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February 14, 2016 1:55 pm  #1

Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

The last few times I've watched HLV I've had this nagging urge to write out my thoughts about Sherlock and Mycroft in this episode, to get them straight before s4. Mainly I believe that Mycroft wanted Sherlock to remove Magnussen from his position of power, and manipulated him into doing it, but didn't expect Sherlock to kill him. Is this generally how people understand this episode? Or do people believe that Sherlock was acting completely on his own, that Mycroft really didn't want him to pursue Magnussen?

Someone has probably already explained it all, or maybe it's just blindingly obvious to everyone, but I can't remember seeing it detailed here. Feel free to jump in and tell me if I've missed something that contradicts my belief, or if I've just got it completely wrong

So, Mycroft wants Magnussen removed because he knows things that he shouldn't, but Mycroft can't be seen to sanction the murder of a private individual, a prominent media magnate who has personal ties with the PM, for no apparent reason — after all, who would admit that they are being blackmailed? Especially not Mycroft. Whatever it is that Magnussen knows, makes him untouchable. But Lady Smallwood is the first person to stand up to him (sort of). She seeks out Sherlock as the only person capable of stopping Magnussen.

When Mycroft discovers that Sherlock has taken the case, he tells him to stay away. Sherlock says that Mycroft is under Magnussen's thumb, and I think he is right — Magnussen has something on Mycroft, which is why Mycroft lets him go about his blackmailing in peace. And yet Mycroft knows what happens when he tells Sherlock to keep out of something — he told Sherlock to keep away from Irene, and look how that turned out. He's not likely to make the same mistake twice, so why wouldn't he use this as reverse psychology? He wants Sherlock to prove that Magnussen is blackmailing Lady Smallwood so that Magnussen's reputation is tarnished and he is sent to prison.

Magnussen has something on Mycroft (we may find out what is s4) and knows his pressure point is Sherlock. Mycroft knows that Magnussen knows this, and that Magnussen would use any opportunity to get at Mycroft through Sherlock.

How did Magnussen know about Redbeard? Mycroft has fed Sherlock's personal history to his enemies before — he could have let it slip to Magnussen deliberately, knowing that Magnussen would try to use it as leverage, to unnerve Sherlock, and then Sherlock would also have a personal reason to hate Magnussen (I'm still not sure who or what Redbeard represents, but it obviously strikes a nerve in Sherlock, and is listed as a pressure point in Magnussen's file on him). This would give Sherlock extra motivation to bring Magnussen down. Perhaps Mycroft knows how Sherlock feels about bullies like Magnussen? (Something from their childhood?)

Obviously Mycroft didn't anticipate Mary shooting Sherlock and complicating matters. It also complicates my theory, because I'm not clever enough to untangle that bit of the plot (how much Mycroft knows about Mary). But now Sherlock has even more of a reason to go after Magnussen.

Mycroft surely had Sherlock under surveillance when he slipped out of hospital to meet Magnussen in the restaurant, and heard that Sherlock was going to offer an information exchange "for Christmas." Getting Magnussen out of the picture becomes even more imperative, I'm just not sure if he wanted Sherlock to kill him.

The whole conversation between Mycroft and Sherlock at Christmas seems to be a setup. It was probably Mycroft who offered the illicit cigarette to Sherlock, and suggested they go outside to secretly smoke, away from the rest of the household. His excuse for himself is that he can't stand Christmas (just think of the way he is acting in the kitchen — and I mean acting). Mycroft brings up the subject of Magnussen, wants to know why Sherlock hates him. Sherlock replies that Magnussen attacks people who are different* and preys on their secrets. He seems to expect that Mycroft would hate him for the same reasons. (*This reminds me of the bobble hat deduction scene in TEH, when Sherlock implies that Mycroft is different, and therefore isolated/lonely)

Mycroft rejects this and tells Sherlock that Magnussen never causes too much damage to anyone important, and yet we have seen the newspaper article about Lord Smallwood's suicide. He mentions that Magnussen is occasionally useful to the government, a necessary evil, "not a dragon for you to slay." He says that Sherlock sees himself as a dragon slayer.

