09 3 / 2014

This is the M-theory entry on The Empty Hearse. This will make zero sense to you if you have not read the introduction and previous entries in the series.

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Before series three:

Here’s an overview of what’s going on. The big pieces will be proven during the episode write-ups, so here’s the gist for now.

The first hiccup in Moriarty’s plan is the fact that John Watson refuses to believe Sherlock Holmes is a fraud. If Sherlock returns, his little friend will be as loyal as ever, and they’ll go on living together, and it will be disgusting. Worse, John might actually be so overwhelmed by Sherlock’s return that he confesses his feelings. But Moriarty has a second plan: he sends Mary to pursue John. At least then Sherlock will still be lonely, they won’t be shacking up, and John will keep his idiot mouth shut. In the meantime, Jim will look for opportunities to change John’s mind about Sherlock.

Is Mary genuinely attracted to John? Possibly not, but it seems so: we’ll see she sleeps facing John, even with her hand on his, which would imply she’s not acting. We see that John doesn’t sleep facing her because he’s still pining for Sherlock, but the showrunners could have easily shown both John and Mary sleeping on their backs and still have visually conveyed domestic disharmony, so the choice to make Mary face John seems to confirm she has real feelings for him. Plus later, when Mary approaches Magnussen in his office, Magnussen tries to appeal to what John would think of her, which is another hint her attraction to John is genuine — although Magnussen could always have made a wrong assumption.

Everything is easier to swallow if Mary is genuinely attracted to John, though. It certainly makes it easier for her to carry out her orders of sleeping with and marrying John. It means that Sherlock’s “romantic” deduction of her wasn’t wrong, too. If Mary is attracted to John, however, it would seem to be in the same possessive, condescending way that Moriarty is attracted to Sherlock, but I’ll point those instances out along the way.

So what exactly did Moriarty say to Mary to get her to go along with this? Well, at minimum, Mary doesn’t have a choice, regardless of whether she’s attracted to John or not. Moriarty kills people when they’re no longer useful to him: he has every reason to kill the sniper that helped him fake his death, if only for the sake of covering his tracks. Mary is undoubtedly aware of this and would take any opportunity Moriarty gave her to remain useful.

There are additional benefits if Mary is genuinely attracted to John, though: if someone like Mary wants a chance to to live a normal life, she would first need permission from Moriarty to do so. Moriarty might have made clear it’s the only way she’s leaving his service alive. (In actuality, Moriarty has no intention of letting anyone leave his service alive, he would just let Mary believe that he does.) We know that Mary dated her ex David for two years under the Mary Morstan identity, and we don’t have any particular indication that was an assignment or anything, so it would seem she has a domestic-or-danger psychological conflict similar to John’s. David looks a lot like John, too, so Mary might have a physical type she likes. Furthermore, she knows that John can be incredibly loyal, especially to dangerous people — she might have been a sniper at the pool — so John Watson may be the only person in the world who wouldn’t leave her if he happened to learn about her past. If she wanted a chance at a stable life, John Watson is her best bet.

We’ll see later, however, that Mary will push John and Sherlock together, and goad Sherlock to realize his feelings for John. If Mary is attracted to John, why would she do this? Well, several reasons. First, she doesn’t have a choice. Second, Moriarty wouldn’t tell Mary any more than she needs to know, so if he knew she was attracted to John, he could have easily told her that John is straight. Third, even if Moriarty decided to let her know or believe John is bisexual, he could have reassured her that he’d get Sherlock out of the picture soon enough. After all, there’s no real reason that Moriarty would let Mary know he wanted to hook up with Sherlock later instead of simply break Sherlock’s heart and then kill him. Although, hey, he could have even told her the whole plan and Mary just has to accept that Moriarty will keep Sherlock under lock and key. Finally, Mary knows that John would never stay with her if she tried to keep him away from Sherlock, and she knows that accepting Sherlock makes John like her more. She helped John mourn Sherlock the first time around and it brought her and John together, so if John mourns Sherlock later, so much the better.

It ultimately doesn’t matter for series three whether Mary’s attraction is genuine or she’s doing everything under orders from Moriarty, however. It might matter in series four and beyond, but it doesn’t effect the theory either way for now. The most important thing is that, at minimum, she’s acting under Moriarty’s orders.

Eleven months after Sherlock’s death, John finally updates his blog. Mary is already in the picture because she comments saying they should get a drink, and says that John will find a way to keep going. This is the first Harry has heard of her.

When John updates after a year total, Moriarty makes it look like theimprobableone is having a crisis of faith — “i still dont know what to believe :(” — and Anonymous (who may be Moriarty or a real anonymous person) thinks Sherlock was totally a fake: “The man was a lying scumbag and he deserved to die for all his lies!!!” Moriarty still wants John to stop believing in Sherlock, or at least drive him further toward Mary.

There’s more from theimprobableone in May — “i want to believe in sherlock :(” — and who knows who #TEAMMORIARTY is, since, as Mike Stamford points out, the concept makes no sense: if you think Sherlock is fake, then Moriarty didn’t exist. If that handle is actually Moriarty too, that’s pretty great.

In another entry we find out Moriarty helped with a case once, which is just creepy. theimprobableone says, “it was the proudest day of my life but now I dont know if it was all just a lie :(” John tries to reassure him, and John’s therapist (Ella) tries to get in touch with him. In the comments of the next entry Mike asks about theimprobableone and John says “he’s being looked after” but we don’t get any other information. It’s fun to imagine Jim going to Ella and rifling through her files to get info on John’s state of mind, though. Moriarty would have to disguise himself somehow, or send someone in his stead, or exploit Ella’s pressure points, but none of these is implausible. It doesn’t really matter for this series, though.

It’s also way too fun to imagine Moriarty is every one of these random Sherlock-hater accounts we’ve never seen comment before, but we don’t have any real way of knowing and some of them have to be genuine. Still: we saw that Moriarty had way too much time to spend on John’s blog even when he was alive, so it’s hilarious to imagine him with even more time on his hands and nothing to do but create all these accounts.

Moriarty-as-theimprobableone one acts like he doesn’t believe in Sherlock until Sherlock actually comes back, which makes sense if he’s trying to make John doubt Sherlock: Moriarty can’t pretend to doubt Sherlock once Sherlock returns, after all. Jim apparently gives up trying to change John’s mind — at least as theimprobableone — once he realizes that’s hopeless, though. Oh well. John just has to marry Mary, and Sherlock just has to see it happen. Jim never promised Mary that John would actually love her more than Sherlock, and honestly, Jim doesn’t have any reason to care.

