Wednesday, December 30, 2020

How mean was Mycroft?

 Yesterday, one of our legion finally got around to watching Enola Holmes and was struck by the portrayal of Mycroft therein.

"I feel like a different character, like a solicitor, could have been used instead of assassinating Mycroft's character," Robert Perret tweeted. 

Putting Enola Holmes on mental trial for this accusation, my mind palace's defense lawyers surprised me with their line of attack on the charge: "What do we really know about Mycroft Holmes?"

What DO we really know about Mycroft Holmes?

He has better powers of observation than Sherlock. He is seven years older than Sherlock. He has no ambition or energy. Good at figures, only goes to work or his club, flipper-like hands . . .

Nowhere does it say "unselfish and kind."

"Well, you take the case up by all means, and let me know if you do any good." There's a classic Mycroft quote, and I can hear that in a few different tones. Let's try something from his second appearance.

"A most annoying business, Sherlock. I dislike altering my habits, but the powers that be would take no denial. In the present state of Siam it is most awkward that I should be away from the office. But it is a real crisis. I have never seen the Prime Minister so upset."

Interesting that Mycroft's first words on the Cadogan West business are very self-interested and annoyed. And, getting back to that "flipper-like hands" line, I've always had a feeling that Watson didn't exactly have a lot of respect for Mycroft for using such a line. And if Watson doesn't like you . . .

There's definitely a very large space of blank canvas surrounding Mycroft Holmes, and the different portrayals we have of him, like rattling around his old manor house naked in a certain movie, get a definite license to play due to that space.

My mental jurors had to declare Enola Holmes innocent of Robert's charges of character assassination, as Mycroft Holmes could well have been a jerk, given our limited experience of him. We actually have more Canonical evidence for Mystrade shipping than we have for Mycroft being a lovely guy who treated his sister and mother well. ("Mycroft Holmes and Lestrade had come round by appointment after breakfast next day . . ." and later "Lestrade and Mycroft were fidgeting in their seats . . .")

And since Enola Holmes does team up the inspector and the brother, suddenly it gets more Canonical as well. Perhaps we'll just say that the Mycroft of Enola Holmes was going through something off-screen that was making him a bit more unpleasant than we might have liked. Everybody gets a bad day now and then.

'Tis a shame that Millie Bobby Brown seems to be getting so busy with other projects that she might not get back to the character, so we could see a little more of her Mycroft to find out.

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