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Nightmare Fuel: Sherlock
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A Study in Pink
Lovely, kind-hearted Mrs Hudson's husband was such an awful person, and apparently committed such a heinous crime, that she loves Sherlock forever for ensuring the man was executed.
For starters, according to The Signs of Three, He ran a drug cartel in America. Now think about all the horrible things Walter White and Gus Frings did in Breaking Bad.
The kidnapper. Just because you took the wrong cab you're going to be forced to kill yourself.
There's something that's simply... off about him. His body language is utterly creepy and he even sneaks into the flat with a police group and Sherlock still in there.
You know ... it may be for the best that John Watson, veteran of the Afghan War, never found out that Sherlock tortured a dying man for information.
Then again, he was dying because John decided to shoot him, showing that John can be just as ruthless at times.
The Blind Banker
If you think about it, Eddie Van Coon, Lucas, Shen died (and John and Sarah could have) because Eddie stole something to apologise to his girlfriend.
One lousy hairpin. ONE. World of crimes is complicated and scary.
The Great Game
Holmes and Watson's first encounter with the Golem.◊ The guy is freakishly large and all you see of him is his shadow, lurking behind a corner in an underground tunnel; then there's a vague shot of him running to his car in the creepiest way possible, magnified by that freaking shadow.
All those poor people in The Great Game. The palpable fear. The sobbing breaths. The things they were forced to say. The laser sight trained on them. The little boy.
In particular: "Hello, sexy." The dissonance between those words and the woman's sobbing is horrifying. Also "this stupid bitch is reading it out."
This: "I can stop John Watson too...". It's the only time John has any difficulty calmly relaying what he's being told to say. The other hostages knew they were in danger and made much more obscure references to the consequences of Sherlock not solving the puzzle, things like "I'm going to be so naughty" or "I can soon stop that"—but Moriarty forces John to relay the threat using his own name.
One could almost say that Sherlock himself was working towards nightmare fuel in The Great Game. Especially at the very end, with Sherlock grinning most of the time the little boy is being held hostage; he has a nice little moment of swagger and egotistical pleasure before finally giving the answer that saves the child's life. Remember that the previous victim — and eleven other people — died.
The moment at the end of The Great Game when Moriarty gives the first real flash of what he really is — with just a single word at the end of a four-word sentence. Give the actor a gold star.
Sherlock: People have died.
Jim: That's what people DO!
Andrew Scott's acting abilities - he punctuates Moriarty's speech with little gulps when he's losing control - cannot be praised enough. Rewatch the following fragment.
Jim: If you don't stop prying, I will burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.
This terrifying◊ screenshot when Sherlock confronts the Golem. His FACE.
A Scandal in Belgravia
Mycroft threatens to have Irene tortured for the password to the phone: "You have a pass-code to open this. I deeply regret to say that we have people who can extract it from you..."
Even more horrifying, Sherlock's objection is not that torturing people is horrible and wrong, but that to torture Irene would simply prove ineffectual as there are likely two pass-codes. The Holmes brothers have a lack of empathy that is often Played for Laughs or otherwise causes offence to those around them with no real harm done, but here they're discussing whether or not they're going to torture Irene and decide not to for practical reasons only.
In this scene the mood whiplashes so fast your head will spin:
Jim: SAY THAT AGAIN!! ... Say that again, and know that if you're lying to me, I will find you, and I will ssssskiiiinnnnn you...
The Hounds of Baskerville
The Hound of The Baskervilles has always been one of the most chilling of Holmes' adventures. Updating it to the modern day setting of the series does little to change this. Especially when the end leads one to believe there isn't an actual hound. And then the damn thing turns up anyway. Sure, the hallucinogens in the mist made the characters see it differently from what it actually was... but what they saw (and subsequently what we see) is terrifying.
Especially when you take into account that all four of them — Sherlock, John, Henry and Lestrade — they are all seeing something a little different. They're all presumably seeing an enormous black dog with huge teeth and red eyes◊, but the details are totally subjective. They're all seeing whatever scares the hell out of each of them individually.
Those bloody flood lights (in front of Henry's house, of all places) Nothing Is Scarier, indeed.
Sherlock's hallucination of Moriarty.
At the end of the episode, we get a look at Jim's Room Full of Crazy. Sherlock's name, scratched into the walls, over and over and over again. Dear God.
Even worse, it's an empty room and he has nothing to "write" with. What did he use to carve the walls ?
The information they find on the H.O.U.N.D hallucinogen using the Major's password. We never get details, but the photographs and snatches of headlines like "blood-brain" "severe frontal lobe damage" "gross cranial trauma" and "multiple homicide" projected across Sherlock's face are incredibly creepy. Then in retrospect we find out our heroes have all been hanging out in a mist full of this stuff.
At least it doesn't come with pictures...the actual report did. And with the injuries described in it, it must have been even goddamn worse.
Dr Stapleton is chillingly matter-of-fact when she agrees with John that she has very little compassion (toward her own daughter), and that sometimes she hates herself.
