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March 30, 2015 7:41 pm  #1


Mycroft Holmes

Here it is, the thread about anything related to Sherlock’s “rubbish big brother”, the Iceman, the British government itself, him-who-lives-in-a-world-of-goldfish: Mycroft Holmes.
 
Basically the rules are the same as in the Mary discussion thread: You may base your arguments on anything in the show, the canon, the commentaries or well informed (!) speculation or any other source you can think of, but please state them when you make a point. This thread is not meant for character bashing, but for discussion, both positive and negative. Please look for a more appropriate place if you just need to vent some frustrations.
 
I don’t predict this discussion to get as passionate as some others around this forum (Mycroft would be appalled), but still: Use the tips from this thread http://sherlock.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=6107 amply, read your posts twice before posting them and check if someone could feel rightfully offended by your choice of words. If you accidently do cause offence, don’t be shy about apologising.
 
You are free to feel about Mycroft as you like and, as long as you use polite language, can state so, too. Any negativity towards Mark Gatiss, on the other hand, is off limits. As a writer and actor he is doing his job and if you feel compelled to write in this thread, that means he does it well.
 
Have fun!


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March 30, 2015 9:15 pm  #2


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I personally have very little negative to say about Mycroft. I mean - I think it is quite clear that he was a "rubbish big brother", and I think he is partly to blame for Sherlock's "sosiopath"/"Spock" persona. I believe he was the one encouraging Sherlock about "caring not being an advantage" ever since they were little boys. Also, I think it's just as clear that he made Sherlock feel stupid, and caused a competitive relationship they still keep as adults.

However, in my opinion it's also quite obvious that he loves Sherlock, and will go to great lengths to protect him when needed. It's just that the type of caring Mycroft gives is not necessarily done in a constructive way ("caring isn't an advantage"). He tries to support Sherlock by pushing into being isolated, just as he is himself.

In my opinion, Mycroft is much better at portraying the cold and distant ideal the Holmes brothers strive for. Sherlock tries to tell everyone that he is this heartless and cold sosiopath, but he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He pouts when he gets offended, have epic tantrums when he is annoyed and/or bored, is jealous, and also cleary very, very caring and protective of the ones he holds dear (John and Mrs Hudson, mainly).

Mycroft, on the other hand, might feel the same emotions as Sherlock, but he is actually able to keep the guard up that Sherlock can't. He can keep his emotions under lock and key and show the world his polite and neutral face. He can play the social game, something Sherlock has never bothered doing. Mycroft wouldn't get where he is career-wise on intellect alone, he has social skills and knows how to navigate the world in a way Sherlock has never been able to (or bothered trying).

It's hard talking about Mycroft without also talking about Sherlock, because they are very similar yet very different. I love these two metas analysing how the two brothers developed very different coping mechanisms in their childhood, which is still clear today:

The Empty Hearse - Holmes Brothers a psychoanalysis
The Holmes Brothers - Equal but different


 


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March 30, 2015 9:26 pm  #3


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Lately Mycroft has come up in a number of other threads and the general feeling was there is more to him than meets the eye. I was in for a re-watch anyway and I have focussed on Mycroft specifically this time. I am only at TRF, but here are some things that I have not noticed before.
 
I get a feeling that Mycroft is steering Sherlock more than is usually admitted. It is Mycroft who sends Sherlock after the Bruce-Partington Plans in TGG (and he is very assertive about it), he wants him involved in them. How secret could those plans really have been if they were on a simple USB stick that an employee was allowed to take with him and that Moriarty could have gotten “anywhere”? Those plans are the initiator for the first meeting of Sherlock and Moriarty without his cover. In SIB, it is Mycroft who initially sends Sherlock after Irene. She, too, turns out to be connected to Moriarty and Mycroft does not seem at all surprised by that fact. Mycroft is also deeply involved in the Reichenbach Fall. He is presumably the only person aside from Sherlock and Moriarty himself who knew what exactly happened on the roof of Bart’s Hospital. Of cause, it is Mycroft who brings Sherlock back to London. He is, as it turn out, after CAM, despite anything he tells Sherlock. Lady Smallwood, who sends Sherlock after CAM inthe first place, turns out to be a colleague of Mycroft. Also, apparently Lestrade does what Mycroft tells him (THoB) and it is Lestrade who gets Sherlock into a lot of cases.
 
