BBC Sherlock Fan Forum - Serving Sherlockians since February 2012.

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

January 22, 2017 8:21 am  #1

Why exactly did John save Sherlock?

First off, I really liked this episode and thought it was excellently done.  I just have to get this one thing off my chest, because it's been bugging me since the episode aired.

Was anyone else a little disappointed in John?  His violence against Sherlock was heartbreaking (although I think it needed to come out before any reconciliation could be made); and the cheating was disappointing, though perhaps unsurprising.  There was buildup to both those things.  But what really bothered me was what I can only describe as either John's total complacency or complete ignorance towards Sherlock being on the brink of death.  When he heard Culverton say he might move Sherlock to "his favorite room", he just sat there.  =/  I understand he was extremely angry, bitter, and depressed, and not really believing anything out of Sherlock's mouth at that point; and maybe that's what the writers were driving at.  He did furrow his brow a little.  But it doesn't compute in my head.  He heard from Culverton's own mouth, more than once, that the morgue was his favorite room, and I thought it was pretty obvious he wasn't kidding.  I don't see how that could have been interpreted as anything but a prospective threat against Sherlock's life, and I was honestly a bit shocked that he didn't go running out of there to do something about it, or at least stay in the hospital room to watch over him.  I even rewound to see if I had missed something.  His inaction really threw me off.

And then, back at Baker Street, he told Sherlock that he didn't rescue him "until Mary told him to"; which made it sound like he only did it to live up to her ideal of him and "be the man she thought he was", and not because he actually cared about Sherlock's welfare.  "She thought that if you put yourself in harm's way, I'd rescue you, or something.  But I didn't – not until she told me to."  He didn't say he didn't do it because he didn't realize Sherlock was in danger, he basically just said he wasn't going to.  He left to save Sherlock after watching the video, but the video only told him that it was Mary's idea, not that Culverton was in fact a killer.  Mary told Sherlock to "pick a fight with a bad guy", but of course she wouldn't have known who he was going to pick.  If John had genuinely thought Sherlock was wrong and already dismissed the idea that Culverton was a bad guy, he had no reason to change his mind from seeing Mary's message.  There wasn't anything in there pointing to Culverton's guilt or the real danger of Sherlock's situation that he hadn't already heard before.  He already knew that Sherlock was putting himself through hell, he had him checked out by Molly.  He already knew Sherlock needed him and was trying to get his attention, both Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock practically begged him for his help.  He already knew Sherlock was picking a fight with someone he thought was evil.  Discovering that Sherlock was doing it to "save him" shouldn't have mattered to John if he really cared about Sherlock's life to begin with; he would have rescued him anyway.  So what exactly changed after watching the video?  The only conclusion I can draw is that he already had to know on some level that Sherlock was probably in harm's way, and ignored it, until he learned that Mary believed better of him.  Which is essentially what he said.

It just seemed cold and heartless, and left me feeling as though I'd lost some respect for Watson.  I thought that attributing the rescue to Mary instead of his own love for Sherlock (or even his own sense of right and wrong) sort of devalued their friendship and detracted from the strength of his character.  I'd always felt like they were on pretty equal footing regarding the depth of their bond and what they would do for each other, but now it feels unbalanced to me.  I almost hope there's a 5th season just for the potential to see John redeem himself a bit.

Can anyone clear this up?  I feel I must be missing something.  I really would like to think better of John, and I know we're meant to automatically assume he would never knowingly leave Sherlock to die because, well, he's John, and John is supposed to care about Sherlock.  I just didn't see that played out in this episode, and if the writers intended it to show through, it was very obscured.  I am a bit saddened and confused.

P.S.  Forgive me if this would have been better suited to an already existing thread, I'm new here and haven't read through everything.



January 22, 2017 9:15 am  #2

Re: Why exactly did John save Sherlock?

I'm not sure about this.  I actually got the impression that John thinks Sherlock may have got it wrong about Culverton - he has an unhealthy interest in cadavers, but he's not actually a serial killer.   If he's not, then the threat doesn't have as much weight.  And possibly, John doesn't pick up on it.  It might be that it's only when he sees Mary's video that he realises that Sherlock planned to be a patient and a potential victim of Culverton's. 

There's also the possibility that John just believed Sherlock could get out of it, as he usually manages to get out of difficult situations - there's still no evidence that Culverton's a killer, but this is all part of Sherlock's plan to get evidence, and his plan will include a way to avoid being a victim (which it kind of does - he switches the drip, but it relies on John getting there at just the right time!)  It's only when John hears Mary's words the he realises the plan is to get himself killed, and for John to rescue him.  It's only at that point that John realises Sherlock is seriously at risk if he doesn't play his part.

And Sherlock does seem, superficially at least, to be safe - he's in hospital, in a closed room with access monitored, and a police guard.  And of course, story-wise, there would be no point in John getting there too early.  Culverton wouldn't have acted if John was there.


January 22, 2017 9:18 am  #3

Re: Why exactly did John save Sherlock?

Yes I like to think Sherlock had the whole game worked out, dangerous game though it was.


January 22, 2017 9:43 am  #4

Re: Why exactly did John save Sherlock?

Yes, I think Sherlock did. (If he'd really thought that he was going to resolve the thing in the mortuary, then why did he go to the bother of hiding a recording device in the walking stick?  He'd obviously thought ahead).   The question is, did John think he did?  I think it's possible - I do see John having a lot of trust in Sherlock's methods. 


January 22, 2017 10:38 am  #5

Re: Why exactly did John save Sherlock?

I think(as usual) John might have been excluded form the full plan.  But he certainly played his part when needed, as Sherlock knew he would.


Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum