Monday, March 26, 2012

A Study in Friendship - Sherlock: Guest Bloggers


A Study in Friendship
A Blog Inspired by BBC’s Sherlock

Emmy's Note: When I sent out the call for posts on friendship - you all delivered! This post by Sam and Felicia I have been so excited about too! When they told me they wanted to do a post together inspired by Sherlock and Watson - I KNEW it was going to be epic! I've known Felicia since we were in band together in high school (we both played clarinet and she was my older sisters age), and then Sam joined our little crew during the college years. And the rest they say - is history! Warning: this post is a bit longer than most, but trust me it is 100% worth it! (In the pic, Sam is on the left, Felicia on the right.) Sam blogs at Vagabond Writer and Felicia blogs at Light in Darkness.

Sam:  History, television, film, and literature have given us many dynamic duos.  Bonny and Clyde.  Laverne and Shirley.  Batman and Robin.  Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  Different though these pairs might be, something about them just works.

Felicia:  Have you ever noticed how your friendships tend to mimic those of literary characters? Take my relationship with my good friend, Samantha. Spend enough time with us, and you begin to realize how similar our relationship is to that of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  

Sam:  Not a clue what you’re talking about . . . I’m bored.

Felicia: You’re always bored.

Sam:  Breathing is boring. . . . We should solve crime.  We don’t do that.  We should do that if we really want to be like Sherlock and Watson.

Felicia:  Umm . . . back to the topic of friendship?

Sam:  Alright.  

Felicia: So, as I was saying … Sam and I are like Sherlock and Watson. Sam is always stuck in her mind palace as brilliant Sherlock, and I … well, I am just trying to keep up.


Sam:  What is it like in that funny little brain of yours?  It must be so boring.

Felicia: You know … sometimes I wonder why we are friends at all.

Sam:  Well, why are Sherlock and Watson friends?  Think about it.  In the BBC’s modernized Sherlock, Sgt. Sally Donovan (Vinette Robinson) states to Watson (Martin Freeman), “[. . . ] and you’re not his friend.  He doesn’t have friends.” So, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t need friends.  Or does he? Why is Watson there?  Does Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) require an associate with medical knowledge?  No.  Sherlock apparently has plenty of that.  Perhaps, he really does desire companionship.  No.  The sleuth seems to prefer solitude.  So what is with this Watson fellow?  Why is he there?

Felicia:  Now, what about Watson?  Does he really need Sherlock? Does he need to be sent to the store to do all of Sherlock’s errands? No. Does he need to be left at crime scenes while Sherlock runs off to carry out his brilliance? No. Does he need to be put in constant danger? Well … maybe.  Now we are getting somewhere.

Sam:  Are we really that much like them?

Felicia:  Afraid so.  You have this annoying habit of always seeking fun and adventure.

Sam:  I amuse you  . . . and your ailments are psychosomatic.

Felicia: They are not psychosomatic. Sleep apnea is a real issue. I could probably sleep if you weren’t up half the night shooting the walls and taking legal stimulants.

Sam:  It was a three cup problem.

Felicia: You are such a coffee addict. You need a four step program.

Sam:  Only four?  I suppose I am quite brilliant like that.

Felicia: No s***, Sherlock.

Sam:  Alright, you want to play that game?  Don’t mess with the master, Watson.

* * * * *

Sam as Sherlock Holmes:  Shall we begin?

Felicia as Dr. John Watson: But of course. I’ll translate for the masses.

SH:  Aren’t we supposed to speak of friendship?  I have . . . friends.

JW: Really? Who would that be?

SH:  Does my Garmin count?

JW: Garmin is forced to speak with you. And if you talk that way to people it is no surprise you have no other friends.

SH:  I’ve been busy.  

JW: I have yet to figure out what it is you do all day.

SH:  Elementary, my dear Watson.  Haven’t we been through this?  I’m a . . . no the . . . . consulting detective.  I invented the job.

JW: So you consult Marian about your elementary … I mean  . . . high school students?

SH:  *sigh* I have to analyze data in order to conclude what in God’s name possesses teenagers to write so badly.  It is tough work correcting all that bad grammar.

JW: You know, you’re quite mean.  Perhaps, they could simply use a friend.

SH:  Friend?  How would that be useful?

JW: Well, it could help you relate to other people for one. Your head is always in the clouds.

SH:  Now, wait a minute . . . . My mind palace is a sacred place.  No visitors allowed.

JW: Well, who do you suspect will share your thoughts and have conversations with you if you are always so antisocial?

SH:  I’m not antisocial.  I’m a high functioning sociopath.  Do your research.

JW: You know you are not always right, Sherlock. You would realize that if you actually spoke and … here is a concept … listened to people.

SH:  Were you saying something?