Meanwhile, Mycroft must know who Mary is. He’s been keeping track of John, after all: he has surveillance pictures and will know John’s restaurant reservations in The Empty Hearse. He had no trouble getting background on the assassins Moriarty stationed around 221B before: the government recognizes those people on sight, and we have no particular reason to believe they somehow wouldn’t recognize Mary too.

Mycroft can’t do anything about Mary, though, for the same reason as always: he has to do whatever Moriarty wants. All Mycroft can do is try to make John and Sherlock realize their feelings for one another and hope it works itself out.

Which — hey! coincidence! — just happens to be Moriarty’s goal for them too. All the better to burn Sherlock’s heart out.

John and Mary’s relationship progresses to the point where John makes dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant. Mary knows what that means. She tells Moriarty. Moriarty tells Magnussen to let the newspapers finally clear Sherlock’s name so it’s safe for Sherlock to come back to life.

Magnussen is really breathing down Moriarty’s neck now for something in return, but Jim tells him to calm down: once Sherlock is back, he’ll give Magnussen a demonstration of all the pressure points he needs to own Mycroft. None of Sherlock’s pressure points are blackmail-worthy since Sherlock doesn’t care if they’re exposed, and none of John’s are either… but you know, Charles, it’s funny: this fiancée of John’s used to be an assassin and doesn’t want John to know about it. Magnussen is the blackmail king, surely he can get somewhere with that?

It’s debatable just how much of Mary’s past Moriarty disclosed to Magnussen. However much information he gave Magnussen, though, we can bet that Jim didn’t tell Magnussen anything he didn’t want him to know. Either Magnussen knows that Mary is working for Moriarty and Moriarty knows he can handle the situation well enough that Magnussen won’t let that slip and ruin his plans, or else Moriarty doesn’t even tell Magnussen that Mary is his own assassin. The latter seems most likely, as this leaves Moriarty more room to maneuver and Magnussen can’t easily fault him if Mary snaps and tries to kill Magnussen.

Furthermore, it’s also debatable whether Mary knows that Moriarty gave Magnussen her information, and how she feels about that if she does. But even if Mary knows Moriarty gave Magnussen the information and she’s livid, she has no choice but to go along with what Moriarty commands.

But in the meantime, before Sherlock’s return was imminent, Moriarty told Magnussen he could have Janine, who is quite possibly Moriarty’s actual sister: she is Irish, after all, with dark hair and dark eyes. (In the ACD canon, Moriarty had a brother who was also named James, which is probably an error on ACD’s part. The writer Kim Newman later gave Moriarty two brothers, each named James. Here, we get another J name with Janine, which could be a nod to the canon error.) We’ll see what Janine does for Moriarty’s plot later. For now, this is a good deal for Magnussen: for one, we know that Magnussen will not work with people until he knows their pressure points — Sherlock says so in His Last Vow, and frankly that’s just smart on Magnussen’s part. Besides being able to let slip that Moriarty is alive, Moriarty does not have any other feasible pressure points for Magnussen to work. Plus Magnussen needs to be assured he owns his PA absolutely, after all, since his PA is going to handle sensitive information. And Magnussen knows how easily you own people if you own their siblings. If Janine doesn’t do what Magnussen says, he’ll spill the beans on Moriarty, and if Moriarty doesn’t do what Magnussen says, Magnussen can use Janine as leverage. This is the blackmail material that Magnussen alludes to having on Janine when he flicks John’s face. Seems like a fair trade, doesn’t it?

It’s also a great way to begin to take over Magnussen’s infrastructure for use later, now that Moriarty is allowing Sherlock to destroy much of his own network: Janine will come to know everything about Magnussen’s operation. Magnussen can’t be allowed to live once Jim is ready to stage his return, obviously. Moriarty knows, perhaps through Janine or just his own conclusions, that Appledore doesn’t exist. It’s adorable, though, how Magnussen thinks he’s running the show. Too bad fortune favors those who don’t mind getting their hands bloody: a business man who’s a murderer will always get further than a business man who isn’t a murderer.

Except Jim won’t even have to get his hands bloody this time, because Sherlock is going to kill Magnussen for him. All it will take is another damsel in distress to protect — and if Moriarty allows Magnussen to threaten Mary enough, she’ll be rearing to go after Magnussen. And all Sherlock needs to be driven to kill for John Watson is all he needed to threaten Moriarty’s life on the roof of Bart’s: the mistaken assumption that he has another way out, and to have that pulled out from under him. Moriarty knows Magnussen holds everything in a mind palace, but Sherlock doesn’t. That’s Sherlock’s weakness: he wants everything to be clever, all underground vaults and reading glasses with wireless connections. It’ll be the fake computer key code all over again.

It’s going to be too easy. Jim can keep Magnussen at bay for a year while he slowly takes over his infrastructure and ensures Sherlock is heartbroken and has nothing else to live for. Then, once everything is in place for Jim’s dramatic return, he’ll let Mary off her leash and watch Sherlock dance. Ta da: no more Magnussen problem!

Then maybe, just maybe, Sherlock will realize that killing people isn’t such a big deal after all. Sherlock might see that he and Jim aren’t so different: he said as much on the rooftop of Bart’s, after all.

But if Sherlock still doesn’t want him, well. There can be other plans, other methods of persuasion. And if those don’t work, Sherlock will just have to die, won’t he?

For now, there’s one final step to get the ball rolling: Sherlock has to return. Moriarty tells Mycroft it’s time to pull Sherlock out of Serbia, and that Mycroft is going to do that by working with Lord Moran on a terrorist plot as an excuse. After all, Lord Moran has been secretly working with North Korea, and that’s within Mycroft’s sphere of influence: normally Mycroft would notice such a thing and stop it, but this time, he has to ensure it goes unimpeded. And hey: the bonfire Moriarty sets up for Magnussen will be the clue to solving the terrorist attack, so as long as Mycroft ensures Sherlock solves the case, Mycroft doesn’t need to fret over parliament, does he? Chill out, Mycroft dear: you worry too much.

Jim and Sherlock have been apart for too long, and Jim can’t resist making Sherlock dance for old time’s sake. And it’s going to be great to rub Sherlock’s face in how badly he screwed up: Sherlock spent two years trying to keep John safe, and John’s going to get kidnapped and thrown in a bonfire the day after his return. Will you wonder what you did wrong, Sherlock? Will you think of Jim? Will you figure it out?

Jim did tell you he’d burn the heart out of you, Sherlock. But did you listen?

The Empty Hearse:

After we see Anderson’s heterosexual male power fantasy theory of the fall, we cut to reporters announcing that Richard Brook was indeed the creation of James Moriarty. It’s taken two years to prove something that should have been proven much quicker. Why? Because Magnussen controls the news, and because Magnussen arranged for Richard Brook to have a convincing back catalog of acting work.

