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And stuff on the plot and emotional arc of the whole season, and putting my finger on what seemed…creepy to me.

Oh man!  After writing that, I figured out what creeped me about John and his role in the story in this episode!

You know how there’s all that meta about last season and how Sherlock is the object of the gaze?  You can find it all over blogs like Professorfangirl, but basically: while Sherlock isn’t framed in a feminine way in S2, he IS the focus of desire. We watch him being awesome. Covet him (theoretically), not because he’s hot (well, that too) but for his MIGHTY BRAINS. John watches Sherlock, and we watch Sherlock through John’s eyes.  And John frames Sherlock as the hero, consistently.  In his blog, in his life, in everything, Sherlock is the hero of John’s tale.  (With John occupying, in his own mind, an invaluable supporting role.  It seems to be where he likes to live.)

To sum up: In S2, Sherlock is both the object of the gaze and the subject of the narrative.

But in S3, we are looking mostly through Sherlock’s eyes—at John Watson. And Sherlock is still the subject of the narrative (both in his mind and in the actual narrative, which after all is named after him).  But now John is the object of the gaze.  And yet, he is still not the character with the narrative agency!  So he TOTALLY reads like the classic heroine/love interest, who is basically there to be the hero’s appendage—serving to be desired, rescued, and awarded to the hero at the end for a quest well completed.

This created a strange sense of passivity in John in HLV.  A sense of helplessness, not FROM John (who doesn’t see himself as helpless or vulnerable, except perhaps in that moment when he sees himself in the bonfire on CAM’s screen), but ABOUT him.  He does so very little, in this episode, aside from his glorious moment of BAMFery at the beginning.  For much of the story, even his wife has more agency than he does.

But it’s not just this episode; it’s this whole season!  Because, as we saw at the beginning of TEH, ‘prize’ is how Sherlock thinks of him!  Not consciously, I believe, but Sherlock stayed away and never told John a word, because ever since he overheard John’s wish at the grave, he had a narrative in his head of how he would swoop back in and dramatically answer John’s prayer, work a miracle for him and make him happy.

It was bullshit, of course, and he realized it as soon as he saw John’s face. But even though he realized he’d treated John like dirt and was very very sorry about that, I don’t think he got over his tendency to think of John as his…I’m not sure.  Belonging?  He seems to have a sense of John being an extension of him.  Almost forgets, sometimes, that John really is an entirely separate being.

And while subsuming John into Sherlock’s desires, goals and life is one way to express that, Sherlock subsuming himself into John’s (as we saw in TSOT) is another way.  What makes one of them happy makes both of them happy, because (somewhere in Sherlock’s mind) they are not in fact truly separate people.

Because things are About Sherlock. Even when he’s playing the martyred hero, he’s still doing it with a self-conscious awareness of his role as the protagonist.  Sherlock ALWAYS makes the story about him.  He is truly egocentric; he truly does see the world as revolving around his narrative. Which as you may remember, Moriarty understood and played into, with all his little fairy tale nods.  Sherlock sees everybody else as his supporting character (although he has developed somewhat more respect for them as the show goes on), and he treats them that way.

In fact you could push it to see CAM as a twisted reflection of Sherlock’s way of looking at the world.  For CAM, everyone is his toy.  His pet, just waiting to be claimed.

And what the creepy thing is, is that because Sherlock IS in fact the hero of the narrative and it IS in fact all about him, the narrative supports and reinforces this view.

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