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July 22, 2014 10:01 am  #1


Violence at the reunion

I've just recently watched this for the first time.  And I'm having difficulty getting past the violence between John and Sherlock when they reunite.

I understand that it shows that John is experiencing extremes of emotion and tells Sherlock how deeply he was affected by his "death".  And also that it's meant to be funny (I think).   And that John doesn't know the full story, or anywhere near.

But it disturbs me.  I think I could more easily understand one regrettable attack.   The repeated attacks on somebody who is completely passive and conciliatory are difficult to watch.  John is a doctor and familiar with violence - he knows how fragile facial bones are.  He knows the damage that done by applying force to somebody's neck like that. 

He doesn't know (but we do) that Sherlock has only recently been brutally beaten.

I hate getting the message that John will resort to physical violence if he feels hurt by somebody close to him.  Nobody should have to live under that threat.  Maybe I will get used to that view of him, but at the moment, I don't like it.   (Maybe I have missed a clue that Sherlock is equally capable of violence towards John?  I can't seem to see it that way).

What if Sherlock was a woman?  I think it would be horrible either way, but I think it would actually have been quite difficult to film and show those scenes with a female Sherlock.  I think if you imagine scenes like that with a female victim, it's just not so funny any more.   But I'm feeling the same way even though it's a male victim.  I think Sherlock's complete acceptance of the violence (he doesn't even try to shield himself) reminds me too much of the helplessness that can happen in domestic violence relationships.  (I know that's not what we're being shown, but that's what I'm seeing). 

Yes, I know that I need to understand how overcome with emotion John feels - and I do understand that hate and anger would be quite naturally be included in the turmoil of emotions that John is in.  He has every right to those emotions and to feel aggrieved.   I don't think he's portrayed as an abuser.   But I do think this violence was abusive.

I'm sure I'll come to terms with it as the series goes on.  I just needed to get that off my chest, I think http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
.

 

July 22, 2014 1:37 pm  #2


Re: Violence at the reunion

You might wanna have a look at this thread. It's not only about the violence, but it might still be an interesting read:
http://sherlock.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=4157


___________________________________________________
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"I see no shame in having an unhealthy obsession with something." - David Tennant
"We did observe." - David Tennant in "Richard II"

 
 

July 22, 2014 3:51 pm  #3


Re: Violence at the reunion

I had a pretty clear image of what I thought John was going I do before S3 came out, and a good majority of those scenarios involved him punching Sherlock at least once. It's the kind of impulsive person he is, and frankly, I would have forgiven him for it; maybe even encouraged it. I honestly expected Sherlock to show a little bit of remorse for leaving his friend behind, even if he didn't understand the grief John was experiencing while he was off on his vigilante spree. I don't have to like the violence, but John Watson wouldn't be John Watson if he had fainted instead, as in canon. I do think that punching him in the face and then headbutting him was a little excessive, but I guess that's up to Mofftiss and a need for a bit more drama.


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

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July 22, 2014 4:38 pm  #4


Re: Violence at the reunion

Thank you both. The thread you linked was definitely an interesting read, and I've made a couple of comments.  But it didn't really address what I'm feeling here. 

I do think Sherlock shows remorse, in an awkward way.  He does look contrite, and his voice catches when he says he'd nearly been in contact so many times. (The jokes are a bad move, but the two of them do have a history of banter like that even at more emotionally charged moments. They don't tend to "do" heart-on-sleeve emotional conversations with each other, and John may have felt just as angry if Sherlock took that approach).    I don't think that Sherlock really needed to be more apologetic at that point, and I don't think the violence would be justified even if he was less apologetic. 

Yes, one punch would have been more understandable.   I suppose that if Sherlock had fought back, that might have felt OK too.  But the repeated assaults on somebody who isn't even defending himself, don't feel OK. 

I have to say again that I'm talking about my gut feelings about the scene and not about what I think was intended (I don't think the violence is meant to be as shocking as I'm finding it). 

