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Themes, Arcs and Patterns in Series 4


Arcadia
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A place to discuss the structure of the stories told in Season 4. How does each episode relate to the other? What are the themes, and what do you think about them? Does the story work? Etc.

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I feel like Love was a major theme. From the code word "amo" in the first episode to "I am lost without your love" in the last.

 

Love was, in my opinion, always important in Sherlock and I was fascinated before by how the show handled it because it seemed unusual to me and different from the route stories usually go. At first glance, it seems like S4 revoked that a bit and decided they were going to agree with the old idea of "love conquers all, love is the answer", which can feel a bit disappointing even though of course it's a beautiful message. But I am not so sure that's actually the case - at least it doesn't have to be the case, depending on how you look at it.

 

They certainly did not downplay the vulnerability and potential hurt that comes with love. Look at John after Mary dies. Also, if Euros had really been a being of pure logic and rationality, would she have decided to kill her brother's best friend? Wasn't her motive there jealousy, a by-product of love (in this case not romantic love, but romantic love doesn't play that much of a role in the series anyway, which I find very refreshing.)?

 

I don't quite know what to make of her riddle yet. In the end, did Sherlock really act out of affection for her or did he merely find her weak spot, ironically a longing for affection (love again) and acted on it?

 

Euros reminds me of Irene that way. Irene hid her confession of love for Sherlock (her version of love anyway) in a riddle that would allow him to beat her at her game if he solved it. She was willing to sacrifice victory for being heard and understood, even if that meant losing her protection, her leverage on Mycroft and potentially her freedom. Sherlock finally understands what has all these years been Euros' cry for attention from him and this allows him to find her and send her back to Sherrinford in the end. She isn't cured, she isn't redeemed. Maybe she's more at peace, but maybe she's just silently plotting her next move. Who knows?

 

A longing for Love is the antagonists' downfall here, not their salvation. Those villains who are truly loveless, like Magnussen and Moriarty, are also strongest, they cannot be vanquished, the only option is to kill them.

 

Of course you could argue that love simply doesn't do Euros much good because she has no idea what to do with it and she is probably barely capable of it herself, she just wants to receive a piece of it from someone else.

 

I still maintain that the show says Love makes you weaker. The only news now is that they seem to have decided it's still worth the drawbacks and I fully agree with that message, so for me, it's all good.

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I'm still wresting with the "love" theme myself, I haven't really devoted much thinking to it yet. I feel like there's something a little more to it than "Love conquers all." Maybe it's more like love makes you better? Or stronger? That's what Mofftiss says in one of those interviews that's been floating around, that Sherlock finally realizes that emotions make him stronger. And John says something similar at the end of TLD, doesn't he? I like that idea, it's very humane.

 

Hmmm ... I guess I don't think the show says love makes you weaker ... I think they've been saying it makes you more vulnerable, which is not quite the same thing. (Although maybe you didn't mean "weaker" in quite the same sense that I'm using it here, Toby, but bear with me. :smile: ) Being more vulnerable opens you up to more pain, but pain, while unpleasant, is not always a negative in the long run. Pain, loss, heartbreak ... that can all make you stronger too. Or it can make you hard, if you don't temper it with compassion. (And now I'm wondering what kind of horrors Moriarty had to endure to make him the way he was ... :blink: )

 

Also there's that thing of caring not being an advantage, but I've always maintained that having an advantage is not necessarily the highest goal in life. Better, in my mind, to do right by others than maintain an advantage over them. At any rate, I've always thought that would be the comeback to that remark, if Sherlock ever got around to refuting it.

 

I think you could say Love was Eurus' downfall if you accept that her goal was to have control over the lives of others, or to be free, or whatever. But if her goal was to find someone who could bring her back down to earth with the rest of us mere mortals ... then she won??? (And at that point, does who "won" even matter?) But that's something else I haven't quite figured out yet ... what was Eurus trying to do? Did she even have a plan, or was she just crazy? Still working on that one.

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One of the better reviews of S4, I think. Contains spoilers, so I couldn't put it in the "news" thread. Discusses the theme of family, so I'm putting it here....

http://tvafterdark.com/final-verdict-sherlock-season-4/

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Anybody who gives this shambles of a series As is immedediately suspect. There are apps out there which can measure if reviews are authentic on Amazon, for example, and they should be used in this instance.

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Hmmm ... I guess I don't think the show says love makes you weaker ... I think they've been saying it makes you more vulnerable, which is not quite the same thing. (Although maybe you didn't mean "weaker" in quite the same sense that I'm using it here, Toby, but bear with me. :smile: ) Being more vulnerable opens you up to more pain, but pain, while unpleasant, is not always a negative in the long run. Pain, loss, heartbreak ... that can all make you stronger too.

