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Human Connections
The Emotional Arc of „Elementary“- Season 2
A philosophical-psychological discourse



Human Connections

The Emotional Arc of "Elementary" Season 2


“We have spilled much ink you and I in our discussion of human connection and we are no closer to understanding than we were when the correspondence began.”

These are the opening words of the letter, Sherlock writes to Moriarty at the beginning of the episode “The Diabolical Kind” and I think at the end of Season 2 we are still practically at the same point.

Jane Austen once said:
“There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time”

But what is love anyway?
I’m not sure if it is possible to answer this question at all, but I have got the impression that the writers of “Elementary” tried to express their points of view as best as they could over the 24 episodes of the Second Season.
I think it is best to start at the beginning and work myself through the episodes reviewing them under the aspect of

Human Connections and what they are worth


1.“Step Nine” – loyalty, friendship and family bonds

When Lestrade gets himself into trouble, Sherlock doesn’t hesitate a moment to fly to London to help him and even though Lestrade steals his money and is everything but nice to him, Sherlock stays on his side, because he believes in his innocence. Real friends show themselves when they stand by you in difficult times and don’t let you down, no matter what.
As for the brothers: When they meet for the first time after more than five years, they immediately start fighting, out of habit I suppose.
We get to know that Sherlock had seduced Mycroft’s fiancée.
After that Mycroft didn’t talk to him anymore. Sherlock explains that he only did it, because he saw what kind of woman she was; dating Mycroft for the family money and not for love. He wanted to save his brother from her and because he wouldn’t listen he had to prove somehow that he was right. That cost Sherlock the contact to his brother, one of only very few social contacts he had at all, and although I think he knew that this might happen, he still did it. So there must be at least some affection for his brother.
It is obvious that Sherlock means something to Mycroft, too, because when he meets with Joan he asks her to teach him “how to be friends with Sherlock”, because he feels sorry for everything that happened between them. The problem is, that the Holmes brothers obviously never really showed their affection for each other and don’t seem to know how to either. Considering the fact that the father is described as an emotionally neglecting and cold person, this is no surprise at all. But still, as we were shown throughout the Season that followed: “Blood is thicker than water.”


2.“Solve for X” – Greed versus Generosity

A mathematician gets killed by a person he thought was a friend because of greed, because of wanting everything for herself and the unwillingness to share. Sherlock, on the other hand, gives all the money he has got in cash to Watson without even wanting it back.

Sherlock:
“I care as much for money as I do for Hummel figurines”

So she can solve her problem with the son of the patient she lost on the operating table. That’s real friendship. Giving everything you have without thinking of your own benefit and without asking a lot of questions.
I liked it how the writers contrasted the generosity of Sherlock with the greed of the killer.


3.We are Everyone”– Don’t give up, you have got a lot to share

“For a long while now I have suspected the connection with another person, real connection, simply isn’t possible. I’m curious if you disagree.....So tell me now, is it possible to truly know another person. Is it even a worthwhile pursuit?”

These are words of the letter by Moriarty that Sherlock reads at the end of the episode. The question is answered by Watson, who, coming back from a blind date, tells Sherlock:
“I think it’s sad that you’ve given up. I think you have got a lot to share if you cared to. I shouldn’t be the only one who knows you.”
The message I get from this episode is, that even if a “real connection”, whatever that means, doesn’t seem possible it shouldn’t keep you from trying to make them. Everybody has got something to share and so yes, it is a worthwhile pursuit.


4.Poison Pen – A Sorrow Shared is a Sorrow Halved

This episode was one I couldn’t get out of my head for days.
It explained a lot of Sherlock’s character.
He had been a victim of constant bullying and severe physical abuse by his classmates over a period of several years.

“My bullies had one tool at their disposal: violence.
So I was beaten, fairly savagely and with great frequency...I was adrift back then. I had no purpose and my so called peers made me feel that this might forever be the case.”

At the age of fifteen, close to giving up, thinking his life was useless, he read about the case of an American girl of his age who had been accused of the murder of her father who had beaten her regularly. Interested in crime and murder Sherlock started to write letters to her and found out that she indeed had killed her father. He managed to do so just by asking her questions and putting the facts together.

“Without knowing she made me a gift. She helped me to find out who I was and what I might do with my life.”

At first the interest was purely scientific but then it developed in a different direction. As fate had been unkind to them both in a rather similar way, Abigail and Sherlock exchanged letters over a period of 18 months, giving each other strength and support.

Sherlock:
“Her letters were a distraction from my daily life. They were my oasis from school.”

Abigail:
“I was looking forward to your letters. They helped me through times like these.”

Having the possibility to tell somebody one’s troubles who is able and willing to understand can form a bond that is “nothing so mundane as love” but still a very strong one, one that can even save your life. The writers of the episode expressed that in the scene where Sherlock goes to Abigail’s flat to talk to her. You can see that there is some kind of intimacy between the two, even after more than twenty years and without ever having met before.
At the end of the episode Sherlock explains the value of such a relationship with the following words:

“Being victimized is corrosive. Sometimes, talking about it, that can help.”


5.Ancient History – Trust, Honesty and Betrayal

“When the one that you love is revealed to have a dark heart, it is... well it’s excruciating....The shock will burn off and you will feel anger.”

These are the words Sherlock says to the wife of the victim who wasn't what he seemed to be, referring to his relationship with Irene aka Moriarty, of course.
Being deceived by someone you trusted is extremely painful and the anger you feel can make you say or do things you didn't mean to.
If husband and wife in the story had been honest to each other from the start, maybe none of the events that lead to the murder would have happened at all. Without trust and honesty no relationship can ever work.
That's why Joan is so upset when she is told by Sherlock that he followed her at the beginning of her stay with him.
But knowing about his psychological problems, she accepts his explanation and apology, because his statement makes it quite clear that she has gained his trust now. He just needed the security that she really deserved it.


6.An Unnatural Arrangement – Separation and healing effects of friendship.

While everybody else didn't notice, Sherlock, being perceptive as he is, has known for quite some time that Gregson and his wife separated and feels with him. Not knowing how to deal with that, he tries to convince himself that people are better off without connections, knowing deep inside that this is not true.
Nothing is certain in this world, so every relationship can come to an end, which is of course painful for the people involved. But as long as they work they are very valuable.
In the end Watson encourages Sherlock to use his abilities to help Gregson cope.

Sherlock:
“You should know, captain, that I usually cheer the end of any marriage. As an institution, I think it’s outlasted its usefulness by quite a large margin.
And yet I’ve come to appreciate the premise of partnership.

It’s far more intricate than I had previously imagined.
The very smallest gesture can speak volumes.


Gregson:
“You are telling me not to give up.”

Sherlock:
“I’m telling you, you should never have entered into the charade that is wedded matrimony.
You had a partner. Perhaps you still do.”


That's what friends are for.
They give you advice and support whenever you need it.

"Take my mind and take my pain, like an empty bottle takes the rain and heal."
(First line of "Heal" by Tom Odell, played over the last scenes.)


7.The Marchioness – Building up connections

"If I'd just been born when it was a little quieter out there, would I have even become an addict in the first place? Might I have been more focused, a more fully realised person?"

The Episode begins with Sherlock at an NA meeting, explaining how difficult life in this noisy and confusing world is for him because of his exceptionally keen senses. That's why he sometimes wishes he had been born in another time. As it turns out Mycroft attends the meeting, too.
He says he came to support his brother and this statement seems honest, especially because he tries to find out afterwards if Sherlock really meant what he said. Mycroft probably never understood his brother until that very moment when he hears him open his heart.
With Sherlock usually keeping up a wall around himself, he might not have had a chance to before.
So this scene is crucial to the development of the relationship between the brothers.
To form a connection you need to have at least some access to the feelings of the other person. But you must also be willing to make the effort and have the ability to understand them. It is obvious that Mycroft does both, because when one of the participants makes fun of Sherlock's explanation he immediately plunges in and expresses that he got the point.
In the course of the episode Mycroft's eyes are opened further to his brother's personality.
It is revealed that Sherlock had indeed been right about Mycroft's fiancée Nigella being a greedy and calculating person who, after the breakup with Mycroft, married an aristocrat just because of the title and the money and divorced him as soon as possible.
So Mycroft has to reconsider the image he had of his brother and at the end of the episode he invites Sherlock to a conversation in order to get to know him better. Of course this proves to be difficult, because Sherlock with his many issues mistrusts Mycroft's intentions, but it is a start.

Sherlock:
“I won’t discuss the holidays, you know.”

Mycroft:
“That’s fine.”

Sherlock:
“I’ve no interest in covering our past in a glaze of nostalgia.”

Mycroft:
“I accept your terms completely. Where does that leave us then? What would you like to talk about?”


8.Blood is Thicker – “Nothing to be thankful for”

"Blood is Thicker" gives us an inside into the Holmes Family through the conversations between Mycroft and Sherlock.
You have to interpret the words, because nothing specific is said, but putting the remarks together and considering the statements Sherlock made about his father in Season 1 you can get quite a good picture of what might have happened.
When Mycroft tells Sherlock that their father means to cut him off if he doesn't return to London, Sherlock says that "he can keep his bloody house and his bloody money" and that he could sleep in a cardboard box if he had to. This shows how much he despises his father.
You can't choose your parents. It is a relationship a child cannot escape. So parents have got a great responsibility. Of course they have to guide their children and set limitations in order to enable them to find their way around society, but if they misuse their power and oppress their children, they can destroy their souls in a way that they will never be able to lead a normal life.
The consequences of which can be seen in the character of Sherlock, who suffers from an anxiety disorder and depression.
Because Mycroft submitted himself to his father and came to terms with his authoritarian and capricious behaviour, he got out less harmed.
Sherlock however, with his strong will, didn't want to bow and so the father broke his spirit, what caused at least part of Sherlock's psychological problems.
You can conclude that from two statements.
When Mycroft says he knows that Sherlock and their father had problems, but that he could at least show some gratitude, Sherlock gets furious and by saying to Mycroft “early onset dementia is so sad”, he expresses that he's got nothing to be thankful for.
And in the end when Sherlock hands his brother the letter to their father and Mycroft says that it must have been difficult for him to write it, Sherlock replies: "Not unlike carving it into my very skin."
Writing this, I remembered a famous song by Bettina Wegner, a German songwriter, which I think fits perfectly here: "Sind so kleine Hände".
I'll try to give an accurate translation.

Such little Hands

Such little hands
With tiny fingers
Never to be hit
For they will break

Such little feet
With such little toes
Never to be stepped on
Or they can't walk anymore

Such little ears
Keen, and please allow
Never to be bellowed at
Or they will become deaf

Such little mouths
That express everything
Never to be forbidden to speak
Or nothing will come out anymore

Such clear eyes
That still see everything
Never to be blindfolded
Or they can't see anymore

Such little souls
Open completely and free
Never to be tortured
Or they will be destroyed

Such little spine
Still hardly to be seen
Never to be bent
Or it will break

I found a great text about breaking a person's spirit on the internet:
http://madmikesamerica.com/2012/02/how-to-break-a-persons-spirit/
I am quite sure Sherlock's father is a model here.
You can read it at the end of this discourse.

"Imagine the warmth in those tiny hands that held on to a penance I didn't deserve."
(Line from "Unofferable" by Half Moon Run played over the last scenes.)


