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October 11, 2016 11:03 pm  #1


Sherlock's clueless return

I have just discovered the series, thus a very late entry here.  How could Sherlock really be so clueless as to think he could just surprise John and have John "be delighted" to have him back?

First, as he repeatedly says, he's a high-functioning sociopath.  He has a hard time taking another person's emotional point of view; he still regards empathy as a weakness.  At the same time, he is aware of these things about himself.  He understands that he is not a likeable person. Thus, while Sherlock knew he loved John--he'd known it at least since the encounter at the pool when Moriarty made things personal--I don't think he had any conception how much John loved him.  He knew John liked him and would be sad to lose him, but he was completely unprepared for the level of fury with which John greeted his return.  When he said, "It suddenly occurs to me that I probably owe you some kind of apology," he was speaking literally.  It was just at that minute, seeing John's reaction, that Sherlock realized he actually had deeply hurt this man.  Sherlock had no idea that anyone could value him that much.   
 

 

October 11, 2016 11:44 pm  #2


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Hi! Welcome to the forum.

I read somewhere that Sherlock has learned that John deals with emotional situations by deflecting it with humour, and there are several examples of John acting this way (that I can't currently recall- anyone remember it?) So when he returns, he thinks that's exactly what John needs from him, that he'll get the most positive reaction that way.

But I think you're absolutely right in saying Sherlock had no idea just how deeply his 'death' had affected John, and that he wouldn't find it funny at all, because it was such a deep wound that still hadn't healed for him. This wasn't just their usual morbid sense of humour situation that could be laughed away with a funny accent and a scribbled French waiter 'stache. John had mourned him for two years, and still wasn't over it.

From Sherlock's perspective, he always knew he'd come back to John. I don't think he stopped to realise that for John, this was going to be the rest of his life.


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October 12, 2016 12:22 am  #3


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

I didn't like the end of that episode at all.  Sherlock manipulates John into forgiving him; John suspects him of doing it; Sherlock denies any trick; John forgives him; and Sherlock laughs at him and says of course it was a trick.  Bad writing.  Sherlock would have undone all the reconciliation he had just accomplished, and John would have wanted no more to do with him.  All they had to do was either play it straight and let him come up with a last-second solution, or at least have him say, "I didn't lie about everything.  Actually, I didn't lie about anything--except that I didn't know how to turn it off."  Some acknowledgment that his own remorse was real and that he really wanted John's pardon, rather than mocking him for being taken in yet again.

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October 12, 2016 1:36 am  #4


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

By the way, when I mention Sherlock's love for John and John's for him, I'm talking platonic love.  Friendship.  Comrades-in-arms.  John repeatedly explains with great frustration to Mrs. Hudson that he and Sherlock are not a couple.  I think she assumes Sherlock is gay because he's never brought home a girlfriend--so when John moves in and they are soon inseparable, she assumes they are dating.  I don't think Sherlock is capable of that kind of relationship, at least not yet.  He may get there, but I doubt it.  No "Johnlock" for me.  When Mary said, "I like him," I knew she was the right woman for John, because she would be right in the middle of their escapades rather than being like John's interchangeable previous girlfriends who did not want to "compete with Sherlock Holmes."

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October 12, 2016 11:49 am  #5


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

cmb711 wrote:

I didn't like the end of that episode at all.  Sherlock manipulates John into forgiving him; John suspects him of doing it; Sherlock denies any trick; John forgives him; and Sherlock laughs at him and says of course it was a trick.  Bad writing.  Sherlock would have undone all the reconciliation he had just accomplished, and John would have wanted no more to do with him.  All they had to do was either play it straight and let him come up with a last-second solution, or at least have him say, "I didn't lie about everything.  Actually, I didn't lie about anything--except that I didn't know how to turn it off."  Some acknowledgment that his own remorse was real and that he really wanted John's pardon, rather than mocking him for being taken in yet again.

