My previous article on BBC’s Sherlock was written directly after the episode, when I was still in the middle of the aftershocks. I love Sherlock, and I still like the special, but lately I have had to acknowledge a very, very important failing about this show.
The Fandom seems to be occupying a more important say in what happens to these characters than what the creators do.
This may seem like a statement that requires nobody to think about whether it’s bad or not. Because why shouldn’t the fans be allowed to say what they like? Aren’t they allowed some agency, a little interpretation of their own? Shouldn’t the fans be allowed to have a say in where the show is going?
The answer is always no. Not because I am a staunch believe in the Creator’s Last Word or something like that. I just feel that the story should be allowed to proceed the way the Creator intended it, without interference. Once the story is finished for all intents and purposes (for example, the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), the people have to be allowed to interpret the ending however they see fit.
This is not happening in Sherlock. The overactive Fandom is taking over every bit of agency that the writers have. And it’s not unwilling on the part of Moffat and Gatiss. They enjoy the number of views Sherlock gets, they enjoy the way the fans seem to be completely crazy about the show. And they use this to their advantage – a lot of the possibilities on how Sherlock survived the fall are enumerated during the first episode of the third season. The whole ‘Twins’ theory of Moriarty is scoffed very easily during the special with Sherlock saying, ‘It’s never twins, John!’ They use the in-world fame of their character to show their fans in certain lights.
But that we saw a serious amount of character development which honestly came a little out of nowhere in the third season is what makes me think that the creators have lost track of how much agency they should allow their fans. Sherlock doesn’t express love. And a lot of us feel like Sherlock loves John beyond belief doesn’t mean that he would step out of character to prove it. He already proved it time and time again through his actions, instead of speech.
That the line ‘High functioning sociopath’ returned twice in the third season shows that the creators know that we love that line, as fans. Yet it’s only cool once.
All that being said, I did enjoy the Christmas special. I enjoy the format of the show which follows the murder or mystery of something significant and then watching Sherlock decode it. The characterization that occurs within this set up is the added bonus of having brilliant creators.
Brilliant creators who must not let the show cater to the whims of the fans. I love the Fandom, but let’s face it – we’re a conflicted lot. Some of us like a certain character, others hate him. Some of us want certain endings; others just want death in the name of an ending. The ability to please all is rare, and in any case, an ability which is overrated.