Then we see John and Mary visit Sherlock’s grave: John has to finally let go of Sherlock in order to move on with Mary, which means Moriarty’s plan is moving along nicely.

Meanwhile, Mycroft has bothered to learn Serbian and has actually undertaken legwork in order to be absolutely sure Sherlock will come back from Serbia that instant: he could have waited, he could have sent Sherlock a message, he could have sent other agents after Sherlock, but he did it himself because yet again, Moriarty has him on a timetable. This time, however, if Mycroft fails to ensure that Sherlock solves the terrorism plot, parliament will be blown up.

In our first shot of Sherlock this series, we see him surrounded by people with guns, and helicopters. This foreshadows one of our last shots of Sherlock we’ll see this series, when he shoots Magnussen. Both times, Mycroft is close at hand, and both times, Mycroft is playing into exactly what Moriarty wants. Unfortunately, Mycroft won’t foresee the consequences the second time around.

When we see Sherlock getting tortured, he’s strung up and posed in a very Jesus-like way, with Jesus-like hair and facial hair, which is fitting: he’s suffered to save other people and is about to be resurrected. Mycroft, then, is cast as God: he watches Sherlock suffer while hidden in the shadows, then stands, steps into the light, and grants him his resurrection. (Later, Mary will say, “Oh my God,” and Sherlock will respond: “Not quite.” Mycroft is God in the metaphor; Sherlock is “merely” Jesus — disregarding some interpretations of the Trinity, of course.) This is a clever metaphor in a few ways: first, we see that Mycroft had to watch Sherlock suffer and do nothing until he gets an opportunity to help without blowing their cover, which parallels the situation with Moriarty; and second, it casts Sherlock as being moved about at the whims of an even higher power than himself, which also parallels the situation with Mycroft and Moriarty. It reminds us that while Sherlock is incredible, he is not at all the top of the chain: he’s in chains because of Moriarty’s men, and he’s being released by Mycroft.

We then get a lot of trains and tunnels imagery, which carries both sexual connotations, and the idea of twists and turns and paths intersecting at various places. If this is meant to be a visual metaphor for Moriarty’s plot and the involvement of Mary, Mycroft, and Magnussen, it certainly works. We got train track imagery two episodes in a row during John and Sherlock’s investigations in the The Blind Banker and The Great Game, after all, both of which revolved around Mycroft’s involvement with Moriarty. It visually suggests the idea of connections.

While Sherlock is shaving for John, he tells Mycroft: “Moriarty’s network. Took me two years to dismantle it.” Mycroft prods, “And you’re confident you have?” He can’t tell Sherlock he’s wrong, but he can subtly try to make him think about it. Sherlock, however, is convinced: “The Serbian side was the last piece of the puzzle.”

Sherlock continues getting pretty for John. While he’s getting dressed, Mycroft stresses, “I need you to give this matter your full attention, Sherlock. Is that quite clear?” Sherlock only cares about whether he looks nice in his shirt, though. Normally this would be a good thing, but now is not the time: Mycroft can see parliament getting blown to bits before his eyes, all because Sherlock is back and gayer than ever. He barks at Sherlock, and Sherlock says, dismissively, that he’ll find the underground terror cell.

Anthea stresses that an agent died getting the information about the attack, so there are three possibilities here: first, she’s in on the plot with Mycroft; or second, Mycroft lied to her or told her to lie so Sherlock would feel compelled to help (Sherlock cares about lives, after all, plus the fact that an agent would die for so trivial a clue intrigues him later); or third, Mycroft actually allowed an agent to die when that agent got too close to figuring out what was going on. If it was an agent’s life versus Sherlock’s life, we all know who Mycroft would pick. The last option sounds horribly plausible, because all the agent got was the vaguest clue before he was killed.

Oh, Mycroft. You poor thing. Things have gotten really fucked up, haven’t they?

When Sherlock bats away the comment about the dead agent by asking about John, Mycroft at first sarcastically responds that they meet up for fish and chips. Mycroft has been keeping an eye on John, however: he has an entire file immediately at hand, including surveillance pictures, and knows John’s plans for that very night.

Mycroft first tries to suggest to Sherlock that John might not be happy to see him, and that John has moved on with his life. Mycroft can’t just tell Sherlock not to make emotional mistakes — he’s done doing that, Sherlock needs to be his own adult — but he can try to make Sherlock rethink what he’s doing, or at least mentally prepare him for the possibility.

Sherlock, however, fixates on how physically attractive he wishes John to be when they’re seen together.

Mycroft only blinks a few times. Well, that’s something, at least.

Sherlock goes on to ask, “Where’s he’s going to be tonight?” Mycroft says, “How would I know?” Sherlock says, “You always know,” and of course, Mycroft knows exactly where he’ll be. Mycroft has to know that John is intending to propose, too, given the venue. At minimum, this lets us know that Mycroft has no qualms about allowing Sherlock to throw a wrench in John’s proposal, but quite probably Moriarty has demanded Sherlock’s presence for it anyway.

Mycroft tries to warn Sherlock one more time that he may not be welcome, but Sherlock just wants his coat that John said he looked cool in.

Well, you tried, Mycroft.

Sherlock goes and stands on a building torecreate the shot of James Bond standing on top of the MI6 building toward the end of Skyfall. Because he’s James Bond, and Mycroft is M.

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The name’s Bond. William Sherlock Scott Bond.

When Sherlock goes to crash John’s proposal, Mary isn’t at the table. She’s upstairs, possibly taking a call from Moriarty telling her that Sherlock will be there soon. Meanwhile, John downs the last of his wine while ordering yet another bottle. He fusses over which direction to turn the engagement ring box on the table, then when Mary returns and touches his shoulder from behind, he has second thoughts: he grabs it and puts it in his jacket again.

John offers Mary more wine, but she refuses it, possibly because she wants to be sober enough for everything she knows is about to happen. She then goes on to tell John she agrees that she’s the “best thing that could have possibly happened” to him. It’s sassy, but she may also genuinely mean it in a rather condescending way.

Sherlock interrupts and Mary pretends to not know this was all going to happen. She says, “You’re dead,” and Sherlock says, “No, I’m quite sure, I checked.” Too bad he didn’t check Moriarty’s body to be sure — at the very least, it would have been awkward-funny.

John ends up attacking Sherlock, and now it’s Mary’s job to ensure the two come back together: Moriarty’s plan requires that Sherlock realize his feelings for John so he can be properly heartbroken, after all.

They move to a cheaper restaurant and Sherlock begins to eagerly tell John how he faked his death. This is important because later in the episode, we learn that Sherlock suddenly becomes unwilling to tell John how he did it.

