Mycroft in His Last Vow (III) Merry Christmas
This is the last part of the analysis of what Mycroft was up too during HLV, and what he did or did not know about his brother’s plan. I’ll also argue that Sherlock killed Magnussen mainly to save his brother.
Last we reached the conclusion the brothers could not have been working together, since the conversation in the garden would not make sense in this setting. But this leaves a number of things that happen in the episode without an explanation. When going over the entire episode while assuming that they do not work together it becomes apparent that, unlike what Sherlock seems to believe, his older brother is perfectly aware of what he is doing, and how Mycroft reveals this to Sherlock during the Christmas party. Reading parts 1 and 2 is not necessary although it might help (plus they’re not that long)
So, we’ll start by the beginning (original, I know). In Mycroft’s first scene we had the problem of him not realising that Janine was in Baker Street and why, if he wanted to keep Sherlock’s drug use a secret, did he bring some of the people who were most likely to reveal this secret.
Either Mycroft never stopped his people keeping an eye his little brother, or he made them start again after John’s wedding. So he was perfectly aware of Janine. Now, we know he ran a background check on Sherlock’s flatmate, no doubt he would do the same on his (first?) girlfriend. So he knows about her connection to Magnussen, and it would be impossible for him to not realise that Sherlock is going after the man.
So what does Mycroft do with this information? We already know that him wanting to protect Magnussen is a complete fabrication. We saw that after the shooting Mycroft had to realise that Magnussen had something on Mary and that Sherlock was protecting her (you can read the complete deduction sequence in part 2), so he’d know his little brother would never stop pursuing the case. Plus, it’s Sherlock, he doesn’t let things go, and there is no one who knows this better than Mycroft. On the other hand, in Appeldore, Magnussen himself tells us that the older Homes brother has been going after him for quite some time.
Mycroft now knows that his little brother and he have, once again, the same target. Except, if Sherlock wanted his help he would have asked it by now, so he clearly either doesn’t want it, or doesn’t think he would get it. Mycroft can also not be seen going after Magnussen. The man doesn’t have anything on Mycroft himself but he does have a lot on the people he has to work with, and, on occasion, makes himself useful. So Mycroft let’s his brother do as he pleases without his interference, but no doubt keeping an eye on him. He would realise that the drugs thing is a ruse (going to a crack house while having your own flat available is a dead giveaway), he might either believe that Sherlock is merely pretending or not. If not, Mycroft’s inaction could be explained by his knowledge, after past experiences, that Sherlock will only stop doing drugs if he himself decides to do so, so confronting him on this matter will be of no use. Regardless, once he receives John’s phone call he brings along the right people to assure the success of his brother’s plan, and plays his part of pretending to want to protect Magnussen in front of John mixed with a real censure of Sherlock’s drug use.
As I mentioned before, we already saw that even without Sherlock’s information, Mycroft had to realise the shooter was Mary, that CAM has information on her and that Sherlock want’s to protect her. He goes over Sherlock’s possible actions in regards to Magnussen and comes up with the plan with the laptop. On the next opportunity, perhaps during a visit to the hospital with their mother insisting on celebrating Christmas together, Mycroft makes a fuss about needing to work, and how he will have to take the thing with him, giving Sherlock the means by which to take down CAM.
During the conversation in the garden Mycroft brings up Magnussen. Rather childishly, he wants Sherlock to realise he isn’t fooling his older brother before it all goes down. We know that at the beginning of the conversation Sherlock still believes Mycroft doesn’t know, while at the end Mycroft’s reference to the punch and Sherlock’s reply show that they are on the same page. It happens in the references to dragons, initially Mycroft says Magnussen is not a dragon for Sherlock to slay, giving the impression that only Sherlock sees himself as a dragon slayer. After the interruption by their mother, Mycroft then goes on to say that he too sees Sherlock as a dragon slayer and that the dragon that is here needs to be slain. He then walks away, but not before using the excuse of being drugged to get as close as he will ever get to openly admitting how important Sherlock is to him and begging him to be careful.
During the scene with the helicopter we see Sherlock returning the faith his older brother placed in him. Yelling Merry Christmas right before he shoots Magnussen is a clear reference to the conversation they just had in the garden, and indicates that the main part of Sherlock’s motivation in shooting CAM is to protect his older brother. Mycroft was, after all, the man’s target, and the one who would have suffered had Magnussen not died. His interest in Mary was only in so far as it allowed him to reach Mycroft. Magnussen would have no doubt enjoyed holding the threat over her, but is unlikely to use it against her if it wasn’t going to gain him any advantage. But he would have controlled Mycroft, with the threat of testifying that Sherlock had tried to sell him state secrets.
Next we see Mycroft manipulating a bunch of powerful people to save his brother from his own mess (think of how many problems could have been avoided if Sherlock had shot Magnussen before he had a dozen armed witnesses.) I don’t think the presence of lady Smallwood is a coincidence. Either Mycroft is subtlety letting her know that he is aware that all the trouble started because of her. Or it is a practical matter since she is more likely to give into his demands since she would feel partly responsible for Sherlock’s situation.
Now, of course Mycroft had planned something to make sure Sherlock didn’t die in Eastern Europe. We can even deduce that they planned on Sherlock returning to London in not that much time. When Sherlock asks Mycroft to talk with John, Mycroft looks startled. Now, if they knew that Sherlock would be away for a long time, or perhaps would never return, it would be perfectly normal for him to want to say goodbye to John.