Yes, Sherlock manipulates John. But what is the actual motive for this manipulation? Is it something malicious, with the intent to harm John? No, in reality Sherlock just wants to make up with John so that they can return to their previous friendly relations. Even if his behaviour is outrageous and selfish, it is ultimately aimed at something that John must unconsciously wish too - their reconcilliation. If John is indeed Sherlock´s friend and likes him, then he must see through this outward inappropriate mockery and to observe underneath it a genuine wish for peace between them both. Sherlock´s outrageous behaviour enables him to do it and to still retain his face and pride since he was "tricked into it", IMHO.
If John was insulted by Sherlock´s behaviour again at this point, what would be the message he would convey to Sherlock like that? "It is better for my wounded pride that you remained dead?" Not very friendly and loving conduct would that be, if you ask me...
 


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October 12, 2016 11:57 am  #6


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Personally I think Sherlock knew only too well how John would react, he just didn't know how to deal with it.


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October 12, 2016 12:08 pm  #7


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Clearly John does see through it and decide it's worth putting up with--which is generous of him.  I didn't mean he would think, "It would be better for my wounded pride that you remained dead."  Of course not.  But he wouldn't necessarily want to continue putting up with this behavior on a regular basis.  Being manipulated is not something John takes kindly.  He feels it as a basic lack of respect, which it is; Sherlock still has a lot to learn about John.  

I guess John knows how difficult this kind of thing is for him as well as for Sherlock, and he knows Sherlock well enough to hear the real emotion deflected (as always) with humor.  But Sherlock took a real risk there of hurting him yet again, and crossing the limit of John's tolerance.

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October 12, 2016 1:02 pm  #8


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

I believe Sherlock risked it because he knew from his past experiences that John is to a very big extent fascinated with his outrageous habits and behaviour and that those habits were what attracted John to Sherlock in the first place, when John was weary with the banality of life in ASIP. Similarily, John did forgive some rather cunning manipulations aimed purely at case solving and not at reconcilliation in the past - in HOUNDS, for example. Therefore Sherlock took the risk and was not disappointed this time.


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October 12, 2016 4:12 pm  #9


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I think the sosiopath thing is just a facade he shows to the world. We learn through the series that Sherlock feels a lot of emotions like warmth, love, caring and empathy. But big brother has told him that "caring is not an advantage", and so he tries to shield himself from his own vulnerability and emotions by his sosiopath persona.

But I agree with you that Sherlock is probably not aware of how deeply John was hurt by his "death". And I really do agree with you about the tube scene - Sherlock behaviour here is actually quite horrible, to say the least. And how much is a forgiveness said - more or less literally - with a gun pointed at your head worth anyway?

I think both Sherlock's cluelessness (is that a word?) at the reunion and his behaviour in that tube scene, points to what Benedict was talking about how he had regressed emotionally during his absense. 


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October 12, 2016 6:10 pm  #10


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

On the other hand he is shown to have changed quite a lot - think of his day with Molly, his warmth when kissing her gratefully. Or how upset he is about the client posing as his stepdaughter's online boyfriend. But I think the reason is that with these people it is easier to show feelings than with John. The closer the connection, the more fraught the relationship, the more difficult it is for Sherlock to open up. 


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October 12, 2016 6:11 pm  #11


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Yeah, this is actually something that came to me as I was typing the previous post. We've talked about it before, how Ben's statement about regression doesn't really fit as we are seing a more open, vulnerable and warm Sherlock in S3 than ever before. 

But then I remember the reunion. And the tube scene. And then I see it. It only just occured to me.


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October 12, 2016 6:39 pm  #12


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

So is John so overcome with grief, does he blame Sherlock?


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October 12, 2016 6:42 pm  #13


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

I think his line "Two years. I thought you were dead. You let me grieve. How could you do that?" sums it up.


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October 12, 2016 10:43 pm  #14


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

I think Sherlock expected John to react as Greg Lestrade did:  exasperation, relief, pleasure.

Last edited by cmb711 (October 12, 2016 10:49 pm)

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October 13, 2016 4:07 am  #15


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Hi and welcome to the forum. Why don't you leave a few lines at the introductions thread? :-)

About forgiving: Let's not forget that John also (seems to?) forgive Mary who shot Sherlock for egoistic reasons and  never voices regret or an apology afterwards. He seems to be a very forgiving person.


