aruan: (Sherlock - all these things I've done)
[personal profile] aruan
More than anything else, The Empty Hearse ended up being about Mary Morstan for me (and Mycroft Holmes, but one appreciation post at a time). And it’s the height of hipster nonsense to say I liked her before she was famous, but it’s true.

Practically as soon as Amanda Abbington was spotted on the set in Bristol last March, fandom busted out the online equivalent of colored ribbons to show whether or not we're willing to give John Watson’s wife a chance. Before the night was out, Tumblr was already wondering about whether she's somehow connected to/is Moriarty’s henchman Sebastian Moran. John's wife was always going to be a complicated character, but the knee-jerk presumption that she's an associate of Moriarty was a touch severe.

Actually though, what a lot of people really seemed upset about was the fact that it's Martin's longtime partner playing her. Over and over again, people flatly rejected Amanda's casting as emotional manipulation by the production staff, since she is not only known to fandom but knows of our crafts, graphics and stories. The logic is that even tinhat Sherlock/John fangirls who have the most antipathy toward the concept of Mary would also know who she is, and there would be a grudging acceptance because it would be politically incorrect to do otherwise.

While I don't necessarily disagree that there was a degree of emotional manipulation at work in this casting decision (and that is absolutely not to doubt Amanda’s acting ability, which wasn’t in question before and certain isn’t after TEH), I think it was for another reason entirely. Before any of the #setlock spoilers came out, when Amanda was just a bit of fannish fantasy casting, I thought it was a great idea. She braves Twitter to interact with fans, she guested on the Baker Street Babes' podcast, she has a fan-made pair of Sherlock and John dolls and wears Sherlock-related swag that embarrasses Martin. This woman is one of us! More than understanding fandom, more even than accepting us, here is someone actually living the dream yet never failing to be enthusiastic about it. Here is an actress, I thought, who is beloved and would be given a chance to present what Mary has to offer the show.

Which I am curious about! I was excited to meet Mary Morstan. Who could tempt confirmed bachelor John Watson, the adrenaline junkie whose hand stops shaking when he's stressed, to settle down into married life? Why didn’t he re-enlist (somehow) or join another service? Engross himself in clearing Sherlock's name (like someone else we know)? Spiral down into addiction or criminality himself just for the illicit high he used to get chasing after a madman, gun tucked into his waistband? How did John manage to bury the part of himself that survived being shot in Afghanistan and wanted more of the war, which he'd tried to quiet once before and came very near to putting a bullet in his brain for his trouble? She must be extraordinary (and it turns out she really is.)

Or, even better, maybe Mary could be something more than meets the eye, and that's what drew him to her? Maybe she's an assassin for hire, a Robin Hood-type white collar criminal, or maybe just a thief who likes stealing from thieves? People like that generally don't mind having someone around who's as handy at saving people as he is killing them. John Watson is a rare and dangerous man, and doubtlessly there are people who wouldn't mind working with him now that he's a free agent, as it were.

But after The Empty Hearse, I guess what really bothers me about the prospect of Mary being a baddie is that she likely doesn’t want John's skills, only to keep him close until he can be used as leverage against Sherlock. Except we've already done that plotline — in both seasons! — and surely Sherlock choosing to die with him at the pool, and then for him at St. Bart's is enough to convince anyone that he is wholly irrational when it comes to John (and if that's not Sherlock's version of love then I don't know what is). And I swear, show, if it comes to either of them having to kill her, we’re going to have a problem.

Who knows what will happen though, because not even Arthur Conan Doyle could reconcile a picture with both Mary and Sherlock in it. In all likelihood, she will be something more than “just” John’s wife, though in the books aside from her involvement in the case that brought them together (The Sign of the Four), that’s all she was. And her affection for Sherlock likely wouldn’t last long once John began cutting dinners short to chase a criminal through the sewers or not coming home because of a stakeout.

tl;dr They were filming at the wedding hall in The Sign of Three for weeks, which means CRIME SOLVING IN TUXEDOS. Can we focus on that, please?

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