Thursday, July 7, 2016

John, the guy that spoils the Johnlock conspiracy for me.

Ah, conspiracy theories. Faked moon landings. Clinton murder sprees. Ancient aliens.

And Johnlock.

Whether or not that last one actually exists might be a moot point . . . since it involves a creation that's not finished in its birthing process, the Johnlock conspiracy itself could actually influence it's own endgame (a Holmes-Watson romance being the goal of BBC's Sherlock). It's a massively built-up theory. Were Sherlock a completed Canon, as the ACD one is, one can compile evidence all day long and it would remains a theory. But with all that's been built around it, and with the show's creators being aware of that building, and the devotion of some fans being at a level where what the actual show does not really matters . . . .

Well, Johnlock does exist.

But is it Canon or Alternate Universe at this point?

Admittedly, I have certain biases, and one of those is against physical violence. Which is why this topic came up again this morning, as I considered Sherlock's particular take on the post-hiatus reunion of John Watson with the no-longer-dead Sherlock Holmes, compared with that of the ACD Canon.

With ACD Canon, Watson grabs Holmes's arm just to feel the physicality of his friend, consciously aware of  the "sinewy arm" beneath the shirt. Watson covers this touch with the impression he truly was making sure Holmes was not a ghost. But there is still a warmth to it. A love, even if that of just pure male camaraderie.

But in the Canon of Sherlock? 

Anger. Rage. Joy never crosses Watson's face. And on it comically goes.

Now, one might posit that Watson's rage comes from love and all the grieving he went through. But in my experience, that's not how love works. Love's initial reaction to such a reunion is Lestrade's. Or ACD Watson's. Grabbing that long-missing piece of one's heart to make sure it doesn't disappear. Anger comes later.

John Watson's rage in "The Empty Hearse" is that of a frustrated friend who saw his troubled partner commit suicide at the end of a campaign of ruination, the fallout of which affected Watson's everyday life, as the chronicler and made a lie of his life to the general public. Watson's rage is that of a business partner who has watched a rising enterprise crumble only to find that the associate whose amazing skills it was all built around seems to have been off on a lark after a practical joke.

It's that moment that says more to me about John's relationship with Sherlock than all the Mary Morstan weddings in the world. To have someone you really loved back from the dead? That's a moment of joy, not fury.

Sherlock was after all, a very irritating friend with worthwhile and admirable qualities that made him worth the freight. In a meet-cute romantic comedy, the two protagonists can fight like cats and dogs for two hours straight, then realize their one true love in a climactic moment . . . which works great in the "happily ever after" end of a movie. In any kind of sequel, they'd be divorced in a year after realizing all the fighting was their status quo. But, hey, Sherlock is a series of TV movies, so who knows how the last one might go?

Sherlock and John could, according to whatever the showrunners of that time decide, finish their last episode in bed. By the time the careers of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are finally winding down, Moffat and Gatiss could have been replaced by some very career oriented Johnlockers. But until then . . . ?

That moment of rage in "The Empty Hearse" outweighs all the minute production details one might interpret as support for a Johnlock conspiracy, for me at least. Sherlock and John might be together in a few million alternate universes, but in the one I'm watching . . . I just can't see it.


  1. John's initial reaction was disbelief and near collapse. He had difficulty standing. He could not speak. Watch his face as this reaction changes to bitterness and rage. Why? Because of Sherlock's cavalier attitude. Sherlock was treating the whole thing like a JOKE.
    In that moment John recognized that all the grieving, all the suffering, all the self-reproach, the regret for the things he didn't say (remember his sessions with the therapist?) were one-sided and illusory. Sherlock, meanwhile, was off galavanting about (or so John imagines), with never a thought for him. And Sherlock thinks it's all such a lark, returning and cracking jokes.
    There is no rage like the rage of unrequited love. And that's exactly what John was experiencing in that moment. The complete and total collapse of the dreams and illusions he had built in his mind, of the belief that he and Sherlock had meant something to each other. But no. Sherlock makes it quite clear in his dickish return that he did not care for John the way John cared for him. John is a man spurned. And it hurts terribly. So he rages. BUT -- and here we know that he truly loved Sherlock, because even though Sherlock hurt him like this, he forgives him THE VERY NEXT DAY and is ready to resume a friendship with him. On a non-illusory footing this time, or so he thinks. And far, far more guarded than he was before. But his love for Sherlock is such that he does not allow the personal hurt to end the relationship.
    Now, if John felt toward Sherlock the way one feels toward a friend or business partner, there would not have been the rage. John would indeed have responded as Lestrade did. The intensity of John's response is precisely when I, upon first viewing, recognized that there was more to the relationship than mere friendship of the Lestrade-Sherlock kind. And after several additional viewings of all 3 seasons, ultimately became converted to Johnlock. I cannot agree with your interpretation of John's reaction. It is the intense reaction of a lover, one in whom emotions are so heightened that crazy and violent behavior may be triggered by precisely the kind of dickish behavior that Sherlock exhibits. It is not the reaction of a friend who, as you say, would feel simple joy at seeing one whom they believed to be dead alive again.

  2. There's the old saying that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference, and if there's one thing John has never been towards Sherlock it's indifferent. And after having been manipulated, endangered, drugged without his consent, kidnapped and nearly burned alive by or because of Sherlock, I can understand his initial reaction, like pb said.

    I'm still not a Johnlocker.