Is Mycroft trying to use his brother to rid himself of his own enemies? Maybe, but I am willing to believe that Mycroft also goes to extreme lengths to protect his little brother. He cannot do it out in the open though, Sherlock would rebel. So he gives him what he wants: cases, but cases that Mycroft has some control over.

Because the things I wrote above I also think that Mycroft and Moriarty are connected, though I’m still struggling with trying to figure out what the nature of this connection is.
 
However, there is a much darker side, too. There are at least two instances where Mycroft lets Sherlock go into very dangerous territory. First: Mary. Within 48 hours of John’s and Sherlock’s first meeting, Mycroft had done a quite thorough background-check on John, kidnapped him and made sure he knew which side John Watson was on. He kept surveillance on John during Sherlock’s absence, down to his location on a specific evening. And yet he is supposed to have failed to do a background check on Mary? A check that enabled an incapacitated Sherlock to find out the truth within days?
Then there is Sherlock’s drug relapse. For a case or not, Mycroft must have known that his brother was using again if it was obvious enough to hit the papers. He has surveillance on Sherlock, too. Why did he not intervene sooner? Did he really not care that his brother, an addict, was using drugs again?
 
 

Last edited by Lola Red (March 31, 2015 4:46 pm)


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March 30, 2015 9:28 pm  #4


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I find it intriguing that Mycroft is supposed to be better at social interactions than Sherlock and yet of the two of them, he is probably the real "sociopath" and misanthrope. He attends "Diogenes Club" where you can spend time without interacting with other members and where it is even obligatory not to speak (in the canon it was mentioned that he is in fact a founder of this club). He works solo, disencourages Sherlock from being friendly to people, hates social occasions like Christmas... in comparison to him, Sherlock is a real party animal.


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

March 30, 2015 9:32 pm  #5


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Lola Red wrote:

However, there is a much darker side, too. There are at least two instances where Mycroft lets Sherlock go into very dangerous territory. First: Mary. Within 48 hours of John’s and Sherlock’s first meeting, Mycroft had done a quite thorough background-check on John, kidnapped him and made sure he knew which side John Watson was on. He kept surveillance on John during Sherlock’s absence, down to his location on a specific evening. And yet he is supposed to have failed to do a background check on Mary? A check that enabled an incapacitated Sherlock to find out the truth within days?
Than there is Sherlock’s drug relapse. For a case or not, Mycroft must have known that his brother was using again if it was obvious enough to hit the papers. He has surveillance on Sherlock, too. Why did he not intervene sooner? Did he really not care that his brother, an addict, was using drugs again?
 

Yes! And I would like to add: why doesn´t he investigate Sherlock´s shooting after it happens? One would think he would turn heaven and earth upside down and yet - nothing....
 


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

March 30, 2015 9:34 pm  #6


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I think Mycroft is using Sherlock to solve some of his cases, yes. Because he despises "legwork", so whenever something comes up that he really needs help with, he goes to Sherlock

You raise interesting points, Lola Red, and it would be interesting to see if there are more behind his lack of involvment with Mary. However, I have to admit I struggle to see a "dark" side of Mycroft.

I've always wondered, though, if Mycroft influenced Lestrande/Scotland Yard to let Sherlock help to begin with.

As for Mycroft being a sosiopath, I don't see that at all. I think the only ones in the show that can fit the bill of being a psycopath by any meaningful sense of the word are Magnussen and Moriarty. And, yes, I also see Mycroft as much more adept at social interaction and social skills than Sherlock. He would have to be, to navigate to the position he is in.

However, I think that the fact that he is better to hide and control his emotions also means that he is more isolated than Sherlock. Sherlock actually dares to let his guard down and have close friends. Mycroft never does that.

Last edited by Vhanja (March 30, 2015 9:35 pm)


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March 30, 2015 9:44 pm  #7


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Vhanja wrote:

As for Mycroft being a sosiopath, I don't see that at all. I think the only ones in the show that can fit the bill of being a psycopath by any meaningful sense of the word are Magnussen and Moriarty.

That´s why I put "sociopath" into quote marks. I believe Mycroft simply can´t tolerate people less intelligent and smooth than him and prefers his own company rather than suffering their presence.