Last edited by Liberty (July 22, 2014 4:42 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

July 22, 2014 5:30 pm  #5


Re: Violence at the reunion

Liberty wrote:

I have to say again that I'm talking about my gut feelings about the scene and not about what I think was intended (I don't think the violence is meant to be as shocking as I'm finding it). 

This is precisely why I have such an issue with that reunion, that the authors wrote it for humour. Do they really think that this was funny?!

Again, I have been in John's shoes. If my brother-in-law had shown up after two years and said, "SURPRISE, I'm alive!" I'm pretty sure I would have been tempted to throttle him. But would I have done so? Most assuredly not. I think I had a better therapist than John did... I know John's got 50 billion issues all piled on top of each other, but the reunion scene, combined with his threatening to pummel Sherlock in HLV, made me stop liking the character because I don't trust him. I really don't think it's that far of a step from beating up Sherlock to deciding that it's okay to slap Mary once in a while or to shake his baby. I now see him as an abuser and that's an image that is going to be very hard to lose. What a sad direction in which to take this character. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/sad.png


Mary
 


John: That's clever. So you scratch their backs and...
Sherlock: Yes. And then disinfect myself.
 

July 22, 2014 6:18 pm  #6


Re: Violence at the reunion

This is just my opinion, and I'm not contradicting anyone, promise:

I have conflicting feelings about this scene. Mostly it's because of all of the contusions and bruises on Sherlock's back and John just dumps him on the floor, but I also recognise that John didn't know about them. A fantastic scene in S4 would be if John had to help Sherlock because our compulsive Holmes boy got himself hurt and John just sees all of the scars that Sherlock gained from his travel. That would be a heart-wrenching scene.

Back to the scene at hand. With the PTSD that we know John suffers from, seeing blood on Sherlock's face should have triggered a horrific flashback that would have charged the scene with much more emotion than what was given. However, I understand the humour that Gatiss was trying to inject into the scene, because that's the kind of writer he is. It seems a mistake that John is being steered into this direction. If only we had some tears scattered through TEH instead of that brief spat in the Landmark.


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

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July 22, 2014 7:27 pm  #7


Re: Violence at the reunion

Mary, I'm sorry to hear about your experience.  (In real life, suicides are so devastating and destructive to those left behind).  I agree with all you say here.  He is crossing a line, and I can't look at the character in the same way at the moment.  I'm surprised Mary wasn't more taken aback by John's behaviour - yes, I think it does suggest that if she angers him enough, she could be next. If I saw my boyfriend do that to a friend, I don't think I'd feel the same way about him.

@Breathing, I like being contradicted. It makes me think ;).

I wouldn't have expected Sherlock's wound to trigger a flashback, but I'd hope it would be a visual reminder that he is beating up somebody who isn't fighting back.  I was shocked that John attacked Sherlock again, while looking at that wound.

Sherlock doesn't even have anything to apologise for.  I have been irritated by the way he kept things from John in the past (and actually, I wasn't too happy about him drugging and scaring John to test something out ... that was rather borderline for me).  But in this case, he had to keep John in the dark to protect him.  He tells John how desparately he wanted to tell him.  Maybe John hears, but doesn't listen http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
. (Or listens, but doesn't hear ... what am I saying? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png
).

I think in this episode as well, Sherlock is suprisingly sweet and loveable.  We see him being a childish little brother with Mycroft and a sulky adolescent with his parents.  He's actually a little childlike throughout these scenes with John.  He's like a schoolboy, trying to make John laugh, trying to get him to play games again. 

Those things, along with the injuries from Serbia, make it seem even worse. 

It bothers me that the whole thing is never really acknowledged.  That even at the end, it's up to John to forgive Sherlock, not the other way around. 

Last edited by Liberty (July 22, 2014 7:37 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

July 22, 2014 7:56 pm  #8


Re: Violence at the reunion

What makes me a bit upset at the show writers and Sherlock is in the third scenario of how Sherlock faked his death. Maybe I'm sympathetic towards John because Sherlock explains that Mycroft gave the snipers a better offer. If that's as close to the truth as we're going to get, then I'm going to take that statement as truth here and point out that he needn't have left John in the dark if there weren't snipers after him. In most Post-Reichenbach theories from before S3, the reason Sherlock didn't reveal himself to his friends was because he was afraid the snipers would kill them upon his return. This negates the whole fear that he should have felt and takes away from his heroic decision. If he had offered a better reason than 'I thought you might let the cat out of the bag' (a mistake to tell someone a upset as John that it's essentially his fault that Sherlock didn't tell him), then maybe he wouldn't have driven John to nearly break Sherlock's nose with his forehead.

