Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Tear Jerker: Sherlock
It's not all fun and games and giggling at crime scenes.
open/close all folders
A Study In Pink
The opening of the episode, especially in hindsight. John wakes up from a nightmare about the war, and tries to stop himself from bursting into tears even though there's no one there to see him if he cries, while his sad piano theme plays on the soundtrack. Then we see his depressingly featureless, likely government-issued bedsit, a blog with no updates, and a cane he deliberately left on the other side of the room that he desperately avoids looking at because his pain isn't 'real', he shouldn't 'need' it, he should force himself to limp over there to get it every morning. He was so alone...
The scene of John sitting on the bed, not doing anything in particular, just... sitting. The bed he's sitting on is made, implying that after having a nightmare and waking up in terror, he got up, made the bed, and then more or less stared blankly into space until morning. I can't think of any better depiction of someone up to their neck in depression. Also, if the way the scene transitions by showing him sat, looking so small and alone, before fading away into nothing isn't meant to painfully symbolic then I don't know what is.
Which in turn makes it rather beautiful when, the day he meets Sherlock for the first time, he comes home, sit down on the bed... and then decides to get up again, and see if he can find anything online about the guy he's just met. Judging from the conversation he later has with Sherlock about it, he spends some time on Sherlock's website that evening- not to mention finally having something to blog about. Even after a five minute meeting Sherlock was, in a small way, influencing him out of his depression.
The symbolism of John's possessions, or lack of them. He seems to own only his clothes (and John, like Sherlock, has a very limited wardrobe at that, no more than about half a dozen outfits), wallet, phone (which was a gift and not something he could afford to buy) a couple of books, a laptop, a coffee mug, a notebook and a gun. Presumably he sold or discarded a lot of his possessions upon being deployed- returning from Afghanistan with a very low income and a lot of personal problems, he's been probably financially unable and emotionally unwilling to gather possessions again. note If he's in a flat he can't really afford, there would be no point in collecting things that would simply need to be moved again shortly, and which may not fit in new dwellings. The abrupt and violent end to his military career has left him with almost literally nothing. It's in stark contrast to the piles and piles and piles of stuff that Sherlock owns- so much that it clutters what's really a rather large two bedroom apartment.
Let's think about the gun for a minute. He has this gun before he meets Sherlock, and it's technically an illegal firearm. It's left over from his Army days, so why didn't he turn it in? He's not in danger or anything. Only conclusion of all of the facts: it was a last resort. John was, at least at one point in time, thinking about killing himself.
When the two of them first arrive outside 221b. The able-bodied man rolls up in a cab, because he always takes cabs. The disabled one arrives on foot, having probably set out well in advance of the arranged meeting time (and who knows how far he had to walk?), because he can't afford a cab.
Fridge Tearjerker- when John is stranded in Brixton later, why doesn't he just call a cab from the crime scene to come and pick him up? Because he can't afford one, and has to attempt to get home on foot as far as possible instead. The fact that by the time Mycroft calls him, he is trying to hail a cab, kind of implies he was in serious pain by then and had little other choice.
Think about Sherlock, how he is always asking people to look at the crimes and figure it out for themselves; several times in the first episode he asked John questions meant to get him thinking—what Sherlock's job was, how did Mycroft know John? (What do people normally have, could be a sign of social awkwardness, but I doubt it). Sherlock obviously loves being smart and showing off, so why is he inviting people to think about things for themselves? I think basically he's saying to people, "This is how I have fun, come play with me." His remarks that no one ever thinks could be his way of saying "This is my world and I'm all alone in it." BUT, it quickly turned into a huge CMOH—to say nothing of the ho-yay—when he saw John, who in his own way he had been courting all through the episode by asking him to just THINK, and realized not only that John had killed to save his life, but also that John had guessed all on his own who the killer was and where Sherlock would be. Dawwww
Tearjerker that's particularly bad in hindsight of two seasons: John's tears when he wakes up and finds himself in possibly the most depressing situation imaginable. We see throughout seasons one and two that he's a pretty hard bastard, really- those tears do not come easily. Sherlock cries more than John does (he cries for real more than John does, never mind his fake tears to manipulate people) and he's considered by some to be a cold-blooded sociopath. John isn't so much a sociopath as he is incredibly repressed and determined to suffer on his own. The only other time we ever see John cry is at Sherlock's grave in The Reichenbach Fall. You know, because his best friend in the world committed suicide in a violent, horrible way. Right in front of him. For no reason John can fathom. If that is the only other time we see John moved to tears, then holy crap he must have been incredibly broken at the beginning of A Study in Pink.
Fridge Tearjerker bordering on Fridge Horror- The murders in A Study in Pink start in October, at which time John is already in London and in therapy, and Sherlock and John meet in January. John was in London over the Christmas period, but his only family seems to be Harry, who he isn't speaking to. It's entirely likely that he spent Christmas on his own that year in that depressing, bare flat, still wounded and suffering from PTSD. Even worse when you see in A Scandal in Belgravia that John makes a pretty big deal out of the festive season.
The amount of times John grimaces in the first two-thirds or so of the episode. Psychosomatic pain isn't imaginary. The pain is real, the cause is uncertain. While dealing with all the rest of what's going on with him (PTSD, uncertain future, etc) and trying to process the sheer what-the-hell of getting to know Sherlock, he's also in almost constant pain... it's the only reason he's using a cane and John doesn't seem the type to make a big deal of something like that. He's not exactly looking for sympathy; the reverse. He's embarrassed by it.
The killer's victims:
Sir Jeffrey Patterson had both a wife and a mistress who both loved him. One of the last things he heard anyone other than the killer say was "I love you."
James Phillimore was eighteen. He was a kid. A kid who probably had family who loved him, and who had a friend he left behind who wanted to share an umbrella with him.
Beth Davenport's friends confiscated her car keys because they didn't want her driving drunk. It was also her birthday.
And in a total reversal: Jennifer Wilson had an unhappy marriage (is there any mention of her husband being contacted, much less him giving a damn that she died?) and her only child was stillborn. This obviously devastated her so much that fourteen years later, she's still using the baby's name as a password to her phone. She had a string of lovers, but it was clearly a sex-based thing- did she have anyone who really loved her?
Jeffrey Patterson's mistress, Gwen. It wasn't just about sex- she told him she loved him. And when he died, it's heavily implied that because their relationship was clandestine and taboo, she had absolutely nobody who understood that she'd loved him and nobody to comfort her. The shot of her crying during Patterson's wife's press statement is heartwrenching- and the woman only has three lines.
A tiny one that's easily missed, but once you see it, it'll rip your heart out. When John and Mike are having coffee in the park, they discuss John's inability to stay in London on his income. Mike suggests a flatshare. John says "Come on. Who'd want me for a flatmate?" The line is bitter but fairly upbeat; then the camera focuses on Mike. John is slightly out of focus, but- just for a couple of seconds- the look of despair on his face is gutwrenching. Two seconds later he snaps out of it, and is back to putting a brave, sarcastic face on things. This is even worse when you recall Molly's words in ''The Reichenbach Fall", about knowing what it means when people look sad when they think others can't see them.
And in the same scene, John makes an embarrassed attempt to hide his hand, which is shaking quite badly.
There's a moment that comes just a moment earlier: as John approaches the park bench, he clearly sees someone he recognizes, turns very slightly away, and quickens his pace as best he can. As he walks past, Mike has to call to him twice — the first time John rather obviously pretends not to hear him. In his heartbreaking isolation and loneliness, John doesn't want to (as he'd probably see it) inflict himself on old friends and takes steps to further isolate himself.
This can also be read as John's embarrassment over his general situation (wounded, depressed, broke)- presumably he was a very different, much more confident person when Mike last saw him. After all, how would he answer an enquiry about what had happened to his leg? Nothing had happened to it, and even though Mike teaches at a training hospital and presumably has some understanding of psychosomatism, it still has connotations of 'neurotic' or 'making it up' or 'malingering' with too many people. Luckily he can claim "I got shot" and be telling the perfect truth. It's all in contrast to Mike, who has no problems cheerfully excusing John's reluctance to greet him as him not recognising him: "Yeah, I know, I got fat."
When Mrs Hudson makes the epic but well-meant mistake of patronising John about his leg, he turns on her viciously and then immediately, in the same breath, falls over himself apologising pathetically for it. It's so badly timed of Mrs Hudson- Sherlock's just jaunted off to what sounds like a really exciting crime scene and left John behind, and he's so angry about going from being a freaking army captain and combat medic to being treated like an invalid who needs an elderly lady to make him a cup of tea. It's the first, last, and only time we've ever seen him disrespect Mrs Hudson, who he ends up very close to. It's incredibly heartwarming that she immediately forgives him and tells him she understands (even if she doesn't, really.) It's also possible that hearing his outburst is what stopped Sherlock before he left the flat entirely, and prompted him to go back for John.
You should probably know that last sentence is my new headcanon.
Sherlock: If you were dying, if you'd been murdered, in your very last few seconds, what would you say?
John: 'Please, God, let me live.'
Sherlock: Use your imagination.
John: ... I don't have to.
The first time you see it, it can hit you like a Wham Line, especially since Sherlock is on a roll and John delivers the line "please God, let me live" in a way where you can be forgiven for not being sure if it's serious or snark. It apparently has the same effect on Sherlock, as well.
When Sherlock realises that what he just said hurt John's feelings, he looks miserable.
We never do get any details on how Captain John Watson of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers was wounded in action. But from this exchange alone, it's clear the situation was extremely serious. He was badly wounded, nearly died, and developed PTSD- Sherlock had himself earlier pointed out that the original circumstances of John's injury must have been 'traumatic', and he meant emotionally traumatic, not just violent and painful. The blunt earnestness of John's response even trips up Sherlock for a second or two, and he's just been ranting and raving about not understanding why a woman would care about her stillborn baby after fourteen years. This also works as a tearjerker in hindsight if you recall 'Please God, let me live' whenever John is genuinely in physical danger elsewhere in the series.
Kind of a Fridge Tearjerker: Pretty much everyone in the room agrees that in your last moments, you would think about the people you love the most. John apparently had no one to think about when he was close to dying. He really must have been lonely even before he returned from Afghanistan ...
When John meets Mycroft for the first time, he maintains a totally Bad Ass, bitchy swagger almost the whole time- despite assuming Mycroft to be a lot more sinister than he turns out to be, and not knowing if he's in serious danger or not. Then Mycroft starts talking about his trust issues, the tremor in his hand and uses the phrase "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." Immediately, John's face twitches and he then just kind of emotionally collapses, and looks like he's near tears. He's still trying to sound brave, but he ends up coming close to begging Mycroft to stop.
On a similar note, when Mycroft goes to touch John's hand, John snaps "don't!" in distress and pulls away, and then has to take a few seconds to compose himself and let Mycroft touch him. John's fine with being observed, kidnapped, threatened, bribed... not a problem. But this is actually the first time anyone in the show has touched John, outside of shaking hands- something he could anticipate and prepare for, to an extent. Earlier, John had no difficulty, emotionally or physically, touching a woman who'd been dead for hours, while wearing only a thin pair of latex gloves. But this sort of physical contact with a living human being is something he's obviously not had in a while, and something that truly upsets him...
When Sherlock races off from the Brixton crime scene ranting about "pink"- stranding John. The minute Sherlock leaves, John is totally ignored- officers actually bump into him on the stairs, like he's become invisible. He's quite literally lost, and it's heartbreaking to watch such a proud, self-sufficient person try to explain to Sally Donovan that he's in a bind because he can't walk far with his leg, and doesn't even know where the main road is. Since John is broke, it's also possible he doesn't have the cash on him for an hour's taxi ride either. When Sally asks him who he is, she tells him that he's not Sherlock's friend, because Sherlock doesn't have any friends. John is actually walking away from her at the time, but this causes him to pause for a second, and the look on his face is of being hurt. He's known Sherlock for only a couple of hours and Sherlock hasn't been hugely friendly toward him, but John already wants to be his friend and it upsets him to think Sherlock doesn't really like him after all. (In The Reichenbach Fall, remember he describes this period of his life as being 'so alone.' He may not admit it, but he's lonely.) If that isn't sad enough, he then falters "I'm- I'm nobody..."
Lestrade at first treats John like he's invisible even when Sherlock is there. He ignores him when he comes to the flat to ask Sherlock to the crime scene, though he acknowledges Mrs Hudson. Then both Lestrade and Donovan ask Sherlock "Who is he?" in front of John instead of, you know, speaking directly to him like he's a human being and not a piece of furniture.
The conversation with DS Donovan is part tearjerker, part heartwarming- Donovan's attitude is basically "yeah, of course Sherlock ditched you, what did you expect? He couldn't care less about you or anyone else, I'd stay away from him if I were you." John looks completely humiliated by the predicament he's found himself in. Sherlock specifically invited him there, but as it turns out, it was only because John was vaguely qualified to give some preliminary thoughts on the victim, and the whole thing was just to piss off Anderson and make a point to Lestrade and Donovan. Once John had told him his thoughts on the body, Sherlock had no further use for him and thoughtlessly ditched him. But even at this point, after just meeting Sherlock, John won't be drawn into any "yeah, that was a real dick move, you're right about him, I won't bother" comments or conversation- and still goes back to Baker Street later because Sherlock asks him to, and says not one word to the effect of "hey jerk, you ditched me and left me stranded in Brixton. Thanks."
Sherlock's gone off with what turns out to be the killer, though nobody's realised it yet. The earlier excitement of the chase and then the drugs bust appears to be over, the police have left, and everything is quiet, and John, left on his own, suddenly realises something feels "off" to him. And he stops to wonder where his cane is. He looks completely insecure without it- which makes for a moment somewhere between heartwarming and awesome seconds later when, having picked it up, he's forced to leave it behind, this time for good, to rush off after Sherlock.
Walking the line between heartwarming and Tear Jerker: when Sherlock and John are in the cab on the way to the Brixton crime scene, watch Sherlock's expression when John tells him his deductions were amazing. He looks so confused, and his eyes dart back and forth, as if he's trying to work out if John's being sarcastic or not. John can't believe he'd even question what he's just said, and has to say "Of course it was", as if there was absolutely no question about it. Sherlock tells John that "amazing" isn't what people normally say, but he probably means that nobody has ever said that. And remembering, of course, that he wasn't at that point trying to impress John. His feelings had been hurt by John's calling him an "amateur". He's poorly socialised (can't handle criticism, childish) and most of his self esteem is wrapped up in his being clever, so in response to what he thought was an insult, he lashed out and launched into an epic deduction which he honestly thought would lose him his potential new friend. He fully expected John to tell him to piss off. Mycroft pegged him totally in A Scandal in Belgravia when he described his little brother as "one lonely, naive man, desperate to show off."
