Anonymous asked: I'm loving these exchanges tbh. But where do you stand as far as they as individuals, and as a pair (in whatever way you see them)?
Oh man, I have so many metas about that (I’m going to have to update my meta page after all this).
Here’s the page. It’s linked on my Tumblr.
BUT TO SUM UP (because when I was first creating that I had NINE PAGES OF LINKS, not even actual text):
I think that John is probably pretty damaged. I suspect he had a hard youth before he ever went into the Army and got shot. I think he’s a good man but that Sherlock has a real point when he calls John an addict. I also think that he can be a real dick, himself.
I think that Sherlock is a mildly awful person, but not in an irredeemable, villainous way. He’s definitely not a psychopath, but I think he likes the idea of being a psychopath—or even, perhaps to be more accurate, somewhat villainous. It’s so freeing, in a way, after all. And look at him, I mean the choices he’s made about his physical appearance and comportment. He’s got ‘byronic hero’ written all over him. Sherlock is absolutely in love with the concept of being an anti-hero.
To that end, I think he put in a great deal of work on the persona of Sherlock Holmes that he wears in the world, and that while it is a true reflection of him, it is not a whole reflection of him. I think John knows things about who Sherlock is behind all the faces that probably no one else knows, except maybe Mycroft. But I think Sherlock has a magnificent sense of drama and presentation, and he knows how to work personas—that is, after all, how he goes about disguise. I think that the weirdly gregarious and cheerful Sherlock we saw at John’s wedding was, to some extent, a persona. Which is not to say I think he was lying about how he felt; just that he knows how to play to his audience.
I think that Sherlock is a master of compartmentalization, and that he is by nature a very emotional person as well as a very logical one, and that he’s put a lot of work into mastering that—but when he claimed to John that emotion is a weakness, he was right, in a number of ways, and not only pertaining to Magnussen. I think that Sherlock’s half falling-for/half-decision to love John to his full extent has undermined him in a number of ways in this past season, both large and small.
I think Sherlock is a true egotist—he has no self-esteem issues, he really does think he’s that great. He’s over-confident, nearly as smart as he thinks he is, but like he says, He always misses something. I think he very seldom bothers to regret his actions or to care about people as individuals rather than a sort of vague, blanket sense (which I think he does have)…but I think he regrets what he did to John.
As for the two of them as a couple:
I think that until this season, Sherlock was still keeping John at arm’s length. Oh, he knew he cared; it kept coming up, with the kidnapping attempts and all that. But there are two parts to loving someone. There is the bit where you are just smitten with them, and then there is the part where you choose to embrace that. Sherlock had the first, but it was this season—or maybe somewhere between last season and this season—when he finally opened himself up and said, “Yes, I love John, and I don’t care what that means in terms of the cost, he’s mine and I will revel in that and all the emotions that go with it.”
And I wonder whether that was possibly the “terrible mistake” Sherlock was said to have made this season (there are a few, depending on your perspective, including tangling with CAM, publicly announcing his fidelity to John, and a couple of other things).
As a couple…Jeez. This is a hard one, because I think that we are being given something that is valid and yet at the same time is not necessarily what the writers think they are giving us. (At least, not all the writers; I truly do wonder if there are some differences of opinion among the creative team in how these guys are characterized, or at least some compromises.)
I think that what we are being given is absolutely a committed queer relationship. Absolutely. Sexual? I dunno (my guess is probably not currently, but I have no idea whether it has the potential to be in the future; maybe they don’t know either). But deeply queerplatonic at the very least.
And I think that all the indications we got that Sherlock and John’s relationship is on the same level (or perhaps even more intense) as John and Mary’s are true. I think that while in a sense Mary came between them—she certainly complicated things—it was not in a relationship-destabilizing sense. I think that Sherlock and John are stable at the end of the season, and that the lack of talking was a communicative lack of talking. They both understood what they weren’t saying, which is as good as saying it, really. They have a relationship like that and, after all, at this point they know what each other’s most private, heartfelt goodbyes look like.
And I think that John has known how he feels about Sherlock for a long time now—definitely by the end of S1, I’m thinking (and the fact that this appears to be a pattern in his male relationships implies that he possibly has awareness and prior experience about this, and these days I really wonder what he was asking Sherlock that first night at Angelo’s). And Sherlock, in turn, has known how he felt about John for some time (the night at the pool was, I think, his wake-up call), but was not prepared to fully open himself up to it until this season. I think that they are now on the same page about that, and I think Sherlock has further learned a new respect for John as, you know, a human being with emotions and stuff.
But there are some weird things going on between them. Sherlock acknowledges a new level of personal agency when it comes to John, making sure he’s informed enough to make his own decisions, but at the same time, CAM calls John Sherlock’s “damsel in distress,” which traditionally implies a significant lack of agency. Historically damsels have been known for being good at languishing. And the show seems to support that, with all the John getting kidnapped and used as leverage against Sherlock. Weird stuff. I’m not sure what to make of it.
Soooooo horribly I have just written that entire monstrosity of a “summary” (sob), and it occurs to me that maybe that’s not what you’re asking? I…like them? I like John being a kind of damaged, stoic, occasional dick. And I love Sherlock being a complicated, weirdly loveable asshole, and golly b. whiz do I love Sherlock/John.
If there’s a writerly compromise there, then my guess is that it’s to make them something significantly more than friends, but not necessarily sexual. And if that’s the case, then we could see—are seeing—the consummation of their relationship on a regular basis. If that’s the case, there’s no ‘what if’ or ‘might be.’ They already are. They are intense, they are faithful, they have weathered storms and hurt each other and made up for it and had each other’s backs and said their vows to each other (I’m not sure John’s ever said it straight out aloud the way Sherlock did, but then he’s been eating and breathing it for years, whereas Sherlock needed to re-affirm it after abandoning him once).
I guess…I don’t really feel like there’s some endgame conspiracy. I feel like it’s already here. This season gave us very nearly the full monty. I’d love to see them kiss—I’d like to have that visual validation of their relationship being equal to a man and woman’s—but then again, when there was an episode with a wedding and yet it was Sherlock and John we saw swearing fidelity and saying “I love you” to each other (they said the actual words, and have you noticed that John and Mary haven’t said those words to each other?)…well, there’s not a whole lot further to take that.
And. Say what you will about queerbaiting, but one of the writers is a queer man. A man old enough to have lived through years with another man he loved, and they couldn’t marry—until the day the law changed and they could. There is not one iota of possibility that Gatiss was not vastly, keenly, minutely and personally aware of exactly what connotation was going down in that episode.