I kinda went off on a tangent, but I think you get the point.


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

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July 22, 2014 9:18 pm  #9


Re: Violence at the reunion

Even if three snipers were removed, there was the rest of Moriarty's network.  Sherlock tells his parents (who as far as we know, don't need to know - they don't have a crucial role, like Mycroft or Molly).   Yet, he desparately wants to tell John, many times, but doesn't.    It seems that he tells the people closest to him, apart from the three named people who were targets (John, Lestrade and Mrs Hudson).  I suspect that they continue to be potential targets until Moriarty's network is eliminated.  They are still being watched, and Sherlock could put their lives in danger by contacting them. 

As soon as they're safe, Sherlock goes round all three of them.

So, yes, I think he is a hero, saving those three lives in particular, and the world in general, from Moriarty's network - at quite a large cost to himself.  For which he doesn't get a thank you. 

I do take your point that he doesn't make that clear enough to John (it is kind of funny that John keeps shouting, whilst being told it's a secret - he's not the best person to keep a secret!  Whereas Sherlock is great at it).  But I also think that John should have realised that Sherlock was protecting him.   He knew how Moriarty operated.  Actually, I'm not sure if it's Sherlock saying John might have let something slip that sets John off.  It seems to be when Sherlock says that he's missed the excitement (maybe hitting a nerve - John is clearly bored at work). 

     Thread Starter
 

July 22, 2014 9:38 pm  #10


Re: Violence at the reunion

Oh, oops. I wasn't very clear in what I was saying o.o

I think Sherlock's a hero. Hands-down. I do wish that John would have realised that Sherlock was protecting him in leaving him behind, but I felt the whole exchange could have been executed a little more smoothly without such.... whatever this is that makes us so upset. 


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

http://i.imgur.com/h27Yj5s.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/2OlkLiV.jpg
 

July 22, 2014 10:32 pm  #11


Re: Violence at the reunion

For some reason, the scene didn't bother me the first time I watched it. This is why: I think if somebody you loved dearly comes back to you after you thought you've lost him forever, you'd need some reassurance he is really there. Violence is not a concept I agree with at all, but I can understand the motivation to get physically close... not just shouting, but actually touching. It shows the emotional impact far more than anything else, I'd say. The "proper" way to make this contact would be a hug I imagine (like Sherlock and Lestrade had), but with all the pain John suffered, and Sherlock's really shit way of getting the news across, I don't think that is any option for John in this situation. So he slips into the only action that will bring him physically close to Sherlock - hitting him. I don't like it, but I can understand it... that words aren't enough. He should keep his temper in check, he definitely should - but it's a human reaction, as sad as that might be, and I think that's why the show uses it. It happens in real life, so it can be used in television... I'm just saying that for me, I didn't think that was bad writing.
I think violence is not the right kind of communication - ever. But I think it does make a difference if there is a power balance or not: John and Sherlock are two men of equal strengths, and for all John knows at this moment (he doesn't know about the injurys and the things Sherlock went through), Sherlock could just fight back. (Remember the scene in ASiB when Sherlock asks John to hit him? They do hit each other, but it's perfectly clear nobody is abusing the other - they are an equal match, both can defend themselves).
Sherlock is quite ready to use violence if needed, only it doesn't bother us as long as the "bad guys" are on the receiving end - because we know they are capable of exactly the same. It bothers us that Sherlock drugs a pregnant woman (Mary in HLV), but this woman shoots men in cold blood - we are biased in a way, when it comes to violence and women, of course we are, and rightly so. But if a Mary character had threatened and hurt Mrs. Hudson, would we have wanted to see a Sherlock who is merely lecturing the attacker? Yes / no?
I think it's more about the power balance with violence, and not so much about the male/female role. It just happens that usually, sadly, in our daily lives, the women suffer more because they often are in a weaker position. I've once seen a scene in a street in London which really impressed me: a guy (husband?) hit his african wife. Immediatly all of her female friends came to her help and put their handbags to good use - it was a fair fight and in the end it was the guy who was with the back to the wall, where then things where discussed and I think they got it sorted out.
I think what is wrong with the scene is that John acts without all the knowledge, and Sherlock has no back-up to make him stand his ground - he is trying hard to get his points across, but he's Sherlock and quite useless in such an emotional charged situation. He would need somebody (and I think Mary is kind of trying to take over that role) that can offer proper back-up so he and John can meet on eye level.
Not sure if I'm getting my point across, because it's a very charged topic and I'm afraid of expressing things wrong and making them sound different than I wanted to : /

