Saturday, January 7, 2017

Go To Hell, Sherlock: The Six Thatchers, S4, E1

Because my mother is such a big fan of Sherlock (she is the one who introduced me to it) I thought she would have loved the Season 4 premiere, but she wasn't particularly happy with it, especially the first half of the show (if you haven't seen the episode, you can watch it at the PBS website at this link; I do suggest you see it before reading this post as there are plenty of spoilers and I don't want to spoil it for you!). I think that's important for us to review, because it's an elegant demonstration of good writing when the beginning of a film is matched up with the very end of the film, and in case you missed it, that ending was the recording of Mary Watson telling Sherlock to "Go to hell."
So, how does it match up?
Why call this The Six Thatchers? I think this is actually going to be a pro-capitalist argument,... Yes, I would say that, wouldn't I? No, no, really,... Please recall when Sherlock talks to the hacker Tobey about tracing down the owners of the six Margaret Thatcher busts, and Tobey says there is a real market for that Cold War stuff, and how can there be anyone who wants to live under communism? Now, contrariwise, the character being portrayed by Toby Jones (there is a poster of him in the bus stop where Elizabeth waits for Watson to get off the bus, that image is below) is a business man that at least one other writer has compared to Donald Trump; I would like to point out that--before we even know anything about the character--George Soros is also a successful business man who could be the role model of the villain. Had the film makers wanted to take a critical look at capitalism, I am of the humble opinion that there would not have been a "shrine" dedicated to her (and don't forget, in The Hound Of the Baskervilles episode [although I don't think they called it that in Sherlock, but you know which one I am talking about] the general had a book on his desk about Margaret Thatcher and his password was "Maggie," or something like that). Of course, this is only the first of three episodes, but we will see how this ties in together, as always.
At the start of the film, Sherlock has just avoided certain death. "#ohwhatabeautifulmorning" is the tweet Sherlock sends out; ironically, he wants the world to read it, but he doesn't want his own brother Mycroft to read it out loud; why not? We were just reminded on the TV screen in the conference room where the scene takes place that Sherlock is a "high-functioning socio-path," and why is that? He can't express his emotions in a healthy, normal way; what emotions are Sherlock trying to express? Gratitude, relief, joy (the hashtag #ohwhatabeautifulmorning comes from the musical Oklahoma! by the way, when Curly sings how everything is going his way so, Sherlock's tweet about being back on "terra firma" is kind of like the cowboys singing how much they belong to the land in the musical, which makes sense that Sherlock would site a musical because that is what musicals are for: giving voice and expression to emotions we normally don't express; if you would like to watch the song, click here, and just imagine Benedict Cumberbatch singing instead). Sherlock was on a mission that would insure he died as punishment for murdering Charles Augustus Magnussen, and now Sherlock has, literally, been pulled from the grip of death. If Sherlock seems dis-genuine or even perhaps "fake" in this scene, it's because he really can't believe he's getting to eat gingernuts again, when--just a few hours before--he didn't think he would ever see a gingernut again for the rest of his (guaranteed short) life. This leads us to the very last scene filmed by Mary.
For those who didn't stick around until after the credits, this was the--mysterious--last scene they saw. "Sherrinford" was the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was originally going to give to his star detective, then decided against it; in a "non-Doyle story" (meaning it is not included in the official Sherlock Holmes canon) another writer created a third Holmes brother with the name of Sherrinford, who Mycroft calls in this scene. The "13th" on the post-it note under the menu has been suggested that the "menu" of Season 4 is that, in the 13th episode, The Final Problem, the third Holmes brother will appear (which would explain why, at the start of the film, they show Mycroft mournfully saying to someone, "You know what happened to the other brother," and then close out the episode with another reference to him. On a slightly different note, we see the interiors of Mycroft's dwellings twice in the show: first his office when he and Sherlock meet, and then, at the end, we can assume this is Mycroft's kitchen (nothing at all like what I expected). What do we notice? Well, to begin with, how very bare it is: there is nothing in either one. When Mycroft opens the fridge in the scene above, there is nothing on the inside shelves (I suppose Mycroft doesn't like Grey Poupon). I don't know how they are going to elaborate upon these details, but I do know they are important, and we should keep them in mind.
