating sexy Vicky but John – MP John – pulls him away to point out his food’s getting cold. We even get a quick shot of Vicky’s actual text – he had a lovely… - next to the plate. Pretty clear how that fits into the food/sex metaphor, particularly after all the “what ifs” of stag night. Wasted opportunities and all that.
As for Mrs. Hudson playing hell…John knows better than anyone that Hudders is Captain of the USS Johnlock. :)
Oh, and Sherlock’s response to John pointing out the food? “Not now, John.” Avoidance, again. Not ready to see it. Back to the courtroom/brain.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, the change in John’s clothes, appearance of food, and appearance of (unnecessary) laptops can be explained in other ways. But they happen all at once, and so abruptly – about four seconds – that I feel like we’re supposed to notice, to question it.
If that’s not enough, to convince you, consider John’s behavior in this Mind Palace scene.
By the end of His Last Vow, we’ve seen many of the main cast – Mycroft, Molly, Anderson, Moriarty, and Mary – in Sherlock’s Mind Palace. Each are there because they represent certain things to Sherlock (logic, fear, hurt, etc). When we see them, they are entirely focused on Sherlock. I mean, of course they are! They’re not real, they’re in his mind and he’s using them to visualize a problem and work out how to solve it. But my point is, when another character enters Sherlock’s Mind Palace, they are fixated on him.
Yeah, like that.
Still just standing there.
And twice, very quickly…
we even see Sherlock from John’s point of view.
(With the plate in both shots, of course. Food’s still getting cold, Sherl.)
My argument isn’t necessarily that this is odd behavior for John. He does like to watch Sherlock when he’s in deduction mode, although maybe it’s a tiny strange that John literally doesn’t move, doesn’t pick up the paper, get a drink, sit in his chair, for the entirety of this scene (is watching Sherlock type really that fascinating?). I’m just pointing out that John’s intense focus is also extremely similar to what we see whenever a character is present in Sherlock’s Mind Palace.
Although there is one thing that’s definitely off.
Sherlock always makes eye contact when an MP character is present.
Scary eye contact!
In the entire Mind Palace scene, there’s only two extremely brief moments when Sherlock really looks MP John in the eyes. (More on those in a bit.) Overall, though, it’s just John. Staring at the back of Sherlock’s head. Waiting. Repeatedly trying to pull Sherlock back into the other locked room mystery, back into his heart/Baker Street. Sherlock is aware of his presence, but he’s brushing it off, ignoring it. Repression of emotions in favor of logic.
Alright, back to the women in the courtroom. Vicky’s responses are fantastic, because it’s easy to brush them off as just jokes. But when you keep her connection to John in mind, they have more meaning. “He had a mask on.” Attraction to someone, hidden identity. And my favorite – when Sherlock realizes the “ghost” is using dead men’s flats, the other girls respond with disgust, but Vicky? “Clever.” (John appreciates cleverness too.)
Tessa pops up here. “Bastard.” And we’re briefly brought back to the Baker Street room, John in the background.
Makes sense. Sherlock met Tessa in this room with John last night, after all. Brief reminder of stag night and the Rizla game that was (so sadly) interrupted.
Back to business. Sherlock says: “He disguises himself. Steals the man’s home, steals his identity.” And John cuts in abruptly:
"But only for one night. Then he’s gone."
Only for one night. Then he’s gone. Again, stag night could’ve been that one night for these two before John’s “gone” (married). And this time, MP John didn’t even bring Sherlock back to the Baker Street room/heart. He literally pops into the courtroom/brain for all of two seconds to say this line and then vanishes.
Also note the lack of eye contact. Sherlock turns to face him and John’s eyes flicker down, then he turns away. Still not quite seeing it. Not willing to, anyway.
Sherlock questions the women some more, and then we get to my favorite moment of the entire scene – the first moment Sherlock and John make eye contact, however briefly. And once again, we stay in the courtroom – no Baker Street.
"Do you have a secret you’ve never told anyone?"