9.On the Line – To Thine Own Self

The episode starts with an irritating scene. Sherlock criticizes a young police officer, who is just doing his work, in a very impolite way. It becomes evident that something is wrong, because when he talks to Gregson he gets rude towards him, too, something Sherlock has never done before.
In the course of the episode his mood gets darker and he even starts fighting with Watson, who tries to bring him to his senses, but doesn't succeed.
It culminates in the final scene where Sherlock explains Joan that he isn’t a nice man but acerbic right to the bottom and that there is no warmer him for her to coax out, expressed with such a cold voice that it sends a shudder down your spine.
Besides the fact that this statement contradicts Sherlock’s actions in the rescue of the victims of the serial killer where he is the only one to notice that the women shouldn’t have to see their tormentor again, it is more than obvious that this is not true, but it is not possible to argue with Sherlock anymore at that point.
It becomes apparent that he is starting to sink into a Major Depressive Episode and, knowing about his condition, tries to prepare Watson for what is going to follow, when he might not be able to accommodate her any longer. Sherlock wants to protect Joan, so he pushes her away.
Their relationship is so important to him that he risks Watson leaving, but he doesn’t want her to get hurt.
Because Joan can’t understand his motivation at the time, she remains behind totally puzzled.
Just a few days after watching this episode I listened to the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and the words moved me a lot, because they brought the episode and this scene back to my mind.

I want to hide the truth
I want to shelter you
But with this beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
.....
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
.....
Don't want to let you down
But I am hellbound
Though this is all for you
Don't want to hide the truth
....
They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save their light
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how


10.Tremors - " Welcome to the greys"

“The danger with rulebooks is, Watson, that they offer the illusion that life is a simple undertaking, that the world exists in black and white. Welcome to the greys.”

These are the words Sherlock says to Watson when she asks him if Bells injury doesn’t give him pause about their methods.
I think this is an important statement. Everybody knows that the world does not exist in black and white and still we insist on sticking straight to the rules, no matter what.
When I talked to somebody about this episode he said to me
“We have to know the rules to be able to decide when it is necessary to break them.”
I can only agree. In everybody’s life there will be situations where we can’t avoid breaking rules in order to achieve something good.
But we must be aware, that we also have to be ready to take the consequences for our actions.
I know this doesn’t fit directly in to the topic of the discourse, but I consider this aspect as so essential for society, that I decided to talk about it anyway.

I will quote from „Demons” by Imagine Dragonsagain now, because it perfectly illustrates the other central point of this episode.

“So they dug your grave and the Masquerade will come calling out at the mess you’ve made.”

You can find examples for that day by day.
When somebody, who has done excellent work so far, does something wrong, everybody points their finger at the person and dwells on that one stupid mistake. All the good things this person has done before suddenly don’t count anymore.
And if the person then takes the fall, nobody will stand by.
As long as you are successful, you have got a lot of so called friends, but the real ones show themselves in situations like this one.
They won’t let you down.
Captain Gregson, although angry about Sherlock’s behaviour in court, immediately tries to find a way to keep him on the job, when the judge suggests the Commissioner not to allow Sherlock to work for the NYPD any longer.
But the character who is the most impressive is Detective Bell.
He thinks Sherlock is responsible for his severe injury that might end his career as a policeman and won’t forgive him.
But still, when asked by the Commissioner if Sherlock should go on working for the NYPD, he puts his personal interests aside and decides from a professional point of view. This decision shows true greatness. Not a lot of people are capable of such a thing.
If we had more people in this world like the character of Detective Bell it would be a lot better.
I will close my thoughts on this episode with the words Sherlock wrote on the paper that he put on the desk of the attorney at the trial.

“At the head of all understanding is realising what is and what cannot be and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.”
(Solomon Ben Judah)


11.Internal Audit – The Capacity To Put Oneself In Other People’s Shoes

“I’ve always had compassion for the victims of the crimes I investigate.
The capacity to place myself into other people’s shoes, to know what they are thinking and feeling, is a necessary skill for determining motive, one at which I excel. This capacity has never been a detriment to my work. Lately however...”

In Episode 9 Sherlock said to Watson that he was a cold person, now he reveals to Alfredo, his sponsor, that not the lack of empathy is his problem but rather the opposite: Having too much of it. When you followed the Series attentively up to that point, that revelation isn't a surprise at all.
A lot of gifted people are very sensitive when it comes to emotions and Sherlock is no exception.
But having the ability to “read” other people is a gift and a curse at the same time.
It is easier to make a connection when you know what the person you talk to is thinking or feeling.
That’s why Sherlock is so often able to get a witness to talk.
He knows exactly what to say and how to communicate it.
As he said himself "he knows his audience."
This works fine as long as the person is a stranger to you.
But as soon as you know them better it becomes complicated, because when a friend or a partner is feeling down you work like a mirror and it affects you so much yourself that it becomes difficult to even look this person in the eye.
That’s what happens to Sherlock. Never having had close friends before, this feeling is new to him and makes him all confused.
When you have the capacity to put yourself into other people’s shoes you have to learn to live with it and make the best out of it, you can’t cast it off anyway.


12."The Diabolical Kind" - Empathy, the basic condition for making connections

"We have spilled much ink, you and I, in our discussion of human connection.
And we are no closer to understanding than we were when the correspondence began.
I often feel as if I'm standing on one side of a wide chasm, shouting across, wondering if the response I hear comes from you, or if it is my own voice echoing back to me. It seems to me, on my side of the canyon, that the search for unity with another is the font of much of the world's unhappiness.
I watch as Watson, eager as ever to extract some meaning from the prevailing social conventions, endures a series of curated mating rituals. It seems to me, that she's incrementally less content each time she returns from one.
I conduct myself as though I'm above matters of the heart.
Chiefly because I have seen them corrode people I respect.
But in my candid moments I sometimes wonder if I take the stance I do, because love, for lack of a better word, is a game I fail to understand, and so I opt not to play.
After all, if I truly had the purity of all my convictions, I wouldn't regret so many of the things I've done, nor would I persist, against so many of my better instincts, in this correspondence. I find you a challenge, one that, in spite of all that you've done, continues to stimulate. And so the conversation, futile though it may finally be, continues. And we are left to wonder: have we simply failed to find the answers to the questions that preoccupy us or can they not be answered at all.
Fortunately, for both of us, the world always presents the next diversion, the next elaborate distraction from the problems that vex."