Vhanja wrote:

And, yes, I also see Mycroft as much more adept at social interaction and social skills than Sherlock. He would have to be, to navigate to the position he is in.

Maybe he gained that position through intrigues, Machiavellistic tricks and cunningness more than through social skills? 

Vhanja wrote:

However, I think that the fact that he is better to hide and control his emotions also means that he is more isolated than Sherlock. Sherlock actually dares to let his guard down and have close friends. Mycroft never does that.

To wear a ring of power is to be alone... and Mycroft, British goverment by proxy, is a very powerful man...

Last edited by nakahara (March 30, 2015 10:00 pm)


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

March 30, 2015 10:18 pm  #8


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I don’t think Mycroft is more social than Sherlock, but he is more diplomatic. He can dance that social dance when he needs too I think, he just does not want to (I think the same is true for Sherlock). I think where they actually differ in that regard is how much they long for actual social interaction and how much they have to fake it in their daily life. Mycroft has to fake it more, but has no longing at all for social interactions besides Sherlock (and maybe, just maybe: Mummy). Sherlock, on the other hand, longs for social interactions. He even makes “friends” with a scull. But Sherlock wants to be like his big brother in the sense of banning sentiment out of his life, but fails completely.


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March 30, 2015 10:21 pm  #9


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Vhanja wrote:

However, I have to admit I struggle to see a "dark" side of Mycroft.

He did use very hard interrogation techniques on Moriarty. I’m tempted to call it torture.


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March 30, 2015 10:25 pm  #10


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Lola Red wrote:

Vhanja wrote:

However, I have to admit I struggle to see a "dark" side of Mycroft.

He did use very hard interrogation techniques on Moriarty. I’m tempted to call it torture.

That "Plane of the Dead Passengers" he devised was quite creepy too...
 


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

March 30, 2015 10:43 pm  #11


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Vhanja wrote:

I've always wondered, though, if Mycroft influenced Lestrande/Scotland Yard to let Sherlock help to begin with.

Lestrade hints at doing whatever Mycroft tells him to do in THoB. My own head canon is that Mycroft took matters into his own hand just before SIP. Lestrade has known Sherlock for 5 years at that point, but is still astonished by his deductions (“if you’re just making this up”). He also still has to explain to Sherlock what the rules are (“you can’t withhold evidence”). We never see them interact like that later on, so they have not worked together before often, possibly it is their first official case together. Sherlock also has to fight a bit to get on to the case in the first place; later he is much more actively searched out for NSY investigations (if Anderson and Donovan like it or not). Who is powerful enough to get an amateur (and in the end that is what Sherlock is) into a NSY investigation? And get him all that special treatment (Sherlock, exclusively, does not have to wear protective clothing to not contaminate the crime scene, he can bring someone with him etc.)? I got the feeling that Sherlock had turned up at crime scenes before (not necessarily making friends with all of the present officers), but that this was (on of) his first official case(s). We know that Sherlock solves crimes as an alternative to getting high; maybe this was Mycroft’s attempt to help his brother getting clean.
 

Last edited by Lola Red (March 30, 2015 10:56 pm)


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March 30, 2015 10:45 pm  #12


Re: Mycroft Holmes

nakahara wrote:

Lola Red wrote:

Vhanja wrote:

However, I have to admit I struggle to see a "dark" side of Mycroft.

He did use very hard interrogation techniques on Moriarty. I’m tempted to call it torture.

That "Plane of the Dead Passengers" he devised was quite creepy too...
 

Very creepy, though not inherently evil.


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March 31, 2015 6:59 am  #13


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Sherlock is lazy? I always get the feeling that Sherlock is constantly operating at the max of his abilities. He cannot eat during a case, because the extra energy he would have to spend on digestion would slow him significantly. (The canon goes deeper into this than the show does: there, Sherlock stops eating until he passes out and has to go to the countryside at least twice to recuperate, because his body is breaking down under the constant strain.) Mycroft, on the other hand, can still take it up a notch when he needs to. He is very well able to get into the legwork if he has no other choice (see Serbia). He can glimpse from a police report what Sherlock needs additional visual input to make out. He casually out-deduces Sherlock (“Sofa, Sherlock. It was the sofa.”). He does not need techniques like a mind palace to help him retain information (“this ridiculous memory palace of yours”). He does not do out-loud casual deductions, but apparently is constantly doing them unconscious (he deduces the hat owner, without having the hat in his hands, he did the deduction long before they started the game).
I believe Mycroft is definitely the smarter of the two, but he is generally less of a show man than Sherlock is. For Mycroft, the only person he wants to constantly remind of his superiority is Sherlock, while Sherlock wants the rest of the world to know he is superior to them. Given what we know about their childhood, that seems to make sense.
And yes, Mycroft tries to control Sherlock and Sherlock rebels vehemently, but is Mycroft trying to execute damage control when it comes to his “junkie detective brother” or is he trying to help a troubled sibling?