The look on Sherlock's face as he explains "I told Mike this morning that I must be a difficult man to find a flatmate for." He's putting his coat on and facing the wall at the time, so neither Mike nor John could see his face, but for a second he just looks miserable. He knows that other people don't like him and while he may claim to not care, when nobody is looking it's clear that he does care and he's not proud of it.Let's also look at Sherlock's reaction to John referring to Mycroft as one of Sherlock's "friends". At the time, John didn't know who Mycroft was. When John mentions this, Sherlock looks genuinely surprised. Even his response was "Friend?!?!" and when John then says that he said that he was Sherlock's archenemy, Sherlock seemed to relax a bit, as if he was more used to having enemies, rather than friends. This shows just how friendless and possibly lonely Sherlock is.
Mike's earlier comment to John implies heavily that both Sherlock and John had used the exact same expression, which was "Who'd want me for a flatmate?" John saying something like that was enough of a Tear Jerker, but if that's literally what Sherlock said to Mike, that's an extraordinarily vulnerable thing for Sherlock to say to anyone. That he would then turn that expression into an attempt at a careless "I must be a difficult man to find a flatmate for" is heartbreaking, and that he would be so honest with Mike shows that Mike might count himself among Sherlock's friends too.
John's reaction when Sherlock points out that his therapist thinks his limp is psychosomatic. He immediately breaks eye contact for the first time and looks very insecure. It's the only thing that John seems upset by Sherlock mentioning, even though Sherlock has also pointed out issues with Harry and Clara, etc. Later he turns on Mrs Hudson for mentioning his leg, and has trouble blurting out the patently obvious issue to Sgt Donovan. It all goes to show how ridiculously self-conscious John must feel all the time, since his limp is hardly subtle and he needs a cane to be able to walk at all. Any mental issues he's gained since Afghanistan can be disguised (at least temporarily), he can hide his hand when it plays up and starts to shake, and he presumably also has a scar from being shot that most people would never see either. None of these things would be immediately obvious to people he knows. But he can't hide his limp, and it clearly hurts him that other people are so aware of it. note when you have a significant physical disability and have had it for a while, you can tend to actually literally forget it's there- and when others remind you of it or point it out, it can hurt, because it reminds you that others, even if they're sympathetic or want to help, don't see you the same way that you see yourself. John's turning on Mrs Hudson and being very reluctant to ask Sgt Donovan for help indicates that he doesn't see himself as pathetic or fragile, and the last thing he wants is for other people to see him that way. It's worth noting that while Sherlock isn't overly tactful about John's limp, he never at any time patronises him or treats him like an invalid because of it.
More fridge Tear Jerker- John's phone. He claims he has never gotten on with Harry. He won't speak to her, call her, answer her calls, answer her texts, let her visit him or even really answer her online comments to him. Nonetheless she gave him her old phone because she wanted him to keep in touch, and he's still got the phone. If he really had that much contempt for Harry he would have gotten rid of it. The fact that he still has and uses it is a Tear Jerker because it's probably a combination of things. First, he really does love and care about Harry and although he at first chooses not to contact her, he knows she's just a phone call or a text away if he needs her or she needs him. Secondly he's not in a monetary position to buy his own mobile phone. Thirdly, while Harry wanted rid of the phone because she left Clara and didn't need it for "sentiment", there may be "sentiment" in John keeping the phone, since he "liked" Clara, who originally gave it to Harry, and wanted something to keep that had some connection with her.
Bit of a fridge tearjerker- Sherlock's claim that he doesn't want to use his phone to call the victim's phone, since the number's on his website and might be recognised. Sherlock is so desperate for validation- or at least human contact- that he put his real name, real address and personal mobile phone number on a public website. And to make it worse, throughout the first two seasons there's no sign, ever, that anyone has ever called him after picking his number off the website. Kirsty Stapleton used the website but wrote him a message, and every single other client they have seems to be either a police case via Lestrade or someone who made contact through John and his blog.
The Blind Banker
When Sarah is moved so that she is facing the crossbow, John murmurs "I'm sorry... I'm sorry.." It's so subtle that you can watch the episode half a dozen times and miss it.
It's a very, very small scene and easily miss-able, but when Sherlock and John meet his old university friend and Sherlock deduces he had recently traveled the world, his friend says "We all hated him." Sherlock silently looks down - his expression hardly changes, but you can he's actually hurt by that comment. He always seems so distant and acts like nothing bothers him, but this one tiny shot shows he's still human and possibly felt excluded from all of his "friends" when he was younger.
Considering how difficult it is to convince Sherlock to take a case if it's not interesting (he takes it straight away) and considering he calls Sebastian Seb later on (he doesn't even know Lestrade's first name), it kind of implies that this arsehole was the closest thing to a friend he was capable of having.
When Sherlock introduces John as his "friend" almost proudly, John's correction to "colleague" obviously hurts Sherlock to some degree or another, especially when coupled with Sebastian's little looks that says, "Yeah, that's what I thought, you don't have friends."
Just the fact that John doesn't consider himself to be Sherlock's "friend" when Sherlock clearly (and proudly) does. He could just be echoing how Sherlock introduced him to Sally Donovan in the last episode or it could be linked to the trust issues his therapist mentioned in that, even after everything they went through in A Study In Pink, he's not ready to declare out loud that he's become close to someone. Or maybe he simply doesn't believe they are friends.
YMMV, as it's entirely possible that John introduced himself as Sherlock's "colleague" because he didn't want Sebastian to send him out of the room or shut him out of the case. Sherlock's "colleague" would be naturally expected to hear all the details and help, his "friend" could legitimately stay out of it, especially as it's a high-sensitivity case. Either way, it doesn't erase the fact that Sherlock seems hurt and it may be the first time he's referred to anyone as his "friend"... perhaps ever. Remember that in A Study in Pink he's confused when John references talking to "a friend" of his. The only "friend" Sherlock mentions having? The skull on the mantelpiece. He jokes about talking to the skull in public attracting attention, but considering that John's blog later claims Sherlock spent some time ranting about a case to a frozen turkey, it's entirely possible that before John came along Sherlock did spend a lot of his time talking to the skull, which just goes to show how lonely (and possibly unstable) he was. After all, the skull- unlike most, if not all of the actual living breathing human beings that Sherlock knows- wouldn't tell him he was a freak or a psychopath or a sociopath or a child or a lunatic. The skull also wouldn't care about his lack of tact and social graces, wouldn't criticise him or tell him to piss off. If we're not talking about that jerk Sebastian (who apparently hated Sherlock the whole time anyway) John really is probably the first friend Sherlock has ever had, and using the word "friend" sounds like it might be a big deal for him.
It's also entirely possible that by friend, Sebastian meant significant other. John tends to be very protective of his sexuality (which in itself shows insecurity about it), and it probably didn't occur to him that the correction hurt Sherlock's feelings.
Another thing to consider here is that Sherlock's "hurt" look down is actually the moment when he looked at Sebastian's watch.
The initial scene with Sebastian is pretty hard to watch, too, because Sebastian seems to be trying to bully Sherlock via John. After hearing that John is a "colleague" not a "friend", he calls Sherlock a freak, launches into a mean-spirited anecdote about his university behaviour, and tells John that everyone hated him. The fact that the story he tells is about how "this freak" knew who everyone had "shagged" the night before might also indicate that it was well-known among Sherlock's classmates that he wasn't shagging anyone himself. John's reaction to that story isn't shown, but it's kind of painful that he's amused by Sebastian talking about Sherlock's "trick." (Later, though, John does call Sebastian a "heartless bastard"- a surprisingly strong term for John to use. This is probably not just because Sebastian acts like he couldn't care less about the death of Eddie Van Coon. John's seen Sebastian be pretty cruel to Sherlock on two occasions now, and for a change, on neither of those occasions did Sherlock do or say anything initially obnoxious to deserve it as retaliation. Bonus- when John launches into "I thought all bankers were supposed to be heartless bastards" listen to the accompanying sound effect of the door opening and closing. Sebastian probably heard John's comment and John probably wanted him to.)
Although the possibility that Sherlock doesn't know what qualifies as a date is extremely slim, let's pretend for a moment he didn't understand what John was talking about: he wanted to hang out, for lack of a better vernacular, with John, and got a pretty harsh response:
John: You know, where two people go out and have fun?
Sherlock: That's exactly what I was suggesting.
John: No, it wasn't. At least, I hope not.
Despite John claiming that "It's all fine," he's at least a little bit bothered by Sherlock's romantic/sexual orientation, or lack thereof. Whether Sherlock was genuinely asking John out or awkwardly asking to spend more time with his (only) friend, the rebuff he gets is saddening and the fact that he tries to include himself on the date is even more so. He's still trying to impress John and get John's attention while he's "trying to get off with Sarah."
Everything about Soo Lin. From her being an orphan, to being forced to be a smuggler to survive, to her abandoning everything in order to leave that life, to her being unwilling to have a social life because of said past, to her risking her life to maintain the tea sets that she was restoring before she went into hiding again, to her being marked for death and killed by her own brother — face to face — for refusing to help him find and murder two other people.
The Great Game
The old lady. Anyone with an elderly relative who isn't at least shaken by her being used as a hostage has no heart.
This is made worse by the fact that even though Sherlock solves the crime, the old lady begins to describe her captor and is killed for it.
Even Sherlock looks shaken by her execution. He might claim not to care about the victims, but Sherlock has already won the game and solved the puzzle...but he still lost a life, and that on him.
When Sherlock tells Lestrade he's solved the Connie Prince case, there's a lingering reaction shot of John. It's just dawned on him that Sherlock has had the case solved for some time but hasn't said anything before now, and he's absolutely crushed to discover that Sherlock would be so cold-bloodedly strategic. In fact, so crushed that he confronts Sherlock right then and there, despite the fact that there's just under an hour left and it would otherwise be an urgent priority to get the old woman rescued and argue about it later.
In the next scene, Sherlock's line to John: "I've disappointed you." You can see that he's angry with himself because he doesn't want to disappoint John, which is why he's so harsh with the next line: "Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did I wouldn't be one of them." It's strongly implied that while Sherlock's mad deductive skills are appreciated by a select few (Lestrade, etc) nobody has ever looked up to him or expected anything out of him morally before. He reacts to the pressure to be Lestrade's "good man" by deliberately pushing away his best friend.
On that note, John's reaction to this. Sherlock tries to brush things over with business-as-usual; seeing how upset John is, he points out that it's hypocritical for John to say he cares so much about the victims and potential victims, but then refuse to help Sherlock save them because he's angry at him. John silently, defeatedly goes over to the nearest newspaper and starts checking it for information. He never mentions this conversation again in the episode. But it obviously had a huge effect on him, because he quotes Sherlock's comment about not being a hero- at his grave. Over fifteen months later.
While John goes over to the newspaper, Sherlock starts frantically searching tide information, etc, on his phone. He'd been pretty much totally expressionless while talking to John, but his face as he's searching his phone seems to indicate that he's actually more upset than he'd ever admit to- when John moves behind Sherlock and is unable to see his expression, his mouth twitches in a very telling way.
Sherlock: "You're a war hero who can't find a place to live, it's unlikely you've got an extended family, certainly not one you're close to."
So heroes don't exist, and if they did, Sherlock wouldn't be one, but... John is?
Sherlock's reaction to John stepping out into the pool at the end. It's only for a red herring played for a couple of minutes but we the audience and Sherlock are supposed to believe that John was Moriarty all along. Considering how amused Sherlock has been by Moriarty's efforts throughout the episode, one would think he'd admire him for being smart enough to get under his radar and feign being his friend for several months. But no, Sherlock is crushed. John later mentions on his blog that he looked like a 'little, lost child'. Even when John is speaking, he's blinking rapidly as if to signal Sherlock which his Sherlock Scan would probably have picked up on. But he's so thrown off that he fails to notice and can only utter a rather OOC "What the hell..?" Despite it soon turning out to be a mislead, it is heartbreaking to think how Sherlock was feeling in that small moment. Having spent his whole life presumably with little to no friends and then finding someone who he instantly clicked with only for that person to turn out to be, not only a fraud, but his arch-nemesis. Ouch.
It's close to Fridge Horror when you realise that Sherlock's utter shock caused his deductive faculties to break down completely here. Namely, he doesn't seem to be tripped off by John's coat- a coat he didn't leave the house wearing, and which is clearly not his nor like anything he's seen wearing before and after. Mrs Hudson even drove the point home earlier that John seems to always underdress for the cold. Sherlock's so rocked by the idea that his only friend was actually his enemy that he doesn't even register such a huge, obvious inconsistency like that.
Molly's reaction to Sherlock calling out Jim as gay shows how desperately she wanted things to work with Jim- and by extension, how lonely she really is. Much is made (and rightly so) of the scene where Sherlock humiliates Molly in A Scandal in Belgravia, but here is the only instance we have so far of her getting angry at Sherlock, raising her voice to him and then running off. For extra heartbreak, just before she runs out, she glances at John, as if to appeal for his help. He's been defending her so far, but his silence here seems to be the reason she fled- she feels not only humiliated, but dogpiled. That John launches straight into an acidic "Charming. Well done" to Sherlock the second she leaves indicates he really is on Molly's side, but she probably didn't realise that.
Sherlock also considers himself "on Molly's side" and genuinely thinks he's doing right by her, informing her that her boyfriend is gay. Her storming off probably makes no sense to him. He was just trying to be nice.
On the same scene with Molly- she apparently knows her weight down to the half pound, and cares that she's put on a whole two and a half/three pounds since she last saw Sherlock. Half a pound certainly isn't much, but Sherlock- the man she has a hopeless crush on- asserting that she's heavier than she believes herself to be is really quite cruel, given that she seems to be very sensitive about it. (It's also the first time John steps in and tries to get Sherlock to shut up.)
Again in that scene, a fridge Tear Jerker. Molly starts raving about Jim- in front of him- describing the pair of them as an "office romance" and "together." Not only is this hopelessly desperate, in The Reichenbach Fall we get the truth- Jim was never Molly's boyfriend, and at the time this scene takes place, they had been on a maximum of two dates together. Oh, Molly.
A Scandal In Belgravia
The look on Sherlock's face when Mycroft cruelly outs him as a virgin in front of his best friend and a complete stranger. He looks so wounded. He and Mycroft score points off each other all the time and it's usually hilarious (and YMMV on whether Mycroft's comment of "how would you know?" is hilarious), but you get the impression that Mycroft went too far here and touched on something that was extremely personal to Sherlock. Bonus tearjerker in what Sherlock being hurt implies- he maintains that sentiment is a defect found on the losing side, with the implication that he's never had a girlfriend/is still a virgin because he prefers it that way, but if that was the whole truth then he wouldn't be so hurt by Mycroft pointing it out. Perhaps he feels hurt at being outed as a virgin because of what society generally thinks of male virgins past the age of twenty or so. Maybe he feels this loses him some credit with John. Perhaps on some level he's intimidated by the idea of being close enough to another person to have sex with them. It's unclear- but what is clear is that Mycroft had a rare moment of truly upsetting his brother.
