Stillane (stillane) wrote,

Sherlock 2.03 - Round Two (or "Once More, With ALL the Feelings")

It only took me a week, right? In my defense, it’s been a crazy week.

- Oh, god. I’d wondered for a while now if they wouldn’t take everything right back to the beginning, and then they did. And thus begins Martin Freeman’s complete ownership of just about everything, because damn. There is no point where I don’t believe utterly in his grief. I love the flashes of anger and confusion in among all the sharp edges. I love that John is forever being ambushed by his body’s unexpected reactions to stress, whether it’s his leg in the first episode or his voice here. eccentric_hat brought up a neat point about Sherlock’s battle with his body in 2.02, and I think there’s an echo in John’s stress responses. He’s very, very good at controlling himself in the moment, at using it all to his advantage, but he pays for it in the aftermath. (I have a whole meta document in my head entitled “Ways in Which John Watson Is Such a Doctor” and this is part of it.)

- “Some sort of Death Frisbee?” I will never look at a hat the same way again. Also, incidentally, I have a thing for unconscious physical in-tune-ness, like the pen toss in Series One and the hat catch here. This was very good for me. *g*

- Jim Moriarty. Gah. I feel like I could write odes on how everything about Moriarty that is just slightly off, that doesn’t quite work in TGG, suddenly makes sense after this episode. I’ll probably come back to that at the end, though. For now: the blend of ominous and surreal and funny tones they have going through the heists is a weird choice, but I kind of think it works.

- There’s something subtly different about Sherlock from the moment John asks him if he’s ready before opening the door to the paparazzi. He’s... subdued. There’s a resignation in his interaction with John in the car, and although he’s got his game face on by the time they actually get to court, I think he already knows on some level that this time is for keeps.

- With that particular song in the background, Moriarty is shot in bright sun and light clothes, and Sherlock is shot in dark colors and shadows. Oh, cinematographers/directors, I <3 you.

- There’s a theme of deliberate blindness that keeps coming up here. Sherlock’s whole world, in effect, falls apart because people are willing to ignore what they know to be true in favor of what they either want or fear to be. Kitty the reporter, Donovan, Anderson... they’ve all seen Sherlock do his thing, all know that he’s capable of it, but for various reasons would rather believe otherwise. Everything that Sherlock really despises about people in general is what Moriarty uses to take him down.

- The spider analogy!

- “Do you think you could survive for just a few minutes without showing off?” I love the comedic timing of that long, indrawn breath. I also love that you just know that John immediately begins listening for the bail details.

- “It’s my face...?” “Yes, and it’s doing a thing.” *dies* Although, to be fair, that was kind of an easy one, John.

- John, what is that tie? Why is that tie?

- Sherlock directs Moriarty to John’s chair, so Moriarty deliberately takes the other one, but Sherlock put the tea set next to John’s chair to begin with. Huh. There’s an iocaine powder joke here, I’m sure of it.

- Strangely, it’s this scene that really brings home how much of Moriarty’s behavior is performance. The distorted expressions, the vocal acrobatics... It’s all larger than life in the context of the pool or even the courtroom, but here the setting is all wrong. It’s somehow twice as creepy, really getting across that everything about him is an approximation of human interaction.

- It was at this point that, the first time through, I felt every tech person I know suddenly twitch simultaneously over the idea of a universal code like that. Heh.

- “I should get myself a live-in one.”

- The Diogenes Club!

- John’s interactions with Mycroft fascinate me. John’s comfortable with Mycroft as an enemy in ASiP, awkward with him as a vague acquaintance in the rest of Series One, and in Series Two is prone to treating him a lot like he does Sherlock, if with less affection. And then there’s their last conversation at the club, when John is back to being an angry soldier in his presence.

- Molly. Oh, Molly. I love that everything about her character that’s been making me cringe since the start suddenly comes together here. It’s so rare that a show can take an element that I dislike this much and retroactively make it matter. What I love most is that it’s not a cheap play to the audience: Molly doesn’t suddenly adopt a new layer of awesome over who she is; Molly is awesome because she’s Molly.

- “You look sad, when you think he can’t see you.”