"What do you mean?"
Holy shit John pops up fast. There isn’t a breath between “gotcha” and “whaddayamean?” He sounds kinda guilty. Why? Well, Sherlock explains it as he looks John in the eyes.
“Everyone has secrets and they all replied too quickly.”
See what happened there? John replied too quickly too. John has a secret. Sherlock has the clues from stag night he needs to figure out what that secret is, and MP John is nudging him into it. But Sherlock is planted in the courtroom/brain and he’s not leaving, so John vanishes immediately. He’s literally there for all of three seconds, just for that line.
(Even if I’m wrong and this is Actual John the whole time, that interpretation still works. The point is, John replies too quickly, and Sherlock tells us that means he has a secret.)
Just like John, the women vanish with their secrets. Vicky fulfills her role as Courtroom Representative of John Watson’s Sexuality with one last, sad line and a wink (nudge nudge, get the hint?):
"Sorry, sexy. Some secrets have to stay secret."
John is attracted to you but he can’t/won’t tell you or act on it.
Because Sherlock missed his chance last night, the wasted opportunity, all of John’s hints during stag night. He won’t get that chance again, as Tessa reminds him by rubbing a little salt in the wound:
"Enjoy the wedding."
Ouch. No wonder he looks so hurt. Not only has he screwed up his chance at figuring out who the real Mayfly Man is, the other locked room mystery is nagging at him and he’s still not quite aware of it.
(Another point of interest we’ll get into later: Tessa and the other women emphasize that “nothing happened” with the Mayfly Man. It was romantic, fun, he was charming. But there was no sex. Again…like stag night.)
So…back to the Baker Street room/heart.
"Why, why would he date all those women and not return their calls?”
Remember when Tessa said “I just thought at least he’d call to say we’re finished?” Drunk Sherlock’s reaction was more than sympathy. It was empathy. And the poor guy doesn’t even understand why he’s empathizing – look how confused it makes him:
That makes me sad. Wait…am I sad? Why am I sad?
Throughout the episode, we see how scared Sherlock is of losing John after the wedding. I’m not even talking romance here. Just losing him, as a part of his life, period. Think about the way he stares mournfully at John’s empty chair at the start of the episode. Even Mary flat-out tells John. “He’s terrified.”
So yeah, Sherlock is taking this Mayfly Man thing a little personally. ”Why, why would he date all those women and not return their calls?”
MP John tells him. “You’re missing the obvious, mate.” “Am I?”
"He’s a man."
On the surface, that fits the Mayfly Man mystery….except….the Mayfly Man didn’t sleep with these women. One night, no sex. And Sherlock knows it, because they told him. They also said he was charming, a good listener, etc. So really, what John’s implying – that this guy is just a douchebag looking for a one-night stand – doesn’t fit at all, because sex wasn’t involved.
However, MP John’s statement perfectly explains the unanswered question. John’s secret. What’s stopping him from being in a romantic/sexual relationship with Sherlock. He’s a man.
There’s lots of opinions out there on John’s sexual orientation. Whatever it may be, his repeated assertions that he isn’t gay demonstrate a level of discomfort at the idea of being with a man. Maybe he’s a closeted bisexual. My personal reading is that he’s straight but Sherlocked. (That was my interpretation of the Battersea scene between John and Irene in ASiB. “I’m not gay.” “Well I am. And look at us both. I don’t think so…do you?”) Either way, John is attracted to Sherlock (I don’t mind, am I pretty?) and that attraction surfaced when they were drunk, but the opportunity’s passed, so… Sorry sexy, some secrets have to stay secret.
Sherlock is understandably frustrated. “But why would he change his identity?” Why would the Mayfly Man assume disguises to have perfectly chaste dates with these women? And as for John, why would he hide/deny/be unaware of his sexual identity?
MP John answers again.
"Maybe he’s married."
Both his and Sherlock’s reactions to that are interesting.
I love MP John’s face. Figure it out yet? Do you hear what I’m REALLY saying?