What does Mary say, over and over again, in her final message? "Save John Watson." So, if Mary trusts Sherlock to save John Watson, why, then, does she end her message by saying the seemingly contradictory, "Go to hell, Sherlock,"? Because, in order to save John, Sherlock will have to go to hell interiorly, on this spiritual journey to save John, himself, and England. That is why the opening and closing of the film are so ingeniously tied to each other: in the beginning, Sherlock believes he has just been saved from hell in being pulled from the "suicide mission" as a punishment for killing Magnussen; in the end, Sherlock is going to have to go to hell anyway, maybe even a worse hell, then he was saved from at the start of the film. So, why does Mary believe Sherlock will have to go to hell to save John?
Of course, Mary could be telling Sherlock to "Go to hell," because she hates him, but given that this was recorded before her death, and Mary sacrifices her life for Sherlock's, I don't think there is any reason to understand the statement as "Go to hell, you dirty bastard!" rather, it's a directive loaded with the metaphysical foreboding that Sherlock is, in fact, going to face his toughest case, just as Sherlock himself predicts at the start of the film, and a large part of that is going to be saving John Watson. The background behind Mary is interesting: there is a window covered with blinds. We know that windows mean "reflection" and meditation, and we can see easily that Mary would have been reflecting before this recording, but the blinds suggest that, literally, Mary is "blind" to exactly what she tells Sherlock (for example, why didn't she leave a message for Watson, telling him, for example, not to start having an affair with a vampire?); in other words, Mary has a "feeling," rather like Sherlock does when he is meant to tell the parents of the dead boy how their son died and, instead, "By the pricking of my thumbs," he knew the empty spot where the broken Margaret Thatcher bust had been was going to prove important; Mary has that same "thumb-pricking" urging her to make this video. The blinds in the background, however, probably tell us something about us, the audience, because we are also "blind" to what is really going on in this scene as well. Given that you and I are my prone to observing and studying than the average film-goer, our acknowledgement that we are "blind" is still a greater insight than those who doesn't even notice the blinds there are all, however, it is simply a realistic fact that there are aspects of this scene which we can't possibly know at this point but, we can say with confidence, that we know we will have to re-visit this scene at least once by the end of this season. I think a last note to make, at this point, on Mary's directive, is to remember what Sherlock told Moriarty in The Reichenbach Fall (Season 1) that "I am on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them." A lot has happened since Sherlock said that, and he has given up his life at least twice since then for those he loved: when Sherlock "dies" in a few moments in that same episode so Moriarty's henchmen don't kill those that Sherlock cares about, and again in accepting the consequences of certain death for killing Magnussen. These events and decisions which Sherlock has made have affected his soul, for the better, and while Sherlock went into a "shadow world" at the end of Season 1, when he was officially "dead" but just living in the shadows, now, Sherlock will have to actually go to hell, not only to save the life of his dear friend Watson, but Rosie and the others, and possibly his beloved England as well.
Even though Mary knows she must be dead if Sherlock is watching the video, she doesn't know the cause of her death and she, apparently, doesn't know that John has been texting "E." or Elizabeth (Sian Brooke). Just because we haven't seen Mary pick up John's phone and scroll through, or noticed him texting someone in the middle of the night while she tended baby Rosie, doesn't mean it hasn't happened in the narrative and we will be made aware of it later (for example, we never saw Mary sit down to record the video message she leaves for Sherlock); so it's entirely possible that Mary does know John has been "seeing"--to a greater or lesser degree--another woman. This woman, Elizabeth, is the "hell" Sherlock is going to have to go through to save John Watson.
How do we know?
Elizabeth tells us herself.