I decided to start this chapter with the entire letter Sherlock writes to Moriarty at the beginning. Because it is so beautifully written, I don't want to shorten it and I will not comment on the text either. It speaks for itself.
There is one thing though I want to talk about: The conversation between Sherlock and Moriarty at the end of the episode. Moriarty always claimed that she and Sherlock were alike. Now she has to admit that this is not the case, that there is a big difference between the two: Empathy.
Moriarty is a psychopath. She makes that very clear in this conversation. When Sherlock, who always tries to see the good in people, points out that she didn't kill the guards, she answers, that she only did this, because she knew it would be repugnant for him. She herself didn't care at all. Because Moriarty loves Sherlock she is able to see through his eyes, but her ability to feel empathy is limited to him.
Sherlock however is always able to see what consequences his actions have for other people; he even puts their interests before his own sometimes. When Moriarty asks if this is what makes him "one of them", Sherlock answers that he is not sure that he is one of them, but deep inside he knows that she is right.
When you combine this conversation with Moriarty killing her former lieutenants and presenting this fact to Sherlock deliberately, it becomes clear that she is trying to let Sherlock go, to release him from their relationship. She knows that he has to move on, because he belongs "to them" and not to her.


13.All in the family – Work things out

In every relationship there will come a time, when things get problematic.
At that point you have got two possibilities. The first one is not to talk about it. That’s easy, but it won’t solve anything. It will probably end the relationship sooner or later, because both parties are angry about the other one and stay that way. The other possibility is more difficult, but obviously the better one. Work things out. Talk to each other. Develop a culture of dispute. Maybe even yell at each other. But don’t stay silent.
In this episode it is Sherlock who finally makes the start. He has got enough of Bell’s evasive behaviour and confronts him.
He makes it perfectly clear to Bell what he thinks about his decision to transfer to another unit and when Bell insults him by saying that he thinks that all is easy for Sherlock, but not for him, he doesn’t hesitate a second to reveal to him that he is a drug addict to prove his point. This openness settles the problem between the two and they are able to work together again.


"I am a drug addict, Marcus, a drug addict.
Now that might seem quite an abstraction to you, because I have been sober since I made your acquaintance. But two years ago I was as pitiable a soul as you will ever meet.
With help I fought back. And I got a little bit better. I know what I am supposed to do with my life. Do you?"


14.Dead Clade Walking /
15.Corpse de Ballet


“It deserves a loftier resting place than someone's dustbin.”

I will treat episodes 14 and 15 as one, because they deal with the same topic: Accepting and integrating people into society who are damaged in one way or the other.
I used Sherlock’s statement about the debris of the dinosaur as a header of this chapter, because it is the message I receive from these two episodes.
“Dead Clade Walking” starts with Sherlock looking at pictures of an ancient book about trepanning to “release the skull of evil humours”. He is in such a state of depression that he even considers drilling a hole in his head to get rid of the dark thoughts.
But luckily he is not able to go on with his experiment, because Randall, his sponsee, texts him that he might relapse and needs help.
I liked this episode a lot, because it had three storylines going on at the same time and all were related.
The fossil of the dinosaur gets destroyed, because it doesn’t fit into the existing theory of the extinction of the species. So it can’t be accepted. Sherlock nevertheless wants the remains, because he doesn’t want them to be thrown away. He considers them still important.
Then there is Randall.
Sherlock, although not well himself, tries to keep him from using drugs again, mobilising the last bit of energy he has left. He invests everything he can and although he doesn’t succeed in the end, he doesn’t let Randall down when he appears on his doorstep, asking him to stay his sponsor. Sherlock is on the verge of tears but pulls himself together for his sponsee.
The third storyline is Watson, trying to prevent Sherlock from breaking down completely and from doing something stupid like trepanning or even worse.
She reopens one of Sherlock’s cold cases to obtain him a sense of achievement by solving it together. She encourages him to get up, eat and work and keeps an eye on him all of the time.
It is obvious that she is deeply worried, but she covers it up with kindness and keeps calm although Sherlock gets rude towards her on various occasions and even hangs up in the middle of a phone call with her.

In Episode 15 there is the story of the veteran, who came home from war and because of his psychological problems wasn’t able to find his place in society again and so became homeless.
Watson, we get to know, has a father who is schizophrenic and lives on the streets as well and so she tries to help homeless people, because her father doesn't want her help.
She finds out that somebody kidnapped veterans to claim their social benefits and frees them.
When she comes home, Sherlock sits in front of the fireplace, staring into space. He asks her about one of the veterans and she answers that his people would try to take him home and help him. When Sherlock asks her "And if they can’t?” I am sure, he refers to himself as well. Watson understands that and answers “That has to be up to him.”
You must be really strong to cope with situations like these ones and the person you are looking after must mean a lot to you to go to such lengths and effort.
But every single person is worth it. People who are broken should still be respected for what they are and for what they have been.
They deserve a loftier resting place than someone's dustbin.

Speaking of respect and acceptance there is another important aspect concerning relationships in Episode 15: Sherlock’s “sexual self-medication”.
He meets with a different woman each night, who leaves in the morning with a papercup of coffee put in her hand. When Watson asks him for the surname of the woman that just left, Sherlock answers that it is “probably quite lovely”. He doesn’t know and he doesn’t want to either.
He uses the sex as an anti-depressant, nothing more. And the women seem perfectly OK with that.
By meeting them only once, not sitting at a table with them and not knowing their full names Sherlock makes sure that no relationship whatsoever can develop between them and him. To make a connection you need emotions. Distancing yourself from them prevents it.
Watson is a bit irritated about Sherlock’s behaviour, but when he asks her not to judge him for it, she answers “No judgement, just buy some more ‘to- go’ cups.” She knows that Sherlock needs to do what he does to be able to function and get through the day.
In my opinion there is nothing to be judged in this case anyway. It is a win-win situation. The women he meets with are all intelligent and independent and seem to be quite happy when they leave in the morning.
So what?


