...and that photo of Amanda Abbington standing next to Sherlock, who has a bloody nose, which I hope to God he got from John, who I hope to God will be pissed as hell at Sherlock when he comes back, and the fact that they showed a scene from episode two at Comic Con in which John asks Sherlock to be his best man... this is the problem with telling yourself that there isn't going to be a third season because then when you admit that there is you start reading panel recaps and watching videos of Sherlock marching with the Queen's Guard and getting updates from the Sherlock forum on TV Without Pity emailed to you every day...
...wherein you learn that they apparently filmed scenes in Sherlock's mind palace. And that there a bunch of pictures on Tumblr of "a shoot in a pizzeria that seem to make no sense. (First John is in the pizzeria looking at Sherlock on the outside. Then Sherlock is in the pizzeria alone. Then John seems to be in the pizzeria alone. John is drinking coffee. John is drinking wine. John is not wearing a ring. HELP!)" HELP INDEED. If, that is, any of this is real, which it clearly isn't, because there is no Sherlock series 3 and there never is going to be either*.
*I'm pretty sure they don't want crowds of fans there while they're filming? So I kind of feel weird about posting that video?
But if there was. I would want the first episode to go something like this:
Three years have passed, and John's fine*. He's out for drinks after work with friends from the hospital where he works, having fun! And being fine! The kind of fine that you're so sure you are and maybe just afraid enough that you aren't that you kind of want to test yourself. John's tested himself before, kind of. He had tea with Mrs. Hudson, at 221 Baker Street, that one time. He doesn't turn off the telly anymore, when they start talking about local crimes. He even watched a segment, just a few weeks ago, about someone who stole a bunch of computers from a nonprofit support center for sexual assault survivors and returned them a week later with a note that said "We HAD NO IDEA what we were takeing Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to Make a Difference in peoples live God Bless." Boring, really. Not like the one he saw, kind of by accident, in the doctor's lounge last week, about the man who abducted a woman from her hotel room without being seen by security cameras. For weeks, the police were mystified—until a private detective got ahold of the security camera footage and concluded, after watching it, over and over for days, that it had to have been the tall black man who the cameras captured exchanging words in the elevator with the victim at 3 in the morning, and again exiting the elevator about two hours later, pulling a wheeled suitcase behind him. The suitcase looked like a carry-on, one that could fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane—that's why the detective hadn't noticed it at first. But the man was 6'4'', and weighed what looked like 300 pounds. His size made the suitcase look small. By comparing it to a bar that ran around the inside of the elevator, he concluded that it was, in fact, big enough for a body—and seeing, as the man exited, the suitcase's wheels catch, just for a second, in the space between the elevator and the first floor, seeing the man turn to tug it free, that it was heavy enough to be holding one. John, sitting in the florescent light of the lounge, forgotten styrofoam cup of vending machine coffee in his hand, let himself imagine, just for a minute, Sherlock sitting in the darkened living room of 221B, illuminated only by the computer screen, watching the tapes over and over, his eyes widening, mouth falling open in a triumphant "Ahhhh" as the wheels of the suitcase caught. (Yeah I have no idea how to make up crimes...)
*The fact that he starts seeing his therapist again when Sherlock dies is a super good sign!
It's the three-year anniversary of Sherlock's death in three days, and John's surprised by how okay he is. As long as the anesthesiologist—sitting across from him at the table, drinking a strawberry daquiri—doesn't start talking about it. She's kind of a true crime nut, and she must have read all about Sherlock: all the tabloid articles, every one of Kitty Riley's exposés. John's grateful, actually, for how few people seem to remember them—he almost never hears Sherlock mentioned anymore, and since he grew the mustache he doesn't get recognized as much*—but the anesthesiologist probably read John's blog—before it started getting thousands of hits a day—and she almost definitely knows who he is. To his relief, she hasn't said anything. She's never mentioned Sherlock, at least not in his hearing. She is, though, talking animatedly about the detective who solved what the newscaster that day in the doctor's lounge referred to as The Case of the Vanishing Blonde, and how he's apparently been hired to work on a case that's been cold for twenty years and it's one of the really weird ones, one that would've been right up Sherlock's alley. John takes a big gulp of beer, feeling a little sick. Everybody starts speculating at once. "If anyone can solve it, he can." "But twenty years? Come on—that's like Arctic Circle-level cold." "Who else would have noticed that he had to tug the suitcase?" John opens his mouth, annoyed, to say "I know who, and he's solved colder"—do people really have such short memories?—but just as quickly shuts it again, takes another big gulp of beer, and listens in silence until they change the subject. But the first thing he does when he gets back to his flat, a little drunk, a little defiant, a little exhilarated, is Google the case. How many times have I seen Sherlock do this? How hard can it be?
