Reposted from my Tumblr
– Please be aware that this is very incomplete. I didn’t want to go into that ep before I’m not done with my review/meta on TSoT. But I seeing all those posts on HLV, I had to write something. It misses a lot, but rest assured, even if that was included, I’d still come to the same conclusion. –
Suddenly, after the first enthusiasm had died down, my dash seemed to be full of people posting disappointed opinions, metas and analyses. And many speak of one central issue: John Watson and his behavior throughout the season.
In Sherlock series three, we saw Sherlock lay his heart bare. We saw him fall in love, be in love, and accept being in love with John. We saw him ready and willing to do everything for John, and to sacrifice everything, including himself. We saw him do the same also. It was all about John.
John, however, didn’t seem to see any of it. He didn’t seem to care.
I’m here to say: I disagree. I disagree so much. Because John Watson cares. Too much.
Throughout series one and two, we had several occasions in which John and Sherlock were thought of as a couple. Whenever suspicion arose and was formulated, it was John who “defended” himself. No, I’m not gay, we’re not a couple. This was even revisited in TEH. John has issues, or more precise, he has one: His own inability to look past norms dictated by society. He is straight. He loves women. No exceptions.
I claim that if Sherlock was a woman, all that wouldn’t be problem. John would readily admit that he is attracted to him (her). Not because of looks – because of the person. All the time we were talking about how this season is about Sherlock’s love for John. But now, after HLV, and looking back at everything, it becomes painfully clear to me that we’ve all been oblivious to what was practically pushed into our faces: John loves Sherlock, too. Okay, no surprise there. We all know that (or do we?). What is important here: He knows it.
Only that he doesn’t want to know it. He can’t.
What I see isn’t a John Watson who doesn’t care. It is a John Watson who has realized that he cares, oh so much, and who is terrified of it. He can’t grasp it, can’t understand it. He wants his normal (heteronormative I think it is called?) little world, where he loves his wife and has a baby with her, and where he has a best friend in a completely platonic, non-sexual, non-romantic way.
But ever since this series started, ever since Sherlock returned, and maybe ever since John mourned Sherlock (which, as we remember, he did for two years without much sign of improvement – I’m still mourning people I lost ten years ago, but I only because I loved them to bits), things have changed. John’s thinking has changed. Thoughts have crept in there, thoughts he doesn’t want to have, because he doesn’t know how to deal with them.
John Watson is standing in a tiny room that doesn’t leave much space for speculation or interpretation, and with him is one giant elephant staring him right in the eye. He knows it. He sees that elephant. But he’ll be damned if he acknowledges it, because he can’t handle it. How is he supposed to admit his love for Sherlock without proving himself a liar? “I’m not gay!” he repeated in various ways over and over again. Being with Sherlock, allowing himself to love him, is something he associates with being gay, and that is something he can’t (yet) do. He is a straight man. Straight men don’t love other men.
What I see is a John who is very similar to me. Tragic loss and bad experiences in my past made me shut myself off from deep feelings. I can’t deal with it. When I’m confronted with affections from someone, it gets awkward for me. It’s nice, but I always play it down, or try to distract from it as quickly as possible. John seems to be the same, even though he might have other reasons – starting with him being a guy, who are often less (openly) emotional than women, conservative in a broader sense, and an ex-soldier – the classic, cliched picture of masculinity.
That he avoids it became painfully obvious in the scene at CAM’s house and at the end, in the plane scene. John ignores the obvious, ignores words and actions and looks. Oh, I am Sherlock’s pressure point? I am who Sherlock cares so much about that it can’t be put into words anymore? No, don’t talk to me about that. I don’t want to hear it. I know it, but don’t say it out loud, because that makes it too real and that elephant will trample me down after all.
And then his body language at the airfield. Don’t look at Sherlock. Look around, make it appear casual. Diffuse the tension by showing there is none of the same in you. Don’t face the truth. Don’t look the elephant in the eye again. While Sherlock, on the other hand, has, and not only on the airfield, several moments of looking at John with such an open and honest expression in his eyes that I voluntarily threw my heart in the next shredder. Sherlock is finally there. He’s still his old self (I go into that in my TSoT review), but for John, he makes the exception. John is the exception.
Someone here said – sorry, can’t remember who, but tell me if you recognize your words, please! – that John only didn’t hug Sherlock because he wouldn’t have been able to let go again. I believe this is true. For his hug during the wedding he needed Mary’s approval. Look at how he nods in acknowledgement after she tells him that she will “certainly not” stop him if he tries and hugs Sherlock. Mary says it’s okay, so he can’t do it, because with his wife’s approval it’s a harmless hug between friends. After all, the wife wouldn’t agree to it if she saw more in it, right?
Mary wasn’t around here. And it was a situation of finality. The ending. The final goodbye. There was so much meaning in there, and a hug would have been just as heavy with it. Please don’t go. I can’t lose you (again). You are my best friend. I need you.
I love you.
John wanted to trust that Sherlock returns. Whatever was implied, the thought that Sherlock could never return was too unbearable to accept. When he doesn’t say goodbye properly, Sherlock will have to return. He always does, doesn’t he? And he vowed to be there. Always. John has to have more time, and another chance to get to the bottom of this. More time to deal with it. This is not the ending.
This is the impression I get. When the jet returns, John smiles. He uses an analogy Sherlock has just told him. They will be reunited. If the writers are even half as good and clever as I believe they are – because they haven’t proven themselves to be anything else yet, in my opinion – they will continue on that path. It will be more confrontations, more moments in which John and Sherlock are close and in emotionally loaded situations. And John will have to face that he’s long since past seeing Sherlock as just his best friend. He will have to recognize that Mary is essentially Sherlock, a female version of him (as Sherlock even implied), and that he chose her because it was his only way to have something, anything of his life with Sherlock. He will have to accept that elephant, embrace it, and set it free. And he is going to, sooner or later.