Mycroft then tells Sherlock that he wants him to decline the offer of the job in Eastern Europe with MI6, because it would "prove fatal in [...] six months" and on balance, Sherlock would "have more utility closer to home."

Sherlock asks, "How do I have utility?" and Mycroft replies "Here be dragons." In other words, he has another use for Sherlock right here, right now. At this point, Sherlock makes a very interesting series of facial expressions, like he is realising something and thinking about the implications. I think this is when he deduces that Mycroft wants him to go after Magnussen, despite saying the opposite.

While Mycroft is saying the cigarette isn't agreeing with him and that he's going inside, Sherlock is staring up at the sky. He's running it all through his mind now. He tells Mycroft that he needs "low tar" — a callback to the morgue scene in ASIB? All lives end. This is when Mycroft adds, "Also, your loss would break my heart." All hearts are broken. Is this a coded message for Sherlock to decipher? Is he telling Sherlock to go ahead with his plan to bring Magnussen down?

Such sentimentality is out of character for Mycroft, which is why Sherlock chokes on his smoke. What the hell is Sherlock supposed to say to that? Perhaps Sherlock is still not sure he is understanding Mycroft. Mycroft says "Merry Christmas" even though he hates Christmas. Another cypher. When Sherlock says "it's Christmas", it usually means an exciting case to solve, or someone is dead. Which meaning does Sherlock interpret?

Mycroft pretends that he doesn't know why he is being sentimental, and suggests there must be something in the punch. This is surely not coincidental; he must know what is going on. Mycroft is not shown drinking anything in the preceding scenes, but he does comment on Billy's presence at the family dinner. Being the smarter older brother, I think Mycroft is clever enough to work out that Sherlock has brought him to their parents' house for a reason. He is probably faking his drugged sleep when Sherlock returns to the kitchen, because he knows Sherlock's plan (why else does he leave his laptop conveniently lying around in the kitchen?). He doesn't seem drugged when a little later on he arrives at Appledore in the helicopter.

Magnussen was probably right about the GPS locator. If he was caught with the laptop containing top secret government files, they would have searched his vaults and arrested Magnussen. Like Magnussen says, Mycroft has been looking for this opportunity for a long time. This was probably Mycroft's plan and Sherlock has done the legwork for him. But Mycroft and Sherlock are both about to be brought up short with the whole mind palace thing. Neither of them deduced that.

I don't think Mycroft expected Sherlock to shoot Magnussen. I think Sherlock decided that at the last minute, when he realised it was the only way to protect John.

Now Mycroft is faced with two options: Sherlock is incarcerated for life for murdering Magnussen, or he is sent on a mission that will probably end in six months with his death, but which gives Mycroft some time to get his little brother out of it.

So is my impression that Mycroft had a plan to use Sherlock to get rid of Magnussen — a plan that went horribly wrong — a valid impression, or am I delusional?



February 14, 2016 5:05 pm  #2

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Not at all delusional!  I've played with this idea too, and I think it fits very well.  I love your analysis. 

One thing, though - it wouldn't have been that hard to deduce that Magnussen didn't need to keep evidence in vaults.  I'm surprised that neither Sherlock nor Mycroft realised that.  I suppose it's possible that they both realised he didn't need evidence, but still thought he would have something incriminating in vaults.

Since TAB, I've also been toying with the idea that initially Mary was working with Mycroft against Magnussen, and that's why Mycroft told Sherlock not to get involved, at the wedding, and later warned him off - although I agree that it could also be reverse psychology.  Of course, it all went wrong with Mary, which may have been why Mycroft tacitly passed the case to Sherlock.  (However scathing and superior Mycroft may be, I think he's aware that Sherlock's actually really good - which is why he uses him).

Of course, it all would add an extra layer of guilt to Mycroft. 