JW:  People, Sherlock!  You know -- the living, breathing things the skull on your shelf used to be!  You need people, Sherlock.

SH:  People are . . . complicated.  As I said before, I am married to my work.

JW:  Life isn’t all work.

SH:  Well, I suppose there is . . . you.

JW: Sherlock, why do you like me around?

SH:  Do we have to talk about this now?  . . . Umm, who else is going to pick up the milk?  Did you really have a row with a chip and pin machine?

JW:  No . . . maybe . . . only once, but that is beside the point!  You only use me to run errands?!

SH:  I allow your presence at cases, as well.

JW: So you use me?

SH:  Use is such a limiting term.

JW: What else would you call it?

SH:  Sometimes your presence proves . . . beneficial.

JW:  Beneficial?

SH:  John, can’t you see that “friendship” is a profoundly selfish concept?!

JW:  Selfish?  How can you say that?!

SH:  Well, we surround ourselves with only those people who provide the most assistance or necessary goods at any given moment.  

JW:  So, why me?

SH:  I needed a roommate.  Flats are quite pricey in central Munster.

JW:  Is that the only reason?  You wanted to save on rent?

SH:  Well, our personalities seemed . . . conducive to minimal arguments.  And your ailments were psychosomatic.

JW:  What does that have to do with anything?

SH:  You like the exercise. The excitement.    



JW:  Well, I suppose that is why you are good for me, but sometimes I think you like excitement a little too much.

SH:  Yes, and you like to remind me to be you like. . . sensible.  

JW:  Sometimes you court danger a bit closely.  I simply suggest that you be cautious.  You know, for a genius, you can be a real idiot at times.

SH:  Well, then.  I give you excitement.  You give me . . . boredom.

JW: So we have a mutual friendship then?

SH:  Mutual?  You consider me a friend?

JW: Of course. You use me at crime scenes, and I use you to oogle and flirt with your family.

SH:  Yes, you were making Mycroft quite uncomfortable.  I’ve been the recipient of that flirting, too, you know.

JW: I’ve been trying to cut back. I know how you can get an ego.

SH:  I am quite stylish in my flowing coat.  And apparently I have sexy legs.  

JW:  No wonder people think we are a couple.

SH:  They do?

JW: State Farm sent us joint address labels.

SH:  I thought they were saving on printing costs.

JW: Plus, we are always together.

SH:  And?

JW: And I am taking you as my date to a wedding!

SH:  That signifies nothing.

JW: It signifies I think highly enough of you NOT to invite any of my other associates.

SH:  You have other associates?  I thought it was just me.

JW: Thank you for proving my point.

SH:  And then I suppose the shared flat doesn’t help and . . . are you seeing someone?

JW: Well, I have been talking to other people . . .

SH:  Yes, obviously.  You have been giggling uncontrollably (you giggle like a girl, by the way), and the “send” space on your iPhone has been permanently smudged.  It is really quite sickening.

JW: Have you been using my mobile again?

SH:  Mine was too far.

JW:  It was in your pocket.

SH:  Too far.

JW: You never give me any privacy.

SH:  Why would you need privacy?

JW: Because I don’t need you analyzing me every second of the day. You are exhausting.

SH:  I don’t analyze you.  Analysis is a process that involves effort.  I state the obvious.

JW: Well, it isn’t obvious to anyone but you.

SH:  What’s it like not being me?  It must be so relaxing.

JW: Relaxing? It’s frustrating. I have to work ten times as hard as you, and I still cannot follow your line of thought.

SH: Just ten times?

JW: You are insufferable.

SH:  :)

JW:  You know, you don’t have to show off all of the time.

SH:  I’m not showing off.

JW:  Well, you somehow manage to make everyone in a room feel like an idiot.

SH:  Nothing personal.  Most people are idiots.  

JW: So back to that discussion on friendship . . . why would you spend time with me as opposed to your brother Mycroft, for example?

SH:  It has been said that “Friends are the family you choose.”

JW:  So, I am your friend?

SH:  Fine, I admit it!  We’re friends!  I find your presence . . . comforting on occasion.  Happy?!

JW: I applaud you, sir. Well done.

SH:  I’m glad you approve.

JW: I didn’t think you cared what I thought.

SH:  Of course I care.  I got you that present that one time for that . . . important event.

JW: Yes, my birthday was important.

SH:  Was that what it was for?

JW: You know that was what it was for! You make me so angry sometimes.

SH:  You’ve been angry?

JW: I’ve stopped limping haven’t I?

SH:  Yes, because that was psychosomatic.

JW: Fine. I admit it.

SH:  Now, we are both making progress.

JW:  Yes, we have both admitted to needing each other.

SH:  Woah . . . need?

JW:  Sherlock . . .