Funny that it's what Jim is telling Sherlock in the padded cell: You don't have to fear it.
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I know, and I've always been puzzled by that ... at least twice in that scene, it's something that Moriarty says that seems to trigger Sherlock's will to live. You would think he'd have to resist Moriarty encouraging him to die, instead. Still haven't figure out what exactly they're trying to get at with that.

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It is interesting that both Moriarty and Eurus encourage Sherlock to tackle his emotions. There always seemed to be a side to Moriarty that liked Sherlock, and you see that in Eurus too. Maybe Eurus and Moriarty together had more of a plan to reveal Sherlock's past to him and re-establish his connection to his sister, maybe killing Sherlock was never really on the agenda?

 

I'm still a bit puzzled as to what it was that Sherlock was owed (in Moriarty's I.O.U.). He'd already had his childhood friend taken, why did he deserve more punishment?

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Of course it wasn't really Moriarty telling Sherlock to buck up, it was Sherlock's vision of Moriarty, if that helps any.

 

As for the meaning of the real Moriarty's IOU, I tend to assume that Sherlock had gotten in his way more than once (perhaps beginning with his attempt to draw attention to the Carl Powers case). It was Moriarty's way of saying "I'm gonna get even."

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That's what I always thought too ... Moriarty says Sherlock interfered with his plans "once too often" (or something like that.) So he owed Sherlock a fall.

 

You're right, that's Sherlock talking to himself ... but I've also never quite figured out why he imagined Moriarty way down in his id, either. :smile: It must mean something! But what......

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That's what I always thought too ... Moriarty says Sherlock interfered with his plans "once too often" (or something like that.) So he owed Sherlock a fall.

 

You're right, that's Sherlock talking to himself ... but I've also never quite figured out why he imagined Moriarty way down in his id, either. :smile: It must mean something! But what......

 

It just means Sherlock associates Moriarty with great stress, tension etc. I guess that's because Moriarty is the first person to put him in such a precarious position.

 

There are a number of hints for this throughout the series.

 

In The Hounds of Baskerville, Sherlock imagines the scientist guy as Moriarty when he pulls his mask off and is affected by the fear aerosol. That shows that Sherlock fears Moriarty.

 

Also in The Abominable Bridge, when Moriarty holds Sherlock at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls, he says something like 'I'll always return in your darkest hour'.

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I woke up in the middle of the night, and the middle of an epic dream about Moriarty being a villain in an epic movie. What woke me up? A thought that I wrote in the notebook I keep beside my bed:

 

Faith = Fate

 

I don't know if it makes sense, because I can hardly estimate how similar those two words sound for the native speakers. But fate, and attempts to change it, determinism vs. chance etc. seems to be a theme in S4, especially visible in TST, but also in the others.

 

If it doesn't make sense, just see it as another story of the "you know your obsession is" kind. :)

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Because the interviews seem to be quite vague about the details (and are written by people who don't know the show as well as we do) I would really, REALLY like to get stuck with Mofftiss in an elevator, and ask them about the elements that they plotted from the beginning, and how those ideas changed during the production.

 

Writing a show during it's running (or books in a series) must be a hard thing. Unlike with writing a closed piece, you cannot come back and change things you have already written, when the story start to vary from the inital plan. I really wonder, if they had Redbeard the Dog or Eurus in their heads from the very beginning, or the water theme. Or the skull-friend. Because I think it's possible, that they were drawing inspirations from what was already there, like things they saw on set - therefore Arwel's ideas became a part of the story.

 

I'm not sure what I find more attractive: a rather static construction with clues placed from the beginning - or a fluid one, making clues of things that appeared during the process.

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Because the interviews seem to be quite vague about the details (and are written by people who don't know the show as well as we do) I would really, REALLY like to get stuck with Mofftiss in an elevator, and ask them about the elements that they plotted from the beginning, and how those ideas changed during the production.

Yes, please! I'd be too shy (and claustrophobic) to confront them myself, but I'll keep the firemen away until you're done if you'll share the answers with me.

 

Writing a show during it's running (or books in a series) must be a hard thing. Unlike with writing a closed piece, you cannot come back and change things you have already written, when the story start to vary from the inital plan. I really wonder, if they had Redbeard the Dog or Eurus in their heads from the very beginning, or the water theme. Or the skull-friend. Because I think it's possible, that they were drawing inspirations from what was already there, like things they saw on set - therefore Arwel's ideas became a part of the story.

 

I'm not sure what I find more attractive: a rather static construction with clues placed from the beginning - or a fluid one, making clues of things that appeared during the process.

