So, this is my submission for the Art of Deduction book that is hoping to raise awareness of the Save Undershaw campaign. I’m still tweaking it (and seriously hoping it’s not too long because I can’t bear to edit it!) but would be grateful for any feedback before I properly submit it! I am not a poet and haven’t written any poetry in years but this just came out of the blue.
Not So Different
We’re not so different, he and I,
One a healer, one a spy,
One an assassin, a hunter by trade,
The other a doctor, deliverer of aid.
Both in the service of country and Queen,
Sent home by a bullet and scandal unseen,
Both returned home with wounded pride,
Seeking new purpose, this Jekyll and Hyde.
He made an acquaintance, a man of repute,
Whose intelligent workings I cannot dispute.
They formed an alliance, unlikely but strong,
At his side he had hope of a place to belong.
My sharp-shooting talents had not been ignored,
Soldier turned mercenary; trust, my reward.
A chance at a glimpse into London’s great mind,
This criminal maestro, this one of a kind.
A shadowy game between the two,
Schemes were plotted and foiled anew,
And all the while we lay in wait,
To clean up the mess they were bound to create.
Miles were travelled to lead us to here,
This wide-open landscape, this valley of fear,
We watched as he sauntered, so devil-may-care,
But all of us sensed there was death in the air.
I was ordered to wait, concealed in a nook,
So there I remained above that rich brook.
But the doctor retreated, kept in the dark,
Denied the duty of playing his part.
The thought of failure never entered my head,
As I witnessed them fall, my gut filled with dread.
Then to see that wretch crawl up from the edge,
My blood did boil and I made this pledge:
For as long as I lived, I would track this man down,
Not a care for his talents or worthy renown.
Then I spied as he fled the dear doctor’s return,
And was struck by his sorrow, a sickening burn.
I wondered right then, if he were me,
The lengths he would go to to make the pain flee.
Would he punish the villain and undo the good?
In seeing his grief I believe that he would.
The pain that he feels is akin to my own,
But the tears that he sheds are but his alone.
Both in the shadows of two great men,
One armed with a rifle, the other a pen,
Tools to avenge the ones they once served,
Yet only the one is justly deserved.
We’re not so different, he and I,
Both are mourners, one is a lie.
Holy crap this is brilliant. Very well-written, not painfully-rhymed or forced or clunky. And sums up the parallels between Watson and Moran so well.
John is a little harder to get a handle on. He doesn’t talk about himself much, because he’s too busy talking about Sherlock. So I have to use my detectivey skills a little more to figure him out from the clues he gives us.
· He begins by telling us he got his degree as a doctor, and immediately went into Army training to become an Army surgeon. He doesn’t say why. This suggests two things to me:
1) He either regrets his career choice and doesn’t want to talk about it (wouldn’t be surprising in light of his injuries and ruined health), or
2) He thinks it so obvious that it doesn’t occur to him to explain why he would want to go into battle for his country and heal wounded soldiers.
I’m going to go for a mixture of the above.
· Not someone who will admit to self-pity.
He tells us about his injuries, how he nearly died, and how he ended up back in England, a physical wreck, without a trace of emotion. He’s giving us the facts, but he doesn’t seem to want our sympathy.
· A sarcastic and slightly black sense of humour. ‘…landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it.’ This sarcasm about the government might back up option 1), above, as well.
· No family whatsoever in England. I wonder where they are? I’d like to know. Perhaps this is part of the reason he joined the army?
· Got a bit of self-loathing going on. ‘I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.’ John, you’re not a lounger or an idler! You’re injured! Stop being so mean to yourself, it’s not your fault.
· Not great with money. ‘There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending as much money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought.‘ (It’s a good thing the state of his finances did become so ‘alarming’, otherwise he would never have needed a flatmate.)
· When he realises he has no money, he goes to a bar. John….oh John.
· Lonely, and sick of being alone. (I guess in the army you’re never ever alone, so going from that to being completely without anyone would be…awful.) Is pathetically excited to see Stamford, even though he doesn’t really like him. Leaps at the idea of having a flatmate, before Stamford even tells him anything about Sherlock. ‘if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone.”