I’m willing to bet the entirety of fandom has flailed over this by now, but here’s my contribution. I love that it’s John that he hides from, and that this comes back to the running theme of John never quite understanding where the boundaries are between what Sherlock doesn’t feel and what Sherlock doesn’t show. I love that it’s true, that Sherlock is so different here than he was in TGG; all of his flashes of excitement are in front of John, like he’s playing a part. The rest of the time, he’s either resigned or winding himself ever tighter, like the walls are closing in. For all that I want to rhapsodize about Martin Freeman all over the place, Benedict Cumberbatch does a frankly unbelievable job in this, with all these pervasive subtleties that trickle together.

- I love Sherlock’s reaction to Molly, too. I love that he’s honestly thrown by the idea that she doesn’t matter to him. I love that he still manages to put his foot in his mouth, because he always has and it’s never been because he means to. I love how much of him is very like Molly, with his own perpetual brand of uncertainty, and that it comes to the fore here when his usual momentum is disrupted.

- The moments of Sherlockvision have always been interesting, but I’ve just started noticing what’s happening in the background of them. I like that it’s not all flashy computer graphics, but also thoughtful low-tech touches. The busy room becomes just a few people still working (maybe the ones he can’t manage to tune out?), and the lights actually flicker on and off in the transition between inside his head and out.

- Sherlock making John take another cab... I can’t decide whether we’re supposed to think he’s legitimately just so rattled that he throws his usual preferences aside and finds John disruptive, or that this is the start of him trying to get John out of the line of fire.

- On the one hand, Sherlock should totally have learned his lesson about ignoring cab drivers. On the other hand, it’s a neat example of the fact that Moriarty is, in a lot of ways, a ridiculously high-functioning serial killer. Aside from the amorality and general lack of empathy with the rest of the human race, he’s also got this attraction to patterned behavior. He may not have a standard ritual, but he definitely has favorites: aside from cabs, he likes paralytics (both the botulism that he uses twice and whatever the drug in ASiP is), he’s got a thing for snipers, and he ultimately likes setting people up to kill themselves.

- I love spidermonkey!Sherlock, literally climbing the walls.

- Sherlock telling Lestrade that he’s being set up... ouch. He’s not strident or outraged; there’s no protest that he doesn’t have time for this nonsense. He doesn’t even try that hard to convince him, like it’s a foregone conclusion that Lestrade will betray him.

- I love that Sherlock expects the same from John, and that that’s what gets to him. I also love that John doesn’t ever waver, and that he gets this across by being absolutely normal in the face of Sherlock’s drama. Basically, the way he handles the rest of their relationship.

- Once again, kudos to whoever was in charge of cinematography here. Lighting Cumberbatch from below gives him a downright haggard look, especially when he breaks and snarls at John.

- Wow. The fallout for this for Lestrade is really going to suck, isn’t it?

- God, I love Sherlock’s arrest. I love the way he puts on the scarf and coat, like armor before a losing battle. I love that John’s voice radiates helpless fury while his body language is all quiet distress, and that the audience knows damn well that this pretty much guarantees someone is about to bleed.

- “There’s no one to bail us.”  I suspect I shouldn’t find this as sweet as I do, but aw. It’s kind of like being each other’s emergency contact, but with unlawfulness. :)

- The running! There is nothing about this that isn’t awesome. Once again, we’re back at the beginning, with the two of them dashing through the city, just them against the world.

- Kitty really, really irritates me. I don’t have a good reason why, but I find her so much more aggravating than even Anderson. I think it’s the smugness. I just really want her to realize that she’s wrong. (I suspect that this is a subset of Someone Is Wrong on the Internet Disease, only with fictional people. I didn't say it was rational, okay?)

- “Just tell him.” Moriarty keeps trying to specifically get John to doubt, and it’s the one part of his plan that never does work. He plays everyone else like fiddles because all of them have something stronger than any loyalty to Sherlock - Donovan her suspicion, Anderson his resentment, Lestrade his duty, Kitty her wounded pride, Mycroft his ambition - but with John, Sherlock always wins.

- The fact that Sherlock plants the doubt himself with Molly - and that he includes her in the list of people he wants John to proclaim his fraud to - is interesting.

- Oh, John confronting Mycroft. That’s John’s “I’m thinking of ways to kill you right now” smile. I can’t decide whether Mycroft’s in on Sherlock’s ultimate plan or not. I think he legitimately did screw up and overshare with Moriarty by accident. Sherlock’s refusal to go anywhere near him could be him knowing Mycroft must be the one who sold him out, or could be him avoiding open contact while covertly working together.

