marysutherland: (Mary Sutherland)
[personal profile] marysutherland
Since there have been lots of suggestions about what might happen in the last episode of Sherlock tomorrow, here are mine, based on nothing more than a brief re-reading of "Charles Augustus Milverton", rather too much time on Tumblr in the last few days seeing other people's theories, and then mixing them up together in my head to produce shiny new patterns.

In ACD's Sign of Four, when Dr Watson is rhapsodizing about Mary Morstan, Holmes scolds him for his biased judgement, and says:

"I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor. "

Meanwhile, at the end of "Charles Augustus Milverton", Milverton being shot by a woman whom he has ruined after a failed blackmail attempt (a killing which takes place while Holmes and Watson have broken into his house to try and help another of Milverton's victims). The unnamed woman is a widow, whose husband has died of grief after hearing about his wife's past.

Several people have pointed out that one of the things Sherlock sees when looking at Mary is the word "liar". We also know that she's an orphan. My wild guess therefore is that Mary is a repentant and reformed criminal, who was in some way culpable for the death of her parents. Sherlock, who can consider a garrotter to be the best man he knows, wouldn't have a problem with that if he found out, and I suspect John would be prepared to forgive her past in practice.

But Mary isn't necessarily going to realise quite what unusual moral standards the two men have, and if it leaked to the papers that John Watson was married to a criminal it'd make a devastating scandal. Mary also strikes me as a woman with enough nerve to kill someone if she was desperate enough, and she's also potentially got access to John's gun. So I think a possible plot is that Mary kills Milverton while Sherlock and John are trying to retrieve blackmail material on someone else and that they then have to help her escape, possibly taking the blame themselves.  (This being Sherlock, there will probably be another three twists in the last five minutes, but it might be one of the plot points).

What I don't believe, meanwhile, is that Mycroft is going to get killed, as some of my friends are worrying. One, because Stephen Moffat is notoriously averse to killing off any of the heroes, as Doctor Who fans have been known to complain. And secondly, because Mark Gatiss is obviously enjoying playing Mycroft and presumably gets a say in the matter.

Date: 2014-01-11 11:18 pm (UTC)
ext_6322: (Morstan)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think we can be certain that Mary Morstan is an orphan (because she's a Liar so nothing she says can be relied on), only that she didn't invite any family to the wedding. The taunt in CAM's telegram - "Wish your family could have seen this" - probably indicates that they're dead, but could be an implied threat that, if they're still alive and she's hiding from them, he has the power to tell them where she is.

Another interesting word that Sherlock saw while looking at Mary is "disillusioned"; I seem to remember that there were a few of those, so I don't think they were all attached to "Lib Dem".

I'd be disappointed if Mary thinks John couldn't cope with a dodgy past (and flabbergasted if she thinks Sherlock couldn't). But possibly, if combined with the fact that she lied about it. I'll be sorry if she goes because, so far, she's been a brilliant addition to the cast, but there's no point my worrying about it. For those of us who have avoided the spoilers apparently all over the place, she's Schrödinger's Morstan.

Moffat frequently kills his heroes; it's just that, in a show that depends on regeneration, he's usually got some means of restoring them to life. But I think regenerating Mycroft would be a twist too far, and I can't think of any good reason to kill him (though I'm sure Sherlock could offer at least thirteen).

Date: 2014-01-12 09:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're right that we can't be sure that Mary's an orphan, but I don't see how having her hypothetical family find her could be a major threat by CAM. Mary's not a minor, she can get police protection from Lestrade and personal protection from John, and she's financially independent: she's not vulnerable to pressure or violence from her family in any obvious ways. So the worst possibility would be that her family are staggeringly embarrassing, and that's even less likely to worry John and Sherlock than her being a criminal.

A further vague thought about what her (hypothetical) crime might have been. Someone pointed out that the attack on John in The Empty Hearse (which is never explained) may have been targeting Mary rather than Sherlock. The initial skip code message sent to her also included the phrase "Saint or sinner?" which may be a dig at her. Assuming that Mary committed some very serious crime as a juvenile (explaining how she is free again), could she have been an arsonist who started a fire which killed someone, and that's why the attack took that form?

I think that's the kind of behaviour that someone might feel thoroughly ashamed of and desperate to conceal – and if Magnusson controls some newspapers and so could repeat the story almost ad infinitum, he could really make the lives of both her and John miserable. (Rather than "confirmed bachelor", every story about Sherlock and John includes the reference "John Watson, husband of the notorious Mary Morstan"). I could also see Mary being pretty disillusioned if every time she's got close enough to someone to tell them the truth about the past (John's not her first), they've promptly refused to have anything to do with her ever again.

All this is guesswork, of course, and the real answer will probably be completely different, very ingenious and yet somehow vaguely unsatisfying. But that's BBC Sherlock for you.