· Doesn’t want (or doesn’t think he wants) any noise or excitement. I had enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my natural life.’
· ‘If we don’t get on’ he says about Sherlock ‘it will be easy to part company.’ Hah, wrong.
· Knows enough about chemistry to immediately understand what Sherlock’s talking about when he comes running up all excited about haemoglobin, but not enough about crime to understand the implications (i.e how it will let Sherlock hang more people.)
· Is kind of freaked out by Sherlock’s enthusiasm for hanging people (as a doctor and someone who’s seen a lot of death this is understandable)
· Quite observant, notices things (like the stains on Sherlock’s hands)
· Smokes Ship’s tobacco.
· ‘Keeps a bull pup.’ This is a mystery that has puzzled Sherlock nerds for over 100 years. If he means a dog, it is never ever mentioned again.
· Calls himself lazy. John you aren’t lazy, you are an invalid, why do you keep saying these things about yourself? Also says he has ‘another set of vices when I’m well.’ What vices? I WANT TO KNOW
· Says he doesn’t like noise because his nerves are still shot from Afghanistan.
· And yet despite repeatedly saying that he doesn’t want noise or excitement, he happily agrees to move in with a man who admits to doing strange chemical experiments, behaving unpredictably and erratically, and playing the violin. Sounds kind of exciting to me, which is why….
· I don’t think John really knows what he wants, or needs.
· Likes a challenge and a mystery. Sherlock is both things to him straight away. ‘Oh! A mystery is it?” I cried, rubbing my hands. “This is very piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together.”
· Meeting Sherlock and having a ‘knotty problem’ to unravel seems to have cheered him up a lot; he seems positively breezy compared to the depressed, broke, lonely, starved-of-human-company John we get at the beginning of the chapter. ‘Good-bye,” I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, considerably interested in my new acquaintance.’
· Really didn’t like living at the hotel. Moves in with Sherlock the very next day.
· Seems to spend most of his time watching, staring at, studying, trying to figure out Sherlock. Says nothing about what he himself is doing during this time so I assume his time is divided into just sitting around at home being injured and depressed, sleeping, or staring at Sherlock and following him around the flat whenever he’s home.
‘The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeavoured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned himself. Before pronouncing judgement, however, be it remembered how objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention.’
· Has seriously no friends at all. “My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence.” ‘Why does he have no friends? John, where are all your friends? Oh that’s right, they’re all dead.
· Is quite well educated, (obviously, he is a doctor) and is horrified at Sherlock’s ignorance on subjects he considers important – like the solar system, literature, philosophy, and politics.
· One of his favourite songs is from Mendelsohn’s ‘Leider’.
· Is annoyed by Sherlock’s strange tuneless violin noise, but doesn’t say anything. In general seems very tolerant of his flatmate’s eccentricities.
· Is very polite and doesn’t want to be intrusive. ‘…again my delicacy prevented me from forcing another man to confide in me.’ He seems quite private himself and probably assumes everyone else is the same. Eventually Sherlock brings it up himself. I think Sherlock was just waiting for him to ask the whole time.
· Gets up late almost every morning.
· Has a mean streak, but feels bad about it afterwards. ‘With the unreasonable petulance of mankind I rang the bell and gave a curt intimation that I was ready.’ Poor Mrs. Hudson.
· Uses the phrase ‘ineffable twaddle’ for which I love him.
· Enjoys detective stories.
· A bit of a sceptic. Refuses to believe Sherlock’s claims until he’s fired off a whole series of questions. Finds Sherlock’s arrogance annoying.
· Once he’s convinced of Sherlock’s powers, he’s….very impressed.
‘Wonderful!” I ejaculated.’
· Compassionate. Is very distressed by the murder, wants to go and help immediately. Can’t understand Sherlock’s disinterest.
· Even though he’s not meant to leave the house unless the weather’s good, follows Sherlock to Lauriston Gardens without even thinking about it.