Do you recall how, in Season 1, Watson couldn't get a date? He would ask women to go out with him, and  usually they said no, or didn't even bother to say no. So, that they have introduced a woman suddenly so taken with John Watson, one must be suspicious. Given that we don't see what happens in this scene--I'm sure we will be treated to the event as a flashback--we have to make deductions now. For example, when we see Elizabeth, at the far right of the screen is a poster of a man with "BUSINESS" written underneath, and that is Tobey Jones plans Culverton Smith, so, it's clear as the plastic covering the poster that Elizabeth is doing "business" for Smith which involves Watson. Why would Watson fall for Elizabeth to begin with when he is all ready married? John feels "left out" of the marriage and, possibly, even emasculated by Mary's super-spy skill set that John obviously doesn't possess meaning that Mary is more of an asset to Sherlock than is Watson. So, what does Elizabeth mean to Watson? In this scene, we see her bright red lipstick, which rather resembles the "crimson wound" of Emelia Recoletti in The Abominable Bride. Red lips are meant to invoke the appetites, so Elizabeth is looking to Watson to fill her own "void" in her appetites (and don't forget, she referred to herself as a "vampire"). She wears a yellow dress, and as we know, "yellow" symbolizes kingship and dignity. So, I personally think, that when Watson looks at Elizabeth, he sees himself as being "re-instated" as a "king," and regaining his masculinity he has lost because of Mary; Elizabeth wears yellow because she is an ambassador of a "king," the business man who we see in the poster, Culverton Smith, and because Elizabeth--in intentionally leading Watson astray in his marriage--is acting beneath her dignity by playing a whore. On a different, but still similar note, just as we see the lingering image of Culverton Smith behind the poster glass in this scene, so we see "him" again in the scene at the aquarium: he's the sharks, also behind the glass. In other words, Culverton Smith is fully aware of every single thing going on, just like Big Brother. This would be a good time to mention some of the James Bond references, like Mary making a video recording of herself and it being watched after she dies, just as M (Judi Dench) does at the start of Spectre. Why reference Spectre? The New World Order. The new "M," played by Ralph Fiennes, calls it by name in Spectre, and Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarity in Sherlock, is the vehicle of the NWO implementation, so there are seriously close ties here Sherlock advances. Why? Because the two films will share this same theme and that's what we need to watch "in development" over the next two episodes. 
When it's really late, and Mary tends to Rosie while John texts Elizabeth, John asks her if she's a night owl, and Elizabeth texts back, "Vampire." Sure, it's a cute, if melodramatic reply (and the melodramatic is totally at home in Sherlock) but we are going to be seriously caught off guard if we don't take that as the clue it is (again, she's sitting by the poster of Toby Jones at the bus stop). Strangely enough, this leads us to Vivian, the secretary. When Sherlock interprets her "love life," i.e., reading the placement of her old wedding band and how she's likely widowed rather than divorced, because if she was divorced, she would want to fill "the void" quickly; what do Mary and John talk about in bed when they hear Rosie crying in the other room? "Is it to soon to get a divorce?" Then we see John taking a text from Elizabeth. THIS is the reason why John needs to be saved and THIS is the reason he is so upset with Sherlock when Mary dies,....
This is, absolutely, my favorite image of Mary Watson: they are in the church for Rosie's christening and Mary glows with pride, joy and love; why? Since Rosie is named after Mary (Mary's real name, that is), and baptism symbolizes the "new life" we are given, Mary herself is being "reborn" in her daughter (please note how the color of Mary's coat matches the color of Rosie's blanket and christening gown suggesting a "physical fusion" between mother and daughter, as well as the spiritual fusion in them sharing the name). I think it's important to also note how large the watch on Mary's wrist is, so that it's obviously noticeable; why? We don't realize it in this scene, but Mary's time is "running out." The wrists can symbolize what chains us, what binds us, and Mary is, at this point, a slave to her time remaining. The christening is an important scene because, without it, we can't discuss why Mary dies and, I can guarantee, that be the end of Season 4, we will be coming back to this scene (there are other aspects, like the godparents, Sherlock, Molly and Mrs. Hudson forming a "trinity" to protect Rosie and raise her in the Christian way of life, but we will wait to explore that meaning later).