It's mostly Played for Laughs, but Sherlock is so hurt and so jealous when John's blog takes off. The look on his face when John quite cruelly points out "nobody's reading your website" is genuine hurt, not anger- he walks out of the morgue upset and Lestrade has to go after him. Later, we find he actually went and flounced from his own website, taking down the "tobacco ash" article he was so proud of. He seems to really want to have John's social skills and knack for picking the interesting stuff (Sherlock stealing a bus, the incident where they ended up dressed as ninjas, etc) from the boring stuff (long dissertations on ash and perfumes.) But he really, honestly doesn't know how.
Molly at the Christmas party. Right from the get-go, Sherlock ignores her in a room containing a mere five people, and she looks at him with hopeless longing. He inadvertently embarrasses her in front of the group, ridiculing her crush and her physical appearance, almost bringing her to tears.
Molly's awkward attempts at conversation at the party are even more painful to watch when you remember that she's just recovered from finding out that her boyfriend was a terrorist who was using her to get to Sherlock, and among other things strapped people to bombs. The trust issues from that alone would be horrendous.
When Molly arrives during the Christmas season, Sherlock groans in annoyance, but everyone else greets her warmly and she seems happy and cheerful and does the same with them. Sherlock mutters "everybody saying hello to everyone else, how wonderful" through a forced smile. It's the sort of reaction you'd expect from someone who wasn't just being antisocial, but who was extremely stressed out at trying to interact with five people at the same time and not knowing how to do so. Sherlock is a loner by nature and it's been seen a few times throughout the series that he gets very anxious in crowds or on social occasions, where he doesn't really know what to do. His humiliating Molly may well have been meant as teasing, not cruelty. Extra sad when all present, with the except of Jeanette, are Sherlock's closest friends- and he can't even relax and have a good time with them.
Molly's Christmas outfit/hairstyle/accessories seem glaringly out of character, but it works in the scene- because it seems in her mind, Christmas Eve was the time to bring herself to Sherlock's attention at last. She must have gone to a ridiculous amount of trouble with her appearance, may have spent weeks agonising over the right outfit, and we never even see what Sherlock's gift was. She's so made up and dressed up that when she takes her coat off, she looks like she's rather uncomfortable. She apparently decided that who she actually is wasn't good enough to please Sherlock, so she went all-out to dress herself up into someone she isn't to get his attention. And Sherlock? He still ignored her. And then, when he stopped ignoring her, he mocked her appearance. (There's really no lower blow on the appearance front than mocking a girl for the size of her breasts. Sherlock also takes a potshot at her "small" mouth, too. He's been making nasty remarks about her mouth for an in-universe year, if not more, and once told her that he preferred her with lipstick on. She's wearing lipstick. He not only still mocks the size of her mouth, he pretty much calls her a tramp for wearing red lipstick.) Later, at the morgue, we see her with her hair down, her makeup scrubbed off, and wearing an adorkable Christmas sweater, which is much more the Molly we've seen so far.
The same scene is a bit of a Fridge Tearjerker for what it says about Sherlock. This is the man who can tell a person's life story by looking at their shoelaces. It takes him about five seconds to figure out that Molly is trying to impress a man she is seriously interested in, yet despite the fact that she's never exactly been subtle about her crush, it never even crosses his mind that it could be him. What can we deduce from that about the poor guy's self esteem?
Lestrade, too. Much is made (and with good reason) of Molly in this scene, but Lestrade arguably had it worse. He tries to brush it off, but his face after Sherlock cruelly tells him- in front of everyone- that his wife is sleeping with someone else is heartbreaking. In The Hounds of Baskerville Lestrade isn't wearing a wedding ring, leading us to conclude that Sherlock demolished this guy's marriage, at a party on Christmas Eve, in front of everyone, without even taking his eyes off his computer screen. Damn, Sherlock. Especially in that Lestrade's wife is apparently sleeping with someone else- something that Lestrade might not only find devastating but humiliating to come out in front of everyone.
Another fridge tearjerker: at the Christmas party, Sherlock is told by both John and Lestrade to, quote, "shut up." He butted into a conversation about Harry to abruptly tell John she was still drinking; he knows this is a sore point for John but still expressed it as "nope!", whereupon John uses easily the most vicious tone of voice with him for the entire episode. He then gets told to "shut up and have a drink" by Lestrade, who is trying to stop him from humiliating Molly. So he pretty much deserves to be told to shut up. Except that Sherlock seems as yet to honestly have no idea that he's being totally inappropriate. Two of his best friends in the entire world (and he doesn't have friends to spare) have just publicly told him to "shut up" (quite a harsh, demeaning phrase) and he has no idea why. No wonder he hates social events like "Christmas drinkies" and spends most of the scene almost literally hiding behind a computer screen. Sherlock has probably spent most of his life being told to "shut up" and not understanding why he should shut up. He really does need John or someone else to give him pointers like "no, Sherlock, that was not kind."
Molly lets slip that Sherlock was complaining about John visiting Harry for Christmas. It's heartwarming that Sherlock wants to spend Christmas with John, but the poor guy is more than a little upset that John (his best friend) is leaving him on Christmas. Sherlock has literally no one to spend Christmas day with (Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson are going out of town, and he's certainly not going over to Mycroft's). This makes his outburst about Harry's drinking a little more justified: he's ticked that John is going to spend the day with her and leave him when she hasn't actually made any progress.
And the look he gives Molly when she lets slip that "Sherlock was complaining" - not only does this mean he clearly sees Molly as a friend if he's willing to talk to her about something other than a case (despite her later assertion that she "doesn't count"), but he's embarrassed. Which may explain why he starts deducing Molly in front of everyone - it's all good-natured teasing, right?
He also probably thought that he was entertaining his friends. He's already played the violin, and since deductions are what he does best and how he knows everyone in the room, he probably thought he was behaving in a manner that was socially acceptable.
Another fridge tearjerker: despite Sherlock being utterly insufferable, and all but impossible to live with, he still gets to experience Christmas with Mrs. Hudson, John, Molly, and even Lestrade came by to say hello. Mycroft, on the other hand, is completely alone.
When Sherlock and Mycroft come to the morgue to look over the dead body of fake!Irene Adler Molly is there in a Christmas sweater. Sherlock, in a rare moment of social awareness, says "You didn't need to come in, Molly," and she says "That's okay, everyone else is busy with ... Christmas ..." and then she abruptly goes on to talk about the body. Molly Hooper has no family or friends to spend Christmas with, and would rather go to work, at the morgue, as a favor to a man who nearly brought her to tears at a Christmas party mere hours before.
On that note, Sherlock's face after Molly says the above line. It's probable that he's known Molly for years, but has never bothered to ask or find out about whether she has family or friends outside of him, and where she might spend Christmas (at the party, she discusses with Lestrade and John what they are doing for Christmas, but they never ask her in return- it's possible they already know she spends Christmas at work, or at home alone.) Sherlock, judging by his expression, has just realised that not only was he a complete jerk to her earlier, but that his behaviour was even more awful than he'd first thought, because John, Lestrade, Mrs Hudson and himself are the closest Molly has to friends or family.
When Sherlock tells John that Harry's still an alcoholic, John doesn't seem surprised at all. This could mean that he'll take any opportunity to get in touch with his sister again, and will even go as far as to convince himself she has recovered, when he knows she hasn't.
Fridge Tear Jerker: John mentions during the Christmas sequence that he's going to spend Christmas Day with Harry. But later that night Mycroft orders him to stay by Sherlock, and the impression given is that he does so for an entire week. It's only barely touched upon in the series- Belgravia is the first time we've heard a mention of Harry since Pink- but there's a strong story there in the expanded universe of the blogs. At the beginning John was completely ignoring Harry's comments on his blog, wouldn't call her, wouldn't answer her calls, wouldn't answer her texts. Just before the events of The Great Game she asks if she can visit, and John cruelly suggests that when he's not so busy they'll 'do drinks.' After nearly being killed by Moriarty, John spends the rest of the year gradually warming up to his sister. He starts answering her texts and her blog comments. In August she has a failed attempt to stop drinking, and when she falls Off The Wagon one night and seems to be posting drunk, John immediately and gently tells her he's on his way to see if she's okay- at midnight. By September (when Sherlock and John first meet Irene) Sherlock deduces John hasn't called his sister- which implies that he does do so on the odd occasion now, or it would be a given, not a deduction. And finally, by Christmas, John and Harry are at the point where they're going to spend Christmas Day together like civilised people. Sherlock tells John that Harry is still drinking; John tells Sherlock to shut up, which is surprisingly vicious of him. And then? Sherlock has a danger week, and John probably never did spend Christmas with his sister. Extra sad when you get the impression that while John has Sherlock and Lestrade and everyone else in his circle, Harry may well have nobody. She and John certainly don't seem to have any other family.
Pretty muchthe entire way that the Sherlock/Irene relationship was dealt with in this episode was a gigantic mixture of funny, heartwarming, awesome, and tearjerker. It's months and months after Sherlock believes Irene to be dead before she shows up again and in all that time he's just trying to come to terms with what feeling something for someone else is really like. And then to learn at the end that Irene herself had fallen for him... and the both of them are too proud to admit to anything. Irene's heartbreak at the end of that episode was really very poignant.
YMMV since it depends on what sort of 'feelings' you believe them to have for one another.
The music played during the scene only compounds the emotion. It's called Sherlocked, and is a rendition of Irene's theme complete with sad piano and orchestral swells.
John's reaction to knowing Sherlock overheard his conversation with Irene is pretty heartbreaking. He's furious with Irene for lying to and hurting Sherlock, but he himself has also just thrown Sherlock under the bus to, once again, protect his own sexuality. Like Sherlock and Irene, it's also possible John is too proud or too stubborn to admit to anything. When he hears Sherlock's text alert go off, all colour drains from his face.
"Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?"
And Mycroft's response, which is basically "no, Sherlock, keep it up with your lack of empathy, it's better for everyone." Sherlock, for the first time, openly questions whether his empathy problems are problems, we see that Mycroft is perpetuating those thoughts and attitudes, and now Sherlock is in real conflict between John (particularly) encouraging him to care, and Mycroft encouraging him not to.
Considering the state of their relationship, Mycroft may well be using reverse psychology, knowing that Sherlock will be inclined to do the opposite out of spite or habit.
I suppose this depends on whether you hate her or not, but Irene's dying text message to Sherlock. Because in what she thought was going to be her last few moments, she texted Sherlock. She had no idea he was there, and simply wanted to say goodbye to him; did she have anybody else in her life who cared about her enough that they were worth texting a goodbye to?
"Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side." Sherlock is inevitably on the losing side during "The Reichenbach Fall" because of his sentiment
"This is your heart, and you should never let it rule your head." Same as the above, and arguably applies to the fact that John goes running when he receives a fake phone call stating that Mrs Hudson has been shot
"I've always thought that love was a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof." As Sherlock discovers in the, again arguably, most tearjerking part of "The Reichenbach Fall," John is the final proof.
Irene faking her death once or twice.
The Hounds Of Baskerville
Sherlock's breakdown after seeing the hound. The uncontrollable tears, the shortness of breath and unsteady hands are all common symptoms. Especially as you're trying to hold it together but, as Sherlock says, your body betrays you, it's all incredibly distressing and frightening (not to mention humiliating when in public). And while John most likely had good intentions for how he chose to talk to Sherlock, accusing him of getting "a bit worked up" probably wasn't the best choice of words. As when you're in that state, there's nothing worse than having someone accuse you of getting upset over nothing. And eventually you can't help but lash out at them when you don't really mean to. Because it's never nothing.
Sherlock: There's nothing wrong with me.
His expression after he says this line is more tearjerker-in-hindsight as we later learn that it wasn't just fear that was affecting him in this scene - it was doubt. Despite his objections, it's clear that for a moment Sherlock contemplates the possibility that he might be losing his grip on reality and it horrifies him.
This line from Sherlock and John's argument in the pub is a bit of a fridge tearjerker:
Sherlock: I don't have friends!
At first it just seems like Sherlock is lashing out in the midst of a panic attack. But we later learn that he'd been drugged with a chemical that played on his greatest fears. Seeing the hound itself wasn't so much a fear as just seeing the hound, which all logic states should not exist, and thus made Sherlock doubt his own mind. But that was only part of it. The fear wasn't just playing on him doubting his own genius but also doubting that John was his friend even though we've seen him verbally acknowledge John as such a few times in the show so far. We know that his so-called 'friends' at school actually hated him and both Mycroft and Donovan point out in the first episode that Sherlock "doesn't have friends". It's possible that this fact has been rubbed in his face all his life and, even now, a part of him doubts that John really likes him as a person because so few people have. It's essentially him sadly admitting that he is a freak who has no friends as everyone says.
The entire scene beside the fire at the pub is a massive Tear Jerker. We're seeing two people- who absolutely adore each other and would do anything for each other- hurting each other and then lashing out at the other because they are hurt. John's "I wonder why?" is justified in the context of two seasons worth of Sherlock's behaviour, but it's still the cruellest thing he's said to Sherlock up until that point in the series. Usually, when he corrects or comments on Sherlock's lack of social graces, he's being gentle and tactful, not bitter and sarcastic. And Sherlock has never before questioned whether John is his friend- he announces that John is his friend at the beginning of The Blind Banker and that's been an established fact with him since then (in-universe, just over a year.) He's said some pretty ruthless or cluelessly rude things to John before, but he's never told him he isn't his friend, and he's never before mocked him the way he does during his epic deductive rundown of the retired fisherman and his mother. Then there's why they're both behaving like this- they're both scared. Sherlock's been drugged to be scared, but John's reaction to Sherlock's erratic behaviour is fear too- he trusts and admires Sherlock and his rational, confident attitude, and he's never seen him fall apart before, which can be pretty frightening to witness. He says to him "We have to be rational about this" and the "we" heavily implies "if you start freaking out, I'm going to start freaking out as well." It's worth noting that the only previous time Sherlock and John have had something approaching a fight was in The Great Game and while heated words were exchanged, that particular time John almost immediately let it go and started carrying on as normal. Here, he's hurt enough to walk away from Sherlock's attempts at apologising well into the following day. And, of course, Sherlock realises in the first place that, for the first time, he needs to make some sort of apology to John. It's serious business when you think of the things he's said and done to John before that he doesn't see the need to apologise for.