*hahahaha God... I do wonder what the shelf life of a story like Sherlock's would/will be? Especially because it's not a mystery; everybody just thinks he was exposed as a fraud and committed suicide, right? Would people recognize Confirmed Bachelor John Watson after all the publicity? And, most importantly, how long are Steven Moffat etc. going to let him keep the mustache?
So John starts trying to solve the case—just casually, at first, to see if he remembers anything from all those running-around-London days and sleepless Baker Street nights, but he quickly becomes so obsessed that the three-year anniversary of Sherlock's death comes and goes and he doesn't even notice. He's staying up late, distracted at work, and the last time he saw Mary he said that he'd call her, but he keeps forgetting; the coffee table on his flat is strewn with photos, notes—an interview with the victim from her university newspaper soon after she enrolled at age 16; the schedule of a conference she organized three years later on critical care nursing; a writeup about her appointment as director of nursing at a local hospital. "She was supposed to supervise a human resources class that morning," her husband told reporters after her death. "And she didn't see the point of them, and she was talking about skiving off, but she never would have. That's Sherri for you. That's why when I called the hospital and they said she didn't show up..." John visits the street where Sherri and her husband lived. He tracks down and interviews neighbors, colleagues. He's on the phone with the victim's father when Mary calls. "Mary, I'm sorry," he says, "I've got someone on the other line, can you hold on just one sec—" and puts her on hold before she can reply. He asks Sherri's father about her husband's ex-girlfriend, the one he'd been told visited Sherri at the hospital a few weeks before she died. "Oh, now you people show an interest?" he says. "I told you this twenty years ago, didn't I? I said, have you checked out Sherri's husband's ex-girlfriend? The lady cop?"
When John finally gets off the phone, Mary's long since hung up. He calls her back, but it goes straight to voicemail, and then he has to get on the tube, and he's just getting off, checking to see how much service he has in the station, about to try again, when he sees Sherlock.
It isn't him, of course. It isn't even a man; just a statuesque woman with dark, upswept hair and a navy blue coat. John smiles weakly when she catches him staring. The man he sees two days later turning a corner near his flat isn't Sherlock either; it's a tall man who just happens to have the collar of his navy blue trench coat turned up against the cold. We've been through this before, remember? John tells himself furiously. You didn't see him in the graveyard that time and you're not seeing him now. But then he takes the train all the way to Lewisham to ask the director of human resources at Sherri's hospital if he could just describe the woman who visited Sherri at work that one time—the one that upset her so much that she called her father from work, crying—and he gives John a funny look and says "Well I told your partner everything yesterday, didn't I?" and John says "We're just trying to be as thorough as we can," because if Sherlock taught him anything, it was how to get people to assume that you were the police, and then "Hold on—my partner?"
"Yeah, the bloke who was here yesterday, asking about Sherri? Told him everything I remember. Just like I told the officers who came round asking the exact same questions twenty years ago. Don't any of you people talk to each other?"
"The woman who visited Sherry at the hospital? They asked you about that twenty years ago?" John says, a little disappointed; he'd thought he was on to something.
"Matter of fact, they didn't," the man says thoughtfully. "Your partner did, though. Should've talked to him, at least; could've saved yourself the trip!"
"Yeah, well," John says. "Like I said, thorough as we can. It's an, um, new method we're trying out. Working well, actually. We're finding that these followups really jog people's memories... Would you mind just describing her for me again?"
John finishes the interview and makes it all the way out the door without asking, but turns just as the man, grumbling something about gross incompetence, makes to close the door. "My, um. Partner," he says. "What did you say he looked like?"