For now, Sherlock wants to get back on John’s good side, and John always liked hearing the how before. Too bad Sherlock miscalculates how well that will go over this time. (John’s blog lets us know that Sherlock did at least tell him why he faked it: “Turns out he’d faked his death because Moriarty had threatened those close to him. Including me.”)

When Sherlock explains that “it was mostly Mycroft’s plan,” Mary makes excuses for Sherlock by saying, “He would have needed a confidante.” She tries to calm John down when John begins to get irritated.

John attacks Sherlock again and they move to another restaurant.

John is still angry, and Mary actually laughs in her attempts to calm him down. Sherlock then tries to appeal to John’s danger-slut side, telling him there’s a terrorist attack and that John has missed that sort of thing.

John headbutts him in the face.

Outside, Mary promises Sherlock she’ll talk John around. This gets Mary on Sherlock’s good side, and ensures Moriarty’s plan proceeds as it must. Sherlock deduces a lot of things that foreshadow her psychopath assassin side: Mary is disillusioned and a linguist — then possibly the secret tattoo hints at this too, if it’s like the tattoo the female Russian assassin in The Reichenbach Fall is noted to have. She’s a romantic however, and knows how to bake her own bread, which points to a domestic side of her that may be genuinely attracted to John.

Mary is also shortsighted, however. Moriarty is glad for that: Mary will believe things will work out like she wants even when it’s obvious they can’t last, and she won’t think as far ahead in Moriarty’s game as she should.

In the cab home, Mary tells John she likes Sherlock. This keeps Mary on John’s good side and moves Moriarty’s plan forward. It’s possible that she may actually like Sherlock a bit, too, for some of the same reasons that John and Moriarty like Sherlock, but it’s not really important in the end.

When they get home, Mary reads John’s old blog entries and says, “Famous blog, finally!” We know that she’s been commenting on John’s blog, however, and went with John to Sherlock’s grave, so apparently she’s been pretending to be interested enough in Sherlock, but not so interested she’d read old blog entries. Maybe she was trying not to arouse too much suspicion, or if she’s genuinely attracted to John, maybe she didn’t want to encourage John to think about Sherlock more than necessary.

Mary teases John about shaving for Sherlock, and then presses him about whether he intends to see Sherlock tomorrow. John tells Mary to shut up or he’ll marry her, and Mary smiles.

Later, Sherlock and Mycroft are playing chess. Or are they?

We’re tricked into thinking Mycroft and Sherlock are playing chess, when they’re actually playing Operation. This is the perfect metaphor for Mycroft’s situation this series: he went from thinking he could outsmart Moriarty in the long term, over a series of moves, to a situation where any tiny misstep means he loses. This series, all Mycroft can do is stay within the rails, and if he doesn’t… BZZT, someone ends up on an operating table with his heart ruined. Which of course, Sherlock will, in His Last Vow. And it’s telling that it’s Mycroft who makes the mistake in this game of Operation, not Sherlock or Mary. We have it foreshadowed that Mycroft has something to do with Sherlock being shot in the heart.

And of course while they’re playing Operation, Mycroft is desperately trying to convince Sherlock to solve the terrorist case. We’ll get our big clue from the score later that Mycroft is behind the terror attack, but for now, Moriarty made Mycroft orchestrate it and it’s going to happen in the next few days, so Mycroft has reason to be pushy.

The Holmes brothers start to talk about their childhood. When they were younger, they both thought Sherlock was stupid because they hadn’t met other children. (Makes you wonder if the third Holmes sibling is younger than Sherlock, then, and came along after Mycroft and Sherlock met other children; or maybe the sibling was so much older than Mycroft that they wouldn’t have hung out together; or maybe Mycroft and Sherlock simply prefer to speak as if that sibling didn’t exist. Or was that sibling smarter than both of them?) Of course, now Mycroft finally has met someone as smart, or smarter, than himself in Moriarty, and that’s not working out very well for him. Mycroft accuses Sherlock of having friends, and Sherlock asks Mycroft if he never goes in for that sort of thing. Mycroft says everyone is a goldfish to him — but of course, even if he found a goldfish he liked, he can’t afford to have another pressure point.

Sherlock goads Mycroft into playing deductions, and manages to out-maneuver Mycroft into admitting that being different doesn’t mean one has to be isolated. Mycroft protests, “I’m not lonely, Sherlock,” to which Sherlock responds, “How would you know?” Which, given Mycroft’s impossible situation, makes this all the sadder.

On top of it all, Mycroft is wrong about the material the hat is made out of. Sherlock was right when he told Mycroft earlier he’s been “slipping” because it took him so long to learn Serbian. Mycroft is really losing his touch this episode — but of course, it’s a great way to demonstrate his floundering in the face of Moriarty’s plans.

John has a long afternoon of prostate exams, fondling men’s balls, and rejecting heterosexual porn, then Mary comes in to be sure John is “sure,” presumably about going to see Sherlock. John kisses Mary goodbye and heads off to 221B.

Sherlock and Molly visit the subway enthusiast. We’re told that the stop where Lord Moran went missing is St. James’s Park — the “James” aspect of which might be a subtextual nod to Moriarty’s involvement, or even Moriarty as a character wanting to make it more blatant to Sherlock: the bonfire is staged at Saint James the Less, after all. We’re going to see a lot more “James” this episode soon.

John oscillates on the pavement outside of Baker Street and gets drugged. This calls to mind Moriarty in the mind of the audience two different ways: first, the last time John was kidnapped, it was Moriarty’s doing; and second, the last time a minion drugged someone, Irene drugged Sherlock — and her boss was Moriarty.

Moriarty is accomplishing several things at once here: he’s taunting Sherlock by kidnapping and endangering John; he’s providing Sherlock a clue to the terrorist attack so he can watch him dance; he’s providing Magnussen with evidence that he can eventually deliver Mycroft Holmes to him via the pressure point chain; and he’s possibly keeping Mary in line, if that’s needed.

Once John is in position, Mary is texted a skip code.

Mary is alone when she gets the text, and does not appear to have expected it. Amanda Abbington claims to have not known Mary’s backstory or even seen the third script until after they’d filmed The Sign of Three, though, so it’s hazy how much we can make of Mary’s expressions in these first two episodes. It seems likely that if the showrunners did not want her to look surprised, they would have directed her otherwise though. She certainly seems to have been directed to not look overly concerned until she shows up at 221B.

Anyway, the skip code reads:

Save souls now!

John or James Watson?

Saint or Sinner?

James or John?

The more is Less?