16.The One Percent Solution - Fighting Cocks. Change is possible...

The main aspect of this episode is the two fighting cocks, an allegory on human behaviour. Sherlock does an experiment. He wants the chickens to lose their learned aggressiveness. Knowing about Sherlock's past, it is easy to understand his motivation. During his entire childhood he had to suffer from the aggression of other people towards him, so now, by reversing the conditioning, he wants to prove that the retreat from hostility is possible. You can see how important this matter is to Sherlock in the last scene. When he opens the cages, you can read in his face how much he fears failing.


17.Ears To You - ...but has its limits. Breaking a friendship

Having succeeded in the training of the two cocks, Sherlock now tries to transfer the experiment to himself. If he can teach chickens to live together in harmony, he might also be able to condition his brain, not to produce anxiety attacks anymore. Therefore he puts himself in a situation which triggers a panic reaction in him: Standing in a pitch-black room.
He uses a cock on his shoulder for the training. Sherlock has to stand perfectly still and control his breathing to keep it there, because chickens have got a vibration organ in their feet with which they can sense danger.
He isn't very successful with this experiment though and that's the point where we come back to relationships. Watson gets informed about Sherlock's "balancing exercise" as he himself calls it, by Lestrade.
He tells her that the other day he entered a room which was darkened and found Sherlock standing there covered in feathers.
Lestrade didn't understand at all what Sherlock was doing although he has known him for several years now. Watson on the other hand gets the point immediately. You can conclude that from the scene where Joan comes into the living-room the next morning finding Sherlock lying flat on his stomach on the floor trying to dismantle one of the little bombs he gets sent by a contact of his. He tells her the latest news of the case they are working on and the facts are so unbelievable that Watson remarks "You are kidding." When Sherlock answers "Yeah, that's me Watson, joke machine" she knows that something is weighing upon him. She sees a feather on his back, walks over and picks it up, gently brushing across Sherlock's shoulder, giving him comfort. By simply asking "Balancing exercise?" she signalizes him that she knows and understands.
This shows that the time you know people is not important for really knowing them. It is the effort you invest.

Now for something not so completely different.

How can you make sure that a person you consider a friend breaks up with you?

It's easy. Do it like Lestrade!

1) Take advantage of your friend's abilities but give absolutely nothing yourself.

2) Take his ideas and pass them off as your own, maybe even using his words.
This works especially well when the other person, because of an anxiety disorder, is not able to state his position in public.

3) Criticize him in front of his closest friend, because you have to show off.

4) Be so self-absorbed that you don't become aware of the fact that the things you do and say hurt your friend's feelings.

When you follow this advice thoroughly, your friend will in all likelihood break the friendship with you. Maybe he will do it like Sherlock, call you "Sir", shake hands with you and leave the room. You can also be sure to have made the close friend of him angry, because she has to go and lift up your former friend's spirits.


18.The Hound of the Cancer Cells - Misanthropy was easy

The main plot of this episode was about courage, responsibility, common sense and the balance between them. That's an important issue and I appreciate that the writers dealt with it in such a realistic and honest way. But as it is not directly related to human connections I will not discuss it any further and move on to the topic of Detective Bell's recovery party.
Sherlock and Joan have both been invited and Watson organizes a present. Sherlock unmistakably has got a problem with the invitation, because every time Joan tries to talk to him about the party, he blocks her off by changing the topic, a strategy he only uses when something troubles him profoundly.
This is a situation in which the value of a close friendship shows itself.
Joan is able to hear what Sherlock is not saying. She knows that he has to talk about the matter, but at first accepts Sherlock's evasive behaviour and waits for him to make the first step. When he cuts her off for the third time, she decides to spark the conversation herself. This is only possible, because their relationship is built on a stable basis of trust.
Sherlock just says that he doesn't want to talk about the party, because he doesn't intend to go and leaves the room.
Wanting an explanation, she follows him into the kitchen and although he reacts quite sarcastically with "Hi, hi, have we met? My name is Sherlock and I am a recovering drug addict" she doesn't let him get away with the specious excuse that he is not supposed to spend time in bars.
Finally he tells her that he fears he will only be an outsider and that the other guests might reject him for his role in the events that lead to Bell's injury.
What happens next shows how well Joan knows Sherlock. She senses that making this statement stirred him up and leads the conversation back to the case.
Knowing when to persist and when to stop is an ability you gain when you form a bond with somebody. It is important to follow this instinct or the other person will draw back.
Watson gives Sherlock the time he needs and it is long in the episode before the focus returns to the issue.
Joan studied some files and goes to Sherlock to tell him that she found something. He doesn't seem to listen, but keeps staring at Bell's present, a shooting target picturing a guy with a gun, looking at the observer. Watson asks who is winning and Sherlock answers that he is having second thoughts about the festivities.
He tells her that he is pleased about Bell's recovery and that he thinks Bell really deserves to be feted, having worked hard to achieve it. But he worries that if he went to the party he would be a distraction and spoil it.
When Watson answers that if Bell didn't want him there, he wouldn't have invited him, Sherlock answers

"Misanthropy was so easy Watson, elegant, I miss it sometimes."