I think the former is more comfortable for me ... but I'm fascinated by the workings of the latter. So what am I looking for, comfort or fascination, comfort or fascination ... I think I'll just have to tiptoe over here to the fascination side, and continuity be damned. :D

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Re: Fate and Faith ... I don't really associate those two words, because my native speaker brain recognizes that they have different etymologies. So it's like ... oh, let's say, "be" and "bee" ... they look and sound alike, but I instinctively know there is no matching similarity in their meanings. For what that's worth.

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It is kind of neat though that Eurus represents in a sense a 'misplaced Faith' (in a sense that the real Faith is gone missing), as many people have misplaced their faith in CS, and as Sherlock has all along had misplaced faith in his own memories.

 

 

That's what I always thought too ... Moriarty says Sherlock interfered with his plans "once too often" (or something like that.) So he owed Sherlock a fall.

 

You're right, that's Sherlock talking to himself ... but I've also never quite figured out why he imagined Moriarty way down in his id, either.  :smile: It must mean something! But what......

 
Then again, it makes perfect sense to a Sherlock who sees emotions as the enemy, that he would have his own enemy argue their case.
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Re: Fate and Faith ... I don't really associate those two words, because my native speaker brain recognizes that they have different etymologies. So it's like ... oh, let's say, "be" and "bee" ... they look and sound alike, but I instinctively know there is no matching similarity in their meanings. For what that's worth.

 

But if you heard those words without context, could you still mix them up?

 

I don't give too much weight to it tbh, but I found it funny what my brain does at night, while I'm asleep. :P

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Re: Fate and Faith ... I don't really associate those two words, because my native speaker brain recognizes that they have different etymologies. So it's like ... oh, let's say, "be" and "bee" ... they look and sound alike, but I instinctively know there is no matching similarity in their meanings. For what that's worth.

 

But if you heard those words without context, could you still mix them up?

 

Well, yeah, because I couldn't hear the difference between them. But I can hear the difference between fate and faith. But I think maybe I'm missing your point, and it is a nice juxtaposition of words.

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If someone were speaking rapidly, and if the rest of the sentence offered no contextual clues, then "fate" and "faith" might be mistaken for each other, yes, especially in certain accents that don't strongly aspirate the "th."

 

But like Arcadia said, that's not likely to happen very often, due to context.

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I really wonder, if they had Redbeard the Dog or Eurus in their heads from the very beginning, or the water theme. Or the skull-friend. Because I think it's possible, that they were drawing inspirations from what was already there, like things they saw on set -

 

I am actually pretty sure that's the case - and I think it's perfectly fine as long as the finished product tells a decently coherent story. It doesn't matter in-universe whether something was planned from the beginning or not, if it fits, it still makes for a good narrative no matter whether some things were "retrofitted" or truly anticipated.

 

Nothing bothers me more than sequels (or prequels) where I get the impression that the writers either didn't bother to look through the material they were elaborating on or they simply didn't care. I am so happy this did not happen with Sherlock. It underwent significant changes in style and tone and Sherlock's character developed an awful lot, but it feels whole and interconnected to me, so I am satisfied.

 

For example, I particularly like how The Final Problem seems to tie back to The Hounds of Baskerville, but I am almost convinced that when Baskerville was written, Redbeard and Euros were vague ideas at best. No matter. It's still lovely how Sherlock's words to Henry ("you were just a child, you couldn't cope") and the substitution of a dog for a human being in a child's memory turn out to be about himself in the end.

 

Maybe that's really why he had that nervous breakdown? Because what was going on with Henry resonated with him in a way he couldn't understand and found, understandably, very disturbing?

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I know what you mean, but being me I always want to know what's inside aka how things work. I really want to know if all you wrote about HOB was a part of the greater plot/arch, or an element the plot of following episodes was based on.

 

Both possibilities seem very attractive to me. But they are attractive in very different ways.

 

Does it make sense?

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I know what you mean, but being me I always want to know what's inside aka how things work. I really want to know if all you wrote about HOB was a part of the greater plot/arch, or an element the plot of following episodes was based on.

 

Both possibilities seem very attractive to me. But they are attractive in very different ways.

 

Does it make sense?

Yup - but only the Sherlock team could give you answers, I am afraid. From what I have read in interviews, it sounded as if they came up with the Redbeard plotline during the making of S3. But of course I could have misunderstood.

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The problem with the interviews is, that people doing them are not insiders. They don't know which questions to ask, and they aren't able to interpret the answers they get - not the way we do. So unless I hear an interview, I don't think I'd even bother to take any such answers seriously.

 

The same with things Steven says. He often tends to make fun in a way that is not transferable into written text.

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