There are three things that we need to talk about concerning this week’s episode-we can get to the details of the casework later which involves a missing girl and then drones…so we can put that on the back burner. On to the important bits.
1. Mycroft’s return:
After Mycroft’s last appearance where he made an ominous phone call and said they’d need to find another way to get Sherlock out of New York, his return brings a sinister undercurrent. We still don’t know what the plan is and what it has to do with his brother or Joan, the woman he’s pursuing. He shows up unannounced at the Brownstone where Ms. Hudson has also made a brief, welcome, appearance. He’s there he says to check in on his restaurant but with Mycroft you can’t tell what his true motives are.
He also, it seems, is there for Joan Watson. He tells them that he broke up with his girlfriend in London which opens him up to seek out a relationship with Watson. However, Sherlock is a major roadblock in any future developments. He is2 wildly against the pairing but not just because he fears for Joan’s well-being but also because he has become accustomed to Joan’s presence. A lot of his stability derives from Joan’s presence and he doesn’t want to lose that, to his brother especially. He says as much to Mycroft and he, thankfully, points out to Sherlock just how selfish that is. That he cares about Joan to the extent of how much use she is to him. He tells Sherlock that he doesn’t pay attention to Joan’s personal happiness and if he was a true friend, he would.
It seems a bit of a step-back for the Holmes and Watson relationship but it makes sense that Sherlock’s petulant and neurotic behavioral tics would arise when the foundation of his lifestyle is being shaken. It doesn’t excuse his passing comments of creating a shared custody of Joan but it does allow a moment of perspective for his character—which is always appreciated when so many characters exist and are loved today who generally speaking act like jerks and are celebrated for it.
Joan is speaking to Mycroft later, after having heard his proposal of a relationship, and tells him that right now may be too chaotic what with her lifestyle with Sherlock but, there is a step that can be taken. She tells Mycroft that she could find her own place. It’s a move that she’s been putting off for quite some time now but it feels like the most logical next step. She’s been having too many privacy issues of late with Sherlock and this way she could reclaim her independence as well as her personal life.
I don’t like Mycroft, as a viewer I don’t trust the character and I also am not in love with how Rhys Ifans plays him which is a lot of whisper-talking and husky, Batman-like voice attributions. I love Joan, I love how Lucy Liu plays her, and so the pairing doesn’t make sense to me.
If the creators are so determined to give her an onscreen relationship with a character that already exists I’m sure no one would complain about her sights settling on Bell.
On top of that the idea of Joan moving out of the Brownstone so soon into the series doesn’t seem plausible, and with some other events that took place this episode (which I’ll get to soon) sets it up to be more of a false alarm. With what’s about to happen I have a feeling that Joan won’t be moving out as soon as she would like.
2. Joan is kidnapped:
At the very last second of the episode after she’s been stood up by Mycroft, Joan spots a lead from a case mentioned earlier in the episode and goes to gather more information. However, as she’s rummaging through the suspect’s items she finds a picture of her and turns around to him standing there, is knocked out and taken away.
This is a set up for the final storyline of the series, finally giving up a serialized narrative to look forward to even though I’m not 100% pleased that it comes at the expense of Joan. Luckily, Joan still has her agency in tact-she’s seemingly kidnapped because of her own nosing around and not as something to hurt Sherlock-and it seems more of a maneuver of timeliness since Liu is directing next week’s episode.
I don’t mind her being kidnapped, it does in fact set up a very interesting storyline depending on how it turns out and the actors are all going to have something meaty to work with. I will mind if it only services Sherlock and Mycroft’s plots. As long as Joan is allowed her own moments of characterization, strength and insight than the move to have her kidnapped won’t be a problem.
It does interweave one plot point that I’ve been anxious to speak of.
3. Sherlock took a bag of heroin:
At the start of the episode Sherlock was given a moment to speak at an AA meeting that essentially foreshadowed the rest of the episode, something I realize more now in retrospect. The group is talking about what is their trigger—what is it in their lives that could cause them to relapse, what is the threat to their recovery?
Sherlock’s answer is that doesn’t have the ability to extend himself fully to anyone, he has no more room to grow and is without a peer and that is the greatest threat to his sobriety. Despite how close he is to Joan, despite the bond they’ve formed he cannot offer himself completely to her.
This, again in retrospect, sets up just about everything. It’s an idea that runs parallel with Mycroft and Joan and how who they are allows them the opportunity to give each other all of themselves, if that’s what they want to do. It highlights why Sherlock would be so determined to keep Joan’s company because he’s already made great strides in developing a friendship with her which is something that keeps him grounded.
Most importantly, though it adds even more significance to the moment where we see that Sherlock has stolen a bag of heroin from a victim’s house.
A fellow AA attendee needed help finding a woman, Paige, who she believed had relapsed. When they find her apartment they find the box of heroin and tools to get high with, and, apparently, Sherlock managed to grab some.
Maybe he did it because he was feeling vulnerable, maybe his brother makes him agitated, maybe the prospect of his brother and Joan together has gotten him too worked up, regardless, he took it and it’s now in his possession after Joan’s been taken. We got a very careful, very deliberate look at where Sherlock’s hiding it. That coupled with the speech from the beginning of the episode, Joan speaking about moving and then her subsequent kidnapping spells out bad things for Sherlock’s recovery. Maybe it’s a red herring and won’t happen but the show runners have been vocal about wanting to tread addiction as honestly as possible and make sure to mention how even those who have been clean for a while can fall to their disease.
It would be sad to see a character that has made such a personal growth fall backwards.
It would be even sadder if he did as a narrative plot device to keep Joan living with him.
This episode was good, but more than anything it felt like a set up for the last few episodes of the season. The case itself was borderline absurd with a simply missing person case turning into one about drones killing people in New York City. It was dealt with quickly and most of the episode was dedicated to the character bits which served it well. More than anything though, I’m wondering about what’s to come. If there’s a frustration to note it’s still the handling of Joan’s character. Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes is such a well-crafted character and is one with layers of personality so we know that the writers could be trying harder with Joan.
With her kidnapped next week I don’t see it being the episode where they begin that improvement, but one can hope.
However with how Mycroft has been acting, whatever fallout is about to happen will have to affect her so I hope then we’ll get more character development.
What do you think Mycroft is up to? Do you think Sherlock is going to relapse? Will Joan actually get a love interest that’s on her level of bad-ass?