Lestrade isn't wearing his wedding ring in this episode.
The entire beginning of the episode is supposed to be played for laughs, but it can be a little difficult to watch. Sherlock looking like he's coming down of a hardcore addiction is bad enough, but then he starts to lash out a Mrs. Hudson. Not only revealing that she has a date, but that he already has a wife (two, in fact.) Remembering that, before John, she is the only person who Sherlock is actually nice to, and, if the cops at Scotland Yard are any indication, the only person that is regularly nice to him. Ouch.
John winds up locked in a dark laboratory, and the Hound appears to be locked in with him. It turns out that he's been drugged and conditioned to 'see' the Hound when he hears the right noises. But watching him frantically try to escape is just... heartbreaking. John is both a doctor and a soldier. He's seen some pretty disturbing stuff. He's had bombs strapped to him and more or less walked it off. But now he's absolutely terrified. He clamps a hand over his mouth to keep himself quiet so the Hound won't hear him, and when he talks to Sherlock on the phone this moan of terror escapes and he panics and covers his mouth again. He begs Sherlock to get him out, his voice is breaking, and when Sherlock finally shows up he's nearly crying. The whole thing is made about ten times worse when we realize that Sherlock did this to him on purpose. For an experiment.
Especially when we're later treated to the scene of Sherlock watching this happen on CCTV. Not only does he continue to terrify his best friend- the guy who killed a man to save his life, the guy who crash-tackled Jim Moriarty himself and was prepared to die to give Sherlock a chance at escape- but he does it quite calmly and coldly, feeding him lines with fake concern, with his feet casually up on the dashboard. Although Sherlock does eventually get him out, and opens with an "are you all right?" that sounds as panicked as the infamous line at the pool in "The Great Game"- it's unclear whether he means a word of it or whether it's part of his act.
Oh yes, and the use of the melancholy piano theme during the scene. You know, the one that's pretty much exclusive to John. The one we first hear at the beginning of A Study in Pink, when John wakes up from a violent dream shaking and crying. The one that gives us the impression that, for this scene anyway, every bit of progress John has made since then has been stripped away and he's exactly as broken as he was when this all began, because emotionally, Sherlock put him back in that place. For an experiment.
How long it takes for John to break down. Sherlock saw the hound unexpectedly for a few seconds. The sequence with John locked in the lab goes for well over five minutes. At first, he's totally unbothered by wandering around on his own, and doesn't even particularly panic with the bright lights and sirens- the thing that really seems to kick his fear into overdrive is the growl. When he's still at the door, just before making a break for the cage, John calls Sherlock, who doesn't pick up the phone (probably to prolong the experience on purpose.) John says "don't be ridiculous" under his breath. It could mean "Sherlock, don't be ridiculous and pick up your damn phone," but it's more likely addressing himself, i.e, "John, don't be ridiculous, there's really no need to go calling your best friend panicking over nothing." If this is what he meant, when he's already very uneasy and starting to truly get scared, imagine how terrified he would have been to abjectly beg Sherlock to get him out with absolutely no bravado and no shame. He also blurts out "What the f-" which is a sure sign that he's losing it, quickly; the only other time he ever goes to use the word "fuck" is in The Great Game, on unexpectedly finding a human head in his fridge. note Debatably, he actually says "fuck" just before shouting Sherlock's name during the rooftop sequence near the end of The Reichenbach Fall. If that is the sort of scenario that would have John using that word, imagine what he's going through in that lab.
Extra heartbreak- when Sherlock finally rescues John, he puts a hand on his shoulder and asks if he's all right. John flinches away from him, darting out of the cage and making sure to keep his distance from Sherlock. (And whether this is due to simple shock or whether it's a chilling Call Back to his psychosomatic limp, John seems very unsteady on his feet, prompting Sherlock to actually ask him if he's able to walk. Remember that, for all that Sherlock himself had been so terrified the night before, he'd walked home from Dewer's Hollow just fine. The differences in how fear affects Sherlock and John in this episode are fascinating.) When Sherlock starts to tell him they've all been drugged, he takes a step toward him- and John backs up. He was upset enough to not want Sherlock anywhere near him. Extra chilling when you remember that the drug rendered people extraordinarily paranoid and suggestible to horror, and it certainly wasn't limited to hallucinating hounds. The effect of the drug meant that anything even vaguely creepy could be perceived as something horrifying- including the lights suddenly going back on, being unexpectedly touched, or, you know, being suddenly confronted with someone that John may or may not have even recognised at first. God knows how John perceived Sherlock on initially being rescued. He may legitimately have been terrified of him for a few seconds.
And on that note, when Sherlock opens the cage, the camera focuses on John's reaction to seeing him. If you were to pause on the very first frame on that shot you see the split second before John realises that it's only Sherlock. The look of absolute horror and helplessness on his face is a mix of Tear Jerker and Nightmare Fuel. And Martin Freeman deserves all the BAFTAS.
In hindsight, Sherlock and John having a conversation in a graveyard may as well be foreshadowing the next episode.
The way Henry brokenly says "Why didn't you just kill me?" after discovering that he'd been deliberately drugged and psychologically manipulated over the past 20 years is heartbreaking because his tone makes it clear that he'd rather be dead than have gone through what he did.
When the group is in the hollow, just after Sherlock's explained to Henry what's really happened, a dog appears at the top of the cliff. At this point, Henry snaps and he loses it, breaking down and absolutely screaming, over and over again, "NO, NO, NO, NO!!" It is completely heart tearing.
The Reichenbach Fall
The conversation between John and his therapist in the opening scene. Especially when he absolutely knows for a fact that she's a crap therapist. Among other things, she was wrong about the nature of his PTSD and psychosomatic pain. But he appears to be so totally bereft that he'll give anything a go, and probably has nobody else to talk to.
The first time around with his therapist at the beginning of A Study in Pink, John cops a serious attitude with her. His face and body language are both defiant and he bluffs her, lies to her face, and plays games like pointing out what she's writing about him. He is probably there on referral at the request of the military, and after he meets Sherlock he apparently abruptly stops bothering to go to her (especially on finding out she isn't such a great therapist after all and gave his personal information to Mycroft.) That he has gone back to therapy- apparently, this time, of his own free will- is huge, and indicates that he's desperate for someone to help him, even someone he doesn't really like or trust. The brittle exterior he showed to her in his PTSD therapy sessions is completely gone. The pain on his face in the opening seconds of the episode is almost frightening- it's the first time we've ever seen John look that emotionally raw. He's still struggling against his emotions, however much of a losing battle this might be; his attempts to speak are a stop-start effort to avoid tears.
It's a small thing, but on the sideboard to John's right is the typical items you'd expect a therapist to provide someone in grief counselling- a glass of water and a box of tissues. And you can practically see John's determination that he's not going to cry in front of his therapist or get upset enough to need the water.
This conversation becomes extra heartbreaking on repeated viewings of the episode:
John: The press will turn, Sherlock. They always turn. And they'll turn on you.
Sherlock:[beat] It really bothers you?
Sherlock: What people say?
Sherlock: About me, I don't understand. Why would it upset you?
Where to even begin with this? First off there's the foreshadowing of later events from John. Not to mention how worried he sounds already when it's only the start of the episode and nothing bad has even happened yet, though the audience has already been told by the pre-credits scene that John has good reason to be afraid and he doesn't even know about it yet. Also, despite having just finished complaining about what the newspapers are implying about his 'bachelorhood', he's not concerned with what the press will do to him - he's concerned about what they'll do to his best friend. Rightly so.
Then we have Sherlock who for the past couple of minutes has been ignoring John ranting about his press nickname to complain about the hat that he hates. Suddenly he hears how genuinely worried John is and it snaps him out of his annoyed ravings and things suddenly go from joking about bachelors and Death Frisbees to serious business. And what Sherlock is serious about is John's feelings and being frustrated at not being able to understand them. But because John is upset, Sherlock knows it's no longer a time for joking.
While Sherlock's concern for John's feelings are more heartwarming than sad, what is heartbreaking is the fact that he seems to have no clue as to why John should be upset by what people say about Sherlock. What's more is the rather child-like way he admits; "I don't understand." as if he knows it's his fault for not getting it. Not only does it show how little he understands empathy but he also doesn't seem to get the irony of asking such a question. He clearly doesn't want John to be bothered by any of this but then why would he care how John feels? The same reason that John cares so much what happens to Sherlock even if it doesn't affect him!
To finish it off we have John's silence in response to Sherlock's final question. We later learn in the therapists office at the end of the episode that there were things John wanted to say but didn't say them. This seems to be that moment as he looks as if he has a million things he wants to say to try to get Sherlock to understand how much he cares but he stops himself and simply warns Sherlock to keep a low profile. After what happens at the end, it would no surprise if John looked back on this moment constantly and hated himself for not saying how he really felt the one time that Sherlock seemed to really care.
John's graveside speech at the end, particularly his absolute refusal to believe that anything Sherlock told him about researching him and being a fake was true. Particularly this: "I was so alone... and I owe you so much..."
To make this even worse, the quick turn John does as he's leaving Sherlock's grave is what one in the military does after being dismissed by a superior officer.
Earlier in the scene, with Mrs Hudson: "Listen, I'm not actually that angry, okay?" Although some found this line morbidly funny, the way John says it, with such controlled emotion, seems to indicate that Mrs Hudson is inadvertently upsetting him even more by (quite naturally and as a function of her own grief) carrying on about Sherlock's faults.
YMMV, but Mrs Hudson kinda seemed like she was just ranting about Sherlock, this time rather unusually, but when John says he needs some time and she starts to leave, she starts choking up again.
"Please, there's just one more thing. One more thing. One more miracle, Sherlock. For me. Don't be dead. Would you do that just for me? Stop it. Stop this." Thank you, John Watson. For breaking all our hearts into small, manageable pieces.
To date, this is the first, last and only thing John has ever asked Sherlock to do purely for him. Ever.
In that one little sentence, he sums up what it's like to lose someone suddenly. How unreal it feels, how dreamlike and absurd, that this person that you love is buried in the ground. How there's still that one tiny part of you that just wants to wake up and have it not be true. As in his therapy session earlier, the aversion John has to actually having to say the word "dead" is painful. John asking Sherlock for "one more miracle" is particularly heart-wrenching, as we just saw Sherlock telling Moriarty that Sherlock is on the side of the angels but "don't think for one minute I am one of them." It seems John disagrees with that.
He reaches out and pats the gravestone; perhaps it wasn't just words he never got to exchange with Sherlock that he now regrets, but affectionate gestures like this (which Sherlock extended to him more than once, even if in a bluff way.)
Before he begins to speak the first time, he turns around to check that Mrs Hudson is out of earshot. Just before he reaches out to touch the gravestone and to say "I was so alone... and I owe you so much..." he turns around to check again that she's still at a "safe" distance. John is so deeply emotionally repressed that he seems terrified of Mrs Hudson, of all lovely sympathetic motherly people, finding out just how shattered he is, how vulnerable and alone.
When he finally breaks down and cries, it's such a raw moment that it's filtered to the audience twice. Once, in that he covers his eyes with his hand, even though nobody is there to see it. Secondly, we only see him reflected in the tombstone, as if to give grief like that a bit of privacy- something John clearly wanted for that moment, judging from the way he carefully pulls himself together before going to rejoin Mrs Hudson.
When Mrs Hudson leaves John, she seems to understand without being told that there are things John needs to get out that he won't say when she's in earshot. The first part of what John says is very clearly rehearsed. Perhaps he wrote it down; he tries to express that so far as he was concerned, Sherlock was a hero. That he calls him the "most human... human being..." is a touching compliment to a man who few others seemed to recognise as a fallible and fragile human being. John's legacy to his friend is that he will never believe that Sherlock was a fraud; he finishes that part with "there", almost as if to say "I said it, I hope that's enough to make my therapist happy." But when he turns to leave, he turns back again, and this all comes out in a gush that's straight from the heart. In the first part, the focus is on Sherlock- he was a great man, and John won't betray that memory by thinking him a fraud. But this part is about John. Over the course of their friendship he has asked for so pitifully little from Sherlock, which is perhaps part of the reason he blurts out such an outrageous plea for him to not be dead.
His "there" may also be a reference to his comment in A Scandal in Belgravia that Sherlock always had to have the last word... so much as if to say "I had the last word, and I say you weren't a fraud, and were the best man I ever knew. So there. "
It's also worth noting exactly when that scene takes place after the fall. It usually takes a couple of months after a burial for the ground to be ready to put in a a proper headstone. Considering how distressed John still is at this point, it really does go into Fridge Horror to think how bad he probably was in the first few weeks of grieving. Especially if it's taken him this long to be able to say the words he wished he'd said.
What would have been a burial mound is now flat earth and seems to have some grass growing on it- a surprisingly slow process for people who are unaware. This scene is probably meant to take place a couple of months after Sherlock's demise (Mrs Hudson is not particularly warmly dressed, Sherlock died in June), but it could be over a year later. But then again, this could just be the set designers, etc, not bothering with it being too realistic and not committing to any specific timeline. In any case, given the things John says at Sherlock's grave, it may well be the first time he's ever been there.
Oh, and just in case you're not in enough pain after watching this? Just in case there's some part of your soul left that not's a blubbering wreck? Sherlock's watching the whole thing. He can't hear anything, but the fact that John and Mrs. Hudson are there is more than enough evidence of what is happening. He's probably been keeping an eye on all three of them, making sure that Moriarty hasn't left any other traps or the like to kill them anyway after Sherlock's supposed death. Add in the above Fridge Horror about how long it's been, and...wow. They must have set a record for how depressing you could make a single scene.
Sherlock may not be able to hear anything, but he probably can read lips. So he probably witnesses John's pain in every detail, even though he's watching from a distance. And can't do anything about it.
The look on John's face when Lestrade comes to Baker Street the first time to ask Sherlock to come to the station. He's horrified, and has probably just realised how guilty Sherlock circumstancially looks.
In previous episodes, whenever there has been a mention of "friends", it's always been a reference to John being Sherlock's friend. Everywhere from Sherlock telling Sebastian that John was his friend in The Blind Banker, to John claiming he was just Sherlock's friend, and Sherlock responding that he only had one friend, in The Hounds of Baskerville.note However, there is a moment in the episode where, when speaking to Louise Mortimer, John refers to Sherlock as his friend who he's worried about. In The Reichenbach Fall, the situation is reversed. When John is rushing over to Sherlock's bleeding, shattered body, he changes 'Let me through, I'm a doctor!' to 'Let me through, he's my friend, he's my friend...' He also tells his therapist, and his blog, about Sherlock: "He was my best friend." There's an enormous amount of difference between John being a best friend to Sherlock (which we've known for two seasons already) and the realisation that Sherlock was a best friend to John. And John has no idea that Sherlock 'committed suicide' to save his life.