Connections are risky. They make you vulnerable, because you have to reveal quite a lot of yourself making and maintaining them. That's what Sherlock refers to. He had always avoided relationships, so he didn't have to grapple with his problem, but now that he has come to appreciate meaningful connections, he wants to be Bell's friend and he knows that if he doesn't go to the party Marcus could think that he didn't care.
As Sherlock is hardly able to deal with one person he doesn't know, being in a room full of strangers is horror to him.
So making a decision is really difficult.
In a relationship you always have to find the right balance between looking after the interests of your friend or partner and your own needs.
In the end Sherlock forces himself to go to the party. He finds Bell standing in front of the bar. He says to Sherlock:"I wasn't sure you would be coming" and Sherlock answers "I wasn't sure myself."
With the tone of his voice Marcus signalizes Sherlock that he would have understood if he hadn't come. Then he explains him that he has had a bad day and doesn't feel like going in. Sherlock, who is visibly relieved not having to enter the premises, gives him the advice not to act against this feeling and invites him to a small cafe around the corner.


19.The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville - A Real Connection

In episode 3 Moriarty wrote in a letter that she thinks a real connection between two people isn't possible. In this episode we are shown that she is wrong.
In the beginning Sherlock finds out that a thief hid himself under a sheet in the cold room of a morgue. He walks backwards into the small and narrow chamber and stabs the thief in the leg with a pin. The man comes up in a sudden move. This triggers an anxiety attack in Sherlock and the only thing he can do is to lean against the wall. Watson realises what has happened and looks at Sherlock. They don't say a word, but you can see that they understand each other nevertheless. Later Watson comes home and sees Sherlock balancing on a ladder with one foot to take a book from a shelf, although he could have moved the ladder to reach the book easily.
Her comment on that fact shows that she knows why he didn't do it (balance training after the panic attack).
Sherlock tells Watson about a job offer he got from some of Mycroft's friends but suddenly stops and asks Joan what is wrong. He can read in her expression that something is troubling her.
This is a real connection: Being able to notice the state of mind of another person just by looking at them.
When you don't need words anymore to detect your friend’s feelings and conditions you truly know this person.
There is another good example in this episode that shows the strong bond between Watson and Sherlock.
The hackers group "We are Everyone", in return for information, demands of Sherlock to stand on a square with a poster in his hand that says: "Help me catch a murderer by punching me in the arm". He has to endure this procedure for quite some time, without anything happening.
Watson already starts to worry how much more of it Sherlock can take, when they finally get what they wanted.
Back home Sherlock starts to sort the dental records they received. Watson takes a look at him and then tells him to rest, she would take the first shift. Sherlock only says "as you wish", sits down in an armchair and falls asleep.
Joan could conclude from his tone of voice and body language how exhausted he was although he tried not to show it.


20. No Lack of Void - Loss and Grief

Every relationship is finite, either through separation or through death, what is always hurtful. You start looking for reasons but in a lot of cases you don't find any and you have to accept that.
This is especially difficult when somebody commits suicide or dies from a drug overdose.

Sherlock has a close friend, Alistair, whom he knows since he has been ten years old and who is like a father to him. Alistair lives in New York, too and they meet at least once a month for breakfast. But this time Alistair doesn't appear. Sherlock finds out that he died a week ago through Ian, Alistair's partner.
Joan recognizes that something is wrong and asks him. Sherlock tells her that Alistair is dead but lies about the cause. He is in absolute shock, not able to think clearly. He even puts himself deliberately into a situation where he might get killed, because he can't stand his frame of mind anymore.
Joan gets told the real cause of Alistair's death by his son and confronts Sherlock with it the next morning.

Joan:
"When were you to tell me about Alistair? His son came here last night. He was upset about some things you said to Ian."

Sherlock:
"I told you the truth. Alistair's heart stopped beating.”

Joan:
“Because of a heroin overdose, a massive heroin overdose. I know that he was found with a needle in his arm. I know it all.”

Sherlock:
“Well, good for you. It must be nice knowing it all. I myself do not.”

Joan:
“You lied. Why?”

Sherlock:
“You were unaware of Alistair's history and according to the traditions of the programme I felt obligated to protect his privacy.”

Joan:
“I don't believe you.”

Sherlock:
“Well, I don't care that you don't believe me.”

Joan:
“Well I do care that you almost got yourself killed last night and I know that Jeremy cares that you left Ian wondering if he was the reason why Alistair overdosed.”

Sherlock:
“Jeremy never forgave Alistair for leaving his mother. He went ten years without even speaking to the man.”

Joan:
“That's not really what's bothering you, right?”

Sherlock:
“As you know, Alistair and I became friends when I...when I was quite young. His addiction was a thing of the past and mine was a thing of the future. I didn't even know about his difficulties until...till much later. For the first decade of our relationship we didn't discuss it. When I began my own misadventures with chemical dependence, he tried to warn me, I didn't listen...
Nevertheless he welcomed me with open arms when I showed up on his doorstep in New York just brimming with opiates.”

Joan:
“He told me about that. Most recovering addicts would not have taken the risk.”

Sherlock:
“He wasn't most addicts. He had thirty years under his belt, thirty years. Can you even imagine? I just want to know what it was. Was it...was it a fight, an affair?
If I can identify the trigger maybe...
My rational brain tells me that relapse is always a risk for any addict, of course, but his death is...blindsided me and it bothers me that it bothers me.”

Joan:
“He was your friend.”

Sherlock:
“Next month I will have two years sober. Alistair was sober for over three decades. And in time I would have discussed this with you, every bit of it.
I just need to try and...”

Sherlock racks his brain in search for a reason why Alistair relapsed after such a long time but in the end he has to accept that he will never know, because the only one who could tell him is dead.
When you lose somebody you need some time to mourn. This is important to be able to come to terms with the loss, but eventually you have to move on with your life.
The writers expressed that with a beautiful quote from Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”.
Sherlock is standing at Alistair’s grave and talks to his “ghost”.