Why does Mary Watson die? As long-time readers know, no one in a work of art dies unless they are all ready dead, meaning, that they have qualities, characteristics or actions they have taken which the artist (in this case, the film makers) have deemed "bad" and undesirable, and so need to purge their art and its message of what that character stands for. Please recall that the other AGRA agent, Ajay, tells Sherlock to tell Mary that she is a "dead woman walking," and this can perfectly fit in with the symbol of her death. So what is exactly "dead" in Mary Watson? Love and trust. It's not that Mary doesn't love, and it's not that Mary isn't trustworthy, but she doesn't believe others, i.e., John and Sherlock, love her enough to sacrifice themselves for her (even after the events of Sherlock killing Magnussen to free Mary of his blackmailing of her) nor does she trust them to tell them the truth about her or share her plans with them (when Watson accuses Mary of telling him "so many lies" and then has the flashback about receiving texts from Elizabeth in the middle of the night). So, that's why Mary is "dead," and she dies because she is all ready dead. HOWEVER, we know that Mary sacrifices herself to save Sherlock: Vivian's gun is clearly aimed at Sherlock and it's only by acting quickly and taking steps to intercept that bullet that Mary saves Sherlock. As she is dying, she reminds Sherlock, I am sorry for having shot you, I think this makes up for that. When this scene happens, Mary wears a gray shirt, because gray is the color of the pilgrim or the novice, hence, gray denotes penance (pilgrims and novices are pilgrims and novices because they undertake self-imposed penance, and penance is associated with gray because it was popular in ancient times to take ashes [which are gray] and cover one's self in them, as a reminder that, from dust you came and to dust you return). So, because Mary has these "sins" of not believing she is loved nor being able to trust others, her destiny is diminished (because our destiny is our ability to fulfill our capacity for virtue, and any sin which we have upon our soul diminishes that ability to fulfill that virtue so we can accomplish in life what we were meant to). As Jesus tells us, "No greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his friend," and we can say that Mary loved Sherlock as her dear friend, and in understanding how Sherlock was willing to lay down his life for Mary, not to mention Sherlock murdering Magnussen so Mary would be free--in taking it upon himself to travel to wherever they meet in the Middle East so Sherlock could protect Mary from the danger she was confronting--Mary was than free (from the sin of doubting his love for her) to lay down her life for his. This is an act of great redemption for Mary. Unfortunately, Mary's sins means she isn't strong enough in virtue to be able to "go to hell" to save Watson herself, and that is what Sherlock has to do. I think, at this point, that Mary--realizing how Sherlock laid down his life for her (being sent away to certain death for killing Magnussen)--knows Sherlock is the only one who is strong enough in the virtue of love (despite being a high-functioning socio-path) to do for Watson what Sherlock did for Mary. 
John, in his heart, had all ready begun divorce proceedings from Mary and was "filling the void" with Elizabeth (it doesn't matter if he would have actually filed legal proceedings, in his heart, they have drifted apart); why? Sherlock tells us when he deduces Vivian's motive for setting up AGRA: jealousy. John is jealous of the relationship Mary and Sherlock have developed (which, ironically, is the exact opposite of Sherlock having been left out when John and Mary got married and Sherlock left the wedding early). When Mary dies, John knows he has committed a kind of "murder" to his marriage just as Vivian has murdered Mary, and in John's inability to face his own guilt for his adultery--whether he and Elizabeth have actually had sex at this point doesn't really matter, because Watson was dallying when he knew he was married and wrong to "intercourse" with Elizabeth in texts--is re-directed to Sherlock who basically acts as John's scapegoat for John's own sins at this point. This is why Sherlock has to "go to hell,..."
Now, I understand this next theory will probably make you think I am slicing the bologna awfully thin, however, this theory is exactly what I immediately thought of watching this scene. When Sherlock babysits little Rosie, we don't know it until we see the toy fly in Sherlock's face; when Sherlock looks at John Watson's chair, and addresses "Watson," (instead of "Rosie") we believe that Sherlock is speaking of John Watson, when in fact, I would like to suggest, this is actually what is happening. Just as Rosie throws the toy away from herself, so John Watson is doing the same thing by throwing Mary away to "be" with Elizabeth. Sigmund Freud had a rather famous chapter in his study Beyond the Pleasure Principle detailing his grandson's behavior very similar to baby Rosie in Sherlock. We can say that the traumatic event which Watson is enacting by throwing Mary away is Watson himself being "thrown away" by the Mary-Sherlock bond that has formed, making him feel like the "odd man out" (of course, Mary complains about the exact opposite of this in The Abominable Bride when she shows up at 221B Baker Street wrapped in her black dress and her face covered). I would like to draw careful attention to the obvious: "You see, but you don't observe," meaning, we the audience should in particular be observing what is happening in this scene and not let the humorous element distract us off of our course in understanding what is unfolding before us. 
Hell rules over our sins, and if John Watson is to be saved from his sin (which adultery is) then Sherlock will have to go to hell to save Watson. The "first step" of this was done in The Abominable Bride when Sherlock went to a "de-sanctified church" to confront the group committing the Emelia Ricoletti murders, because the church, which should have been sacred and thus, a gateway to heaven, had been de-sanctified and became, through the sin of murder, a gateway to hell.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--when Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson talk at the end about Vivian, and Sherlock asks Mrs. Hudson to say her name, and Sherlock listens and responds, "As easy as that?" I believe the film makers intend to reference Cleopatra and the death of Mark Antony (Richard Burton); the scene starts in the video below at 5:55 (not that Sherlock thinks Vivian's name should be shouted from the corners of the universe, but that the name comes to bear a weight for Sherlock as it does for Octavian):