"You'd know, wouldn't you?" the man says incredulously. "Tall, dark hair? Broody-looking? Bit rude? Is this part of your new method too?"
"Just common sense. All kinds of, um, reporters around, pretending to be the police. You should ask for some identification next time," John says sternly, and leaves.
He goes straight to Mary's flat, stopping only to buy a really expensive, really heavy, really ugly bouquet at the only florist's he can find that's still open at 9 PM.
|Something like this, idk... Or like a standing "sympathy spray" that's supposed to be for a funeral because that's the only thing the florist has left and/or John's just really bad at buying flowers... (And Mary teases him mercilessly about it but of course doesn't throw it away for weeks and then John gets to tease her about keeping it for way too long...)|
But here's the thing. Moriarty's henchmen have noticed him. They left him alone after Sherlock died when it became clear that he had no interest in trying to solve another case, but he's blundered into something that was bigger than he knew. How Moriarty's henchmen are connected to a twenty-year-old (American, I might add) cold case (that was solved in like 2010! Which is what that Vanity Fair piece is about!) I don't know; I told you I had no idea how to make up crimes! (There are actually still unsolved aspects to that case though; there was evidence missing from Sherri's case file and nobody knows why... but the LAPD is suspected of having covered for the policewoman—John's ex-girlfriend—who killed her... just go read the piece!)
Here's the thing. According to that Collider Comic Con writeup, "Everybody [on the panel] was keen to point out that while the mystery of Sherlock’s fall will be solved 'that’s just an answer,' and it is really the emotional impact of John and Sherlock’s reunion that will have the greatest effect on viewers." Which is what I've been saying all along. (When I literally talk to myself in the car on the way to work about this, which I um, do, and there are voice memos to prove it.) John's doing well. He's been forced to become self-sufficient for the first time since re-entering civilian life; he has friends, a job, an LTR with Mary, and he values those things, and he's afraid that falling back in with Sherlock will devalue them, but he also knows that no matter how happy he is, life post-Sherlock will never be as awesome as life with him. And at first I was like wait isn't that depressing? But then I realized that. As the Film Crit HULK put it in his latest post, Conan Doyle's stories work because of Watson; he's the "prism of normalcy" through which we view Holmes—but in the same way that, without Watson, Holmes is inaccessible, without Holmes Watson is... boring. We aren't privy to those three years during which Sherlock is "dead" because much as we love him, nobody wants to read about just him. He's an audience surrogate; he's us, and when he meets Sherlock he enters the world of fiction, which is so much more exciting than our lives—and when Sherlock "dies," he has to go back to the real world, whether he likes it or not—a world that, tellingly, Doyle never wrote about. And in my version of events, Watson is happy in that world—but never as happy as he was with Sherlock. Just as we, his readers, will never be satisfied by reading about just Watson.
So when Sherlock returns, Watson's pissed as hell. He's angry at Sherlock for lying to him, but also at his own adrenaline addiction, and his desire to give up his hard-earned independence and move back into 221B. But he can't stay angry forever, because of course he eventually does. Move back in. (Does he? In the books, he doesn't live with Sherlock forever. But in the books, Sherlock secretly buys his practice from him to get him to move back to Baker Street, so.) But I want him to move back in, or at least reconcile with Sherlock, on his own terms. Instead of, as a poster on TWOP put it, pre-Reichenbach "where you like, when you like" John, the John that would get Sherlock's phone out of his own shirt pocket for him, I want him to assert himself, to say no to Sherlock sometimes, and their teamwork to suffer because of it. But at the same time, working together again will make them realize, at the end of the day, how incredibly happy they are to be reunited.
So that's what I'd write. But here's the thing. There's those Tweets about Anderson and Lestrade. There's that video of Sherlock marching with the guards... There's John's mustache, and John getting married, and John asking Sherlock to be his best man... There's the mind palace, maybe, and a bonfire, and a bloody nose, and Amanda Abbington, and Charles Augustus Milverton... I used to wonder whether the cliffhanger plus the two years between seasons will have heightened people's expectations so much that the new season won't be able to help but disappoint... but the like five pictures and 28 seconds of footage from the set have assured me that that's the least of my worries. The greatest? See overexcitement, above. ♥