- Mycroft’s - or the government’s, depending - strategy for managing Moriarty is... well, evil, in that it leaves him free to do very bad things and kill people, but also kind of twistedly brilliant. They know they can’t control him, and killing him would just leave room for either fragmentation or the rise of an unknown quantity. Moriarty’s bent on owning the world through crime, basically, and he’s capable of it. And therein lies his downfall: as soon as he gets to the top, it all becomes so easy. He doesn’t have any driving ambition beyond ambition. He’ll eventually destroy himself out of sheer boredom - Sherlock is his last-ditch effort to avoid it - but in the meantime, they’ll know exactly who’s in charge. It’s the kind of plan that Sherlock might make, if he were interested in the global scale. So, you know, Mycroft.

- Sherlock has John meet him in the lab because he needs to know where he is when the call comes in about Mrs. Hudson. It lets him guarantee that John won’t figure it out too quickly, but he could just as easily have sent John anywhere else specific. He chooses to see John instead, even though it means a confrontation with him is inevitable. His whole plan, really, rests on the fact that John will believe that Sherlock is exactly the kind of man who’d put the game before his loved ones. It’s just that little bit more agonizing, when you think about it.

- John leaving like that is officially when my heart hits my shoes, every time.

- The roof is where this Moriarty suddenly comes together for me. This Moriarty doesn’t make sense if you try to look at him like the villain in book canon or other adaptations. He doesn’t want power; he doesn’t want wealth; he doesn’t want control. He wants excitement. Everything he’s ever done has been for stimulation, getting grander in scope as he goes for that next fix that will satisfy him. It makes everything he does in the show fall into line, all the erratic behavior and mania. He’s been saving Sherlock, probably even been grooming him from a distance, and it’s the final crushing disappointment to think that there really isn’t anywhere to go from here. The computer code may be utter crap, but the point behind it stands: there are absolutely no challenges left for him. It’s why Sherlock simultaneously presenting one last, surprise puzzle and a means to answer it that gives Moriarty an excuse pleases him so much.

- I think Sherlock really does believe in the code, and really does think he can fix everything. He’s got an alternate plan in place, of course, but he still thinks he’s going to win, even if he doesn’t survive the event (officially or otherwise). I think he plans to fake his death on the roof itself to let Moriarty think it's over, and the jumping is an improvisation. I also think he genuinely isn’t certain he’s going to survive it.

- And then the phone call... oh. My god. That little laugh because John, John just will not be shaken in his belief. The way they both gesture at the same time. “Well, people do, don’t they?” Because people don’t have archenemies. People have friends; people they like, people they don’t like. People leave notes. God. Ow.

- John screams Sherlock's name from an impossible distance, just like on that first night, but this time he can't save him.

- And from here on out Martin Freeman just owns everything. The way that John says he’s a doctor, but can’t force any authority into it... The way he has to physically crawl that last bit to Sherlock... The way that he stops fighting, when he can’t deny it anymore... He looks like a man whose world has just stopped.

- If Mycroft is in on it, that's actually a pretty decent apology gesture. Considering his most obvious conflict is between his brother and his career, and considering it really can't be good for the latter if the former goes down in the press like this, standing by him now could say a lot. 

- John sitting in 221b, barefoot and staring at Sherlock’s chair, is possibly the single most awful visual ever.

- Mrs. Hudson’s rant is perfect.

- John’s speech is where I lose it, every single time. It just... it sounds like a conversation he would have with Sherlock. “One more miracle, Sherlock. For me.” Oh, god. “Just stop it, stop this.” It’s all there, for a minute, in that reflection in the headstone, and then he locks it right back down. Because he’s John Watson, and carrying on is what he does.

- I may be alone, but I like the last shot of Sherlock, stalking John and still looking sad when John can’t see him.

Huh. I really thought I wouldn’t manage to say much beyond "*flail*" about this one. Go figure. Now, back to processing via writing all the fic I can handle, and finally getting to read everyone else’s reactions.

In summary: Is it Series Three yet? Now?

...How about now?
Tags: episode commentary, sherlock
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