February 14, 2016 5:12 pm  #3

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

I am still tending(if anything) towards Mycroft already going after CAM.
Whether or not he used Mary, I don't know.
If he knew CAM had something on Mary, this could equally mean him taking her off the case.
But it does seem a bit odd that Mycroft knows when he warned Sherlock off Irene, he got even more involved with her.
I did actually though wonder if CAM actually had something on Mycroft.
Though that does beg the question why didn't CAM go down that route, rather than the intrigue of the laptop.
Unless he was trying to trap Sherlock(I think John was just a bonus!)of course.
Anyhow, CAM got his just rewards and we've only just seen Sherlock saved from a fate worse than death.
Mycroft seems relatively the moment.


February 14, 2016 6:04 pm  #4

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Sounds logical, but I cannot get my head around the fact that
Mycroft would send Sherlock to do pretty dangerous "legwork"
if at the same time he admits that anything fatal happening to
Sherlock would "break his heart". That's not logical.
I think solving the ordinary case is something Sherlock is capable
of without getting harmed, and Mycroft knows this I guess.
But sending Sherlock out there to battle Moriarty, or Magnusson?
People who definitely have all the power to harm him, if not physically,
then in other ways that will ruin his life? Where's the worry and love in that?
Mycroft fears Magnusson, but is happy to offer Sherlock up to him?
I dislike this. Not congruent.

Also Mycroft seems very blind about his little brother. As clever as Mycroft
might be, he doesn't get Sherlock. For me, dragon slayer sounds a lot like shooting
down Magnusson. A dragon slayer doesn't catch the dragon, puts ropes on it and
puts it behind bars. A dragon slayer will kill the dragon.
So Mycroft understands Sherlock's MO, but fails to realise that Sherlock might
solve the Magnusson problem in his own way? Of course, the vaults, but still...
how can Mycroft be so surprised by the murder?

Last edited by Whisky (February 14, 2016 6:09 pm)


"It is what it is."


February 14, 2016 6:08 pm  #5

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

See I can't make my mind up whether Mycroft is actually afraid of Magnusson...
I tend to think not.
But if not, why does he not want Sherlock to interfere?
Because Mary is already onto it?
I don't know...


February 14, 2016 6:12 pm  #6

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

If Mycroft is not afraid of Magnusson, why does he let him play?
How useful can Magnusson really be? I tend to think it's an excuse.
If it wasn't, it's really the smarter way to get rid of Magnusson once and
for all, than let him keep do his minor damage to the government for years
to come.


"It is what it is."


February 14, 2016 6:48 pm  #7

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Mycroft did send Sherlock off after Moriarty's network for two years - that had to be dangerous. He's protective, but not that protective (if feels Sherlock can handle himself?).


February 14, 2016 6:52 pm  #8

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Moriarty and his network were a very real threat...
How much of  a threat was Magnusson really?
Unless he did have something on Mycroft?
Possibly Sherlock himself wouldn't have bothered himself with someone like Magnusson, it was only because Lady Smallwood hired him.


February 14, 2016 7:55 pm  #9

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Thanks for your thoughts, you've all given me lots more to ponder


     Thread Starter

February 14, 2016 11:08 pm  #10

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

Liberty wrote:

Mycroft did send Sherlock off after Moriarty's network for two years - that had to be dangerous. He's protective, but not that protective (if feels Sherlock can handle himself?).

Even if Mycroft is protective of Sherlock, as was mentioned earlier, he knows what Sherlock is capable of.  Not only that, but he knows that Sherlock's profession involves dangerous situations on a generally regular basis, so he can't let that get to him all the time.  We know he supposedly "worries" about Sherlock, but that doesn't mean he's going to interfere with Sherlock's work.  Even if he doesn't necessarily want Sherlock involved with Magnussen right away, if it's part of Sherlock's work Mycroft can't stop him.

Clueing for looks.

February 15, 2016 8:23 am  #11

Re: Did Mycroft plan for Sherlock to get Magnussen?

True, I guess Mycroft knows he can't stop Sherlock.
Plus, maybe he didn't know of Mary's intended interference!


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