Lately I’ve been experimenting with female-to-male contouring for character sketches on Vine (Catie The Awesome), and this is a side-by-comparison of the characters, and my makeup jobs. Sam and Dean Winchester (from the CW’s Supernatural), and Victorian Sherlock Holmes and Victorian Doctor Watson (from BBC Sherlock).
Even here, Mind Palace!John (as always, a metaphor for Sherlock’s heart) is self aware and is breaking the scene to have a real heart to with heart with Sherlock…even if he’s only in Sherlock’s mind.
Holmes: “Get down for heavens’ sakes!” = Sherlock telling his feelings/heart to stay hidden/protected
Watson: “Sorry. Cramp.” = Heartache
“Is the lamp still burning?” “Yes…there goes Sir Eustace, and Lady Carmichael. The house sleeps.” = The lamp is the possibly the ‘torch’ Sherlock carries for John, the significance of John waiting till the clients (which here represent people who have the potential to judge Sherlock and his feelings – there’s significance that the Ricoletti case takes place in a historically homophobic time) are out of the scene so John can confront Sherlock about his feelings
Watson: “Good God, this is the longest night of my life.” = Why are you waiting to be honest about your feelings, to love John openly?
Watson: “It’s rare for us to sit together like this.” = You’re always avoiding thinking about your feelings.
Holmes: “I should hope so. Murder on the knees.” Because it’s painful, that why. (Freudian subtext aside)
“Man to man” = more homosexual subtext (notably, Sherlock has nothing to say to this, just shifts uncomfortably)
W: “A remarkable woman, Lady Carmichael…You liked her. ‘A woman of rare perception’.” = The Carmichaels, believe or not, are actually a parallel of Sherlock and John themselves. Sherlock identifies with Eustace, or rather, sees him as a mirror showing all his bad qualities (a misanthropic character, hiding secrets, weak), and all the things he finds admirable in Lady Carmichael are the same traits he loves about John. “Your wife sees worlds where no one else sees anything of value whatsoever.”=”John loves and sees worth in me whereas the rest of the world thinks I’m a cold heartless freak.”
“She’s far too good for him.” “You think so?” “No. You think so.” = Sherlock doesn’t see himself as worthy of John’s affection.
“Marriage is not a subject on which I dwell.” “Why not?” = Sherlock’s unspoken response is that he doesn’t perceive himself as worthy of anyone’s love, least of all, John. Besides, John is supposedly straight (even though this is never stated explicitly-John pointedly never claims to be heterosexual, just “not gay”), and married and expecting a child now, so what’s the point of dwelling on it?
Watson having waited till Holmes was “asleep” to look at the photo of Irene Adler = “A Scandal In Belgravia” was the first time Sherlock was forced to face his own romantic tendencies in his dalliance with Irene Adler. While Sherlock isn’t in love with her, she does represent his repressed desire for companionship and intimacy. Sherlock’s “heart” (John) hasn’t stopped thinking of this since, but because Sherlock insists on burying his head in the intellectual sandbox, those parts of him have never had the opportunity to come to light…until now. Sherlock is now trapped in his own psyche, with a physical manifestation of his feelings to question if he is as emotionally cold as he claims to be. Irene’s photo also serves as a reminder that emotion is trait found on the losing side (Sherlock’s words, roughly), as Irene lost to Sherlock in ASiB because she ended up falling for him.
W: “From absolutely no opposition whatsoever, I am your closest friend.” = YOU CARE ABOUT JOHN.
H: “I concede it.” = Yes, of course I care about John, because he’s my friend. Not because I’m in love with him.
W: “I am currently attempting to have a perfectly normal conversation with you.” = I think we both know there’s more to it than that.
“Why you need to be alone?” “If you are referring to romantic entanglement, Watson, which I rather fear you are, as I have often explained before, all emotion is abhorrent to me.” = This is where ACD!Holmes differs from BBC!Sherlock. Doyle’s Holmes was not emotionless. He could be jovial, witty, pleasant, even sweet at times. He just didn’t experience romantic love. BBC!Sherlock, on the other hand, tries his damnedest to not care about anything; to be the cold, hard, calculating machine that his older brother (or some figure from his past-possibly Redbeard? Not the dog, I mean.) has conditioned him to be. It’s almost as if he’s overcompensating for the immense emotions he actually does feel. Methinks the detective protests too much.
“It is the grit in the sensitive instrument. The crack in the-” “The crack in the lens. Yes.” “Well there you are. You see, I’ve said it all before.” “No, I wrote all that. You’re quoting yourself from The Strand magazine.” “Well, exactly.” “No, those are my words, not yours! That is the version of you that I present to the public: the brain without a heart, the calculating machine. I write all of that, Holmes, and the readers lap it up, but I do not believe it.” = You’ve spent so much time convincing everyone that you’re heartless you’ve gone and convinced yourself as well.
Then comes the whole “you must have…impulses” speech, which I don’t think I need to decode for you. But notice, Watson (a projection of Sherlock’s mind) never uses specific gender pronouns. If Watson was referring to ladyfolk, he would have said so. He can’t just come out and say “men”, because dropping a bombshell like that to the audience would be senseless. And maybe Holmes isn’t monosexual. Maybe he’s pan, or bi. But he ain’t straight, that’s for damn sure.
(An argument could be made for asexual, as Sherlock Holmes is usually portrayed as, but there’s so much evidence that Cumberbatch!Sherlock experiences sexual attraction that it’s hard for me to imagine that he is so, in this portrayal. Refer back to my overcompensation theory above. My personal opinion is panromantic demisexual with a preference for men, but never mind.)
Then Sherlock says the whole, “No one made me, I made me” line, then hallucinates the sound of Redbeard (this time I do mean the dog). And frankly, I have no idea what to make of that. The only thing I can think of that maybe, something tragic happened to Sherlock’s dog (presumably his only friend) that made young William decide to just stop loving. But he can’t. And it’s tragic.
Then the ghost shows up, and it’s back to the case. Keep in mind that this has all happened in Sherlock’s head while he’s trying to figure out how Moriarty could’ve survived TRF. Why the hell is Sherlock, in the middle of this, suddenly having this conversation about love and sex with himself? Does it serve any purpose in solving the riddle? No. No, it does not. It’s purely Sherlock, talking to himself about his repressed feelings for John.
The conversation may be over, but John/Sherlock’s heart does get its final say. “You’re human, I know that! You must be.” Accompanied by John striking a match and lighting a candle (again, fire is a metaphor for Sherlock’s feelings for John). In context, Watson is speaking to the ghost of Emilia Ricoletti, but remember, everything that’s happening in this Victorian reality directly relates back to either the Moriarty dilemma, or Sherlock himself. In this case, it’s probably both. But definitely leaning more toward Sherlock. ~TRL
I just had to share this post about Code Words For “Gay” In Classic Films. Don’t several of them sound like the famous detective we all know and love? “Eccentric”? “Limber”? “Wears a hat of someone else’s choosing”?
“Has a silk bathrobe”?
And I know I’m using BBC Sherlock as the specific example, but even in the original ACD fiction, the signs are there. Go, read it. You’ll see.
But yeah. Confirmed queer.