Vision of Alistair:
“Sherlock Holmes. Why did you become such a cliché? Standing over a grave, head heavy with dark thoughts. If this were a scene in a play, I'd have refused to perform it. “

Sherlock:
“I was on my way to a meeting. I am supposed to speak, you know.
Well, I thought this would be a good place to collect my thoughts.”

Alistair:
“I'm sorry I let you down.”

Sherlock:
“You didn't let me down. What you did has got nothing to do with me. I understand that.
Came here today because... because I loved you very much...and I wanted you to know that you'll be missed.”

Alistair:
“At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, he is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on.”

The final four episodes form an integrated whole. You can view them as a summary of the aspects that were dealt with throughout the Season.


21.The Man With The Twisted Lip

Although I just said that the last four episodes are a kind of summary there is one very important aspect in this episode that wasn't mentioned before:
Having a connection with somebody doesn't mean that you can claim this person for yourself alone.
Sherlock has difficulties accepting that his brother and Watson are starting a romantic relationship. He visits Mycroft and tells him to leave her alone, what he of course refuses to do. He tries to explain to his brother that him dating Joan doesn't mean that Sherlock is going to lose her, but as he is not very sensitive in the choice of his words he fails to get the message across.
In the end Sherlock understands that he has to tolerate the relationship, a further step in his personal development.
Episode five dealt with the consequences of not being honest to each other and in "The Man with the Twisted Lip" we get another example for that.
Sherlock notices that the regulars in Mycroft's restaurant behave suspiciously and confronts him with that. Instead of telling him the truth, that he is an asset of MI6, Mycroft tries to play down the fact. He sticks to the rules that dictate him to keep his activities secret, although he should know that Sherlock won't stop investigating and will also talk to Watson about it. If he was honest to his brother, how should his superiors get aware of that? But he decides to keep quiet and so puts Joan’s life in danger. She gets kidnapped by the criminals.


22. Paint it Black

When Mycroft tells Sherlock that Joan has been taken by the syndicate "Le Milieu" Sherlock gets out of his head for anger and fear. He knocks over his desk and pushes his brother against the wall.
He is so desperate that he says to Mycroft that he wishes that the leukaemia had taken him and rotted him to bones.
You can see by Mycroft's answer that his capacity to place himself into other people's shoes is as developed as Sherlock's. With tears in his eyes he utters that he sometimes wishes the very same thing.
Although the two brothers don't get along very well, it is obvious, that they nevertheless have got a strong connection.
Matthias Schweighöfer, a German actor said in an interview that family was the most honest form of love.
The relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft is a good example, I think.
You can find proof for that in the next scene and the rest of the episodes.
Mycroft explains Sherlock the deal he has struck with "Le Milieu" and tells him that they got 48 hours to find a Swiss banker who stole account details.
There is a saying that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
Sherlock has never been on his own since he came out of his drug rehab.
Now with Watson gone he realises how much he needs her, because without assistance he wouldn't be able to manage his daily life.
As he always claimed to be quite self-sufficient this insight hits him hard.
He sweeps the books from the desk they are sitting at and runs out of the room crying. Mycroft follows him and is immediately able to tell why Sherlock is so upset. This shows how well he knows his brother even without having spent much time with him.

23. Art in the Blood

In one of the first scenes of this episode we get another presentation of the strong emotional connection between Sherlock and Watson. After her rescue, Joan gets examined by a doctor. Sherlock comes home and as soon as she hears the door being opened she gets up from the sofa and turns around. She anticipates Sherlock's reaction to the situation.
Seeing the armed guards he immediately starts to hyperventilate.
Joan talks to him in a soft voice, telling him that everything is alright.
He moves very close to her, still breathing hard.
The closeness and her reassurance that she is O.K. enable him to calm down.
What I liked a lot about this episode were the parallels between Sherlock and the murder victim, which bring us back to the topic of accepting and integrating people who are damaged or imbalanced as Sherlock calls it.
Arthur West was an analyst for the MI6 suffering from a bipolar disorder.
The MI6 knew about West’s illness but still gave him a job as long as his state of mind allowed it; even though there were times he couldn't work at all. They considered his work important.
As he wasn't lucid all of the time he talked to his wife about his work, so that he could prove that his results were no delusions.
When Sherlock makes a barbed comment about West telling his wife secrets, she answers, that he had problems and needed someone to help him. She also asks him not to tell her that that doesn't sound familiar, making him think about his own situation.
Besides the psychological problems there is another similarity between West and Sherlock.
West and his wife tried to make their marriage work even after Arthur got worse, but in the end they separated. The wife says, she still loved him, but wasn't able to live together with him anymore.
After the divorce she continued taking care of him.
In episode 18 I talked about the fact, that you always have to find the right balance between the needs of your friend or partner and your own interests.
This is what happened here and it is also the reason why Watson wants to move out of the Brownstone. Over the course of the last year she had to realise that looking after Sherlock saps a lot of energy and that she needs time for herself to restore it.
When you take care of somebody with psychological problems, you are constantly worried about them. There is a scene at the end of the episode which illustrates that fact quite nicely. When Joan is in bed with Mycroft, the thoughts of both of them immediately start to revolve around Sherlock. Watson can only stop that by saying determinately that he is not their problem at the moment.


24. The Grand Experiment - The wheel turns full circle

Joan:
“Tell me about Saddar Mo Han”

Mycroft:
“What?”

Joan:
Saddar Mo Han. You obviously know the name. I wanna know what happened.”

Mycroft:
“Han was an Indonesian businessman, who kept an office in London. About three years ago, when Sherlock was at the height of his drug use or at the bottom, whichever way you look at it, Han approached him to act as a sort of confidential courier. Said he needed to transfer a package of trade secrets to a colleague without his competitors ever finding out the package had passed hands.”

Joan:
“Sherlock took the job.”