Oh, this post got quite longer than I wanted - I am sorry.
 

Last edited by Whisky (July 22, 2014 10:38 pm)


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July 22, 2014 10:57 pm  #12


Re: Violence at the reunion

http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20131219235131/vampirediaries/images/e/e6/Sherlock-Bless-This-Post.gif


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

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July 23, 2014 5:25 am  #13


Re: Violence at the reunion

Whisky, I really like your post.
And to your "words aren't enough" I'd like to add that words also don't come easy to John (or Sherlock, for that matter) when emotions are involved. I really like the fact that it takes quite a while for John to go back to 221B in TEH - and even then they do not really talk about their emotions, although you can feel that there finally is some sort of understanding there finally.

That doesn't mean that I think of violence as a good way of solving problems, not at all. And yes, beating Sherlock three times probably is two times too often. On the other hand, I consider the 3 here to be some sort of comical concept (3 is some sort of 'magic' number after all). And even if you don't have to like the violence, I personally always understood where John was coming from in those scenes. John and Sherlock both totally suck at verbalizing their feelings, so Sherlock dresses up as a waiter and tries to be funny, and John loses it.


___________________________________________________
"Am I the current King of England?"

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"I see no shame in having an unhealthy obsession with something." - David Tennant
"We did observe." - David Tennant in "Richard II"

 
 

July 23, 2014 6:25 am  #14


Re: Violence at the reunion

Thanks, Whisky.  I think you did get your point across.  I agree about the need for physical touch, and that John wasn't able to go for a hug at that point.  I can understand him just launching himself at Sherlock the first time.   It's the repeated violence, when Sherlock is passive, that's disturbing.  If Sherlock had retaliated, then I'm sure I'd feel different about it. 

I haven't seen HLV yet (and not doing well at avoiding spoilers - I really shouldn't be so tempted to read here!).  There may be things in the last two episodes which change my mind.  I don't have a problem with Sherlock (or John) using violence to protect people.  And I agree with you about the fight in ASiB. 

I agree about the power balance, though.  I said the scene would be more shocking if Sherlock was a woman, and I think it would also be less shocking/more funny if John was a woman.   I mean at a gut level reaction, not intellectually.  Maybe it even looks better because John is a few inches shorter than Sherlock?   Would it have looked worse the other way around?  Anyway, I was thinking about this mainly to examine my own prejudices and whether I would feel different (yes, instinctively I would).  But even with two men, with a tall, strong victim, it pushes my buttons. 

I suppose the power balance is shifted by Sherlock being passive and conciliatory.  He gives complete control to John.  Yes, I suppose that's it.  If you're the sort of person (most of us) who wouldn't hit somebody they care about in anger like that, then you're relying on the people you care about being the same.  And maybe that's a difference between John and Sherlock.  (Or maybe not.  Maybe we haven't seen that side of Sherlock yet).  (In real life, I'm aware that men regularly experience violence, from men and women, and I don't know if it has less of an impact just because they're bigger and stronger - not disagreeing with you here, just thinking about it).