There wasn't a dry eye in the country during Sherlock's 'note' and subsequent fall. Sherlock was crying. Really crying, not shamming it to manipulate John, since he was too far away to see the tears. Sherlock. Holmes. Is. Crying. Sherlock Holmes, the self-proclaimed sociopath, who never cared for anyone to the point where it distracted him, is risking everything to say goodbye to John out of nothing more than pure love. Because that's what it is. It's pure love.
YMMV on whether he had other motivations as well. The call was likely partially in order to help keep John safe in the future. If John had come back with no explanation for why his best friend had jumped, he would have rightly assumed coercion and foul play and not rested until he saw justice done. Sherlock had to try to convince him that what he did was voluntary, so John wouldn't seek justice and put himself in danger.
He doesn't really have a reason to fake sadness in front of John. Doing so is out of character for him, and John has already established that he knows "the real" Sherlock. Besides, the crying would just put John in more agony - which Sherlock doesn't intend to do. He's trying to protect John, not make him feel worse.
Also (considering that he planned faking his suicide while talking to him), he didn't cry because he'd die. He cried because he'd never see his best friend again. Furthermore, he told Watson that he was a fake, perhaps hoping that Watson would hate him, knowing that, and not be sad about his death. And although he chose to do it and probably will never regret it, it must have been awful for Sherlock to have to tell everyone he was a fake. Everyone. The whole world. It was on the front page of the newspaper. At the beginning of season one, being a genius, being right, is the ONLY thing Sherlock cares about. He chooses his friends over his reputation and he's right to do so, but he loses both reputation and friends in a way, because he cannot tell them he's really alive, for their own safety. He watches John mourning for him, and can't do anything to comfort him. God.
Sherlock: I... I- I can't come down, so we'll just have to do it like this...
Sherlock most of all would have wanted to say goodbye to John face-to-face... but John needed to stay where he was and Sherlock couldn't come to him. Sherlock also (inadvertently?) hints that he's acting under duress by saying he can't come down. If he had decided on his own to take his own life, he could. He makes it abundantly clear that he wants to.
Pay attention to music for some extra heartbreak. John's theme (called War on the soundtrack) and Sherlock's theme merge together in a new melody - a rather painful one.
Also, the moment where Sherlock tells him to step away from the building and it looks like they are reaching out towards one another.
^^ John holds his hand up palm-outwards, in a defensive "okay, all right, calm down" gesture that you'd use to de-stress someone who- well- was probably about to commit suicide. But, for extra heartbreak, it can also look like a rejection gesture, one of pushing away or shielding. Sherlock's gesture is simply reaching.
What is most heartbreaking is when Sherlock starts to break down on the rooftop. When he first calls John and tells him he's a 'fake', he manages to keep his composure. But when he turns away and goes 'I invented Moriarty' and all John replies is a 'Why are you telling me this?'. Sherlock turns back around and you can see his face crack — John has just proven he's only going to believe in Sherlock and what he trusts about him, and that means even not believing Sherlock himself when he lies. The pain of what he's having to do to save John and do to him is so clear on his expression it's heartbreaking, and the fact that John is there till the very end, no matter what Sherlock is pulling off. You can really see the heartbreak on him — on cold, calculated, unemotional Sherlock. And to add a little more to the heartbreak, he tells John that he didn't know about Harry from looking at the phone, but because he had researched him to impress him. Mind you, this was pretty much the scene that established their friendship. John was apparently the first one to be impressed and to actually say so, rather than telling him to piss off. And Sherlock himself admits that he's a show-off, so clearly, he likes impressing people. Particularly his best friend John. He was incredibly flattered when John complimented him. Telling him it was just a trick doesn't just hurt his pride, but even worse, it would have stopped John from being impressed with his best friend, had it worked.
John fighting, weak and dazed from his concussion, through the crowds to reach Sherlock, crying and begging; "Please, let me through, he's my friend!" And when he finally grabs hold of Sherlock's wrist his fingers are pried off by someone else and Sherlock's limp hand falls to the ground.
It is hard to notice the first few times, but after John is pulled away from Sherlock's body as the stretcher is brought over, he actually continues to beg, saying "Please! Please, let me just—" before he just sort of... Gives up. And collapses. This scene is somehow made ten times worse by that single, easy-to-miss line, because even after John's checked Sherlock's pulse and found nothing at all, he is still begging the crowd to let him back to Sherlock. He's still trying to check his dead friend's body for a pulse.
In the aftermath of the jump, John sinks down into someone's arms- he really looks like he's about to either throw up or pass out (or both.) But a few seconds later he's back on his feet, grim-faced but calm, gesturing for people to leave him alone and not touch him. It took him only a few moments to grieve publicly before shutting down into "stiff upper lip" mode where he refuses anyone's sympathy or help. He even mouths something which may be "I'm all right."
And just in case viewers weren't in floods by this time, we have Sherlock's body being rushed off and John being left standing in the street, dry-eyed, speechless with shock and grief, entirely on his own, next to a pool of Sherlock's blood, and totally unaware that there's a sniper rifle aimed at his head. It's next door to Fridge Horror to imagine how and when John returned to 221B and what condition he was in by then.
These two tiny lines from their last talk always get me:
Sherlock: Nobody could be that clever.
John: You could.
Two words. The final nail in the coffin, so to speak.
Fridge Tearjerker. It's been a Running Gag that John will leave the flat, or sometimes even the country, and Sherlock will have no idea that he's gone. This is probably the first time he ever said those words and thus the first time he accepts that he's not going to have his best friend beside him anymore.
The brief, wordless shot of John sitting in his chair at 221B, in bare feet, looking miserably at Sherlock's empty chair.
The last scene in which the two children appear, traumatised after being kidnapped and nearly poisoned. For bonus points, although it's revealed later, in this scene the viewer doesn't yet even know that the boy survived.
Bonus Tear Jerker: The reason the children were kidnapped so easily is because they were the only children left at the school- it was the beginning of the holidays, but their father was in America. Claudette, the younger child, is seven. And these kids, who have a father who is rich and who attend a posh school and apparently have a lot of privileges (so to speak) in life, were left at school for who knows how long because there wasn't an adult around for them to spend the holidays with.
Mycroft reading the paper about Sherlock's death. He doesn't even show any emotion and it manages to be sad. It's kind of his fault but still.
If you read that Mycroft was played by Moriarty and honestly did not understand that he put Sherlock in danger, and also if you read that he honestly believed Sherlock to be dead, it's pretty gutwrenching that he begged John to tell Sherlock he was sorry- a message John never passed on.
But he does show emotion, just in an entirely Holmsian way. He slowly puts his head in his hands upon reading the news. It's not what you'd expect, because Myrcroft has built a personality about himself that appears to be aloof and above such emotional outbursts, but it's definitely a subtle hint that his usually unflappable veneer is cracking, and it is absolutely heart wrenching when read that way.
Molly talking about her dying father. Not only can we see where darling Molly gets her perpetually lovely attitude from no matter how much she's suffering, but anyone who has ever known a good person who's suffered from a painful and awful disease can identify with the sadness in their eyes when they don't think anyone is watching. It's heartwrenching to hear Molly make the comparison. And Molly realises that Sherlock is hiding that pain from John because he's trying to protect John from his own suffering.
This is even more poignant because, in the first few minutes of the episode, John is trying to warn Sherlock to be careful about this "famous" business. Sherlock earnestly asks why on earth John would care about this, since it's not John that the media would turn on. Using that same logic, Sherlock would have to conclude that why should John care much about his 'dying'? Except, perhaps, for selfish reasons? Sherlock's enquiry in the first few minutes of the episode seems genuine and almost childlike. Throughout the episode, Sherlock learns from John's steadfast support of him what it truly means to care about someone not for your own selfish reasons, not because you're afraid everyone else is right and your friend really is a fraud, but because that's just what friends do. And that's clearly a large part of why Sherlock is freaking sobbing down the phone to John, with tears dripping off his chin. The Sherlock of the beginning of the episode would not have understood why on earth John should really care that much if he died, since it's he who will be "dead", not John. After all, this is the man who couldn't understand, just a few weeks before, why someone wouldn't have a dog destroyed if it had become an inconvenience to them.
The scene where Lestrade goes off the first time and Sherlock comments that the police are deciding if they have enough evidence to make an arrest speaks to some of these issues. Sherlock simply assumes that John doubts him, and is frustrated and angry enough to shout at him, which is something he very, very rarely does. John is wounded by this, and instead of responding with support for Sherlock, he lashes out and calls him an "annoying dick" instead. It's the closest they come to a fight in the episode (the "Mrs Hudson is dying" diversion not counting as it's a ruse and Sherlock is not reacting to John's anger), but instead of the source of conflict being John's doubt, it's that Sherlock doesn't understand the depths of John's loyalty and sells his intentions short.
When Moriarty reveals it's not just John who would die, but Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade as well. It's in that moment that you realize Sherlock is more human than he lets on and that the threat to any of their lives probably would've been enough.
When Sherlock first steps onto the ledge of the roof, before John even shows up, he looks absolutely terrified. His lips are white. Cunning fake suicide plan aside, however he did it, it involved having the courage to jump off a freaking building.
Not to mention that his conversation with John could literally have been their last goodbye, and Sherlock knew it. He had no idea how long it would be before he could contact John again, or whether John's assassin wouldn't harm him after his "suicide". There was no guarantee that the suicide thing wasn't some incredibly sick prank of Moriarty's and he planned on killing Sherlock's friends anyway (which would be perfectly in character for him, actually.) Whatever Sherlock did or did not do, it was probably highly dangerous, meaning his fake suicide could go horribly wrong and end up killing him anyway.
A rather subtly sad moment in a emotionally charged episode occurs when Sherlock, knowing he's about to get arrested, silently puts on his coat and his scarf and waits for Lestrade.
Bonus tearjerker when you realise that this is the last time Sherlock is going to be leaving 221B for god knows how long. From the look on Sherlock's face, he seems to know this. He's not just putting his coat and scarf on to pop out for a short while. He's about to leave his home and, for all he knows, he might not be coming back.
Oh, it gets worse. This is the last time Sherlock sees Lestrade, someone Moriarty put in his top three best friends ever... the last interaction he has with Lestrade is as he arrests him. And even worse, this is the last time Sherlock sees Mrs Hudson- the woman he sees as his mother, the woman who looks after him and nurtures him and loves him. And, before the police arrive when she blunders in and says "Oh, sorry, am I interrupting?" Sherlock simply rolls his eyes at her in sulky exasperation. It's pretty much the last interaction they ever have. On the flip side- this is also the last time she sees him alive- the man she loves as if he were her own child. Now being carted away by the police and accused of a vicious crime he didn't commit. At least he was able to say goodbye to John. He leaves Baker Street saying nothing at all to Lestrade or Mrs Hudson, the people he loves so much he jumped off a building for them less than 24 hours later. And it was only John going ballistic and getting himself arrested as well that was the reason Sherlock didn't simply leave John at Baker Street without properly saying goodbye either. If John hadn't been handcuffed to him, he would have made his escape anyway, and become a fugitive entirely alone.
John and Mrs Hudson at Sherlock's graveside. Mrs Hudson both literally and emotionally tries to reach out and comfort John, who has always been a comfort to her. When John says, in a reasonably matter-of-fact and unemotional way, that he "can't go back to the flat- not at the moment", Mrs Hudson doesn't reply in words, but she slips her arm in his in this sweet little gesture which is next door to a hug.
It's implied that John is angry that Sherlock needlessly took his life believing he was a fake; Mrs Hudson says she's angry about all the annoying things Sherlock used to do, but she's clearly angry at herself. Because all of the things Sherlock did that she scolded him for, all of the reckless shooting up the flat and keeping cadaver parts in the fridge and bellowing down the stairs to get her attention, all those things- are completely and utterly petty in the context of Sherlock being dead.
Look at John's face as she starts ranting tearfully about Sherlock's obnoxious habits. She's not meaning to, but she's wounding John badly with every word, and he's having difficulty taking it, even though he no doubt realises that hurting him is the last thing she would do on purpose.
John's line about not being able to return to Baker Street. It's Baker Street. There's six episodes worth of memories there. The time Sherlock and John spent days going through books trying to crack a code. Where Sherlock would keep all sorts of things in the fridge and through the kitchen. Where Sherlock would play and compose the violin, and where John used to sit blogging away (and one gets the impression, judging from his latest heartwrenching blog post, that John has given up blogging for good.) The place where Sherlock once spray-painted the wall and shot at it. The time there was a bomb blast across the street and the windows smashed. Where they held a Christmas party and watched James Bond films together. Where they used to bicker online when they were sitting in the same room. Where John walked in for the first time, claimed an armchair by the fire, and it remained his chair for two seasons. Not to mention little items like the hideous wallpaper and the skull, which became the household mascot. And then there's Mrs Hudson. John is fervently devoted to her- it's debatable whether he's actually more devoted to her than Sherlock is. She's now left on her own, because John can't go back there. There's too many memories and too many things that belonged to Sherlock for him to be able to deal with. Anyone who's ever had to deal with a dead person's possessions knows what this is like- a coffee cup they casually set down and never picked up again, shoes by the door they'll never wear again...
John's reaction to Mrs. Hudson's "shooting". He's on the verge of tears and is so angry with Sherlock's non-reaction... made even worse because we know the message is fake; in order to save John, he has to convince his best friend that he's a complete asshole. It's their last face-to-face conversation and it's a fight.
Here's an extra blow. Where that whole scene takes place? That fight? It's where they first met.
In this little exchange, the last words Sherlock and John say to each other face-to-face, at least one of if not both of these lines will rip your heart out:
Sherlock: Alone is what I am. Alone protects me.
John: Nope. Friends protect people.
As for Sherlock's seeming indifference to Mrs. Hudson— Sherlock is counting on John to believe the worst in him. And John does. For the entire episode up until that point, John has been fighting Sherlock's corner and defending him no matter what while others have fallen for Moriarty's plan. And while Sherlock is at first indifferent as to whether people think he is a fraud or not, the one time he does care and starts to panic about it is when he thinks John is beginning to doubt him. It's a double tearjerker; firstly for the fact that John's belief in him means so much to Sherlock and then he has to purposely shatter it to save his friend. And secondly; the fact that it worked and John did lose faith in him. It was only for a moment but it was enough for him to turn on Sherlock and leave him all alone to his fate. God.
For extra heartbreak, what does John say at Sherlock's grave?
John: Um, you once told me that you weren't a hero. There were times when I didn't even think you were human, but let me tell you this- you were the best man, the most human... human being... that I've ever known and nobody will ever convince me that you told me a lie.