Magnussen will later take credit for the bonfire incident in His Last Vow, but this is not Magnussen’s style: he threatens to print things about people, he doesn’t put them in physical danger. If that’s all Magnussen wanted to do, he would just put Sherlock in direct danger and threaten Mycroft that way. There would be no reason to involve John and Mary at all. Magnussen likes to keep his hands clean, however — he doesn’t do anything that could get the cops called on him. This is something Moriarty has orchestrated for him, just like Moriarty has always arranged crimes. Magnussen has no involvement in carrying out the crime, and nothing will point back to him when it’s investigated. Moriarty just sends him the video after the fact.

That means it’s almost certainly Moriarty texting Mary — and indeed, the filler parts of the skip code almost seem to taunt her, asking her to choose between John and James, and asking if she’s a saint or a sinner. There is almost certainly conflict in their relationship: if Mary is attracted to John, she might resent Moriarty putting him in a bonfire — and if she’s aware of it, she might resent Moriarty allowing Magnussen to threaten her. Even without that, any minion who works for Moriarty long enough knows what happens to people who don’t do what he demands. Moriarty would want to be sure Mary knows her place, and he would periodically remind her that her primary allegiance must be to Moriarty.

A later text reads that things are “hotting up,” which is a British colloquialism, not a Danish one, so again: it’s unlikely Magnussen is doing the texting. Also, the texts have all of Moriarty’s particular drama queen flair.

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Furthermore, we later learn that the bonfire is a clue to the terrorist attack. We saw on the television during the fan club scene that Magnussen is supposed to speak to parliament, presumably the next day when it’s going to be blown up. Magnussen wouldn’t set up a bomb to go off when he’s there. Moriarty wouldn’t mind overly much if Magnussen got blown up, however; Moriarty always has a plan B, as we saw with Jim from IT, and what we know of his rooftop plans. Moriarty wants Magnussen dead anyway, and he probably had a whole other set of plans for what to do if Sherlock somehow didn’t solve the terrorist attack in time. After all, Sherlock would be plenty miserable with the death of that many people on his hands, Mycroft would probably get in some hot water, and Moriarty could come back and take credit for the attack to make them both feel awful. It would have been a dramatic return.

Now, we know that Mary is an assassin, and could easily save John herself. But she goes to Sherlock for help. Why? Either she understands the text to be from Moriarty and knows or asks what to do, or she doesn’t know it’s from Moriarty and then contacts Moriarty to ask what to do. The outcome is the same either way: Moriarty wants Sherlock involved. Jim’s going to literally burn the representation of Sherlock’s heart in a fire, after all, and the bonfire is a hint to the terror case he wants to watch Sherlock solve, so Sherlock has to see it.

Mary takes the skip code to Sherlock, and they take off to save John. The texts then begin to address Sherlock directly, so Sherlock was always the point of the bonfire incident. Again, if Magnussen was doing this simply to see if John is as big a pressure point for Sherlock as he’d heard, there would be no reason he’d involve Mary at this point. If Magnussen was the one sending the texts, he clearly knows about Mary’s past already because he sent a skip code, but if he knows about Mary’s past, he can expect she would handle saving John herself and not turn to some guy she just met the day before. Magnussen wouldn’t expect to get the evidence he needs of how well John works as a pressure point for Sherlock if he texted Mary: it would just be Mary saving John, and that doesn’t tell him anything about how to acquire Mycroft Holmes.

The text went to Mary, and Mary went to Sherlock, because Moriarty is the one texting and Moriarty told Mary what to do. Magnussen takes credit for the bonfire in His Last Vow because Magnussen is helping Moriarty keep the fact of his fake suicide a secret, and because it’s true that the point of the bonfire was to demonstrate the pressure points to Magnussen.

The little girl screaming at the bonfire is also reminiscent of the kidnapped girl screaming at Sherlock in The Reichenbach Fall, so perhaps it’s intended to bring to mind another of Moriarty’s plots. That’s three nods we’ve gotten to earlier Moriarty plots now.

Sherlock, of course, pulls John out of the bonfire. At this point, Sherlock starts wondering what he missed. He thought he’d taken out all of Moriarty’s network, and John should have been safe. He feels terrible about it and doesn’t know what to do or say, but he won’t be able to properly apologize until the bomb scene.

The bonfire had to have marked the moment when Sherlock suddenly became unwilling to tell John the details of how he faked his death. When Sherlock thought he had everything figured out, he was eager to tell John everything. Now? Not so much. Before, Sherlock knew things took a lot of unexpected turns on the rooftop of Bart’s, but he thought it had worked out in the end. Now Sherlock would have to admit he was barely keeping up with Moriarty, that he had no clue about the snipers and actually put John’s life in greater danger when he sent him away and out into the open, that a sniper could have seen the wrong angle on his jump and John would have been killed, and that John’s years of suffering were apparently for nothing because Sherlock didn’t even ensure his safety after all. He’d have to tell John his plan wasn’t good enough, and that he’d failed him, and that even now, two years later, he has no clue what’s going on.

The next day Sherlock shoves his parents out the door because he has a boy over, and then apologizes to John a handful of times. John asks if he was kidnapped because someone was trying to get to Sherlock. Sherlock says he doesn’t know, it’s too nebulous, but he expects it’s connected to the terrorist attack he’s trying to stop.

Yet again, Sherlock thinks someone is trying to threaten or distract him from something, and that’s the problem: he’s not dealing with a normal person or organization, he’s dealing with Moriarty. And Moriarty has always made him solve his crimes, has put crimes out there just for Sherlock to ruin them — he never distracts Sherlock from his crimes. If Sherlock thought about it, it would be counterproductive for the terrorist cell to distract him with a crime that actually clues him in to the attack they’re planning.

But Sherlock thinks Moriarty is dead, and other people just don’t do that.

This is when Sherlock lets us know that Lord Moran has been working for North Korea since 1996. If Sherlock knew that, then Mycroft had to have known it and had an eye on Lord Moran… but Mycroft had to let this plot go unimpeded because Moriarty said so. And since North Korea is within Mycroft’s jurisdiction, apparently no one else was on top of it either. Except apparently that agent that ended up dead.

And Moriarty’s clue works: Sherlock figures out that there’s a bomb under parliament because John was put in a bonfire, and it’s all a big Guy Fawkes allusion.

John and Sherlock figure out where the bomb must be. Sherlock phones the police without John knowing — there’s no service in the tunnels — and they head down to find the bomb: Sherlock wants to have time alone with John, without police around, probably so John can remember the danger and excitement of being on a case, and possibly so he can figure out what to say to him. It doesn’t appear that Sherlock was entirely planning the whole fake-out at this point; Sherlock can’t have known exactly when Moran would trigger the bomb, and the bomb wasn’t exactly where Sherlock thought it would be either.

