perihadion: ("La Morfinomane")
[personal profile] perihadion
First, here is some seemingly-irrelevant information -- think of this as the Chekhov's gun of this post: in late June BBC4 aired a John Lennon biopic starring Christopher Eccleston named Lennon Naked, which I happened to watch -- and I deemed the actual worst thing about this biopic (which had some serious rough spots) the casting of an unknown-to-me actor named Andrew Scott as Paul McCartney. I really hated this guy's performance; I actually had a really long conversation with [ profile] radioreverie about just how awful he was -- and I'm pretty critical of things but typically bad acting doesn't illicit that level of response so you can tell I thought he was really bad. He was bad in every way. This is important information. So.


I had said to a few people that my desperate, delusional hope for this episode -- something which would retroactively have made the entire show amazing -- was that Moriarty would be revealed to be a woman. In fact, I specifically wanted Molly (the morgue technician with a crush on Sherlock) to be Moriarty because if that were the case then the show would actually have made quite an interesting point about the hints of covert sexism in Sherlock's interactions with women. In the first place, I wanted the show to acknowledge that there is indeed such a thing as an intelligent woman; in the second, Sherlock's random sexism really wound me up in "The Blind Banker" and I really want a woman to put him in his place; in the third, I really wish that Molly specifically could put Sherlock in his place; in the fourth, I just want this show to have one interesting, important female character -- just one.

What they did instead was so boring that people actually predicted it last Sunday. Like, because 'Jim' apparently popped up on one of the tie-in websites and literally everyone assumed that he would turn out to be Moriarty as Moriarty's first name is James -- it was in literally every prediction that I read for this episode, and the only reason I dismissed it was because it just struck me as too stupid: I just thought it was too obvious a 'twist' that they would introduce the character on a tie-in website with the same name and I expected something more interesting from the show. Because it's barely even a twist: it's barely even a twist to introduce a character with the same name as a villain and within the episode have that character turn out to indeed be that villain. But I made the mistake of wanting this show to be more interesting than it actually is.

For the record, here is a list of things they could have done which would have been better than what they actually did:
- Molly could have been revealed to be Moriarty.
- Moriarty could have been revealed to be any woman.
- Watson could have been revealed to be Moriarty.
- Moriarty could have been the Mr Hyde/Tyler Durden-esque alter-ego of Sherlock himself.

You know what? It would even have been better if they'd done a ridiculous 'double twist' and revealed Mycroft to be Moriarty. There's an alternate-universe version of me who's writing a post right now about how terrible the reveal that "Mycroft is Moriarty, after all" is -- and she just doesn't get that of the two of us she actually got the more interesting twist. (I so desperately want to live in the universe where Molly was indeed Moriarty, on the other hand.)

The real salt in the wound, though, is the fact that the guy they cast to play Moriarty was just a terrible actor. I actually tweeted that the "worst part" of the episode was this guy's acting -- because what he was choosing to do was all wrong for the character (I like my Moriarty sinister, not campy and ridiculous), it didn't work with the tone of the show, it didn't work with the way Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock, and he wasn't even doing a good job of it; it was embarrassing to watch. But what I didn't realise at the time, and what I actually didn't realise until earlier this evening, was that I already hated that guy as an actor even before he was on Sherlock -- because he was indeed the very same Andrew Scott who had previously played Paul McCartney in Lennon Naked. I can't even -- I can't even describe what this revelation did to my worldview.

- - -

I just want to point out that I don't think there's any reason why a supernova which was only visible in the sky for a limited period of time would be painted into a fake of a famous painting -- surely, if you were faking a painting, you'd just copy the original rather than painting your own night sky from nature? Did I miss a line which made that revelation plausible or is it as nonsensical as I think it is? Also, I get that it tied into Mark Gatiss' running joke about how Sherlock didn't know that the Earth revolved around the Sun (which is something which could have stayed in the books, honestly), but "knowledge of the solar system" wouldn't have aided in that particular deduction; knowing something about astronomy in general, and knowing that specific piece of astronomical trivia -- sure, but the solar system? No.

EDIT: Thanks to [ profile] evemac for explaining what was actually going on here. This is what I get for not rewatching before I wrote this post.

- - -

I didn't even understand what the significance was of the insanely tall guy who tried to choke Sherlock (this show is obsessed with choking). Like, was he one of Moriarty's henchmen? He just seemed like a really round-about contrivance to get Sherlock to the planetarium so he could gain the necessary information to prove that the Vermeer painting was a fake. That fight scene was like a bad drug trip, too. I don't even know what was going on.

- - -

There was some character stuff that I liked, though. I've said to a few people that the idea of Sherlock Holmes as a sociopath never rings entirely true to me because I don't understand why, if he is indeed a sociopath who is motivated by a desire to alleviate his own boredom, he operates exclusively on the side of good -- that actually makes no sense; if Sherlock Holmes is literally incapable of feeling any warmth or affection for people then there is nothing stopping him from being a Moriarty himself and I like that the episode acknowledged that.

I sometimes get to thinking -- because I'm quite insane, and I think about stuff like this -- about how Sherlock Holmes' methodology is actually very similar to scientific methodology and wondering why it is that "a Sherlock Holmes" wouldn't be interesting in pursuing a career in physics and this episode actually kind of, inadvertently, touched on that by having Sherlock declare that proof was just a detail. Of course, once you know you're right, proof is just a formality but this is the reason why Sherlock Holmes can't get along with "the system" -- the police system, the scientific method: he can't do the boring bits. I enjoy that.

- - -

Whatever, you know I'm going to watch it if it comes back for another series. I feel like Sherlock is now playing the role that Smallville used to play in my life: it's the show I don't especially like but that I quite desperately want to like, and that I think I could like if they would only make a few changes (like introducing just one amazing female character and treating her right -- honestly, that's all most shows need to do to make me love them).
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September 2010

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