· Sensitive. Is affected by death, and the weather. ‘As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the melancholy business upon which we were engaged depressed my spirits.’
· Very freaked out by the horrifying appearance of the body, despite being experienced with death. ‘I have seen death in many forms, but never has it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark, grimy apartment..’
· Has gone from scepticism about Sherlock’s abilities in the last chapter, to absolute faith in them in this.
· Seems to just accept that Sherlock can tell him what to do. Perhaps a military thing? Anyway, Sherlock has definitely undergone a change in John’s eyes - from a crazy but intriguing flatmate to someone whose orders he follows without question.
· Seems to be getting interested in how Sherlock’s process works now, and also seems a little less depressed. Full of questions and compliments for Sherlock. Confused (which is pretty much his permanent state from now on.)
· Has no objection to Sherlock’s bribery and bullying of poor Rance.
· Is totally tolerant of Sherlock’s weirdness and singing.
· Thinks he’s a bit deep. ‘…I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human mind.’ I’m joking John, you’re totally deep. You’re also a doctor. I wonder what your medical view on Sherlock’s mind is? Interesting.
· Tired out from going outside. Silly John. Can’t sleep because he’s too excited. Waits up for Sherlock to come home. Once he has a mission in front of him he is lively and excited
· We find out where all his friends are. ‘I saw my own comrades hacked to pieces at Maiwand without losing my nerve.’ This is so sad I want to cry.
· Doesn’t seem at all worried about Sherlock casually using his name to invite a murderer over, or at the part Sherlock’s assuming he’ll be willing to play in this strange role-play.
· Performs well and confidently. Not nervous at all.
· Smokes a pipe! Wow, I wonder what Martin Freeman would look like smoking a pipe. OH, WAIT
· Waits up for Sherlock again. Only goes to bed when Sherlock comes home and tells him to.
· Has started to get up earlier in time to have breakfast with Sherlock.
· Describes Gregson as fat, which I think is mean.
· Says only 3 lines in this whole chapter, so moving on….
· Stares at Sherlock some more.
· Is creeped out by the description of the body. ‘My nerves, which were steady enough on the field of battle, tingled as I thought of it.’ This is interesting. When waiting for a murderer to come up the stairs, he’s calm and breezy. When someone describes a corpse, he’s shaken? It seems to me that in an actual action situation, he’s always fine, but it’s thinking about things that he can’t stand.
· Is a willing accomplice in Sherlock’s dog-murdering.
· Sympathetic. Feels sorry for Sherlock when he gets it wrong.
· Suspects Sherlock of being on drugs again.
· Softly reminds Sherlock that there are lives at stake. John never loses sight of this. Sherlock ignores it constantly.
· Throws himself into the fight without hesitation, despite his injuries.
Part 2, chapters 1-5
Part 2 is written by John after finding out what happened, so the way he presents these facts says a few things about him:
· Hella romantic.
· Likes Westerns.
· Doesn’t like the great American desert (don’t think he’s ever been there, but whatever.)
· Sentimental. Likes kids.
· Likes action heroes.
· Doesn’t like Mormons and the way they treated women.. (See: Romantic, above.)
· Is pretty impressed with Jefferson and his ‘formidable strength’ and ‘fierce dark eyes.’ ‘I remember that I thought to myself, as I eyed him, that I had seldom seen a more powerfully built man;’.
· Touchingly glad to be invited along to a prison.
· Can detect an aortic aneurism just from putting his hand on Jeff’s chest.
· Thinks Jeff’s story about murdering people is ‘thrilling.’
· Calls Sherlock a friend for the first time at the end of this chapter. ‘My friend and I made our way out of the station and took a cab back to Baker Street.’
· Believes in some kind of higher power, and an afterlife in which we are judged. ‘..A higher Judge had taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson Hope had been brought before a tribunal where strict justice would be meted out to him.’
· Ejaculates again when Sherlock says the case was simple. John, control yourself.
· Still doesn’t understand most of what Sherlock says.