I did get a male perspective on this from the person I watched it with: he felt the same as me (which surprised me.  Maybe it shouldn't have done).  Not saying this to say that what we felt is the "right" thing - but I thought it was interesting.  I thought he would think it was funny, because the music, the jokes and the atmosphere seem to be telling us that it's funny - I do think that's what the writers intended (obviously, it's meant to be emotional as well.   But not disturbing). 

John does have quite a lot of knowledge by the end of the scenes.  I wish Sherlock had said straight out that if he'd contacted John, John would have been killed.  But John does know that Sherlock was unable to get in touch with him, and that he very much wanted to.  But he still keeps hitting him http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/depressed.png
.  That last time is the worst.

I've got to say in John's defence that this violence isn't like the usual overspill in a domestic violence relationship.  That is not what I'm seeing.   There's no indication that it comes from a need to control.  And also, Sherlock is remarkably resilient (physically and emotionally).  (But I do think it sets a precedent.  The message is, if you upset me enough, I will hit you). 

Last edited by Liberty (July 23, 2014 6:56 am)

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July 23, 2014 2:00 pm  #15


Re: Violence at the reunion

Liberty wrote:

It's the repeated violence, when Sherlock is passive, that's disturbing.  If Sherlock had retaliated, then I'm sure I'd feel different about it. 

Yes, if this had turned into a scrap between them, like in SIB, I wouldn't be too upset with this scene. Some men who can't express emotion scrap together and that's just how they bond. I don't get it, but I've seen it enough to know that it's just one of the mysteries of the opposite sex.

But in this scene, we're just seeing a man seeking punishment and another willing to mete it out. It's repulsive.

Mary


John: That's clever. So you scratch their backs and...
Sherlock: Yes. And then disinfect myself.
 

July 23, 2014 3:22 pm  #16


Re: Violence at the reunion

I've thought about the repeated hitting, and yes... I can see that hitting Sherlock more than once is quite bad.
I think also the feeling of betrayal has a role here. Sherlock gives information to John, yes, but it's "everybod knew but you", and that's a really cruel thing to say to John who suffered so much. I think maybe John feels the instinct to hurt Sherlock equally much, and words just aren't enough again - how to find words that cut so deep that they equal the pain (and guilt!) John must have felt during Sherlocks absence?
I think John manages better when he tells Sherlock that he definitely won't go with him on cases - that's payback, that's giving back the feeling of being left out to Sherlock. But even that - I don't think it makes up for anything John went through, and I think the rest of it... the emotion that is still there after trying to verbally sort things, it has to go somewhere - and John hits Sherlock again. I really would like to, but I cannot come up with a different acting on Johns part for the scene. Maybe the writers didn't as well?

Maybe I cannot see Sherlock so much as a victim here. John was telling him from the very beginning not to stand up to Moriarty, not to get involved... and Sherlock got into it, played the game until the point of no return. That is I think part of Johns point of view. That's what John doesn't get - and it shows again when they're underground, how John shouts at Sherlock "and you did not call the police!"
Sherlock is suffering from his own decisions, and John refuses to take responsibility, that's what I see. Compassion, understanding, yes, but no responsibility. John will have compassion when he sees what Sherlock went through, and he will understand why Sherlock had to jump (to save him, John), but Sherlock got himself into trouble there, and why should John say "hey Sherlock, it's okay, you're just a victim like everyone else, I forgive you".
When he finally forgives Sherlock, it's out of friendship - it's not because Sherlock deserves it, I don't think it's about who deserves what: I think it's completely in this universe of wonderful unconditional friendship where you can give without expecting to get something back which is the reason I'm so deeply moved by John's "I forgive you" and Sherlock's "I've heard you".

John never really went along with Sherlocks games. He goes in there with him, supports him, but he doesn't actively take over the lead - he trusts Sherlock to know what he's doing. And for most of the time he considers Sherlocks actions stupid, but brilliant - yes of course brilliant, because they work out. But THE and also HLV show that they don't always work.
In TEH I get this feeling of John telling Sherlock: "you got us into it, and I don't know how to get out of it, I cannot help you there".