The death of Henry Knight's father. His traumatised memories of the event are bad enough, as we hear his father screaming as he's mauled, but the reality is actually even worse. A man wearing a creepy gas mask with red lenses◊ and Vader Breath brutally battering Mr Knight to death, then slowly turning and staring at young Henry.
Henry tries to shoot the hound as it's chasing him across the moor. As soon as he fires the gun, a sudden cut reveals that it was just a hallucination. He was still at his house and almost shot Louise.
The Reichenbach Fall
Kidnapped children are nightmarish by definition, but Moriarty's not content with that. He locks the terrified brother and sister alone in a dark factory, where they will starve to death unless they eat the chocolates he has left for them. The wrappers are painted with mercury.
Sherlock's chilling re-enactment of the kidnapping of the children. "Help us" glowing eerily on the wall. Sherlock's silhouette at the door, hand held like a gun. The details of the boy on tip-toe with a gun to his head. The little girl being grabbed around the neck. Holy shit, no wonder they thought he did it.
Moriarty smirkingly asks a young female police officer to fish into his pocket for a mint and put it on his tongue at his trial. The way he does it takes his character into the new and terrifying implications of his also potentially being a sex offender.
When Moriarty's team offers no defence at his trial, he looks up at John in the gallery and smirks. John is visibly upset by this. Sherlock described his standoff with Moriarty as "five minutes... I pointed a gun at him, he tried to blow me up." But for John, the ordeal went for hours. He was knocked unconscious, unarmed, totally unable to defend himself, and he was the one actually wearing the bomb. He has impressive nerves, and considerable loyalty to Sherlock, to bring himself to be in court at all.
The series itself never tells us what happened between John leaving the apartment for Sarah's and Sherlock arriving at the pool some hours later. John later blogged a basic outline —he was bundled into a car and knocked unconscious— but most of the details are missing. It was clearly extremely traumatic for him; in terms of his blog, he posts that he took some time away from guns and bombs and maniacs after that incident. In the actual series itself, the effect that being Moriarty's hostage had on him is hinted at earlier than the trial. When John intercepts Jim's text on Sherlock's phone, and tries to bring it to Sherlock's attention, he looks like he's about to pass out. Not a reaction we've come to expect from someone who developed a hand tremor because he missed being in constant danger. It's highly implied that there are some details of his hostage experience prior to Sherlock appearing that he's unwilling to share, because they are really, really bad.
Moriarty pretending to be Richard Brook, a scared actor who was 'hired' by Sherlock to be Moriarty in an attempt to take Sherlock down. He's so convincing that he can almost (maybe even completely) make you believe it, that Sherlock is the bad guy.
Moriarty threatening not just John (which is expected at this point), but everyone Sherlock has ever cared about, in order to convince the detective to leap off a building to his death. If Moriarty's words alone don't do it for you, the sick, ferocious glee with which he says them probably will:
Moriarty: Ok. Let me give you a little extra incentive... your friends will DIE if you don't.
Moriarty: Oh, not just John. Everyone.
Sherlock: Mrs. Hudson?
Moriarty: Three bullets. Three gunmen. Three victims. There's no stopping them now.
There's also something absolutely chilling about his words to Sherlock when he arrives on the roof about "staying alive" and "All my life I've been looking for a distraction." Because he freaking means it. He's not thrilled that he thinks he's beaten Sherlock Holmes. He's suicidal because he thinks he's beaten Sherlock Holmes. As Sally Donovan pointed out in A Study in Pink, psychopaths get bored. They tend to commit suicide in prison because of it. Jim's realisation that he could commit suicide to solve the problem of "staying alive" and scupper Sherlock's chances of beating him makes perfect, horrible sense.
A less internal detail, but if you look closely you can see pieces of Jim's brain floating on the edge of the blood.
And it gets even better. This level of realistic and utterly gruesome detail must have come from Molly. She's a forensic pathologist, after all, it's what she does for a living. She probably "decorated" him herself, even. She has/had a major crush on him, and the more realistic she makes his "death" look, the more she is guaranteing she'll never see him again... And that she'll have lots of guilt whenever she runs into their grief-stricken mutual friends...
John unknowingly in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. Sherlock's 'suicide' saved his life by mere minutes.
The idea of Moriarty having his own kid's show. The guy has strapped bombs to children. He has poisoned children with mercury (symptoms include losing hair, teeth and nails, kidney dysfunction, itching, burning, pain, light sensitivity and ...you know... death). Not to mention the crap he pulls on adults. He's the storyteller on TV. Small children trust him. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Fake death or not, John witnessed his best friend fall from a building and saw his head smashed in on the ground, blood pooling everywhere, felt his non-existent pulse and saw the lifeless eyes on Sherlock's 'dead' face. It doesn't matter how many dead bodies John has seen in his life, which no doubt is a lot, this was someone he cared passionately about. It wouldn't be surprising if Series 3 mirrored Series 1's opening by showing us John reliving that moment in a nightmare.
Moriarty's ("Richard Brook's") telling of the "tale of Sir Boast-a-Lot." The bad, gritty, home video-like visuals, Moriarty's creepy grin throughout, that fact that such a horrifying metaphor is being disguised as a children's program... Sherlock is visibly unnerved as he watches the recording on a cab's TV. Oh, and the cabbie is Moriarty.