· Is so impressed and adoring that he decides wants to write an account of the case. ‘It is wonderful!” I cried. “Your merits should be publicly recognised. You should publish an account of the case. If you won’t, I will for you.”
· Obviously confident that he’s a good writer. Knows Latin.
So at the beginning of the novel, poor John is in a terrible state. Depressed, lonely, wounded, in pain, spending all his money (mainly on alcohol, I reckon) friendless, family-less, angry with the government, angry and contemptuous towards himself, with no idea what he wants or needs and no plan for the future. Does he even expect to have a future?
Unlike Series! John, he drinks, smokes, gambles and has a fairly wicked temper. Like series! John he is immediately drawn to Sherlock and recklessly decides to move in with him despite him being, actually, the opposite of what he supposedly wanted.
Once they’ve moved in together John becomes morose and obsessive, blazingly curious about Sherlock and everything about him but too shy and restrained to actually show it by asking questions. He is very educated and intellectual and respects intelligence and knowledge in others – hence his sudden respect and admiration for Sherlock once he realises he’s a freaking genius.
He ejaculates a lot.
John is sensitive, disturbed by the horrors of his imagination, and compassionate towards others, with a strict moral code that dictates his actions…but seems to enjoy Sherlock’s rudeness and dismissive behaviour towards those he sees as inferior.
When he’s with Sherlock on a mission he is focused, energetic, careless of his own safety and completely unafraid, while never losing sight of the human consequences. When Sherlock goes out without him he lies in bed worrying.
He is a good actor. He is an eloquent and confident writer. He is a hopeless romantic, a loyal and selfless friend, and has a thrill for the chase and a taste for the macabre that he finds it hard to admit to. He is a skilled and intuitive doctor. He believes in a higher power. He is passionate about truth and honesty. He is passionate about Sherlock’s genius and makes it his task to let the world know.
By the end of the book he seems to have forgotten about his health, but he has gained a friend, a mission in life, and a whole new world to play in.
This is a great analysis! Also kinda cool to see it from the eyes of a BBC-first fan — pick up on some things that canon-first fans like me might’ve missed or interpreted differently.
i digress, but i always thought watson was meant to be actually empathetic, instead of possibly hero-worshiping sherlock to the point of ignoring the way he emotionally abuses molly, for example; and let’s not even look at the shitstorm that was made of his PTSD and psychosomatic pain.
so i think watson standing up and stopping sherlock from haranguing a witness into tears, watson who was responsible for a death and still feels it, watson who rolls her eyes at sherlock and isn’t afraid to snap back at him when he takes it too far -
i feel like that watson is vastly different from a watson who literally stands by and lets women who protest that they aren’t his caretaker - take care of him, a watson who sees women as wives and girlfriends, a watson who “misses it” - and let’s look at canon in that regard.
You were recalling the incidents of Beecher’s career. I was well aware that you could not do this without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember you expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about it that I knew you could not think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clinched, I was positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand stole towards your own old wound, and a smile quivered on your lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was glad to find that all my deductions had been correct.
(for full context, obviously, see the link.)
watson doesn’t “miss it”. watson thinks that war is a useless waste of life. when watson remembers the war, it is to ridicule the idea of force as a solution - not to ridicule his fellow soldiers, of course, not to ridicule those who gave their lives, but to ridicule the violence and waste of such conflict.
and while we’re on that subject, let’s look at sherlock holmes.
sherlock holmes once said this to a young woman:
“Good-morning, madam,” said Holmes cheerily. “My name is Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and associate, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself. Ha! I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the good sense to light the fire. Pray draw up to it, and I shall order you a cup of hot coffee, for I observe that you are shivering.”
sherlock holmes tries to take care of people - make them feel at ease, make them comfortable - for reasons that don’t involve having a nic fit. this is before he even hears the case. sherlock holmes IS a misfit; he is eccentric; he is not, however, an irredeemable asshole.
now, again, we don’t have much to go off of. we have one interaction between holmes and a witness, i believe; i haven’t seen the new promos. but in that one he finds a fact, latches onto it, and follows it until the witness is practically broken down - and that’s when watson steps in. and i think it’ll be interesting to see how that gets played - if he genuinely doesn’t realize that he’s badgering the witness, or what.
