Sunday, December 1, 2013

First to die.

Watching tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, I realized that there is one thing about Sherlock Holmes I will never experience.

Like many of the more intense television dramas these days, The Walking Dead has a reputation for killing beloved characters. And that reputation is so well known that "Kill Daryl and we riot!" has become a popular slogan with fans of a certain crossbow-wielding zombie fighter. The fans are constantly aware of the mortality of the series's characters, but even in that state, a sudden death comes as a shock. They're in zombie world, being alive at all is a minor miracle, and yet seeing one of them fall is still so very hard to take.

Which is why it's almost inconceivable to me how fans of Sherlock Holmes felt in 1893, when the star of their favorite monthly serial suddenly fell off a cliff . . . and was gone. Not "seemed like he was gone, but was standing hidden in the graveyard a few minutes later in the show." No. Dead. Gone dead. Not coming back dead. Really quite completely dead.

And when Sherlock Holmes did it, it was a complete and utter surprise. The serial short story was a pretty new thing, Sherlock was the guy who solved the occasional murder, not supposed to be the victim. It was as horrible a loss for the readers as anything that wasn't a part of their real lives and families could be.

But by the time I got to Sherlock going over Reichenbach Falls, the mere fact that there were still five books I hadn't read was pretty much a giveaway that he wasn't really dead. Pick up the next book and keep reading, and there he is! And while the BBC Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall" really came close to making me feel what that loss would have hit the unsuspecting reader like, the certain knowledge that Reichenbach is always temporary kept even that well-constructed drama from having its full effect.

So, ironically, I'm winding up feeling the loss of characters from The Walking Dead more than I'll ever feel the loss of my favorite character of all time, Sherlock Holmes. But once upon a time . . . yes, once, Sherlock was one of the first in a series to die.

And thus, thinking of a particular character from The Walking Dead tonight and transferring some of that emotion back to sympathize with folks in 1893, I have to say, "Rest in peace, Sherlock Holmes."

P.S. Kill Watson and we riot!

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