SH:  Alright.  I . . . need you, John.

JW:  And I need you, too.

SH:  They really are going to think we are a couple now, aren’t they?

JW:  Yup.

* * * * *

Felicia: Friendship is vital to human survival. Would Sherlock Holmes be Sherlock without his Watson? Would Watson even need a Sherlock? I argue that Watson needs Sherlock in every way. Without Sherlock, Watson would cease to exist as the man we know and love. 



As a retired army doctor, John Watson has been programmed to react as if in the army. His life was methodical and filled with the dangers of the battlefield. How does an army man assimilate back into society? The truth is that Watson is struggling. Diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he regularly sees a therapist who reassures him that his PTSD symptoms are psychosomatic. It is all in his head. It is not until Watson meets Sherlock that he is truly challenged to overcome his disabilities. In Series 1, Episode 1 (“A Study in Pink) of BBC’s Sherlock, Watson becomes excited at the prospect of a chase and leaves his cane in a restaurant -- while Sherlock rushes off to accost a taxi driver. He completely forgets his limp and dashes off toward danger. No need for a cane when you seek danger and adventure (it just gets in the way). Again while being kidnapped by Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), a confused Watson stands firm and unafraid as Mycroft warns him to stay away from Sherlock. Even Mycroft can see that Watson’s PTSD is an incorrect diagnoses from Watson’s therapist. Mycroft remarks, “Fire her. She's got it the wrong way around. You're under stress right now and your hand is perfectly steady. You're not haunted by the war, Dr Watson. You miss it.” The fact is that Sherlock gives Watson an environment in which Watson can experience danger and fear without being looked on harshly by society. Normally, when people seek danger and adventure, society views them as absolutely crazy. Take bungee jumping as an example. Who in their right mind would risk their life to feel the thrill and rush of danger? Moreover, what would be the purpose of this dangerous act? Image is very important to ex-army doctor Watson. Because Watson is so concerned with societal views, he feels a sort of safety net by working with Sherlock to solve crimes. Society looks upon him as a hero, and he can experience his need for danger all at the same time.

Besides giving Watson the danger he seeks, Sherlock also gives him purpose. Watson keeps Sherlock out of jail while working as mediator between him and the police who hire him as a consulting detective. Sergeant Sally Donovan remarks to Watson, “[. . .] and you’re not his friend. He doesn’t have friends. He likes it. He gets off on it. And you know what? One day it won’t be enough. One day we will be standing over a body, and it will be Sherlock Holmes that put it there” (Series 1, Episode 1, “A Study in Pink”). The tight lipped, always serious, highly functioning sociopath Sherlock would have been cast out of society had it not been for Watson keeping him out of trouble.

Another useful purpose Watson serves is keeping Sherlock alive. In the first episode of the series, Sherlock lays upon a couch contemplating a crime. Enter Watson who questions Sherlock about what he is doing. Sherlock replies, “Nicotine patch. Helps me think. It's impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days … It's a three-patch problem.” Left to his own devices, would Sherlock survive his dangerous nicotine and heroin addictions? He craves the mental rush delivered by illegal stimulants but lacks the mental capacity to truly realize how dangerous it is to constantly use. Thankfully, Watson is a doctor who often reminds him of his dangerous habit -- and is there in case he needs a little CPR. Once again, Sherlock comes through to help Watson transition from being an army doctor to being someone who cares for Sherlock -- while danger lurks around every corner. 

Much like Watson, I too seek adventure. Before meeting my best friend, Samantha, I lived a sheltered life. Never had I traveled outside the United States. Sam gave me a sense of adventure as she opened my eyes to the many different cultures and sights I could experience abroad. Shortly after becoming flatmates, we traveled to England where the brilliant Samantha attended Oxford while I explored the streets of London on my own. With the suspense of getting lost around every corner, I relished every moment of adventure from discovering the chime of Big Ben to imagining my head getting chopped off at the Tower of London.

Overall, my friends have greatly added to my character and helped mold me into the amazing human being I am today. WIthout those friends I would never have discovered my love of travel, my independence, and the ability to clear a room while singing very poorly.