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March 31, 2015 8:24 am  #14


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I didn't mean Mycroft was more social than Sherlock, but that he is better at social skills/diplomatics/social interaction that is required to keep the kind of work that he does. Not because he wants to, but because he needs to. Mycroft would never have gained any respect or high positions by sulking and having epic tantrums whenever things didn't go his way (which would be a lot while climbing the career ladder).

Just a quick comment about the interrogation scene with Moriarty - it did seem like a rather patethic attempt at torture, I think most people would be able to withstand a few slaps in the face. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/tongue.png


But, yes, Mycroft can be dark when required. A "the end justifies the means" kind of thing. But I don't think Mycroft can ever be said to be cruel or evil for the sake of being cruel or evil (besides his endless jabs at his little brother).

The one scene that I find really surprising and slightly out of character, though, is the Christmas scene and his banter with Mummy. Mycroft is always shown to be aloof and dignified, keeping himself under control at every turn - yet with Mummy he suddenly becomes childish, petty and acts like his 12 years old. 

As for Mycroft being a bit controlling, I think he has the "big brother syndrome". I have an eldest brother too, and even though all us siblings are now well grown up he will still act and talk like the big brother. It's a role he will always have.

Being as Sherlock is he kind of person who will gets himself into all kinds of trouble, I believe Mycroft believes his big brother-tendencies are more than warranted. I think it's a combination of damage control, big brother syndrome and the fact that he honestly cares about Sherlock.

Last edited by Vhanja (March 31, 2015 8:26 am)


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
 

March 31, 2015 10:40 am  #15


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I agree with you that Mycroft could never get away with the behaviour Sherlock is prone to get into. It would be the end of his career. But I think the scene with Mummy shows us that there is some of this kind of childish quality in Mycroft, too. He has just learned to suppress it better than Sherlock. I think it comes out when he is in an environment he knows will tolerate such kind of behaviour. He does quite childishly banter with Sherlock when they are alone, playing operation or deductions with him and you have already mentioned Mummy. Deep down both he and Sherlock are quite alike in their sensibilities. E.g. Mycroft, too, loves to be dramatic, as evidenced by his repeated kidnapping of John. It just comes out in different ways than with Sherlock.
 
I do see the interrogating of Moriarty a bit darker: repeated slabs to the face, prolonged social isolation (he had time to etch Sherlock’s name on every available surface in the cell) and either repeated exposure to long times of darkness or complete lack of privacy or control thereof by being held in bright lights while surrounded by darkness (“he just sat there, staring into the darkness”), while being held in a very barren environment. All of that “for weeks”. I’m not quite sure how pathetic that attempt on torture really is.
 
I think Mycroft’s attempts to control Sherlock might indeed be a mixture of damage control, habit and genuine caring. We get hints that they (for as of yet unknown reasons) were both poorly socialised as young children. [From here on: head canon] Both would have trouble adjusting to the world that they were thrown into, a world that was collectively intellectually inferior to them, but which’s social refinements they were unable to comprehend. It would have been one of the first times that Mycroft was just as clueless as Sherlock. Both, being poorly prepared for social interactions with anyone outside their family, would fail to make social bonds, without really understanding why (even as late as SIP Sherlock thinks that his worst qualities are his violin playing and his tendency to not speak for days on end; no one has ever pointed out to him what the real problem in his interactions was). Mycroft coped by banning sentiment from his life, Sherlock tried to do the same, but failed. Unable to come up with another coping mechanism, he turned to drugs. Mycroft still feels guilty for being unable to protect his little brother, but at the same time Sherlock is a loose cannon and a constant danger to Mycroft’s work. So Mycroft uses his brother’s love for crime solving both as a tool to help him and to control him.
 