John pointing out that he knew Sherlock was the "most human... human being..." functions as an apology because one of the last things he ever did was call Sherlock a machine. It may also be a reference to the fact that John had once made the mistake of calling Sherlock 'Spock' when he was in the middle of having a panic attack. John never got a chance to tell Sherlock to his face that he didn't mean those things. And while we all know Sherlock is alive, John thinks he will never have a chance to tell Sherlock he was sorry, and probably thinks calling Sherlock a "machine" and turning on him about Mrs Hudson may have been a catalyst in his suicide.
On the above, this is John's current, end-of-season-2 view of events: he was called away to Mrs Hudson. Sherlock coldly refused to go with him. They had an argument which more or less involved John yelling at Sherlock, who was uncharacteristically passive. John abandoned Sherlock in the lab. He found Mrs Hudson and she was fine. He rushed back to St Bart's in time to witness Sherlock's suicide from the roof. Sherlock had shown no signs of being suicidal before. None. The last time he and John talk before the "Mrs Hudson" diversion, Sherlock's messaged John because he's apparently had an idea about using the code against Moriarty. It's nonsense, of course, but to John it's pretty clear that Sherlock intends to beat Moriarty, and people intent on committing suicide don't plan for the future like that. The rooftop jump, so far as John would be concerned, would have come out of nowhere. John seems to not know that Moriarty was ever on that roof with Sherlock. The only suicide trigger that would be immediately obvious to him? His turning on Sherlock and abandoning him. Yep, that's right. There's no sign that John ever believed Sherlock to be a fraud or a kidnapper, but he was Sherlock's best friend, and on the lam, his only friend. And when Sherlock was in a dark place emotionally, he made the mistake of criticising and then leaving him. Dear Lord. No wonder he's in therapy. He blames himself.
This line, where John almost sounds on the verge of tears when Sherlock asks how Mrs. Hudson was shot.
John: Probably one of the killers that you managed to attract, oh Jesus!
On top of calling him a 'machine' and abandoning him, John essentially says that it's Sherlock's fault that their landlady is dying. Having that sort of guilt on your shoulders on top of the rest of your life falling apart most likely would drive someone to suicide. John can't be certain whether the thing was set-up by Sherlock or an outside party but the accusation, which even he finds too harsh and has to cut himself off, was still heart-wrenchingly brutal and would add to the list of words that would no doubt haunt John until he discovers the truth.
Looking at it- even if Mrs Hudson had been shot by one of the killers Sherlock had managed to attract, and had died, and Sherlock remained alive- wow. It would still be an awful thing for John to say in that way and in that moment. They'd have a hard time getting past that, since as John points out, Sherlock does love Mrs Hudson.
John discovering that Mrs. Hudson is safe (meaning that the phone call was just a ruse to get him away from Sherlock and that Sherlock let it happen, and that it's probably too late now.) Damn, Martin Freeman just nails that scene. He's confused, then his eyes widen with comprehension, he gives a weak, breathless "Oh my god..." and sways on his feet a little bit before pulling himself together and running back out.
When Lestrade first comes to Sherlock to confront him about the Yarders' suspicion of him. Sherlock brushes him off and says that he's not going to play this game, then talks about what a clever move it is. "You can't kill an idea, can you?... Not when it's made its home... there" he says, touching Lestrade's forehead. It's heartbreaking when you realise how serene and resigned he sounds - he has already realised that he has, essentially, lost Lestrade, or is at least very likely to.
That little tap on the forehead seems pretty significant when you consider that Lestrade is a cop, and a good one. Sherlock is a suspected criminal. Think about it: Sherlock reached out to touch Lestrade, put his hand right in his face, as if daring Lestrade to react as a policeman dealing with a suspect and move away, rather than as someone dealing with a friend; someone they trust. And Lestrade chose to react as someone who trusts Sherlock. It's heartbreaking not because Sherlock believes he's lost Lestrade's confidence, but because he just tested it, found that Lestrade actually cares about him, and - if Moriarty has his way - is going to lose him as a friend anyway.
This next bit is even sadder considering the above: When Sherlock pulls a gun on John to escape arrest, Lestrade is visibly horrified. When the superintendent orders him to go after Sherlock, he does it silently and slowly. He's totally in shock. Meaning at least a small part of him believed right up to that moment, that Sherlock was genuine, and learning he might be a criminal has pretty much shattered Lestrade. Though it's entirely possible, too, that he understood that Sherlock pulled the gun on John just so John wouldn't be implicated in their escape, and wanted to give them time to escape.
In the scene where Sherlock is arrested, Mrs Hudson has no idea what's going on. When Sherlock is cuffed and read his rights, the word "kidnapping" comes up and she gives this alarmed little cry. She's really the one who has been left out of the loop in all the shenanigans of the episode, which may have been to try to protect her from Moriarty, but it makes the police arresting Sherlock look all the more unnecessarily brutal. You can hear Mrs Hudson exclaiming "Don't barge in like that!" off camera at about the same time John reaches the front door. Given that Mrs Hudson is not implicated in any crime, and is an elderly lady that everyone except the superintendant is familiar with, you'd think they could have given her a bit more respect and sensitivity when they came to arrest someone that she loves.
A small one, but after the girl screams at him and they leave, Sherlock tells John to get a different taxi because he needs to think and John 'might talk'. When we next see Sherlock in the taxi, alone, his expression doesn't look like he's deep in any serious thought at all. Instead he looks utterly miserable. And this was only a few scenes after Molly's comment about looking him looking sad when John wasn't around. He didn't want to be away from John because he thought he'd annoy him. He wanted to be alone so John wouldn't see him like that.
John's awkward mumbling at the grave site. His therapist notes that John has things left unsaid, things he'd wanted to say to Sherlock but didn't. He wouldn't tell them to his therapist, and his awkward mumbling makes it seem like he didn't say it all at the grave site either, apart from his "don't be dead" speech. This is a man who has frequent nightmares about the war in Afghanistan, has been drugged for an experiment, has had a bomb strapped to his chest, has been arrested at least twice, gets kidnapped often, and has committed murder for a man who, at the time, he barely knew. None of that made him cry, so John must be experiencing some extremely overwhelming emotions, must have some incredibly important things to admit to, if Sherlock is the one who made him cry.
Lestrade during the "Sir Boast-a-lot" sequence. He's doing everything in his power to defend Sherlock, and he looks absolutely stricken at the idea that Sherlock is a criminal fraud. Especially when you consider that in order to do this, Sherlock would have had to fake his friendship (and it IS a friendship, however dysfunctional) with Lestrade, betraying his trust and using him and manipulating him to get access to cases that he created. It's not just a professional disaster for Lestrade, there'd be elements of feeling personally hurt and betrayed by Sherlock, too. It's unclear how much of what Donovan and Anderson were suggesting that Lestrade truly believed, but even the idea that Sherlock would do that to him, after Lestrade had done so much to defend and protect him, is incredibly painful.
John's response to "Goodbye, John," is "No. Don't-" Depending on whether Sherlock heard his name being shouted or not, "No. Don't-" is the last thing he heard before stepping off the roof.
Up until that point, John almost seems in denial about what is obviously about to happen. But he clearly knows- the first thing out of his mouth when he sees where Sherlock is standing is "oh, God." Not once during their conversation do they bring up the fact that Sherlock is standing on a freakin' ledge or that John is trying to talk him down. Even when Sherlock says, "It's what people do, don't they? Leave a note." John naively asks, "Leave a note when?" when he clearly knows the answer to that. After all, their first case together revolved around a woman committing suicide and leaving a note. But John seems unable to accept that his friend is about to kill himself. When Sherlock says "Goodbye, John", he replies with a denial. Because he refuses to accept that this really is 'goodbye'. Damn this show.
Even while Sherlock is sobbing, John is surprisingly calm- intense, but calm. Sherlock knows he is going to "commit suicide" no matter what John says or does. John, right up until the very last moment, probably thinks he may still be able to talk Sherlock down. He's in shock- evidently, he never saw any of this coming. And he's so focused on the only thing that matters to him just then- trying to convince Sherlock that he's not a fraud and to stop it now- that he doesn't have time to fall apart.
At first, John is just confused about what's going on and determined to go in and find Sherlock. But after Sherlock tells him "Just do as I ask! Please!" he simply stops in confused dread. Sherlock is a) yelling at him, b) saying 'please', and c) crying. John's seen Sherlock behave manipulatively before, but the fact is, he's also seen him fall apart before, in Baskerville. There is a huge difference between his manipulative acting tears in The Great Game and A Scandal in Belgravia and the real tears of someone who is genuinely in distress, and it seems that John can instantly tell the difference. note This may change at the beginning of season 3. But if so, I'll be so furious at the writers for gutting that scene and negating Sherlock's tears that it probably won't matter. Just as he's trying to process why crying, angry, begging Sherlock won't let him into the building, he's told to look up to where Sherlock is standing on the rooftop. Throughout the entire episode, John has trusted that no matter what Jim Moriarty has in store, no matter how many snipers are circling the flat, no matter what, Sherlock has it under control. If Sherlock's not scared, there's nothing to be scared of. If Sherlock's not sad, there's no reason to cry. note And bless Molly for realising that Sherlock KNEW this was how John looked up to him and was hiding his fear and grief for EXACTLY this reason. And being confronted with the final proof that while he might "talk big", Sherlock isn't this emotionless rock who doesn't let things bother him- Sherlock IS the sort of person who would make a tearful suicide call- would be absolutely heartwrenching.
Martin Freeman must be one of the few actors alive who can emote just with his breathing. When Sherlock tells John to look up on the roof, John starts gasping a little as he talks. He's not out of breath through activity. The shock of seeing Sherlock standing on the ledge of the building would have felt like being kicked in the chest.
After John says; "No, don't..." the camera focuses on Sherlock's face for a couple of seconds. If that shot alone doesn't break your heart, we then have his view of John from the ledge, blurring out of focus because of the tears in Sherlock's eyes.
Take a look at John's face while Sherlock is falling. Primarily, it's shocked disbelief. Keeping in mind that when the phone call about Mrs Hudson had come in, John had been asleep. It's been non-stop, epic WTF for him since. Part of him probably wonders if he's having a really, really horrific nightmare.
Twice in this episode- once by John, and once by Lestrade- Sherlock is more or less told that "being himself" isn't a good idea. Yeah. That would be pretty hurtful for Sherlock to have to hear- that there's something so drastically wrong with who he really is that in order to avoid being arrested, he needs to (evidently) pretend to be someone else. And even more sadly, both times Sherlock just kind of passively agrees. Sherlock can be arrogant, obnoxious, intimidating and cold-blooded, but he does have some admirable qualities, enough that instead of pretending to be someone else, he could simply work on his good traits and try not to let his bad ones get the better of him.
Molly tells Sherlock that she can tell he's not okay, because he looks sad when he thinks John can't see. Looking back on the episode, John is to some extent doing exactly the same thing. In particular, look at the close-up of John adjusting his tie in the living room mirror before Moriarty's trial, note it seems that Sherlock saw and it may have prompted him to up the ante by making doubly sure to hide his own fear and insecurity and the shot of him just before Lestrade and Donovan allow them in to interview the little girl. In the last one, he looks exhausted and miserable and worried. And this is before all hell broke loose when the girl started screaming. John might not have all the information Sherlock has and he might not be the one thinking he's about to die, but he's just as worried and sad as Sherlock in his own way, and just as determined to hide it from his best friend because he thinks he needs to be the strong one. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if season 3 informs us that Molly drew John aside to have the exact same conversation with him, or that she'll do so in the future.
Also in that same scene is how when Sherlock points out that she can see him looking miserable, she simply says that she doesn't count. Having had her hopeless crush on Sherlock put down at every turn, sometimes quite brutally, she's just given up. There's also the fact that the look on Sherlock's face shows that, as in A Scandal in Belgravia, it's been driven home to him just how badly he keeps hurting her feelings, and he is genuinely remorseful for it. He can't even bring himself to immediately deny what she says, because part of him realises that a) he's given her every reason to think that way, and b) he truly hasn't valued her the way he's valued John, Mrs Hudson or Lestrade. (Moriarty seems to have noticed this too, his agents didn't target Molly after all.) In addition, Sherlock's eventual affirmation that she does matter seems to be a case of him having to do a bit of soul-searching to come to this conclusion; if one of the other three had ever said that they didn't matter to him, he would have been able to immediately tell them they were wrong, but with Molly he actually needs to consider whether she might be right.
Fridge Tear Jerker (if that is indeed a thing)- Sherlock and John weren't just best friends, but flatmates and coworkers- they did virtually everything together. For John, this means that even having moved out of Baker Street, virtually every single memory he has of the previous eighteen months would be unbelievably painful, because they would all connect directly to Sherlock in some way. Fun stuff they did that would otherwise make great memories (like 'the time we basically got kidnapped to Buckingham Palace') would now be excruciating. And those hours of petty, silly bickering, especially online, would all of a sudden stop being so light-hearted.
John and Sherlock's utter frustration and fury when they meet "Richard Brook" in the apartment. How angrily John shrieks, "No, you're Moriarty! HE'S MORIARTY!" and Sherlock shouts, "Stop it, now!" at him, but the tearjerking part is just that there is no way for either of them to prove that he's lying, because he's just done it that well. It is simply not fair.
Although it's been stated that 'you look sad when you think he can't see you' is Sherlock's way of hiding pain from John for the latter's protection, it has another implication to it. Let's put two different phrases together:
Molly: You look sad, when you think he can't see you. I know what that means, looking sad when you think no one can see you.
This jump from 'he' to 'no one' is a direct implication that John is everyone to Sherlock, the only person who matters. But then, on the roof, Sherlock says this to John:
Sherlock: Keep your eyes fixed on me! Please!
He's not just hiding his pain from John, he feels pain whenever John isn't watching him, isn't paying attention to him, isn't really seeing him. He's sad whenever he doesn't have John, and this is potentially - given everything that can go wrong - the last thing Sherlock will ever see or hear. Is John. Sherlock's going to be torn from his world for God knows how long and the last thing he wants to see, to hear, to take with him before he leaves is John. It's bad enough looking at this from a literary or friendship standpoint, but imagine how awful this is: It's a moment for Ship Tease.
A brutal one that doubles as Nightmare Fuel is the scene with Richard Brook. He's so good at it! In the books Moriarty was a respected academic with a solid alibi for everything but it makes perfect sense that he would create an identity of a children's storyteller. "I'm a storyteller... tell him, John."
To see Moriarty earn the whole world's trust is frightening. But to see Sherlock and John desperately trying to prove to the journalist that he is lying while he begs them not to hurt him and then runs away is heartbreaking. There is no escape. The intensity of that scene and John's obvious panic as he realizes that nobody will ever believe them is truly gut-wrenching.