Mycroft:
“Unfortunately what Sherlock didn't realise was, that Han was financing a terrorist plot. The trade secrets were instructions for the transfer of funds and the competitors Sherlock managed to elude were British agents. Luckily MI6 thwarted the attack, so no one was hurt. But in the process Sherlock's involvement came to light. He could have been sent to prison for a very long time.”

Joan:
“So MI6 offered you a deal.”

Mycroft:
“By my handler. He said if I came back to work, Sherlock's problems would disappear.”

Joan:
“In other words everything that you did for MI 6, letting drug traffickers use your restaurants, wasn't for money or to save your business. That was all to protect Sherlock. Why didn't you tell him? Why didn't you tell me?”

Mycroft:
“And accomplish what?
Telling you after the fact would be a paltry attempt to dodge blame and telling him, it could have sent him down a very bad road and you know that better than anyone. He is more fragile than he cares to admit.
Well, the two of us, we share that burden, don't we. Taking care of him, whether he realises it or not.”
(Episode 23)

Throughout the whole season the Holmes brothers struggled with their affection and their inability to show it. Now Joan is tired of the brothers’ unjustified criticism of each other and tells Sherlock about Mycroft’s sacrifice. This is of course a terrible blow for Sherlock, but it changes his opinion about his brother and it leads to the restoration of the bond between them as you can see in the scene at the Brownstone. Sherlock has just found a partial solution for Mycroft's problem of being framed for murder by his handler, when the aforementioned turns up dead. Sherlock is shocked. He can't believe that his brother should be responsible.
When he returns home with Watson, Mycroft sits on the stairs and tells him that he didn't kill the handler himself, but organised it, what means he has to go into hiding.
Sherlock wants to show his anger about that, but the tender tone of his voice expresses how fond he is of his brother.
That leads Mycroft to walk over, hug him and say:

"I love you brother. This last year, it's been a gift."

At last!

By the way, the last episode also shows that Mycroft's self-esteem is nearly as low as Sherlock's. He has got the same self-doubts and mistrusts others as much as he does. So the father did a really good job in damaging both of his sons. Bravo!

I will conclude my thoughts with the lyrics of the Norwegian song of the Eurovison Song Contest 2014.
It is absolutely beautiful and I can hear Sherlock talking.

Silent Storm - Carl Espen

Head to toes
Flesh and bones
Should feel whole
But the void
A silent storm
I’m here to use my heart and my hands
Somehow the bruises changed my plans
And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
There’s a silent storm inside me
Someday I’ll be calm
Someday I’ll be calm

Ask myself
What comes next?
Will I fly?
Will I fall?
My silent storm

I’m here to use my heart and my hands
Somehow the bruises changed my plans
And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
There’s a silent storm inside me
Someday I’ll be calm
Someday I’ll be calm




How to break a person's spirit - Erin Nanasi
(from the Homepage "Mike's Mad America")

In order to break a person’s spirit, you have to start early in their life. Make certain that everything they do is met with a passive aggressive combination of pride and disappointment. For example: “B+. That’s good! But you should have gotten an A on that.” Or “A size 8? Well, that’s pretty thin, are you gaining weight?”

Later in life, continue with backhanded compliments, moving slowly into no compliments at all. You’ve conditioned the person into automatically flinching whenever you speak, so the transition will be fairly simple. If the person gets a new job, tell them you hope they keep this one longer than the last one. If the person embarks on a new relationship, be sure to tell them not to screw this one up.

Eventually, you will be rewarded with an adult who is so confused and so lacking in self esteem, all you need to do is look at them and they will literally shrink away from you. When the object of your scorn and disappointment finally finds their niche, their dream, you can piss all over it, with very little effort. This is, after all, the moment for which you have prepared your entire life.

It helps if, as the person was growing up, there was someone else in the relationship who was always more important. It is extremely valuable to you to be able to say “Oh, we can’t make your premiere/recital/opening/birthday because Mom, Sis, Brother, Cousin, Grandma is sick/drunk/not ‘feeling well’/I have to go out of town.” Again, you are telling the person they are not as important as someone else. And this is a feeling that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Now, you have the skills, you have the practice, and you can move into the final phase of destruction. Understand that this phase is critical to the entire plan; if you cannot break them over and over again in adulthood, you have failed. The goal, after all, is to destroy another human being.

Everyone has a dream. Some dream of being an artist, creating works of breathtaking beauty. Some dream of being a CEO, running a multinational corporation and becoming a worldwide financial success. Others dream of writing the next “Ulysses” or being a Tony-award winning playwright. And there are some who feel the pull of the silver screen, their greatest desire being to act. Your job now is to quash that dream.

Again, you have everything you need to do this. Whenever the object of your experiment in destruction achieves something, don’t recognize it. Focus on the negative: color palette was too harsh; stock went down last week, misspelled words or improper syntax, stumbling over a few lines. Do not reward their success, exaggerate their failures.

If you do all this correctly and consistently, eventually you will be rewarded. Many people who have someone bent on their destruction end their own lives or turn to drugs and/or alcohol. And you can sit back, hands clasped behind your head, nodding knowingly and say “I knew they were too weak to really succeed. God knows I tried, but they never listened to me.” You will have to pretend to be sad, after all, this is someone others believe you love. But deep down, you can celebrate your own success and revel in the fact that you destroyed a human spirit.

Remember one thing, one very important thing. For the rest of your pathetic, miserable life on this planet, you will have to live with the fact that you actively and with malice aforethought murdered the soul of someone you claimed to love. Be it your wife, your husband, your child or your best friend, you felt the need to slowly pick away at every ounce of self esteem they had until they were bleeding on the floor. As you step over them to get to your luxury car or your next appointment or front row seats at a Broadway play or your golf game, remember that. Remember that you could have been kind, you could have been supportive and you could have been a good person, but you chose instead to destroy.

Source:
http://madmikesamerica.com/2012/02/how-to-break-a-persons-spirit/

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