And Sherlock: “OH." It’s as if he had a revelation here. And he did – but it had nothing to do with the Mayfly Man.
Because the real Mayfly Man, Jonathan the photographer, isn’t married. He wasn’t some cheating a-hole out having one-nighters with women…hell, they weren’t even one-nighters, they were chaste dates. This is where the main mystery of the show seems most cluttered and awkward…unless you’re aware of the other mystery Sherlock’s trying, albeit subconsciously, to work out.
The revelation Sherlock has here is the other mystery, the locked room heart mystery. “Why would John deny/hide his feelings for me?”
"Maybe he’s married."
The next part’s hilarious (in the typical Sherlock-style heartbreaking way). We’re back at the reception and Sherlock tells everyone that the Mayfly Man was married (wrong! wrong! wrong!), trying to escape the suffocating chains of domesticity…he goes on a pretty epic anti-marriage rant right next to John and Mary. Then he catches himself and says my favorite line: "On second thought, I probably should’ve told you about the elephant in the room."
Aw, sweetie. You just did.
Because the elephant gag was really funny, but it has a deeper meaning. Everyone knows the real elephant in the room at John’s wedding: the fact that at some point or another, pretty much everyone present wondered whether (or, like Hudders, believed) Sherlock and John were in a romantic relationship. Having what some might consider your ex as your best man is kinda awkward, especially when he starts ranting about “the suffocating chains of domesticity” during his speech.
Sherlock recovers nicely and gets back on track. He notes that he can read a crime scene like John can understand a human being, and tells everyone that he will solve your murder, but it takes John Watson to save your life. And then we get this as he wraps up his speech:
"This blog is the story of two men and their frankly ridiculous adventures, of murder, mystery, and mayhem. But from now on, there’s a new story. A bigger adventure."
This is totally debatable, obviously, but I want to believe the writers are telling the viewers something here. I’m going to change one word.
This show is the story of two men and their frankly ridiculous adventures, of murder, mystery, and mayhem. But from now on, there’s a new story. A bigger adventure.
It’s true. Everything changes here. Sherlock is moments away from THE revelation, and the story changes. Everything that follows in His Last Vow is a bigger, different adventure for Sherlock and John. And it’s all down to what Sherlock’s about to realize as he raises his glass to toast Mary Elizabeth Watson and John Hamish Watson. Here we go.
Did you guys think this would be the moment Sherlock realized the photographer was the Mayfly Man, the Invisible Man with the Invisible Knife who stalked Dean Thom—-er, the guard? I did. And under normal circumstances, he probably would have. But Sherlock’s distracted by something else.
John’s middle name.
Tessa’s introducing John as Sherlock’s “partner, John Hamish Watson” triggers an epiphany for Sherlock with both mysteries. For the Mayfly Man mystery, he realizes Tessa had seen the wedding invitation and therefore knew John’s middle name, that the Mayfly Man had been assuming false identities to get to the wedding.
For the locked heart mystery, we get a blatantly obvious metaphor to work with. There’s a series of flashbacks during which we learn John’s middle name was a secret. Funny how we never knew that before. Funny how Sherlock was so obsessed with figuring it out. And in the end, John doesn’t “confide in him” – Sherlock just finds his birth certificate. John won’t tell him the secret, so Sherlock figures it out on his own.
(Also, the use of the word partner, which we rarely hear applied to John and Sherlock (they favor “colleague” or “blogger”) is not to be overlooked here. His partner, John Hamish Watson. Sherlock has just toasted Mary Elizabeth Watson and John Hamish Watson, and this is what triggers his revelation. John is HIS partner.)
The whole Hamish montage is amusing, but has little substance…unless you apply the metaphor. John’s secret is his feelings for Sherlock. John’s secret is his middle name, Hamish. And this fits beautifully with the one time John actually has said his middle name in this series – the scene with the Woman.