Steven Moffat has confirmed that all Sherlock's emotion on the roof when he's talking to John was faked in order to help break John's heart in order to believe what was going to happen.
Although it's been well established that anything the creators say should be regarded with a degree of scepticism, and Moffat didn't write this particular episode or play the part. Besides which, as others have pointed out, John can't actually see Sherlock properly, and yet Sherlock doesn't just sound tearful and distressed, he looks it too. We see actual tears, which would've been pointless as an affectation. YMMV but it's still rather ambiguous, and the "fake" explanation doesn't really add up.
Many Happy Returns
How worn and desperate Anderson looks. One can imagine the guilt has been tormenting him for the past two years.
He even appears to have lost his job, perhaps even as a result of his obsession that Sherlock isn't dead.
When Lestrade asks John how he's been, he at first gives him an upbeat, "good!" Lestrade gives him a doubtful look and he immediately corrects it to "... Much better." It's implied that the last time Lestrade saw John, he was a wreck.
Lestrade pointing out the tape Sherlock made, then immediately regretting it when he sees John's reaction.
John's reactions throughout Sherlock's video manage to run the gamut from fondness to a resigned sort of grief.
And the fact that in order to work up to watching Sherlock, he pours himself a stiff drink from a bottle that is nearly empty.
... Which he then carefully puts back into the kitchen cupboard. He doesn't want it within easy reach.
John having to hear Sherlock confirm that all his friends hated him. Judging from his face, he seems to agree with Sherlock there.
Not to mention that Sherlock seems to actually regret giving him an essay on how much his friends hate him as a present.
While John is watching the video:
Video!Sherlock: ...Right. I just... need a moment to figure out what I'm... gonna do.
John: I'll tell you what you can do. You can stop being dead.
Video!Sherlock:(as if in reply) Okay.
And the brief look of surprise and hope on John's face when he thinks, just for a second, that Sherlock was agreeing to his wish.
The message that Sherlock eventually gives to John is so apt to their current situation that one wouldn't be blamed in thinking Sherlock planned it for such an event where he had to leave John.
Video!Sherlock: Hello, John. I'm sorry I can't be with you right now but I'm very busy. Many Happy Returns. Oh and don't worry. I'm going to be with you again very soon.
There's an implied tearjerker in Sherlock's discussion with Lestrade at the beginning of the tape. He says he's going to miss John's birthday celebrations because "there'll be people." He doesn't say there'll be stupid people or tedious people, so it sort of implies he's that socially anxious that he can't bring himself to spend an evening with a group, especially of people he doesn't know or trust particularly. He obviously felt bad enough about missing it that Lestrade could "threaten" him into making a tape instead.
And then he remarks that all John's friends hate him anyway. Although he's someone who genuinely loves John, he can't spend John's birthday celebrations with him - because he's going out with a crowd of people who hate him.
Not really part of the short, but if you read John's blog about the video, well…
"But then there was this DVD. It was a video of Sherlock recording a message for my birthday dinner. A bunch of us went to this restaurant in Soho. It was great, actually. Everyone was there. Mike, Harry, Greg, Mrs Hudson, the usual suspects. Except Sherlock. He didn't come because he was 'busy'. He wasn't busy, he just... sometimes he struggled to fit in. He couldn't switch off, couldn't relax. He just struggled with people, I think. Yet the video... it showed the other side to him. He was rude, yeah. Arrogant. Apparently lacking in anything resembling empathy. But I'd forgotten just how funny he could be. He was so charming. So... human. It's bizarre because most people would say he was the most inhuman person they'd ever met. But he wasn't. He was everything a good person should be. He'd just often say what he was thinking rather than lying to protect our feelings. Maybe we should all be more like that? Maybe we should all be more honest? Although maybe it was a good thing he didn't come to that birthday dinner..."
The Empty Hearse
This commentary from Lestrade is so heartbreakingly full of guilt and grief:
Lestrade: Guilt. That's all this is. You pushed us all into thinking that Sherlock was a fraud. You did this, you and Donovan, and it killed him, and he's staying dead.
The first time we see Sherlock is when he's being captured and tortured, his back terribly scarred, hair long and dishevelled, and forced to be sleep deprived. His faded wounds imply this isn't the first time this has happened. Just imagine how lonely and scary the last two years must have been for him and then ending up in such a nightmarish situation.
Mycroft breaks it to Sherlock that he can't just walk back into Baker Street and expect everything to be the same.
Sherlock: I think I'll surprise John. Walk over to Baker Street, who knows, jump out of a cake.
Mycroft:Baker Street? He isn't there anymore. It's been two years, he's got on with his life.
And Sherlock's tragically naive response:
Sherlock: What life? I've been away.
John standing in front of Sherlock's grave, two years on, clearly still mourning his friend. Then Mary appears beside him to hold his hand.
It's quick, but upon seeing a photo of John, Sherlock remarks how much older he looks.
Mrs. Hudson's reaction at seeing John (after not hearing from him for years) and Sherlock. She's so happy he's alive, she's positively giddy. Imagine how awful it must've been for her.
In the bonfire scene, at first, both Mary and Sherlock tried to make a way out for John. When Mary's hands got burned, she stopped immediately, whereas Sherlock continued to dive in, ignored the burns, and saved John while Mary - his fiancé, was standing outside shouting "Sherlock! No!". That showed us how much Sherlock cared for John, regardless of his sharp tongue and dick moves.
The part in the train car when Sherlock and John think that they've exhausted all options and are going to die. Sherlock starts tearing up, not as much at his own death as the fact that John's going to die, and it'll be his fault.
"I can't do it. I'm sorry."
Of course, Sherlock was just tricking John, and knew how to turn off the bomb at any time.
It's very quick but the look on Sherlock's face when he walks into the restaurant and sees John for the first time in two years. He just stops dead in his tracks for a moment and looks so nervous.
When John recognizes Sherlock there’s a faint sound effect and camera movement that seems to imitate the earth shaking, like when John saw Sherlock jump off St. Bart's. John quickly reverts from happiness to sounding like he did back when Sherlock “died”, too choked up with emotion to speak in full sentences, his face contorting, his breathing ragged, slamming his left fist (the same one with the tremor) into the table as he desperately tries not to make a scene. The horror in Mary’s face and words speak volumes about how much she loves John. She clearly knows just about everything that he has suffered and she’s so warm and understanding when he has difficulty expressing his feelings or controlling his temper, problems he already had because of his PTSD (or maybe even before Afghanistan, due to whatever made him a stress addict and his sister an alcoholic?). Her cry of “Oh my God! Do you have ANY idea what you’ve done?!” is just one indication that John was so shattered after Sherlock “died” that maybe this deception and reappearance will rip open John’s wounds after all the healing he did while he was with Mary.
And Sherlock figures out pretty quickly that this might not have been the best way to tell John that he's alive after that, but, being Sherlock, he has no idea how to make things right or stop John from having a massive breakdown in the middle of a crowded restaurant. John attacks him multiple times after that. Sherlock never fights back or claims that he didn't deserve it.
A small one, but the exchange between Mycroft and Sherlock at Baker Street is rather sad. Sherlock grew up thinking that he was an idiot because the only person he could compare himself to was his brother, who was leagues smarter than he was. You think Sherlock's isolated, but at least he has Mrs. Hudson and Molly and Lestrade and John - Mycroft has nobody, because where Sherlock sees "idiots", he sees "goldfish". When even Sherlock thinks Mycroft needs a friend...
On a related note, Sherlock believing he was an idiot when he was a child because his big brother was brilliant.
Sherlock hears John's voice inside his head. Insulting him.
"You forgot to turn your collar up."
He seems really affected by John's rejection, particularly when Mrs. Hudson and then Lestrade broach the subject.
Lestrade: And John?
Sherlock: Not really in the picture anymore.
John's stayed away from 221b for two years, not even giving a phonecall to poor Mrs. Hudson. Immediately upon returning he's hit by flashbacks of his old life with Sherlock, including his friend playing the violin and the two of them laughing about John "invading Afghanistan" in A Study In Pink.
Lestrade's responding to seeing Sherlock alive and well by grabbing him in a bear hug is mostly just heartwarming, but as the scene cuts from his face, it looks like he may actually be crying. Sherlock and Lestrade have never been depicted as particularly close in the past episodes, and Lestrade has never before been shown to be emotional or affectionate, so for Lestrade to react like that shows how much he grieved after Sherlock "died."
Molly, engaged and believing she's "moved on" from Sherlock, gets a look on her face as he walks away where she realizes she most definitely is not.
You have to feel sorry for Tom as well. Poor guy doesn't even know his fiancee doesn't love him.
Anderson's fanclub could be seen as this, concocting increasingly bizarre theories about how Sherlock is still alive and how he faked his death. They're right of course, but when Sherlock tells him how he did it and forgives him for his part in causing his "death", the poor guy still can't stop obsessing over it, seeming to have completely lost his mind. He even breaks down in tears and begs Sherlock for forgiveness when Sherlock comments on how his fanclub's fake case could have distracted him from a possible terrorist attack.
Before Sherlock finds the off-switch on the bomb and the timer is counting down.
Sherlock: Go, John. Go now.
In the above scene, where John finally addresses a glaring issue that hasn't really been explored before: his own limitations in expressing emotion:
John: Look, I find it difficult... I find it difficult, this sort of stuff...
Sherlock: I know.
The Sign of Three
The end when Sherlock leaves the party alone, collar turned up, with the happy music fading out in the background. And even before that when he just seemed lost in the crowd, desperately searching for someone, anyone!
The phone conversation between Sherlock and Mycroft seems trivial, but it's actually pretty sad. Mycroft is essentially telling Sherlock that after John is married, he'll abandon him and Sherlock's only companion will once again be Mycroft. Then, to rub it in a little more, he makes an obscure reference (for us) to "Redbeard," but obviously it means something to Sherlock because his face just freezes over.
Mycroft is most likely referring to the pirate Redbeard who was in the buisness with his brother. After his brother died, he carried on the pirating in his name. Mycroft is making this allusion to tell Sherlock he's going to be working alone from now on; also, it's a Call Back because we know Sherlock wanted to be a pirate when he was little.
Nope. Revealed in "His Last Vow" that Redbeard is the name of the dog Sherlock had when he was a child that was eventually put down.
Look at Sherlock's face when he is answering Mycroft's questions in his mind palace. He is so eager to please him. Then think back about the conversation in "The Empty Hearse," about how Mycroft was the smart one and Sherlock thought he was stupid.
All the conversations people have with Sherlock about how John's marriage means "everything's/nothing's going to change" lead up to the revelation that Mary and John are going to have a baby. Everything's going to change now, it can't be helped: there's no way John's going to be as willing to risk his life and spend so much time with Sherlock if he has both a wife and child to live for and look after ("you're hardly going to need me around"). Mrs. Hudson's story about her best friend (her Sherlock?) weeping throughout Mrs. Hudson's wedding, leaving during the dinner and rarely seeing her again foreshadows this of course. The shot of Sherlock completely out of his element at the dance, after he inadvertently hi-jacked the wedding and had all the attention, and he can't even bring himself to stick around for the second dance to show off his secret skills when the partners change (Mary wants to dance with him!), is wrenching. "Alone is what I have. Alone protects me".
Also... Mary dies in the books. This was a pretty happy episode, in this troper's opinions, but that fact was hanging over my head the whole time. To make matters worse, John and Mary hook up before Sherlock leaves and Mary dies while John still thinks he's dead... Between books. It's not dwelt upon.
This line walks between Heartwarming and Tear Jerker, more so the latter when you think about it.
Sherlock: You're already the best parents in the world. Look at all the practice you've had.
John: What practice?
Sherlock: Well you're hardly going to need me around now that you've got a real baby on the way.
This is the moment in which Sherlock watches the circle of John's little family seal itself closed, leaving him outside. His face gradually falls as the implications sink in—he has forever consigned himself to pressing his face to the metaphorical plate glass window of their relationship like a starving man outside a restaurant. His 'place' in the warmth of their triad, despite everyone's best intentions, will be supplanted by the new baby. He will keep his vow to them, and if that's all of John he will ever have, he'll still take it, but the realization must have gutted him.
John tries to get Major Reed to take him seriously so he can help Private Bainbridge, but unlike in "The Hounds of Baskerville" his military history earns him contempt instead of respect. Reed sneeringly refers to him as "retired" (as though there's some shame in that) and says that now John could be a used car salesman or something. The stricken look on John's face is so poignant, he's so wounded by this he can't tell this git he had to leave because he was shot. He's unfailingly polite to Reed, and Reed's STILL a dick when John tells him he's a doctor, even trying to have him arrested and accusing Sherlock of murder!
Harry didn't come to her own brother's wedding and it clearly bothers John, though he didn't hold out hope when he invited her. Either she's not reliable enough to show up to something important, or her alcoholism is so bad she knew she'd be never be able to spend a day without drinking, or even having just a little, and decided not to embarrass herself and her poor brother. Or she's currently sleeping one off again.
Sherlock's glance at John's chair at Baker Street, John's theme playing quietly in the background.
Sherlock's heart-warming speech doesn't leave a dry eye at the wedding.
More so when Sherlock doesn't understand why people are crying, beginning to panic that he's done something wrong. His worry and naivety is so child-like that even John has to give him a hug.
Sherlock spends so much time practising to dance at the wedding and, in the end, he leaves before he can.
Made even worse by the moment where it looks like he is going to dance with the maid of honor that he has been kind of flirting with the whole episode, only to see that she is dancing with the man that he told her to go after.
When Major Sholto was about to commit suicide, it was simply heart-wrenching to hear Sherlock say: " Of course, one should, but not on John's wedding! We wouldn't do that, would we? You and me, we would never do that to John Watson."
But he '''did''' do that to John once. Sherlock's conversation with Sholto and his demeanor implies quite a bit about Sherlock's actions at the end of The Reichenbach Fall. He identifies with this man, who is held responsible for all these deaths because of who he was (a soldier), who is essentially letting himself be killed, because he once stood there and did the same thing. Sherlock felt responsible for the danger that Moriarty put his friends in, and for all the death and pain that Moriarty had caused because he saw Sherlock as a worthy adversary. ("I created Moriarty.) Sherlock didn't realize at that point that John cares about him for more than his cleverness, and so he tries to break John's faith in him, to protect him and so that the loss would hurt less, saying basically as Major Sholto says "I really don't believe in collateral damage. Please leave me." Sherlock didn't believe he mattered to anyone, and so he really did all but commit suicide. He goes along with Moriarty's story, like Sholto is going along with his murderer's. He sees Major Sholto about to make the same choice he did, and because he now knows how much his actions cost, and he knows how much John cares about him and what that means, he's able to talk Major Sholto down.