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October 13, 2016 11:27 am  #16


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Mary "never voices regret or apology afterward"?!!?  Not in so many words, no.  She is like Sherlock and John in avoiding that kind of vulnerability, but it's clear she is sick over the whole affair.  Not regretful, exactly--she was hiding as a matter of survival and that would not have changed, but I think she regrets the need for the lie.  The truth of her love for John and her willingness to be Mary Watson would also not have changed.

Looking back at her first meeting with Sherlock, I notice several things.  "Oh, no.  You're. . . ." and "Oh my God, oh my God, do you have any idea what you've done?"  Mostly, that line meant, "Do you have any idea how much you've hurt John?" Now, knowing what we know, I wonder if part of it was, "Thanks a lot.  Now I have to worry about your finding me out.  You may mess up the best thing that has ever happened to me."  And yet not only does she not make some excuse not to marry John and disappear in turn, but she announces, "I like [Sherlock]," and encourages John to continue the friendship.

Sherlock says, "Surely the doctor's wife is getting bored by now."  I think Mary Morsten was bored to death as a nurse in a general practice, dealing with cases like "thrush," long before she met John Watson.  When she did, she recognized a kindred spirit and thought, "At least we can be in exile together."  When Sherlock returned, she already knew enough about him to know they were all basically on the same side, and couldn't resist trying this out.

And back to the topic at hand (sorry for the Mary digression), yes, John is a remarkably forgiving person.  He knows the relationship is more important than his pride.  Despite having a hard time *voicing* feelings, he can *read* them well enough to know when they are genuine.  He is also not shy about expressing his own anger.  He does not allow himself to be walked on.  He is (later, over time) able to think about what happened and why, and decide what is most important to him. I thought this happened too fast in the subway scene.  In Mary's case, he took months figuring out how to respond.  Those were "months of silence," miserable and awkward for both, and yet neither of them left.  

John has made it clear that he is pretty much alone in the world aside from Sherlock and now Mary.  Mary is clearly very much alone as well--as is Sherlock. All three of them would be very slow to give up on relationships that are their "home base" and give their lives meaning.  They are basically healthy relationships.  Even Sherlock's outrageous behavior never, ever comes from a place of purposefully wanting to harm John or anyone else.  It's frequently a ploy to help him keep his distance, but by Season 3 he is learning that "alone keeps me safe" isn't true.  When he becomes aware that he has hurt someone, he tries to make amends.  None of these people are abusive; just wounded; and because they share some similar wounds, they understand each other.

(Another off the subject comment:  when Sherlock shoots CAM, he shows no outward emotional response.  The image of the child Sherlock is in tears.  I don't think Sherlock has ever actually killed anyone before.  Knowing that CAM "need[ed] to be killed" doesn't change the shock of it for him.  I wonder if John has ever killed anyone?  We have flashbacks of him in battle scenes, so probably, but as an army doctor he would have been focused on saving people, not shooting them.)

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October 13, 2016 11:32 am  #17


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

John more or less implies he's killed people.
Though whether or not that was in combat or by bad doctoring, I don't know.
I'm sure it wasn't the latter!


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October 13, 2016 11:43 am  #18


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

I would call shooting Sherlock "abusive" but maybe we should have that discussion at the Mary thread. :-)

As for clueless Sherlock (to come back to the topic) it could be a matter of low self-esteem. He voiced at the wedding that he never thought to be anybody's close friend. I doubt he realized he was important enough to leave him devastated. :-(


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October 13, 2016 11:45 am  #19


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Oh I think he knew exactly what he was doing to John, I don't believe it was all fake tears on the roof.
But he saw no alternative...
As for his return: he maybe really did feel he could just waltz back into John's life.
I mean really: why didn't John react like Greg?


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October 13, 2016 11:47 am  #20


Re: Sherlock's clueless return

Because John's feelings for Sherlock were a lot deeper than Greg's. Hence, he felt the betrayal worse than Greg.


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