Irene’s role in Sherlock and John’s relationship is clearly worthy of a meta on its own. In short, she forced them, particularly John, to confront their feelings for one another. And she forced Sherlock to confront his own sexuality. She was naked when they first met, and Sherlock couldn’t read, her…go figure. (I mean, he was dressed as a priest. The double meanings in that episode are off the charts. Anyway.)
John is totally weirded out by Irene’s flirtations with Sherlock. He blurts out his secret – “Hamish, if you’re looking for baby names” – and, in that moment of jealousy, lets his other secret show, too. Irene knew. She so knew exactly what John Watson liked.
Irene briefly shows up in Sherlock’s Mind Palace. “God knows where she is.” Like I said earlier, notice the body positioning – face-to-face, eye contact. Naked, like the first time he met her. Activate sexuality confrontation. And what does Sherlock say?
"Out of my head, I’m busy."
Yet again, repression of emotions/feelings/sexuality in favor of reason and logic. He tries so hard to be a sociopath, he really does.
(Also: Sherlock’s in his wedding tux. Just pointing this out because they were very detail oriented about wardrobe in the Mind Palace, which makes John’s sudden, unexplained change of clothes earlier stick out even more.)
We get another little gag here with John debating taking Hamish off the wedding invitation.
Funny, for sure – but what’s the point? Sherlock is really spending a lot of time dwelling on John’s secret middle name here. Apply the metaphor: John’s secret is his feelings for Sherlock, and a wedding invitation is sort of like a public statement of one’s sexual identity, right? John’s debating it. He’s not sure. (Identity crisis.)
(Love how Mary says “it’s traditional” while Sherlock says “it’s funny.” Um…yeah, pretty much.)
As Sherlock works through what all this means for the Mayfly Man mystery, Mycroft appears. Again with the positioning: Mycroft towers over Sherlock, he rules that courtroom. And we know from TEH that even as a child, Sherlock felt “stupid” in comparison to his older brother. It’s no wonder Mycroft represents logic and reason, the brain. Also note the eye contact.
Back at the reception, Sherlock tries to “keep control of the room” while figuring out who the Mayfly Man is. As he attempts to narrow it down, he rambles distractedly about the “depth and complexity” of John’s jumpers, as well as his cooking…”he does a thing….a thing with peas…” Funny, but hey: calling attention to John’s style of dress, and food. Just sayin’.
Along the way, he realizes the Mayfly Man’s actions suggest a murder will be committed, and someone at the wedding will be the victim. The parallel is easy to see here. Like I said earlier, the writers nudged us with the characters names:
Sherlock/Sholto…victim. John/Jonathan…Mayfly Man.
Sherlock spells out the parallel for us:
"Did I say murder? I meant to say marriage. But you know, they’re quite similar procedures when you think about it. The participants tend to know each other and it’s over when one of them’s dead."
Er, yeah. Nicely put.
Sherlock sends Lestrade out to lock the place down, continues rambling, warns John of what’s about to happen (Vatican Cameos)…and here it comes. Remember how Moffat said Sherlock Holmes must be bursting?
He’s trying so hard to focus, to narrow it down, to use logic and reason, to be like Mycroft. But here, at John’s wedding, Sherlock can’t repress all those emotions and feelings anymore. And that brings us to the most dramatic moment of the show:
NOT YOU. NOT YOU.
It’s always you.
John Watson, you keep me right.
Sherlock violently slaps himself out of the courtroom/brain Mind Palace. He slaps Mycroft out of his mind. Suddenly, John is all he sees. And damned if Sherlock doesn’t look happy as hell to have figured this out. It’s the first time we see him genuinely smile at the wedding.
Oh, and remember the eye contact that was missing earlier? Well.
But WHAT did Sherlock figure out? “You keep me right.” This is such a dramatic moment, it’s clearly important. Although the funny thing is, it’s really not all that important to the Mayfly Man mystery. Hell, we don’t even see the moment Sherlock actually solves who the murderer was – it happens sometime between them getting into Sholto’s room, and him practice-dancing with Janine. We don’t see him send Lestrade off to bring the photographer back. The metaphorical mystery has officially been made more important than the actual mystery in this episode."Oh, the photographer did it, by the way. Got him, Graham? Er, Greg? Sweet, thanks."