but what i DON’T see this holmes doing is tearing a blanket off a shocked, traumatized woman and then emotionally abusing her, tearing her to shreds, and haranguing her until she answers his questions because she wasn’t speaking QUICKLY ENOUGH.
again, apples and oranges, but i think it would be really, really difficult for elementary holmes - or any holmes, for that matter - to be any MORE of an unapologetic, irredeemable dick than BBC’s portrayal.
this went from canonical aspects of watson to canonical aspects of holmes, but i suppose the long and short of it is -
BBC isn’t more canonical because it happened to cast two white men in two roles traditionally filled by two white men. it frankly isn’t. there’s passages and passages of canon that say otherwise, and anybody arguing that elementary is somehow “too far from canon” - based on TEN MINUTES of footage, and the fact that a WOC is cast in a lead role - is going to have a hell of a time proving it.
*applauds like mad, even though I’m seeing this really late*
you know, Sherlock Holmes in the original stories, was actually not an asshole? He could be cold, but he wasn’t BBC!Sherlock-level manipulative and cruel for the sake of cruelty. The original Holmes might [not] have greeted the sight of a dead body without tears, but he wouldn’t have completely disregarded the loss of a human life.
as much as Moffat and Gatiss wank about their purity of spirit and intention, Elementary looks like a much closer adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes character.
I felt such relief at that line, because part of me is sicksicksick of the callousness of BBC!Sherlock and how his abusive treatment of others is explained away as a byproduct of him being non-neuotypical… there are plenty of non-neurotypical people who are not pointedly and viciously cruel for no good reason.
I don’t think this Holmes would cruelly experiment on Watson if she had PTSD, for instance. And I like that.
original flavour Holmes would never, ever, EVER do that. There’s a bit in “The Empty House” where he tries to surprise Watson after being in exile/presumed dead- and when Watson faints, he is PROFUSELY SORRY and apologizes. BBC!Sherlock isn’t based on any kind of original flavour OR non-neurotypical character I know of. I’m non-neurotypical; I have several friends who are non-neurotypical; NONE of us behave like that.
I’m not familiar with the original canon, so it makes me very happy to hear this! <3
I feel like there’s something pretty damn ableist as well as white supremacist and sexist about the fact that Sherlock’s abusiveness is attributed to his being non-neurotypical. There was a post a while ago about how the “specialness” of some white men on the autism spectrum is culturally treated quite differently—celebrated, fetishized?—than people of color and/or women who are non-NT. They’re fetishizing him to a degree (oooh he’s so alien and fascinating!) but also using it as an excuse in ways that are meant to prop up sexist and racist (and classist) hierarchies. Sherlock is at the top because he’s smarter than everyone and so very, very special let’s all just take his abuse with a smile shall we? His white manpain is vast and terrible!
n the original stories Holmes would sometimes ignore social rules or behave in a way that other people would consider inappropriate. Sometimes he would step on peoples toes and behave in a way that people didn’t understand and which they might not like. But he was never cruel just because he could. And he was genuinly interested in hearing people’s stories.
(I dislike what’s been done to Watson as well. He’s not very likeable at all in the bbc adapatation and I really don’t see why they did that to the character. He seems to only correct Sherlock when he does stuff that will make them both look bad, and not because Sherlock is hurting people. But that’s a different post. )
”In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents …” John H. Watson- The Sign of Four
That, my darling, is motherfucking CANON.
John Watson is a stone cold fucking fox, who can run all night, wax poetical about flowers in spring time, read romance novels, argue art, ride a horse, play billiards, tell cause of death at a glance, and hold a grown man on his shoulders.
When the world’s only consulting detective relies on your good looks to help with cases, you know you’re a hottie.
John Watson, man. Just… John Watson.
Okay, by just looking at the artwork I deduce that all Holmes and Watson are doing 24/7 is basically sitting around in chairs while judging everything (unless they get up to judge more ppl).
I mean, seriously:
even each other