Sure, in TEH Sherlock is passive. But this isn't only about TEH. The power balance doesn't show in this five minutes of the reunion, but it's all over the whole series two already. If I put it all together, I think John and Sherlock ARE on equal terms, in the big picture - just not right there in the reunion scenes. That's Sherlock being the passive one for once, but he has been on the other side many times.

For the way John is portrayed here: it started earlier already - violence IS an output John uses. E.g. hitting the cop in TRF, when he kind of calls Sherlock a liar in the flat at 221b... this I find far more upsetting, because it's a situation where there is NO need for violence at all and John uses it nevertheless. I think in that scene, John acts far worse than in the reunion scene.

 

Last edited by Whisky (July 23, 2014 3:30 pm)


_____________________________________________________________

"It is what it is."

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July 24, 2014 7:03 am  #17


Re: Violence at the reunion

Yes, these are all great points, and you know I am aware that this is MY issue .. that the series is full of rather dodgy scenes and for some reason just this one has pushed my buttons.  I agree that hitting the cop is out of order, but it doesn't give me the same bad feeling.  I suppose it's because it's just the one punch, it's to defend his friend, and because it's not a relationship (in the broad sense), it's not giving the message "I'll hit you if you anger me".  It's interesting that you find the scene with John hitting Sherlock less upsetting.  To be honest, I think the reason I find it more upsetting is that it looks so much like classic domestic violence.  I would hate to see somebody close to me behave like that, or be subject to that.   

The third attack is when Sherlock tells John that he misses the excitement.  I think he's spot on.   It's interesting that that's such a big part of what John has missed without Sherlock.  But frustrating that knowing he needs that in his life, John hasn't made any attempt to create it for himself.  At least take up a dangerous sport, for goodness sake!   I suppose we're seeing that John has a lack of insight, and also that he needs a facilitator ... the army did it for him, then Sherlock, but he seems to be incapable of understanding what he needs and finding it on his own.  So his anger when Sherlock points that out is not just anger with Sherlock for deceiving him.  Not that it's an excuse, but I'm trying to understand that this particular part has touched a different sore point with John.  

(When I mentioned Sherlock being passive, I didn't mean in the relationship in general, but specifically while John is attacking him.  If he'd completely passive for all their interactions, but engaged in a fight in that particular moment, then I'd have been fine with that!  And by "victim", I just mean he's the victim rather then the perpetrator of violence - he's on the receiving end.  Not that he's a victim in general).

I think Sherlock thought he needed to confront Moriarty (he seems to in The Final Problem) - there's an inevitability about it.  I think he was trying to draw Moriarty out right from the beginning of TRF.   But of course, he didn't tell John that.  I have had an issue all along with how little Sherlock tells John, but I don't think there's any malice there at all.  I think he has good reason, particularly in TRF.  He did manage to rid the world of Moriarty and his network.  I think the story doesn't give him another way of doing that.

     Thread Starter
 

July 24, 2014 7:52 am  #18


Re: Violence at the reunion

I don't think I'd have it any other way. I did expect violence. I guess the distinction lies in repeated violence. I didn't expect there to be repeated violence but I think in the context of that episode, it's forgivable. The tone is completely funny & childish so the reunion is part of that silliness. In the context of HLV, it would be out of place because that is a more serious episode.

 

July 24, 2014 7:40 pm  #19


Re: Violence at the reunion

I understand the immorality of the violence, but... Honestly, this show wouldn't be as entertaining without it. Gah, there's no right way to say it, but it's true. John Watson wouldn't be John Watson without the violent streak, you know? It doesn't make him a good person at all, but we don't really want him to be an angel. It would change the show completely. No, we want the damaged, violent, rage-filled heart of gold that John Watson is. 


_________________________________________
Life is always more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to that of a minor land war.

http://i.imgur.com/h27Yj5s.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/2OlkLiV.jpg
 

July 24, 2014 7:54 pm  #20


Re: Violence at the reunion

That's not the John Watson I want. Sherlock has been allowed to grow throughout the series, so why not John? He needs a new (better) therapist and I hope he gets it in season 4. I miss the John I used to trust.

Mary


John: That's clever. So you scratch their backs and...
Sherlock: Yes. And then disinfect myself.
 

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