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Monday, June 30, 2014

Sherlock...yet again!

It appears to be about time for another post about Sherlock Holmes, specifically the BBC Sherlock starring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Let me begin by saying, I'm not recommending the show.  I'm redeeming it.
It's not squeaky clean, and I'm not condoning all of it, but I can say for certain that it has given me the ability to think through some very virtuous things. The themes of the show, with the brilliant writing behind it, might actually have given me a better picture of love.  Which is one of the highest purposes of storytelling.
If you need more background or you haven't seen the show,  here are a few old (very old) posts for you.
For my analysis of Sherlock Holmes in general as a character and literary type:
For my analysis of Season 1

In my last little scribble on the show, I expressed my hope that Sherlock would be humanized, unsure how else I could continue putting up with such a massively arrogant lead role. Even with this anticipation, I entered the next episodes skeptically and long after their release dates, aware that it could go either way.
It has been a slowly unfolding story.  But in the end, it did not disappoint.
To correct on my previous views of the show, I have to admit that many of the vices evident in the first season are clarified and worked out as just that, vices.  Now that I stand on the other side of season three, I'm willing to say that though the morals of the show are messy, they are not without thoughtful merit.

A few examples of redeemable material from the last season:

GRACE: John, ever the real hero in the show, depicts a stunning picture of grace when he throws into the fire a flash drive with Mary's past on it.  His complete forgiveness of her is sealed with the words, "The problems of your past are your own business.  The problems of your future are my privilege."  Few Christian-themed stories do as good as that. Very impressive.

BEAUTY: Sherlock actually falls (albeit temporarily) for Molly, a girl who works in forensics.  She was invisible to him when they had worked together previously except when she was useful for cleaning up his messes or solving a case, but by a small act of kindness in the second season, she awakens the goodness that lies underneath all that intellectual, sociopathic exterior that we love/hate in Sherlock.  She is the one woman (besides John's wife) that he learns to treat with respect and without pragmatism.  For a few shining moments, he sees her for who she is and he gains yet another friend.
LOVE: In the final moments of the final episode, Sherlock sacrifices himself to protect John and Mary.  By putting a bullet in Magnussen's head to protect Mary, knowing that he will not be spared the full justice of the law, Sherlock proves that he has come a long way.  Not to excuse murder of course, but for Sherlock, the act is a stark contrast to the first season finale which finds him hesitant and shocked at John's reckless move to save him from Moriarty.  And finally we see the sharpie line between Sherlock (who killed for love) and Moriarty (who kills for sport).

It is his own words that both condemn and redeem him in a self correcting speech at John's wedding. "I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy." Sherlock almost overdoes his apologies and appreciations in this emotional and out-of-character display of affection.  He further admits that while he can solve crimes, he can't save lives.  It takes John to understand people and to show Sherlock his complete inability to do so.
And so John is rightly recognized for his part in the slow, fascinating journey of saving Sherlock from himself.

At long last, consistent contact with people who stubbornly love him has chipped away at his heartlessness.  Of course, he is still Sherlock. By his own admission, he is no angel and there is evidence of that.
But even these glimmers of humility, however small are enough to make me excited that season 4 will not let me down.

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