So what’s Sherlock’s big revelation really about? “You keep me right.” Options:
1. You’ll make sure I don’t solve a murder, but save a life. Okay…except Sherlock said this earlier. He called it the only one feature of interest in the whole of this baffling case when he told The Bloody Guardsman story. John Watson reads people like Sherlock reads a crime scene. This isn’t a revelation.
2. I need you (non-romantically). Or I love you platonically. But they’ve already said this to one another. “I want to be up there with the two people I love and care about most in the world.” “Today you sit…between the two people who love you most in all this world.” This isn’t a revelation. For the record, this was the moment Sherlock realized how much John loved and valued him as a friend:
….I’m honestly struggling to come up with anything else this “you keep me right” revelation could mean. Except, of course, the big one, the one they’ve spent two and a half seasons building towards. Are there any other revelations for Sherlock to have about John? One that warrants the dramatic face-slapping, yelling at MP Mycroft shebang?
"You keep me right." This is the answer to the locked room mystery of Sherlock’s heart, the one the Mind Palace scene so neatly set up for us. The courtroom, the brain, a place of reason and logic, ruled by Mycroft. Baker Street, home, the heart, a place of love and lust, ruled by John. It’s easy to see what Sherlock’s revelation means now.
"He’s repressed his emotions, his passions, his desires, in order to make his brain work better…I just think Sherlock Holmes must be bursting!”
Bursting…yeah, that describes that scene pretty well.
Sherlock’s mind hasn’t even put it all into words yet, but he accepts it and flips back to the mystery at hand. Because – here’s the great part – Sherlock is actually OKAY with not fully understanding his emotions because he’s so intensely relieved at finally just allowing himself to feel them.
And doesn’t that just fit so well with the whole metaphor? Not you, Mycroft/Logic. You, John/Love. You keep me right.
It’s not about using logic to work out what John means to him. It’s about allowing himself to feel it. Using his heart without analyzing chemical defects and the like. The fact that Sherlock has recognized this epiphany,welcomed it, without even trying to work it out in his mind yet, just demonstrates exactly how John Watson has changed him as a human being and makes this moment all the more poignant.
Sherlock understands now that he fell in love a long time ago without realizing it (delayed action) and that John feels something for him, too. Maybe something could have happened on stag night (wasted opportunity), but it’s too late now – John’s married (all the time in the world to create an alibi).
Here’s to John having his much-needed revelation in season 4.
And if you made it all the way through this meta…
Anonymous asked: Why do you think Sherlock was 'road-testing' (practising) dancing to the piece he composed for John and Mary, considering they were the only ones going to dance to it? It was the morning of the wedding, presumably he'd already taught John by this point. Do you think he was imagining dancing with John? Do you think he hoped he would dance with John at some point that night?
My first thought when I saw that scene was that he was practicing dancing to it just to make sure it was…well, a “danceable” composition, if that makes sense. Checking the tempo, feel, rhythm, etc. This is his gift to John and Mary and, just like his speech, he’s terrified of screwing it up.
As to your other questions…ugh. UGH. That whole “I taught him conversation” at the end of TSoT conversation just wrecks me. I mean, this has just happened:
Sherlock’s true feelings are briefly written all over his face, and John absolutely cannot deal. He looks down, has a second of wait, what? glances back up to confirm he’s seeing what he thinks he’s seeing, and yeah. He can’t look. He can’t face those feelings.
Sherlock sees that, and he gives John an out. He tells them to go dance. Mary (very considerately) asks “what about you?”, they joke about there being “limits,” and then the tutoring conversation happens.
Here’s how I read it (lining up the dialogue with the gifs):
SHERLOCK: “Don’t worry Mary, I have been tutoring him.”
JOHN: “He did you know…”
JOHN: “Baker Street behind closed curtains.”
