I can’t believe it’s been over two months and people are still trying to make excuses for why Mary shot Sherlock. To pass it off as some kind of selfless act she had to do in order to protect john.

Protect him from what exactly?? From finding out that shes been lying to him since the day they met? From leaving her?




Yes, exactly.

She acted out of fear.  Not panic—she was in control of her emotions and actions—but fear that something she wanted very very much would be taken away from her.  Never mind whether she meant to kill him or not.  She inflicted terrible pain and put a man at terrible risk because she chose to nurture her fear rather than confront it.

It’s such a terrible thing to do.  And it’s so very, very human.  Hopefully not many of us would shoot a person, in that situation.  But almost all of us have been in a place where we had to choose between walking into our fear, or hurting ourselves or someone else to avoid that confrontation.

It’s not justifiable.  But it’s so very understandable.

Mary has other terrible things she’s done in her past.  But this particular one is something I can hate her and love her for at the same time.

And the best thing about Mary is that she’s strong enough, as a person and as a character, to bear that.

I’m sorry, but to me, it’s not understandable. That’s the entire problem.

My mom’s ex-husband once threatened to kill their dog if she walked out. Like, he picked up the dog and had his hand around his throat.

Now, on the one hand, he was likely not motivated by fear so much as anger that this person who was below him and was supposed to be under his control was daring to try to leave. But on some level, I think that for many abusers (not all) that is rooted in some kind of fear. Fear of losing control, fear of losing the person they have control over, and yeah, deep down, fear of being alone. They just don’t know how to deal with that fear like normal people, they only know how to deal with it by trying to have total control over someone. If you control someone, they can’t leave you alone.

And I’m not sure that I think Mary is trying to have total control over John, in a lot of ways – but at the same time, she sort of is. By keeping all this from him, by keeping things from him that she knew – or thought – would make him stop loving her, she took away his ability to make informed choices for himself. She took away his ability to make an informed choice because she didn’t think he would choose in her favor. She tried to control him by controlling that information.

And sure, we all keep secrets from people. There are certainly things my husband doesn’t know about me. But let me tell you, I don’t think there’s a single thing he doesn’t know that I think would make him leave me. Keeping that kind of thing from a person, especially right up through marrying them, is not normal behavior. It’s not acceptable behavior. It’s not even understandable behavior. Being so scared of someone leaving you that you keep the thing that you know would make them leave you a secret from them – and continue to do so, for the express purpose of keeping them from leaving, while you marry them – is not okay by any standards.

But then, on top of that, shooting a person – not just anyone, even, but your partner’s best friend?? That is beyond the pale. That is not something understandable. That is not something you do out of fear. That is something you do out of fear, plus a need to stay in control of the situation without regard for your partner’s feelings, plus a very iffy moral compass. When the thing you’re afraid of in the first place is your partner being allowed to make informed choices about his own life, that only makes it worse.

There is something almost cartoonish about the worst ways in which Sherlock has abused John. Yes, people get drugged involuntarily, but they don’t get drugged for the purpose of figuring out what the drug does or where it was. People don’t generally fake deaths, and when they do, it’s not to take out a criminal enterprise. Etc etc. Which is not to say that I am defending Sherlock’s behavior or don’t see it as being abusive (though I think this is one way in which he has been shown to grow in S3 – except for the conversation about Mary, which I think is the worst thing he does to John in all of S3 but that’s not the point right now), but it doesn’t hit me as viscerally as Mary’s abuse.

Because people do kill or attack or threaten to kill people (themselves, pets, children, more) to keep their partners from leaving. No, it’s not because they need to hide their criminal past – but the basic motivation, to keep their partner from leaving, to keep control over the situation, to not be alone, is the same. In that way, Mary’s abuse hits home for me and is real to me in a way that makes it far less palatable than Sherlock’s. If Sherlock had done the same, I’d feel the same toward him (and as I’ve said before, I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show anymore if it were Sherlock instead of Mary).

So anyhow, that got really long, but my point is: For me, no, it’s not understandable. It’s believable, very, very believable, because it’s something I’ve seen people do before. But it’s something that I’ve only seen done by people whose idea of a relationship I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, by people who are inherently toxic, by people whom I don’t understand and don’t particularly want to.

Let’s be clear, understanding is not acceptance or forgiveness.  And when I say I can love her for this, I mean as a character.  Being in a relationship with somebody who’s willing to shoot your best friend in order to keep you is about as far from healthy as we are from the sun. It’s not something I would condone or wish on anyone either.

But her reasons are simple.  They’re emotional, and they’re easy ones for any of us to grasp, because what she did was a very far-beyond-the-pale version of something that most of us have done.  And most of us have hurt people doing it, too.

It’s the same reason we lie rather than facing the hurt in a loved one’s eyes at the truth.  It’s the same reason we hide behind the simple answers of religious dogma, rather than facing the frightening and difficult-to-fix complexity of the truth.  It’s the same reason we bully, intimidate and make fools of ourselves rather than admit we’re wrong and small and afraid.  It’s what drove the Holocaust, the choice to scapegoat 6 million people for the problems that greed and arrogance from both within and without had brought down on Germany.

It’s fear.  It’s cowardice, the choice to do whatever it takes to hide from the consequences rather than confront what we fear and face them.

It’s important to understand, because it’s what drives 90% of the pain the human race levels upon itself.  And none of that suffering is okay, but it’s one of the fundamental mechanisms of our species.  It’s in you just like it’s in me, and in those abusers, and in Mary.  To prevent it we have to be able to see and understand it, and the reason I find her such an excellent character is because she does such a perfect job of showing it to us.

(Although that does leave an open question of Sherlock and John’s sanity regarding her.  But then we all know their sanity is fairly dubious.)

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