Sherlock jumps down onto the tracks, and harkening back to Operation, John says, “Isn’t that live?” Sherlock says, “It’s perfectly safe as long as we avoid touching the rails.” That’s true and they’re fine, but of course, those rails lead to the most dangerous thing Sherlock is going to face down there: a bomb Mycroft allowed to be placed. And the control panel for that bomb? When it’s activated, it will look just like a heart: four chambers, with red and blue lights corresponding to blood flow.

And what do we hear when that control panel is revealed? Not just the echoes of Mycroft’s theme, but Mycroft’s actual motif, the three notes that signify him most prominently. This was Mycroft’s doing. It implies Mycroft had to either directly facilitate this, or just let it happen as it naturally might since Lord Moran had been working with North Korea and would want to sabotage the anti-terrorism bill being discussed in parliament. Moriarty may not have even needed to do anything here except demand Mycroft let it happen.

And of course, the heart-as-bomb is also fitting since John and Sherlock need to diffuse the conflict between them.

..And of course, they don’t actually diffuse it: just as Sherlock simply turns the bomb off, John simply forgives Sherlock and postpones them both from having to untangle any of their actual issues.

That’s why we get the clip of Sherlock telling Anderson his fantasy version of the fall sandwiched between the moment John forgives Sherlock and the moment John realizes it was all a “joke.” What’s actually been blown away is the whole issue of Sherlock screwing up the fall.

When Sherlock apologizes to John, he’s sincere: he’s apologizing about somehow messing up so that John is still in danger even after Sherlock thought he’d taken care of Moriarty’s network. In his apology, Sherlock keeps saying he’s sorry he doesn’t know everything: Sherlock doesn’t know how to diffuse a bomb, he hadn’t figured out half the things he should have when he went onto the roof of Bart’s, and he still doesn’t know how he fucked up so that John got kidnapped as soon as Sherlock returned to London. If he hadn’t come back, John wouldn’t be in danger and he’d still have a future with Mary: Sherlock doesn’t know who came after John, and he doesn’t know if that will be the last time it happens. Moriarty kept putting John’s life in danger even when Sherlock never allowed John to meet with Moriarty with him in person, and now that Moriarty is dead someone else seems to have taken up the mantle.

All that was supposed to be fixed. John was supposed to be safe. But Sherlock screwed up somewhere, and he feels clueless, and helpless, and guilty.

John says it’s a trick, that Sherlock is just trying to make him say something nice, but Sherlock says, “Not this time.” And while it is a trick, Sherlock isn’t trying to make John say something nice: he sincerely wants to apologize while he still has the courage to get it out. He does hope John will forgive him, but he has no reason to think John will say something nice. And when John does it anyway and says, “You are the best and the wisest man that I have ever known, and yes of course I forgive you,” Sherlock is genuinely floored.

In the fantasy version of the fall that Sherlock wants his fan club and the rest of the world to know, his own brother didn’t sell him out to Moriarty. Sherlock and Mycroft were working together from the start. They played Moriarty, Moriarty didn’t play them. And Sherlock sure as hell didn’t let a sniper keep his sights on John. “Everything was anticipated, every eventuality planned for. And it worked perfectly.” Sherlock was simply the omniscient, infallible, indestructible miracle-worker John erroneously thinks he is.

But John has forgiven Sherlock, and now they won’t talk about any of it. All that’s still there, it’s not diffused… it’s just simply turned off, for now.

So what was probably true about the fall? The logistics of the jump itself: Sherlock really did jump onto an air bag, they really did use the corpse of the Sherlock lookalike, and he really did use the ball to stop his pulse. His homeless network, Molly, and Mycroft were all involved in that part as Sherlock said they were. But he and Mycroft were not playing Moriarty from the start, and Sherlock had no idea there were snipers, much less where John’s sniper was.

Back at the site of the bomb, Sherlock makes a big joke out of it because that’s what he does when he can’t handle serious situations, and they’re both terrible at having conversations like that.

Then we cut to 221B. Before Sherlock goes to address the media, John says, “I’m still waiting. Why did they try and kill me? If they knew you were on to them, why go after me, put me in the bonfire?” Sherlock says, “I don’t know. I don’t like not knowing.”

Sherlock then goes on to say a lot of things that allude to his perception that John thinks Sherlock is more amazing than he actually is: “Unlike the nicely embellished fictions on your blog, John, real life is rarely so neat.” When John calls him a hero, Sherlock says, “Don’t be stupid.” When John says Sherlock loves being Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock says, “I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean.” John asks if Sherlock is going to tell him how he jumped off of Bart’s and survived, which lets us know that Sherlock told John that he lied to Anderson. Sherlock simply says, “You know my methods, John. I am known to be indestructible.”

And Sherlock knows that’s what John thinks of him, because he goes on to say “I heard you,” when John says he gave a speech at Sherlock’s grave: John hadn’t merely asked for a miracle, he’d asked for one more miracle — the first being curing John’s limp, and who knows what else John throws in that category. John never lost faith in him and hoped that Sherlock could literally return from the dead. Sherlock had known John had an overblown opinion of him, and that’s why he thought John would be delighted to see him. Since then, Sherlock feels he managed to ruin everything. He can’t believe John is still his friend, and he wants to let John believe whatever he believes about the fall because it’s better than the truth.

If only Sherlock were as incredible as John thinks he is.

Sherlock says, “Anyway, time to go and be Sherlock Holmes,” the mythical figure who always knows everything, and steps outside to lie and obfuscate to the press about how he faked his death.

Meanwhile, we see that Moriarty has sent Magnussen the footage of the bonfire: Magnussen is watching it in his mind palace, while his (Magnussen’s) motif plays. (It doesn’t work up until the full motif until the end there.)

Here are the notes of the motif by themselves, all the same duration since sometimes they hold one or another for dramatic effect:

But that’s not all that’s interesting here. The way a mind palace works is that you place information around memorable objects, so we can expect that the objects we see in Magnussen’s mind place are clues to what data he stores there.

image

The most obvious representation of Sherlock is the bust with the headphones on it, as it’s reminiscent of the cow skull with the headphones on it in 221B. Which tells us Magnussen knows that’s inside of 221B, despite never being there before. Someone has given him pictures, or a video of 221B — and indeed, when Magnussen shows up in His Last Vow he looks around for bugs, even alluding to them out loud.

And wait, what’s that? The bust is actually speaking into an old telephone operator device, i.e. a kind of microphone. 221B is bugged and Magnussen knows it because this isn’t the first footage Moriarty has provided to him. Jim gave Magnussen footage before to prove he has Sherlock locked down.

image

We see later, in His Last Vow, that Magnussen keeps Mary’s records near the clown dolls, which are across the way from the bugged bust. We’ll talk about why that might be at the beginning of The Sign of Three, but for now, at the very least clowns wear face paint — Mary is disguised — and it’s one clown standing on the dismembered head of another, which befits an assassin.

