"You…You never felt pain, did you. Why did you never feel it? Pain…"
"You always feel it, Sherlock. But you. Don’t. Have. To FEAR IT."
I have a theory about Sherlock’s backstory. It’s a bit of a reach, but it comes out of three questions that kept nagging me by the episode’s end:
1. What exactly *is* the Redbeard story, and why is it so significant to Sherlock?
2. Why does Sherlock have such a deep, visceral hatred for Magnusson?
3. Is it just me, or did Mycroft mention a third brother at the very end?
"Don’t be absurd. I am not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion." (Mycroft, pausing) "You know what happened to the other one.”
Okay, maybe they actually explained it in HSV and I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but I think there is a way in which all these threads tie together in a way that makes emotional sense:
I think that Sherlock and Mycroft once had another brother, and I think that Sherlock killed him.
I’d always assumed that Mycroft was the bogeyman for Sherlock, that critical voice in his ear that lingers in him to this day - and I still think he is, but not critical for no reason: I think he’s critical because he’s overprotective of Sherlock, overprotective because he knows how vulnerable Sherlock actually is, overprotective perhaps because of guilt even (because he wasn’t there for Sherlock once, and he will never, ever do that again).
Mycroft is overprotective because there was a real sociopath in the Holmes family, a sociopath who probably abused their youngest brother more than anyone else.
A sociopath who, like Magnusson, wasn’t distinguished by his insanity and Jokerness like Moriarty so much as his cold, flat, reptilian cruelty. A sociopath who liked torturing people, who was thrilled not by the intellectual puzzle like Sherlock and Mycroft, but by the way he could use his intellect to watch people squirm.
A sociopath who did something to Redbeard, the one thing Sherlock loved most.
That’s why Sherlock is so traumatized by Magnusson in particular - because this man, more than anyone else, reminds him of that darkness in his childhood, that third brother who was wiped clean from the records, the one that they all agreed to never talk about again. That’s why he just snaps after standing there frozen for so long, almost like he’s in a kind of trance, before shooting Magnusson point-blank. That’s why the scene flickers back to young Sherlock standing in that same place, caught in that same crime:
Sherlock’s done this before. Sherlock killed his abuser as a child, and now he does it again in front of Mycroft’s eyes. This scene plays out like a dream sequence, deja vu under the swirling lights. Sherlock isn’t crazy, Sherlock hasn’t gone psycho; Sherlock is, in fact, perfectly, grimly, fine. This was a duty; he has no regrets.
He’s going to jail but somehow, in a way, it feels like freedom.
He did it for Mary but it was really, in the end, for Sherlock.
This is very much theorizing on my part, but I wonder if the mind-palace may even have its origins this way - as a kind of refuge from the real world, an escape from the abuse. In his mind-palace Sherlock could play with Redbeard all day, explore halls filled with all those interesting games he liked. What’s interesting is that Sherlock says he can choose what to put in his mind-palace, and thus he can choose what to toss away - but this episode belies that, showing that he can’t excise everything he wants. His subconscious can’t be stamped out; Moriarty may be chained up and imprisoned, but he’s still rooted inside him there, a dark, ugly little flower shriveled up behind a door Sherlock never goes near.
If Sherlock were abused as a child, if it happened over and over again, if Sherlock could never escape from it - that would make that whole sequence with Moriarty even more devastating.
"Why did you never feel it? Pain…"
It’s Sherlock, clutching the ghost of another trauma.
See, this is a familiar pain, an older pain. He couldn’t stop it from happening, but he could try to escape the pain. But no matter how many times he tried he couldn’t stop it from hurting every. single. time, up until he finally broke and killed him. Up until, perhaps, he found drugs to drown it all away.
Even then, though - even after getting clean, even after somehow making a real friend, even after finding some joy beside that friend in this life - what this episode showed was that the echo of that wound never really left.
How do you ever stop feeling it?
How can humans ever make themselves stop feeling?
"As long as there’s people, there’s always a weak spot."
Curled up in agony in that chamber with Moriarty Sherlock came so, so close to giving up. It was only the remembrance of John’s name that saved him, that forced him to his feet and gave him the courage to face the pain and endure it all over again.
If Sherlock’s pain is his weak spot, then his love for John is his strength.
OH this is interesting and NEW
can we please stop the push the button meme its lame already
it sure seems to push your buttons
i cant believe this i cant i cant I CANT I CANT FUCKING BELIEVE THIS
the downside being???
is there a word for “i’m okay but it’s a fragile kind of okay so be gentle with me”?
1. There will be several days that you daydream about stepping in front of a city bus. Don’t. It will not be beautiful. It will not be brave. It will be selfish. It will be broken. Your mother will cry.
2. Don’t write for him. Write for you. Write for others like you. Write so the girl that thinks about stepping in front of public transportation doesn’t. Don’t be selfish.
3. When you will yourself to sleep and it doesn’t come- get up. It doesn’t matter that it’s 3 am. There will be other 3 am’s. Take a shower. Take two. Wash him out of your hair. Write a poem. Read the same book you’ve read 202 times again. The 203rd time might tell you something different. Don’t stay in bed- you will think about the bus again.
4. Don’t kiss him because he’s broken. Don’t kiss him because his laughter never reaches his eyes. Don’t try and fix him. Fix yourself first. Be selfish. He can’t save you.
5. Date yourself. Take yourself out to eat. Don’t share your popcorn at the movies with anyone. Stroll around an art museum alone. Fall in love with canvases. Fall in love with yourself.
6. Dress up and wear red lipstick and get drunk with your friends. They’re the ones that will pick you up. Don’t kiss him. Or him. Don’t fall asleep on strange couches with strange boys. When his hand slides up your dress walk away. Hit him. Don’t kiss him. He can’t save you.
7. Get another tattoo. Get five more. Get another hole in your ear. Don’t listen to your dad. You will still be able to get a job. Did you really want to be employed by someone like your father? Haven’t you had enough of judgmental old white men anyway? Get fuck you tattooed in tiny letters on your hip.
8. When you feel the yearning for a new city- start over. Take 200 bucks and a three suitcases. Work anywhere that will have you. Meet strange people and forget your name. Call yourself Ruby. No one will know the difference. Remember to call your mother. Don’t be selfish. Come home when you find yourself in the strangers and the small one bedroom apartment.
9. Don’t whisper evil things into your own ear. Other people are going to shout them at you. Be your own hero. Keep a sword on your key ring.
10. Don’t step in front of a city bus. It will not be beautiful. Live. Stay up all night with a boy that promises you everything and means it. Live. See shitty local bands with a friend. Wear a different band’s t-shirt. No one will care. Live. Have a baby girl with tiny fingers and tiny toes someday. Pour love into her until it’s overflowing. Live. Wake up. Staying in bed all day is not poetic.
Do you hear that? It’s me. It’s your life. Wake up.