Sherlock, feeling totally out of his depth at John's wedding, humbles himself enough to call Mycroft and basically beg him to come along to keep him company. And Mycroft makes no commentary on the people at the wedding being "goldfish" or how's he's too busy and has more important things to do than be there. Sherlock starts to tell him that John (who must have been furious with Mycroft after his role in the Reichenbach debacle came out) and Mary would welcome Mycroft to the festivities. Mycroft cuts him off with his sincere belief that they would be "delighted not to have me hanging around." Mycroft's not going, purely because he doesn't feel he would be welcome.
His Last Vow
Molly has broken off her engagement. Sherlock, after being a considerably nicer person most of this season, briefly slips back into his old jerkass self and points it out after she's slapped him for failing a drug test, thankful for the lack of the ring. Her response if just heartbreaking:
Molly: Stop it. Just STOP it!
It's mostly joked about but it's rather heartbreaking that, after John got married, Sherlock couldn't bear to see his chair empty and moved it out of the living room. Though he couldn't bear to throw it out as he puts it back when he thinks John might need to move back in.
Poor John. His wife's an assassin, he's all friends with psychopaths, and he's apparently incapable of living without danger.
After finding out that Mary isn't who she said she was, John asks, "Is everyone I ever met a psychopath?" Sherlock replies with a Blunt Yes and is about to go on, but John yells, "SHUT UP! And stay shut up. Because this isn't funny." at him.
Sherlock's reaction when Mary is revealed as the assassin. It's basically the same reaction he had to when John appeared at the swimming pool to look like he was Moriarty - Sherlock isn't angry, but hurt and afraid. He pleads with Mary to let him help and is so certain that she, his friend, won't hurt him that he's visibly crushed when she does shoot him. Stephen Moffat went on to say that the reason Sherlock's observation skilled never picked up that she was an assassin before was because he wanted to like her.
Mary's expression to as she faces him is heartbreaking. You can see that she's trying to keep up the cold, stoic exterior of a ruthless assassin but there's a couple of moments where the cracks begin to appear at the horror of what she's about to do. First is when Sherlock ignores her threat to stay back and approaches her, knowing he's giving her no choice but to pull the trigger. The next is just after he's been shot and the blood begins to stain his shirt.
Mary: I'm sorry, Sherlock. Truly am.
And Sherlock is so shocked that he barely has time to react or understand what just happened. Just like his reaction to seeing John at the pool in The Great Game, his expression is like that of a 'little, lost child'.
John's reactions during the confrontation with Mary... that turns into an intervention for John. It doesn't matter how much he's suffered and how he good of a person he is, he's not allowed to have a happy, uncomplicated relationship. And apparently he should have known his wife was an assassin even if Sherlock himself just figured it out:
John:[rigid with anger, he turns on Mary] You. What have I ever done? Hm? My whole life...to deserve YOU?
John: Sherlock. I told you, shut up.
Sherlock: No I mean it, seriously, everything, everything you've ever done is what you did...John, you are addicted to a certain lifestyle. You're abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people, so is it truly such a surprise that the woman you fall in love with conforms to that pattern?
John:[almost in tears] But she wasn't supposed to BE like that! Why is SHE like that?
Sherlock: Because...you chose her.
John:[losing control] Why is everything...always...MY FAULT? [he kicks a chair]
Sherlock: John, listen, be calm and answer me. What is she?
John: My lying wife…Then the woman who is carrying my child who's lied to me since the day I met her.
John's expression of pain when Mary rises from her chair at the Holmes' Christmas party. This is probably the first time he's seen her in months, back when she wasn't showing. He could pretend that there wasn't an approximately seven month count down to decision time if he didn't have to see his child growing inside the woman who betrayed him and shot his friend, but now the reminder of everything is right in his face. Mary has her belly covered by a blanket and is reluctant to stand up, like "are you SURE you want to see this?" He's missed out on nearly the entire pregnancy but she saved finding out the gender for if/when he took her back.
Everything involving Mary. All of it. She even nearly loses her marriage.
To use a specific example, when she goes back to 221B with Sherlock and John after John discovers she is an assassin with a false identity, everything about her face, her body language and her dialogue is just... defeated. She is absolutely convinced that nothing matters anymore because John is going to leave her. Even six months later, at Christmas, she maintains a brittle, bitter exterior, waiting for John to tell her he's read her file, that he doesn't love her and that they're over. It's only when he tells her he hasn't read the file and that it's none of his business, and he accepts her that she finally melts and starts sobbing.
When John comes in to see her on Christmas Day with the jump-drive in his hand, she sputters this:
Mary: Seriously, now? Months of silence, and we're going to do this, now?
It seems never to occur to her that John might be approaching her on Christmas Day because he wants to forgive her and reconcile. Her only assumption was that "this" will be John breaking up with her for good, that "this" has been coming for months, and that he has (maybe a little maliciously) chosen to finally announce the end of their marriage on Christmas Day. No wonder she starts sobbing when he forgives her instead.
Though it never comes to fruition, thankfully, Mycroft makes the decision to send Sherlock on what he knows is a suicide mission. And if we extrapolate from the conversation he had with Lady Smallwood, this would not be the first time he did something similar.
We finally find out what "Redbeard" is, a word that Sherlock flinches when hearing, and Magnussen notes as a 'pressure point'. It's Sherlock's precious childhood dog, which was put down.
Redbeard is later the "comfort zone" Sherlock slips into as he tries to cope with a bullet wound.
Sherlock: They're putting me down too now... Not fun is it?
If you ever had a pet euthanized, chances are that scene hit very hard.
When Sherlock speaks to Mycroft in his mind palace, he regresses to the ten year old version of himself. It's heartbreaking to think how small and childish he still feels in his big brother's presence and how scared he is of letting people down.
Mycroft: Don't be stupid. You always were so stupid. Such a disappointment.
Little Sherlock: I'm not stupid!
Mycroft: You're a very stupid little boy! Mummy and Daddy are very cross!
When Sherlock is near-death, he thinks about all the people who will be saddened by his death, as shown by Moriarty taunting him inside his head.
Moriarty: Mrs. Hudson will cry. And Mummy and Daddy will cry. And the Woman will cry. And John will cry buckets and buckets.
The look on Sherlock's face when Magnussen shows him the "vaults". John is confused, but you can see it hit Sherlock just how badly he has miscalculated. He's at a total loss. John asks him if they have a plan but Sherlock just stands there frozen.
The look on Sherlock's face as he helplessly watched Magnussen belittle and bully John by flicking him in the face.
Correction - eye. Magnussen orders John to try and keep his eyes open as Magnussen flicks it. Imagine how painful it is to simply let something touch your eye. People who wore contact lenses ever in their life know how, at the very least, uncomfortable it is. Now imagine someone flicking it. Now imagine the person that you love the most, the person who keeps you sane, the only person that considers you their friend, and now imagine that you are watching this person being flicked in the eye because you screwed up.
After Sherlock shoots Magnussen, Mycroft sees him as the childhood version of himself—his baby brother, with tears rolling down his face, looking absolutely helpless.
Mycroft: Sherlock... what have you done?
Sherlock and John's conversation on the tarmac, where Sherlock looks heartbroken to leave John to die for real this time, and when he gets the opportunity to tell him "something I've meant to say always yet I've never have," he backs out of it to crack a joke and watch John laugh for one last time.
Janine sadly points out to Sherlock that they could have been friends if he hadn't manipulated her. That Magnussen gloats to Sherlock about how he used to do the eye-torture on her as well demonstrates that he realises that Sherlock at least liked her.
This is probably a condensation of everything above, but it made this troper cry: You know how people say that your life flashes before your eyes when you die? Well. What does Sherlock have?
Molly and Anderson, people who he constantly dismissed, manipulated and lorded over, telling him what to do (so they're superior to him).
Mycroft, his own brother, telling him that he's very stupid (an attack upon Sherlock's mental acuity, the one thing that he values the most) and Mummy and Daddy are very cross (that he's a disappointment to his family).
Mary, in her wedding dress - the one who took his happy life with John away from him, taking his one connection to normal society and his moral compass, then shot him (she could have killed him, for pity's sake!).
Redbeard, probably the first loss young Sherlock has ever experienced. Judging by their conversation in T So T, it's not the first time that Mycroft has practically rubbed it into Sherlock's face as an example for why you should not care about people, because caring only hurts you in the end.
And finally, Jim, symbolic of Sherlock's darkest, unfeeling, truly sociopathic tendencies. If Sherlock gives in, if he doesn't have John, he'll become Moriarty.
The fact that, of all those faces who appear to Sherlock, the ones that could probably provide him the most comfort and encouragement - John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and his parents - are nowhere to be seen. Irene - The Woman, the one who he feels something akin to admiration/attraction, the one who visited him in hospital and left him a red rose (according to Arwel Wyn Jones) - only gets a brief mention by Jim, and said mention is meant to hurt Sherlock.
So, to sum up - in his ostensibly last moments, Sherlock's subconcious informed him that he's not as smart as he think he is, he's a disappointment, he's a lonely pathetic man and without John he might as well become a despicable, monstrous criminal, and that he shouldn't care because it only hurts him and people he cares about. This man may be an irascible genius with lots of outer swagger, but this says a heck of a lot about how low Sherlock's self esteem actually is.
Molly Hooper's reaction to finding out that Jim from I.T. only pretended to be her boyfriend to get close to Sherlock and was in fact the criminal Moriarty.
I won't be keeping this diary anymore. It was all a lie. Everything he said. But, got to stay positive. Nobody wants an unhappy person working in a morgue. Not that they want a particularly happy one either.
Stay happy everyone xx
Molly Hooper's entire blog comments section. She comments on every one of her blog posts. Throughout the whole run of the blog, only one other person ever comments: Jim from IT. Which hardly makes it better. It's heartbreaking.
John's last blog post, full stop.
Harry's comments and John's responses often manage to be both hilarious and this.
On early posts, she repeatedly asks him to ANSWER HIS PHONE, DAMNIT, and to meet. Some of her chats with other commenters suggest she really hasn't known him well, for a long time. When he finally answers, he suggests going for drinks. Remember that Sherlock mentioned her alcoholism as a reason why they're estranged.
This post suggests she's staying off the booze. This one suggests it didn't last. Look at the times - John immediately goes to check up on her, at midnight, though he'd been ignoring her for months before. This also means that by the time John mentions her going sober at Christmas in Scandal, it's her second attempt, and Sherlock says that failed too.
Her forlorn apology for falling off the wagon (again) is really what pushes this from heartwarming (John might not be terribly nice to Harry, but he'll rush off immediately if she needs his help) to a tearjerker (she's aware, even though she's apparently completely loaded, that she's "failed" John. She's primarily focused on that, even though John's tone seems quite gentle when he tells her he's on his way to her; it certainly isn't in the least bit snarky, bitchy or angry.)
The last few pages of Sherlock: The Casebook are basically John writing up what happened on The Reichenbach Fall. Unlike all the other entries in 'the scrapbook' which contain post-it notes from both Sherlock and John commenting on the events, this one obviously only has John's input. His final lines where he laments Sherlock's passing are heartbreaking.
Then he jumped. I owe him so much. I needed him. I still do. But he's gone.
John's first post in the lead-up to Season 3 could be considered this, with John talking about the past and his process of moving on, and his friends (including his new girlfriend, Mary Morstan) all share their support for him in the comments. But then his sister comes in and breaks your heart with a two-word comment that shows just how cut off she still is from her brother despite her best efforts.
Harry: Who's Mary?
It's also clear from the commments that Harry feels very left out when everyone else is talking about catching up for drinks- something that she, as a recovering alcoholic, cannot participate in.
John's second post in the lead up to Series 3 is even worse. He shares some pictures he found of his and Sherlock's old cases. He tries to be jokey and upbeat but the final lines especially are just heartbreaking.
He deduced that the victim had faked his own death. I said at the time that it wasn't very likely. In fact, I think I said it was impossible. And he told me that it might be improbable but nothing's impossible. I wish I still believed that.
Then there's the implication in the comments that John doesn't seem to visit Mrs. Hudson anymore and doesn't even reply to the comments she leaves on his blog.
Someone says that they still don't believe in Sherlock. And someone else says that he hopes Sherlock is burning in hell. John tries to take it all in stride, but that poor man...
"theimprobableone" was mainly an obsessive, bratty Sherlock fanboy who insisted that he would be a much more worthy partner to Sherlock on Watson's blog. Post-Reichenbach he's treated... much more seriously when he becomes overwhelmed with doubt on whether to believe in Sherlock or not. It gets to the point that when he stops responding to comments and private messages, John and others begin to worry. The next we hear of him he apparently has someone "looking after him".
After John writes that he's engaged in his blog about "The Empty Hearse," Harry writes, "YOURE GRETTING MARROIDED!?!?!!?!?!" This has several Tear Jerker implications:
1) She's drunk again;
2) John hadn't told her he was getting married;
3) No one answered her.
Sherlock hacks into John's blog and posts an entry while John and Mary are on their honeymoon. The entry as well as the comments really gives an insight to how lonely and bitter Sherlock is.
Sherlock: They're both perfectly acceptable friends in their own way but then they start talking and I wish I really had died. I am, however, quite happy that they have found each other and that they make each other happy. That's nice, isn't it. And it is very nice to have the place to myself without their meaningless chatter distracting me from more important things.
The sad thing is, he probably meant it, considering his unfamiliarity with idioms, as demonstrated in a later comment of his expressing incomprehension of Mike's "Pot. Kettle. Black."
He then goes on to be rude to everyone who comments, saying how they clearly don't have a life for always being on the internet, when that's clearly what Sherlock is doing. He then begins to practically beg people to ask him about how he solved the case but no one is interested. Even theimprobableone has a date.
Sherlock: Does anyone want to ask me how I worked it out? And who the potential victim was?
Sherlock: John would ask me if he was here. He always asks me what's going on and how i worked it out.
The one little typo on the lowercase "i" really twists the knife when you consider how pedantic Sherlock is about grammar- he's so desperate for human company he's just churning out comments without even bothering to proofread. He might have even been drinking a little... or a lot. Mrs Hudson responds, asking if he'd like to play Cluedo (and she makes a typo as well- read into that what you will) and he's so lonely he accepts. The little "i" also hurts on a symbolic level- he feels like he's less significant as a person without John's company.
Sherlock very clearly expressed his distaste for John's blog and his attempt at romanticism. However, here, he actively hacked into John's blog and posted about the case, most probably because John didn't per their friendship's tradition. Let's look at this from Sherlock's point of view. John had just gotten married and informed that his wife had been pregnant. The baby hadn't even come yet and John was so busy with his domestic bliss that he forgot about Sherlock! No wonder Sherlock was sulking!