So where’s Moriarty?

image

At the very center of the room, as you’d expect: nearly everything in this room Magnussen got from Moriarty. Jim’s represented by a dark rabbit next to a hat: he’s someone who has pulled off a magic trick and disappeared, and will later reveal himself. The rabbit is outside the hat because the trick has already been revealed to Magnussen, who knows Jim is alive.

It doesn’t really matter, but in the background there, we see another prominent marker: a tree with gloves/hands hanging off it, some white and some purple. Maybe it’s meant to represent Mycroft, or the government in general, with the purple hands indicating some people have been compromised, or owned, or whatever. Or maybe it indicates Moriarty’s network.

image

The other prominent shot we get is this, a headless doll in a bowl of oranges. Given its proximity just beneath and beside Sherlock, it would seem to indicate John: a little sweet, a little sour, and brainless.

Rude.

Interlude: John’s blog

John writes up "The Empty Hearse" and theimprobableone is ecstatic, as he now has to be: “THIS IS AMAZING NEWS!!!!!!!!!” Mike Stamford replies, “Mate! It really must be! You’ve used capital letters!” and theimprobableone says, “JUST THIS ONCE!!” Then a couple commenters get confused about whether Moriarty was real or fake, and which one you believe if you believe in Sherlock. One of them says, “Everything on this blog is real.” Anonymous responds, “OR IS IT?” and immediately afterward theimprobableone says, “YES IT IS!” Remember earlier, it was theimprobableone who said, “but what is real?”

Moriarty’s best quality is probably his sense of humor, you have to admit.

Then John writes up "The Poison Giant." Subtext first: The poison giant is a man called James (Swandale) who baits Sherlock into solving puzzles by giving him clues, which obviously calls to mind Moriarty. He gets John and Sherlock on the case by sending John six pictures of a pearl over six days, which is reminiscent of Moriarty sending Sherlock five pips in The Great Game. Furthermore, John says he was a “jewel thief that could get into a lot of places,” which recalls Moriarty breaking into all those places in The Reichenbach Fall and stealing the crown jewels in particular. James has a dangerous accomplice, which brings to mind Mary: John notes that while they were running from James, they ran straight into the accomplice.

So the subtext is all there, but what about the literal case? Is the literal case Moriarty’s doing? Well… probably. John notes, “Somebody had wanted us dead and rather than hire an assassin had hired a pair of jewel thieves… They were trying to outfox Sherlock by not playing by the rules. … We never found out who was trying to kill us.” If someone actually wanted them dead, they would have hired an assassin. So whoever hired the jewel thieves probably didn’t want John and Sherlock dead, then. It sounds just like Moriarty’s old tricks: intentionally sabotaging his own crimes to make Sherlock dance.

Moriarty’s long game takes patience, and he has to do something to keep from getting bored in the meantime.

Here’s what’s interesting though: the pearls and the mention of Giles Conover are an allusion to one of the Rathbone Sherlock films, The Pearl of Death, which is itself inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Six Napoleans” — which BBC Sherlock has already done with John’s earlier write-up of "The Six Thatchers." The Six Thatchers version keeps closer to “The Adventure of the Six Napoleans” than The Pearl of Death does, what with someone hiding things inside of pottery versions of political figures. Six pearls and a short person with poison darts are also an allusion to “The Sign of Four” — Mary Morstan gets six pearls in the mail, one per year — but Giles Conover is not. So is there a reason we’re getting allusions to The Pearl of Death in particular? After all, the meaning behind the pictures of the pearls themselves is never explained in John’s write-up, and the bit about Giles Conover — in John’s version, he’s an indie pop star whose house James Swandale has the plans for — is seemingly unnecessary to explaining the case. The Pearl of Death allusions don’t contribute to the plot of John’s story, so why are they there? Do they serve a subtextual purpose?

Well, what happens in The Pearl of Death? Giles Conover is a master criminal who steals a pearl — i.e. he’s a jewel thief — for one. This seems to be reinforcing the idea that James Swandale represents Moriarty by putting James and Giles Conover in the same symbolic house: they’re both master criminal jewel thieves. And indeed, in this Rathbone film, Conover has an assassin accomplice just like James Swandale does, and just like Swandale’s accomplice, this one is a huge man with huge hands he uses to snap people’s back — similar to Moriarty’s old assassin the Golem (the Golem used his huge hands to asphyxiate people instead). So the subtext is screaming Moriarty even louder.

But why simply double-down on this? Why bring in The Pearl of Death if it just reinforces what’s already there? Well, it could be possible foreshadowing of what will happen to Moriarty and Mary in the future: in The Pearl of Death, Holmes convinces Conover’s assassin accomplice that Conover will double-cross him. The assassin kills Conover, and then Holmes kills the assassin. We do have a lot of reason to think Mary and Moriarty have a contentious relationship, so: maybe Sherlock will convince Mary that Moriarty will double-cross her — wouldn’t take much effort — so that Mary kills Moriarty, and then Sherlock kills Mary. Or since the showrunners usually twist things instead of outright copying them, maybe it just foreshadows conflict between them: maybe Moriarty will kill Mary later, or John (not Sherlock) is the one that kills the survivor of the two, or whatever. Hell, maybe Mycroft will convince the two they’ll double-cross one another.

As for possible foreshadowing in the literal case, John says what happens to James Swandale and his accomplice is that one went off the roof, and the other ended up in prison — and he doesn’t specify which. We associate Moriarty with a rooftop, but he didn’t fall — although now Sherlock owes him a fall. Which leaves Mary to end up in prison. But who knows.

Or maybe the showrunners just wanted to make the Moriarty parallels super obvious, instead of merely obvious. Maybe The Pearl of Death allusion doesn’t foreshadow anything that wasn’t already foreshadowed and they just really like that Rathbone film. (You’d think they’d just rename James Swandale to Gilves Conover in that case, but whatever.)

Anyway.

Further cementing the Conover-from-TPoD-represents-Moriarty idea, someone named James Gamlin in the comments says, “I used to love Giles Conover!!! Did you get his autograph?!”

Also, Anonymous comments rather oddly, “this is all liess!!! visit here ayt more abecause theu fdon’t believ your lies MATE #teammoriarty” If this is Moriarty, it’s not really clear what he’s doing with his typing here. I can’t find any sort of code or anagram in it. Maybe he’s drunk, or maybe it’s just hard to come up with a third manner of typing, or maybe it’s not even Moriarty. Moriarty doesn’t really have any hope of dissuading John from believing in Sherlock at this point, and he isn’t even trying to do so as theimprobableone anymore. If this is Moriarty, it would seem he’s just trolling, which… well, isn’t hard to believe.

Another amusing theory: this is Harry Watson posting anonymously and she thinks John has always been full of shit.

