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Episode 1.1, "A Study In Pink"

What did you think of "A Study In Pink?"  

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Watching this episode always leaves me wondering why people think of John Watson as the nice, normal guy with the big heart. Here is somebody who "misses the war" and finds his equilibrium back when shooting a man and joking about it a moment later with his sociopath friend. John also clearly has a family background that makes Sherlock and Mycroft look harmonious.

 

As for his emotional side, he certainly is not uncaring but he is not much better than Sherlock at expressing anything remotely emotional (actually, I think Sherlock isn't too bad at that, he just prefers having nothing to express). Luckily Sherlock is very  good at understanding half unsaid sentences and perfectly happy and comfortable with minimalistic communication, so they get along.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love this interpretation of Watson and Martin Freeman is perfect for the role. I just don't think the character fits the description of "nice" and certainly not "normal" (well, whatever normal is anyway). His "humanizing" influence on Sherlock is more in the area of ethics than emotion.

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Yes but who is supposed to humanize whom? Maybe John's wife will be helpful for both guys - or she'll turn out to be one of a kind and they can all be damaged together (personally, I'd prefer that version).

 

I have this idea about John that he was something of a misfit in his own family and it takes the Holmes brothers to make him appear ordinary by comparison and take on the role of caretaker, negotiator, the voice of conscience and concern.

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I have this idea about John that he was something of a misfit in his own family and it takes the Holmes brothers to make him appear ordinary by comparison and take on the role of caretaker, negotiator, the voice of conscience and concern.

 

   Yup, I like this idea.

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Another theory of mine is that while most people feel uncomfortable, exposed and therefore antagonistic when Sherlock notices personal details about them and states his deductions out loud, John actually found it a relief to have somebody know about his war experience, his limp, his sister, his loneliness - without him having to go through the embarrassment of actually talking about those things. Also, Sherlock does not offer sympathy (openly). He treats John's troubles as a matter of fact and then moves on to what he considers really important: himself and his work. Sherlock's egotism might be infuriating at times, but at least it ensures that he's never really intrusive. 

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Y'all might be interested in what some other people said about this sort of thing in the early days of "The Psyche Behind the Character" thread.

 

I personally do not see John as an adrenaline junky -- but why repeat myself when it's easier to just quote myself?

 

... I think John is one of those people who needs to be needed ... and Sherlock needs him....


... quite a lot of people who go into medicine ... are like that (which again fits with John's doctor side) ....


The more I think about the character, the more I think this is the key to understanding John Watson. His therapist thinks he's haunted by the war, Mycroft counters that he misses it -- I suspect they're both right. The sadness on John's face when he first sees the pink lady lying dead on the floor shows that he has not become hardened to death, so yes, the carnage of war was disturbing to him. On the other hand, that was one place where he could make a real difference every day.

I agree this is also why John is attracted to Sherlock -- Sherlock needs him. John responds to Sherlock's "might be dangerous" text not because he craves danger, but because he suspects that Sherlock lacks a healthy fear of danger, and so is (rightly!) concerned for his safety.

During Sherlock's absence, John will be on his own financially, so he will need to get a job again. One place that might satisfy his intense desire to be useful would be a hospital emergency room -- almost as good as a war zone.

 

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I don't know whether they wanted him to come across as an adrenaline junkie, but dealing with dangerous, exceptional situations is obviously what he is good at.

 

About needing to be needed: I never got the impression that Sherlock "needs" his friend any more than the other way around. Maybe that's because I have a slight preference for the first series and watch those episodes oftener. The balance between them does shift a bit in series 2, where we see a lot more of Sherlock's fragile side.

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Oh yes, I am sure it was. How boring it would have been if they had made Sherlock a typical static serial character whose personality is set in stone. And I like his vulnerable side a lot. It's just that I have the impression that a lot of (probably female) fans make a lot more of his being dependent on John than makes sense when you consider that he must have lived over thirty years without him.

 

(To be fair though, it was, of all people, my boy-friend, who when forced to watch the series with me, made the one and only remark "how on earth did that guy get along without a babysitter before?")

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Well I think Lestrade and Mycroft did it between them, before.

I also think John is the first person Sherlock genuinely likes , enough to one day regard him a  friend.

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I think it is interesting that Sherlock talks of needing an assistant and liking company when he goes out. It sounds a if there have always been people who worked with him, which is strange, given the overall impression of him as a loner.

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Well I think Lestrade and Mycroft did it between them, before.

 

 

  But just barely, it would seem. Sherlock was a drug addict for a time, we don't know the exact dates but mid teens to mid twenties, anyway, and living on the streets where was Mycroft, Mummy and his father, if he has one, all this time?

 

  In the Mofftiss Universe anyway, it does seem that it was Lestrade who got Sherlock turned around by finding a real focus for all the crime solving genius of his. But even five years Lestrade had to admit that he really didn't "know" Sherlock.

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I think he's fine with trusted colleagues like Lestrade and Molly.

I think he merely tolerates Mycroft!

Mrs H he loves as a mother figure of course.

 

Who said Sherlock lived on the street?

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Yes but he had to get to know and trust them first.....so living on the streets would have been the most logical way he could have done it.

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How many could have just taken the money and run away with nothing to show for Sherlock's investment? Throwing money at a problem doesn't work unless you know who is going to put the money to good use and who is not. 

 

 No, he had to learn who he could trust and who he couldn't and where he could find them. He supplied them with phones and such. He had to trust them not to pawn or sell them for more money.

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I hope so. I was disappointed when "The Baker Street Irregulars" had such a brief run in the Canon.

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Tho intersetingly there is no suggestion that Holmes lived as an irregular!

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Well it would be difficult to be a Irregular when it was Holmes that created them, unless you are saying that it wasn't hinted that Holmes himself was once homeless. But they really wasn't brought to the fore front until BBC Sherlock.

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I think it is interesting that Sherlock talks of needing an assistant and liking company when he goes out. It sounds a if there have always been people who worked with him, which is strange, given the overall impression of him as a loner.

 

I'm not so sure that he's generally wanted either an assistant or company.  Both statements could be construed as his trying to maneuver John into being his -- umm -- colleague?

 

At the flat, he asks Lestrade who's on forensics, and when told it's Anderson, says I need an assistant and Anderson won't work with me.  Then he shows up in Brixton with John in tow, having already laid the groundwork (without bothering to ask John first).

 

And the bit about thinking better when he has someone to talk to (though it could well be true) could be mostly an excuse to ask John to come along.

 

So, if this analysis happens to be correct, Sherlock doesn't need an assistant or like having someone to talk to, not as such -- he wants John's company.  But he can't just admit that (!), so he sets things up so it'll just seem natural for John to accompany him.  Manipulative son-of-a-bitch!

 

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  Being the spoiled brat that Sherlock is, manipulation would be right up his ally. Like he tells John on their way to Angelo's "That's the frailty of genius, John, it needs an audience."  And I love John's response, that sideways glance and a "Yes."

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So, if this analysis happens to be correct, Sherlock doesn't need an assistant or like having someone to talk to, not as such -- he wants John's company.  But he can't just admit that (!), so he sets things up so it'll just seem natural for John to accompany him.  Manipulative son-of-a-bitch!

 

 

I like your explanation a lot. It would confirm my impression of Sherlock as not necessarily needing anybody but definitely enjoying an appreciative audience and the convenience of having a PA. As for being manipulative, that's certainly accurate - and very true to the original.

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