The Empty Hearse
John's kidnapping and prepared execution. They were going to burn him alive with a little kid nearby!
When we get a close up of the syringe entering John's neck to drug him. Bad enough for anyone with a phobia of needles, not to mention the fear of being drugged and kidnapped in broad daylight.
The editing of that scene is terrifying. All those close ups of John struggling under debris and trying to yell for help, only to have his voice come out so quiet and muffled from not being able to get enough air to properly yell. And then the gasoline was added and John started to realize what he was under was about to be a bonfire.
Even worse. Someone was filming it, and the creepy guy watching it on a dozen screens keeps replaying the same moment from John's rescue, over and over.
And when it happened, about thirty people realised a man was trapped in the bonfire and, whether because of Bystander Effect or because of self preservation instincts, Sherlock Holmes is the only person who did anything to help. (So much for his being a high-functioning sociopath, huh.)
This is likely to be scary later, not now, but: part of Sherlock's deduction of Mary Morstan is that she's a liar. The people who took John texted her, not Sherlock, which throws the idea that "it's to warn off Sherlock" into question. Something is wrong with Mary Morstan, we just don't know what it is.
As of His Last Vow, she's an assassin. A round of applause to whoever posted this.
In the beginning sequence in the Serbian prison, Sherlock's captor is whipping him with a heavy chain. He then picks up a thick, heavy metal pipe and swings it hard in the direction of his face and neck, stopping only because he wants to hear what Sherlock is whispering about him. Meanwhile, Mycroft is sitting in the corner with his feet up casually watching, and even at this point, he doesn't even flinch.
Watching Anderson very nearly have a psychotic breakdown after encountering Sherlock for the first time in two years and hearing how he faked his death, especially considering how guilty he already felt, was both darkly funny and very disturbing.
A lot of fans found Sherlock's manipulation in the train car scene deeply disturbing. As reconciliations go, it was pretty messed up.
The Sign of Three
The killer from this episode. Even Sherlock can't figure out how he did it at first, and he does it with a lethal and single-minded precision. Also, you are killed by your uniform. Just. Wow.
Sherlock casually admits that he has mentally planned out how he would murder each of his closest friends. For fun. It's chilling to imagine what he'd be like if he weren't on the side of the angels.
His Last Vow
The drug den. It's the filthiest, dankest, darkest, most depressing place imaginable, and full of young kids who are slumped over grubby mattresses like ragdolls and slowly killing themselves. Worse when you consider that some of them, like Isaac Whitney, come from normal, loving households and have parents who love them and can't help them.
So your son invites one of his friends over and drugs you, your family and his other friends to sleep in your Christmas meeting. Creepy.
Magnussen. Everything he does, from licking Lady Smallwood's face to flicking John's face. He is by far the creepiest villain featured, and this is a show that had Moriarty as a villain.
When Sherlock goes in his Mind Palace during his (almost) Dying Dream after being shot by Mary Watson. He goes down to eventually lock himself inside a padded room in which a straight-jacketted Moriarty is staying. This mental Moriarty then tries to incite Sherlock to stop struggling to remain alive.
Hell, just the fact that Moriarty occupies a place (and apparently, the darkest place of all) in Sherlock's Mind Palace. The man is dead (maybe), but there's a little part of Sherlock who can't forget him and possibly even wonders if he's still out there somewhere. Both Sherlock and Moriarty's eyes look... dead as Jim sings. Especially with Benedict's usually very expressive eyes. Not only is Moriarty in Sherlock's mind palace, but Sherlock has to keep him in a straitjacket, chained to the wall of a padded cell.
Mary herself borders on this. Just the fact that she's able to put up such a kind and funny personality to hide from everyone, including Sherlock Holmes of all people, that she was once a ruthless assassin. Not only that but she's prepared to shoot and mortally wound her closest friends in order to keep her secret.
There's something especially chilling about the scene where Sherlock is waking up from life-threatening surgery, drugged and weak, to find Mary hovering over him, threatening him not to tell John. She doesn't even show concern or remorse for what she's done to him.
It's also heavily implied that she did some very, very bad stuff in the past. Enough to have her convinced that a soldier and vigil ante like John wouldn't love her anymore if he found out the truth. Considering what John lets slide with Sherlock, as well as the lives he's taken himself, one has to wonder just what she could have done to think he wouldn't be able to accept her for her past actions.
The fact that if Moriarty is still alive, he survived a self-inflicted point blank gunshot wound to the head.
Assume that Moriarty is dead and this is a posthumous plan. Sherlock spent two years trying to dismantle his criminal empire, was completely sure it was gone, and yet not only did someone remain, they hacked into every television in the country.
Moriarty breaking into 221B while Sherlock and John are out and recording his whispered observations on a shaky video camera, then posting the whole thing to John's blog? Verycreepy. The fact that he did it while Mrs. Hudson was home? HEAPING BUCKETS OF NIGHTMARE FUEL.