*****

Sam:  In Series, 1, Episode 1 (“A Study in Pink”) of Sherlock, Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) states, “[. . .] Sherlock Holmes is a great man.  And I think one day, if we’re very, very lucky, he might even be a good one.”  As humans, we like to speak in superlatives -- rating “great” as higher than “good.”  However, Lestrade suggests a different rating system entirely.  Even as children, we are taught about the nobility of sacrificing our own dreams and goals for the sake of others.  Therefore, “greatness” becomes subordinate to “goodness.”  Greatness is a solitary act.  One achieves greatness by being apart from -- above -- others.  Sherlock has that in spades.  However, though Sherlock likes showing off in general (“Genius needs an audience.”), he likes sharing his knowledge with someone he respects.  Watson -- a doctor -- is a brilliant man in his own right, and Sherlock senses that.  It is this respect for Watson that inspires Sherlock to goodness.  Sherlock’s brother Mycroft is even intrigued by Watson, stating that the doctor will either be the making of his brother or the cause of his becoming even worse.  After all, Watson’s admiration for the detective is a big ego boost.  However, Sherlock genuinely cares for Watson (see his expression in this confrontation with Moriarity), thus making Sherlock’s transition from “great” to “good” possible.  Goodness is perhaps a more difficult, more noble pursuit than greatness.  Goodness implies having an object to direct that good towards.  While greatness is solitary, goodness is communal.  In Series 1, Episode 3 (“The Great Game”) of Sherlock,  Watson seems absolutely appalled when Sherlock is apathetic towards human life -- instead relishing the thrill of the chase over saving human lives.  Watson is what keeps Sherlock human.  He grounds the genius and reminds him that he needs to connect to the world of the living.  By being great, you are allowed to be solitary.  You do not have to rely on anyone else.  You do not have to be hurt.  To be good, you must put yourself out on a limb and connect with others.  By genuinely caring about Watson, Sherlock Holmes becomes all at once weaker and stronger than he has ever been before.

So, does Sherlock need Watson?  To be great -- no.  To be good -- yes.  

Now, all joking aside.  I like to think that -- in reality -- I have not quite reached the sociopathic state of Mr. Holmes.  Still, I need my friends (yes, Felicia-Watson.  You, too.) to keep me grounded and connected.   Watson makes Sherlock laugh (and vice versa).  My friends teach me to lighten up -- that the relationships I build are far more important than anything else I could hope to achieve in this life.  When I work too hard and stay too busy, my friends remind me to take care of myself in the little, normal ways (Felicia:  “Yes, it’s okay to buy something frivolous for yourself.  You deserve it.”)  My friends inspire me to both greatness and goodness -- reminding me I’m awesome even when I don’t feel like it and knocking me down a notch when I forget they are awesome, too.  It is my friends that encourage me to strive for my dreams -- to be great.  However, through my friends, I learn what it means to be selfless, loving, and forgiving.  I learn what it truly means to be human.

Perhaps, as my Sherlock says, friendship is selfish.  Friends do give us what we need at different points in our lives, and different friends provide us with different things.  After losing my mom four years ago, my friends were there to pick up the pieces.  Some provided me with immediate support and a “Hey, come on over!”   Others were my back-up when some family members wanted to move on far too quickly after my mom’s death.  Ex-army doctor Watson is willing to shoot a man to protect Sherlock.  My own friend-soldiers are ever on my team, ever defending me -- from others and even sometime from my own worst enemy -- myself.  In the midst of all this chaos in my life, I, like Sherlock, was even able to find a roommate (thanks, Felicia) who was at the same point in life as me and needed me as much as I needed her.  So, while I still work too hard, still need to lighten up, and don’t always know how to show my appreciation for those that mean the most to me, I -- like my buddy Holmes -- love my friends dearly and would do anything for them in return.  Even if everyone thinks we are a couple.  ;)

Sherlock himself suggests that there are no heroes, but, if there were, he would not be one.  Still, Sherlock does have all the markings of a traditional superhero.  He solves crimes, battles an archnemesis . . . and has an awesome sidekick.  Every Sherlock must have his Watson . . . and every Watson his Sherlock.  As friends, they do not always agree, but one wouldn’t be quite the same without the other.  Even if conflict arises, if you remember all your friends have given you, the rest is . . . elementary.

8 comments:

  1. Love this! Mike and I recently watched Season 1 of Sherlock, so this was fun to read :)

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    1. You have no idea how excited I was for this post. I already knew that when they each said they wanted to write a blog for this month's theme it was going to be awesome - but then when they told me that they wanted to do a blog together about Sherlock - MIND BLOWN.

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  2. Emmy thank you so much for inviting Sam and I to write a guest blog. We had so much fun. Friendship is so important in today's society.

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    1. I'm so glad you did! It was fun to read!

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  3. This was so much fun to write! And it was an excuse to re-watch every episode of Series 1 (and say, "Yep, we do that. Yep,we do that." You made everything look so nice here! Thanks!

    And let us know if you need any other split personality blogs from two chicas far too obsessed with British television. ;)

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    1. I'm sure I can find some excuse for those sorts of posts in the future!

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  4. This is completely awesome. I need a Watson or do I need a Holmes. I'm both awesome and sheltered. Mmmm...I just don't know. Love this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. When Sam and Felicia said they were going to write this - I was SO EXCITED!

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