I put a delay on the last frame. It lines up with John’s “closed curtains” comment. See how Sherlock’s kind of trying to laugh along until John makes that joke? He glances at John with a confused, almost hurt expression here.
John, meanwhile, has gone into full-on bro mode. It’s his way of utterly denying what he’s just read on Sherlock’s face. His shield is fucking UP. I love John Watson dearly, but I have a hard time watching him here, because he’s truly being a dickhead.
JOHN: “Mrs. Hudson came in one time.”
JOHN: “Don’t know how those rumors got started.”
A careless glance at Sherlock, a dismissive joke about their dance lessons and years of rumors about their relationship, a flippant laugh (seriously, listen to the way he laughs there, it’s SO not his normal laugh)
brush it off, never meant a thing, face the wife, face AWAY from Sherlock, don’t look back don’t look back don’t look back
He gets super affectionate with Mary. And yes, I know, it’s their wedding, they’re dancing, they’ve just learned she’s pregnant. But we’ve seen John act affectionate with Mary and this is different. John might as well have NO HOMO stamped on his forehead here.
He. Can’t. Deal.
And Sherlock knows it.
Did he imagine, after their lessons, maybe getting the chance to dance with John at the reception?
Possibly. Probably. He did just tell Janine (and us viewers) that he loves to dance and has been “living in hope for the right case.” Well, he’d solved quite a case this evening.
And after all, John had danced with him before during their lessons. Maybe Sherlock thought John was comfortable with it – comfortable enough with his own sexuality, whatever he considers that to be – to dance with his friend at his wedding reception, his best friend, his best man. It doesn’t mean anything unless it means something.
But no, that was “behind closed doors.” Can’t let anyone see that, nope. That’s how those rumors got started. Those silly, meaningless rumors that meant absolutely nothing, just everyone in the world reading too much into this totally platonic friendship, right mate?
Maybe they could’ve danced in front of everyone, because it wouldn’t mean anything. Except John read the real meaning on Sherlock’s face, and nope, not gonna happen now, can’t face that, can’t deal, shields up.
Because it would have meant something to Sherlock. Just like it did “behind closed doors.” It means everything. And he doesn’t care who knows, not anymore.
But John cares. Right, Sherlock? John cares who knows. He cares what people think. It really bothers you. What? What people say.
It still bothers John. He can’t deal with Sherlock’s feelings, and he can’t deal with his own. John’s shield is up and who knows if he’ll ever lower it again. And Sherlock accepts that, and he respects it, and he does the only thing he can do now.
Well. I didn’t mean for this meta to happen. Time to go cry into my soup.
There’s something in my eye.
Sherlock’s hands closed to gently cup the soft, tender, miraculous creature John handed to him.
"He’s been home for six hours, Sherlock. You can hold him on your own if you want. You don’t need my help. Or Mrs. Hudson’s. Just give it a go."
"He’s more…delicate…than I expected. John, I’d rather not risk…"
John’s voice took on a soothing, reassuring tone. “No, no, you can do this. Look, you’re doing it. See? Just like that. That’s perfect.”
"HE’s perfect. I could never understand before how all those parents went on so. Now it begins to make sense."
Smiling, John put one arm around Sherlock’s waist. “Well, it’s different when it’s yours, they say. And Hamish is most definitely yours. You have the same mouth. Even the same arrogant, impatient expression.”
Sherlock laughed. His REAL laugh. The unguarded, open one few people besides John ever got to see. “Let’s hope he’ll take after you when it comes to personality, then. The world could use more John Hamish Watsons.”
"Still doesn’t excuse you choosing that name."
"He’s your son. Our son. I chose it to honour you, John."
This time, John laughed. “No, you didn’t. You just couldn’t resist being a dick.”
"And do you still hate your middle name, Dr. Watson?" Sherlock asked, his gaze fixed on their son."
"I don’t, no. Not any more. In fact, I think it is the most beautiful name in the universe."