Next, John writes up "Happily ever after" where we learn that Mary insisted on coming along to see how Sherlock investigated a a cheating spouse, a possible sign that Mary is cheating and wants to be sure she can keep Sherlock from finding out — or maybe she just wants to see how Sherlock uncovers people’s secret double lives.

John also lets us know that Sherlock is now aware when women are attracted to him, which is going to be important in The Sign of Three: Moriarty wants Sherlock to realize his feelings for John so he will be heartbroken, and Sherlock is only going to realize those feelings because he’ll realize that John is attracted to him. Furthermore, we see here that Sherlock was sympathetic to the wife in question: while she was actually the one having an affair, she was having an affair with a woman because she was a lesbian and her awful husband was blackmailing her into staying married to him. Sherlock encourages her to be with the woman she loves, consequences be damned.

theimprobableone’s take on this? “another case successfully solved” Moriarty is glad to see Sherlock realizes when people are attracted to him, and that Sherlock has been made to think about married people who aren’t as straight as they outwardly seem.

Then John can’t talk about "The Elephant in the Room" other than to say it involved two people and an elephant because of the Official Secrets Act. He wishes he could talk about it, and Sherlock REALLY wishes he could talk about it, but they just can’t. In other words, the showrunners really wish they could address the elephant in the room — how gay John and Sherlock are — but right now it’s a secret. A secret Sherlock is dangerously close to blabbing, in fact: Moriarty’s plot will be successful, Sherlock will realize his feelings, and Sherlock will be this close to spilling it all, which we’ll see over the next two episodes. Sherlock even comments that he might include it in his best man’s speech — and yeah, the showrunners will really hammer it home in the subtext there.

John writes up "The Bloody Guardsman" which just sets up a subtextual metaphor we’ll see more of in The Sign of Three. I’ve discussed it extensively before and it’s not important to get deep into it for M-theory, but it’s a continuation of the Sherlock’s-heart-as-locked-room-mystery subtext with John as the Mayfly/Invisible Man who manages to inexplicably get inside and stab him without his noticing. It’s at the heart of Sherlock’s best man speech and is the reason why Sherlock realizes his feelings for John.

What does theimprobableone say about this case? “i refuse to believe that sherlock could not solve a case” Subtextually, this fits the idea that Moriarty expects Sherlock will solve the mystery of his own feelings for John. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Moriarty as a character means that by his comment.) But it may have no intended subtextual meaning — it’s not big either way, so it doesn’t really matter.

But on the literal level, does Moriarty have a hand in this case? He tends to have a hand with the big ones, but this time it would seem not. Bainbridge went to Sherlock on his own so it would be fantastic luck that Sherlock got involved in this — at least as far as we know. Bainbridge says that he’s “read about” Sherlock. It’s possible someone else nudged him to do so, but we can’t assume that because we have no reason to suspect it. Furthermore, it’s unlikely Moriarty helped Jonathan Small (the Mayfly/Invisible Man) with his crimes either, because Small really did have a brother whose death he blamed on Sholto, and Small carried out the crimes himself. The best Moriarty could do is give Small the idea of how to do it, or help him select the women employed by Sholto, but we have no real reason to think he did and those are all things Small could have feasibly figured out on his own. It’s also not intuitive that Sholto being in danger would obviously spur any sort of romantic epiphany for Sherlock — it does, as it happens, but the accidental, convoluted way it works out seems well beyond the scope of Moriarty’s predictive abilities — so it doesn’t seem worth Jim’s effort to orchestrate this.

Is there something more to The Sign of Four canon, though, where Jonathan Small comes from? Well… maybe, but it doesn’t seem likely. In The Sign of Four Small is forced to kill someone because he was told he would be killed if he didn’t. So Moriarty might have worked some pressure point angle. But that’s not very persuasive: we’d still have no reason to think Moriarty ensured that Bainbridge went to Sherlock with the case, and Small seems sincere that his motivation is simply to kill Sholto. Then in The Sign of Four, Major Sholto was friends with Mary’s dad — who unfortunately suffered a heart attack while he and Sholto had an argument — but we don’t get any indication from The Sign of Three that Sholto has anything to do with Mary and I don’t see any clear way it would fit.

In other words, if Moriarty is somehow behind Jonathan Small, we should all buy Jim a drink, because damn. The fact that there was a near-murder at John’s wedding does seem to be too significant to be a coincidence, and mind palace Mycroft is even going to warn us away from accepting coincidences, but there doesn’t seem to be any realistic way to link this to Jim.

John goes on to write up "The Hollow Client." First, this entry reinforces the idea that John is the subtextual Invisible Man in The Sign of Three: the empty suit is sitting in John’s chair. Furthermore, the guy who claims to be invisible says his flatmate is the one that can’t see him (just as Sherlock doesn’t “see” John has infiltrated his heart). And uh, he also insinuates that his flatmate — seriously — used this as an excuse to sit in his lap multiple times, so if you were running low on gay subtext, take a moment to stock up.

Man, and for once it seemed like we’d gotten platonic foils for John and Sherlock, instead of the usual romantic ones. At this rate we’d all have better luck winning the lottery.

Anyway. Secondly, this entry reminds us that Sherlock always wants things to be clever, just as Moriarty told him on the roof: Sherlock formulates all these explanations for the empty suit, but ultimately it was just someone fucking with him. And Moriarty is going to fuck with Sherlock again in that regard just like he did with the computer code: he’s going to take advantage of the fact that Sherlock thinks Magnussen has some secret underground vault. Sherlock will show up to Appledore thinking he has a way to save John, have that yanked out from under him, and default to “kill” mode just like he did with Moriarty on the roof of Bart’s — except unlike Moriarty, Magnussen won’t have any leverage to stop Sherlock from killing him. Haha.

theimprobableone comments that this case was “A waste of everyones time.”

Shortly before John’s wedding, he writes up "The Mayfly Man" case where Sherlock was just so dumb, you know, because it wasn’t obvious to him that sometimes married men just gotta go screw other people. It sure was obvious to John, though! …even though the Mayfly Man wasn’t even having sex with a lot of the women, and stealing identities from the obituaries is a lot of effort just to get some ass. That was the whole reason Sherlock took the case, after all: Sherlock may be a virgin who seems wired to mate for life with one particular person, but he can generally tell when people are just cheating and rejects those cases. It would appear John is projecting a bit, to say the least. Two commenters are grossed out by what they consider male behavior, but John has to respect both the playa and the game: “Quite a good trick though.” Harry and Mary both yell at John, to which he only says, “Sorry.”

Anyway, that’s enough of this. John is clearly ready to commit himself to Mary. Time to watch Moriarty’s plan unfold.

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