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March 31, 2015 12:10 pm  #16


Re: Mycroft Holmes

Lola Red wrote:

Sherlock is lazy? I always get the feeling that Sherlock is constantly operating at the max of his abilities. He cannot eat during a case, because the extra energy he would have to spend on digestion would slow him significantly. (The canon goes deeper into this than the show does: there, Sherlock stops eating until he passes out and has to go to the countryside at least twice to recuperate, because his body is breaking down under the constant strain.) Mycroft, on the other hand, can still take it up a notch when he needs to. He is very well able to get into the legwork if he has no other choice (see Serbia). He can glimpse from a police report what Sherlock needs additional visual input to make out. He casually out-deduces Sherlock (“Sofa, Sherlock. It was the sofa.”). He does not need techniques like a mind palace to help him retain information (“this ridiculous memory palace of yours”). He does not do out-loud casual deductions, but apparently is constantly doing them unconscious (he deduces the hat owner, without having the hat in his hands, he did the deduction long before they started the game).

I believe Mycroft is definitely the smarter of the two, but he is generally less of a show man than Sherlock is. For Mycroft, the only person he wants to constantly remind of his superiority is Sherlock, while Sherlock wants the rest of the world to know he is superior to them. Given what we know about their childhood, that seems to make sense.

Mycroft is probably more observant of the two, but he has none of Sherlock´s excitement over mystery and mayhem and that´s why he is slightly dismissive and contemptuos over Sherlock´s choice of career, IMHO.

We know anything established about Holmes´ brothers childhood? What it is?


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

March 31, 2015 12:22 pm  #17


Re: Mycroft Holmes

I'd just like to state for the record that just about everyone, even the British gevernment, becomes 12 again in the presence of their parents.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png


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March 31, 2015 12:28 pm  #18


Re: Mycroft Holmes

When you put it like that, the interrogation scene does seem a bit darker. I remember just being a bit surprised when I first saw it, as it didn't really seem particularly intimidating or horrible at all to begin with. Especially when it was stated that Moriarty wouldn't talk no matter what they did to him, and all we saw were a few slaps to the face.

Anyway, slightly OT. Yeah, around family Mycroft seem to be just as childish and Sherlock, really. Although he tries to keep his "I'm more grown up than you"-facade around Sherlock. They have a very immature way of speaking to each other, which might be a sign to at what age their relationship sort of stagnated, emotionally.


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March 31, 2015 12:31 pm  #19


Re: Mycroft Holmes

tonnaree wrote:

I'd just like to state for the record that just about everyone, even the British gevernment, becomes 12 again in the presence of their parents.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

I see what you mean (I think), but I do disagree. Most adults are able to be mature about family gatherings that they might find boring. I know grown men who will play with the train set their toddler got for Christmas and in general goof around like kids (which is just adorable), and I also know grown men who find social gatherings tiresome and boring.

However, I have yet to find a middle-aged, educated man who whines to his mother like a teenage brat for having to - oh, the horror! - spend Christmas with his family. He is being rude and childish, and not even to his brother (who can be rude and childish right back at him), but to his poor mother, who is nothing but lovable in these scenes.


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"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
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Team Hudders!
 
 

March 31, 2015 2:55 pm  #20


Re: Mycroft Holmes

nakahara wrote:

We know anything established about Holmes´ brothers childhood? What it is?

Not much. We know that they did not meet other children until Sherlock was old enough to be judged by Mycroft and found to be an “idiot”. What is more, Sherlock must have been old enough to internalise that judgement. For some reason they were so poorly socialised that they did not know what to do when they finally met other children who wanted to play with them, which seems strange because from what little we are shown of Mummy and Father Holmes they seem socially quite capable. But it was only in meeting other children that both Mycroft and Sherlock realised that Sherlock was not, in fact, an idiot. I’m not quite sure how old Louis Moffat exactly is, but if his age is an indication of how long Sherlock was under the impression that he was stupid; than that was quiet a long time. From that point of view it makes sense for Mycroft to be confident enough about is intellectual superiority to not have to show it off whenever he gets the chance, while Sherlock is still trying to convince the world of the fact that he is clever.
 
Also we know they had a dog at some point and possibly another sibling.


 

Last edited by Lola Red (March 31, 2015 4:58 pm)


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