Date: 2014-01-12 10:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Of course, CAM may not have been Charles Augustus Milverton at all, but the Prime Minister taunting Mary that if she hadn't been such a good LibDem party activist the Coalition would never have been possible and he wouldn't have been in Number 10.

Date: 2014-01-12 02:18 pm (UTC)
ext_6322: (Morstan)
From: [identity profile]
It did occur to me overnight that, unless Magnusson has all major bonfires filmed on the off-chance that he can blackmail someone about stashing a body inside one, he's branched out into more active forms of crime.

And I am expecting a pay-off for "Saint or Sinner" when the murder attempt is explained.

Date: 2014-01-12 09:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It'll be a whopping double standard (and one I've seen all over the place, so no surprises there, then) if John takes against Mary for being a liar*, given that one of the things especially set up in the first two episodes was that one of her attractions to him was the ways in which she reminded him as Sherlock.

*Or, for that matter, a killer, given Jefferson Hope and the odd bad day in Barts.

Date: 2014-01-12 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do like your suggestion about CAM! One answer to possible double standards about killing is that ACD Sherlock made a fairly clear distinction between justified killings and murder. Holmes and Watson will overlook the killing or maiming of someone "evil" like Charles Milverton or Baron Gruner or a death during a fight (as in the Abbey Grange story) or a war. What would be harder to overlook is some more premeditated attempt to kill someone innocent: even Angelo's not a murderer, just a house-breaker.

But the other point is that it's not so much how Sherlock and John will actually respond to any revelations, as how Mary imagines they may respond. If CAM is as slyly clever as in the original, he'll put in a lot of his time working on his victims, trying to convince them that they will be ruined, telling them about what's happened to other people who didn't pay up. In the ACD story, where Holmes says it's of no benefit him ruining Holmes' client, Milverton says yes it is, because it'll warn his other victims.

And if the attack on John in Hearse was connected to Mary's secret, it implies that she's been blackmailed since before Sherlock returned: she already knows about the skip code. She's got into the habit of keeping John in the dark, because he's no use against a blackmailer. And almost as soon as Sherlock returns, who might actually be some use, she's shown that John's life is in danger if she tells Sherlock too much.

Date: 2014-01-12 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really like "Mary kills Milverton while Sherlock and John are trying to retrieve blackmail material on someone else and that they then have to help her escape, possibly taking the blame themselves" but I don't think that would be 'allowed' of a pregnant woman and I don't even think Saint Mary as handed to us in ep 2 will turn out to be that 'dubious' / interesting in her own right! (A bit like IA.)

My feeling was that her father was the crook, as in FOUR, and she's wimpily disowned him, calling herself an orphan? Is her family the Waters gang (that setup must have been for something)? I agree that could make her blackmail material, using her relationship to her father / family so that "every story about Sherlock and John includes the reference "John Watson, husband of the notorious Mary Morstan."

Love the 'real answer will probably be completely different, very ingenious and yet somehow vaguely unsatisfying. But that's BBC Sherlock for you.' Yep, the all-new, singing and dancing - literally - S3 Sherlock.

Thanks for this post!

Date: 2014-01-12 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hadn't thought of the Waters gang link - interesting idea. Mary's father as a crook would work well as a secret she's keeping from John, but I'm not convinced it would be enough to get her involved in the blackmail plot that HLV obviously has. As opposed to the Victorian era, ideas about the sins of the fathers don't have so much resonance. It would be humiliating to be the child of a vicious bank robber, but I can't see it as social disgrace for either her or John. I think if Mary's being blackmailed it has to be about something that she's done personally. And there may be particular pressure on her internally from the fact that she's pregnant and therefore that if her secret comes out her child will grow up knowing her mother is a former IRA gun-runner/killed someone aged sixteen/betrayed her country etc.

So I would be disappointed if Mary turns out either to be simply a victim (or an out and out baddie): but we'll soon find and then we can write our much better ideas as AUs.

Date: 2014-01-12 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's probably too obvious, but in the trailer when Mycroft says something about 'If you go against Milverton, you're going against me,' I thought that some politician / establishment figure was being blackmailed (Mycroft *is* the government), and Sherlock thinks it's Mycroft personally, so gets involved. Which is when he discovers Mary isn't as squeaky clean as portrayed (but not that she was being blackmailed herself.)

I think she's being set up as the (unwitting) victim of her past / family and tries to redeem herself by helping Sherlock. And yes, no fanfic writer could write worse scenarios than we've been seeing.

Date: 2014-01-17 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here via a link somewhere--one of the SH newsletters?--looking for discussion on LJ or DW, so I don't have to go to Tumblr. I'm impressed at how closely your description matched the scenario in the last episode. Wish more of Sherlock's deductions were like this, actually. :) M.


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