About Moriarty’s video, I don’t think that that was Mycroft’s doing. The video would have worked regardless of Sherlock being in jail or recruited for a foreign mission. In both cases the powers-that-be would have wanted him on the London streets investigating. So why would Mycroft have first used his power to change Sherlock’s sentence?
I just realized the main reason Sherlock kills Magnussen is to save his brother.
For once, yelling Merry Christmas right before shooting him is a clear reference to the conversation both brothers had earlier in their parents garden.
On the other hand. Right now Magnussen is a huge threat to Mycroft but only a small one to Mary and John. Sure, he’d enjoy lording his power over them, but he has no use for them now that he has Mycroft. And he has Mycroft. All he has to do is threaten to testify that Sherlock was selling him state secrets and there is little Mycroft wouldn’t do to stop that from happening.
Definitely an original Christmas present.
Mycroft in His Last Vow (II). We never do this.
Analysis of Mycroft’s role in HLV. Mary Shooting Sherlock and the Christmas party.
Part 1 is here
Sherlock gets shot, almost dies and disappears from the hospital a few days later, when he is still far from being in a state to go anywhere. And we are supposed to believe that Mycroft doesn’t care about this situation, beyond giving Lestrade the names of two places where he might be hiding. Well, the man is busy, and it’s not as if he has access to the British Secret Service, or would use those resources for a personal matter such as kidnapping his little brother’s flatmate… oh, wait.
So at this point we have two options. Either Mycroft doesn’t know where Sherlock is and has his people looking for him, or he does know. Now we have to find a reason for him telling Lestrade about Kew Gardens and the Cemetery. If Mycroft doesn’t know where his brother is, those places would have already been scouted by his men, so why waste Lestrade and everyone else’s time with them? But if Mycroft already knows about Sherlock’s plan, then having them run around in circles while Sherlock and John deal with Mary, would be very useful.
The first odd thing is the laptop that supposedly holds enough information to endanger the security of the UK. Computers are not often related with Mycroft. They are not prominently featured in his offices, and whenever he needs to hand someone information (such as in TGG or TEH) they are always paper files. We only see him using a computer twice, one in TEH, in a flashback of him and Sherlock working together, and during this episode, when he seems to be looking at some type of satellite feed. I think we can safely assume Mycroft uses computers as communication devices, not as information storage. This is not particularly surprising. In an interview Gatiss and Moffat were asked about how Mycroft’s mind palace looked like, to which they replied he probably didn’t need one (I’m sorry I’ve lost the link, if anyone has it on hand, please send it to me), he has, after all, a better memory than Sherlock. Besides, with a computer there is always the danger of being hacked. So for Mycroft they are both unnecessary and dangerous.
So, even if Mycroft planned on working during Christmas, he would only rarely need a computer for this. Besides, the idea of a work-aholic Mycroft is mostly fanmade. Doyle’s Mycroft lack of energy is almost proverbial and in BBC Sherlock, when we see Mycroft, he is usually at the Diogenes or at his own home. So how did Sherlock know weeks, or perhaps even months in advance, that Mycroft would choose to bring it? He doesn’t even have past experiences to go on, because, as Mycroft says, “we never do this.”
Also, I find it hard to believe that Mycroft would leave such an important item just laying around. Mycroft doesn’t strike me as the careless type of person.
The second thing is Billy Wiggins. Mycroft is sitting in the kitchen, in the same room where an ex(¿?)-junky is drugging the tea and the punch his parents and himself are taking and Mycroft is not supposed to notice. Even though his observation abilities exceed Sherlock’s.
These two things seem to suggest that Mycroft is on on Sherlock’s plan. But then comes the conversation in the garden. Although there are some lines that suggest that Mycroft knows what’s happening, he also says that he believes that Sherlock has dropped the Magnussen case. And that just doesn’t make sense if they have been working together. There is no one there who needs to be fooled, except, perhaps, the viewers. And Mycroft and Sherlock might be smart, I don’t think this grants them the ability to break through the fourth wall. So we have to assume that our initial interpretation is mistaken. That the brothers are not, in fact, working together.
But what then? Does it even make sense for Mycroft to really believe that Sherlock has dropped the case? Sherlock might not have told him anything, but Mycroft knows his little brother was shot. If John can realise (after a week) that Sherlock must be protecting his shooter by not revealing their name, Mycroft must have taken less than a minute to think of this. He would also realise that the shooter being there the same night John and Sherlock are is no coincidence. Before that day, only Sherlock and his client knew about his plans for CAM. But that day John hears about it, and he sees Janine. Who would he have told about this?
If Mycroft doesn’t follow this chain of reasoning to realise it was Mary, there is a second one. Because Sherlock only has a few people whom he’d be willing to trust this much. And Mycroft has investigated them all enough to realise none of them has the abilities or would be capable of breaking in to shoot Magnusse. Only Mary is relatively unknown to him.
So, he knows it was Mary, and, after an investigation, he knows a lot, if not all, of her background. He would also realise that Magnussen must be in possession of her secret, which is why she wanted to kill him. He’d also realise she could have killed Sherlock if she wanted to, and that Sherlock must have come to the same conclusion. So how could Mycroft believe, even for one second, that Sherlock would just drop the case?
The conclusion is then that Mycroft and Sherlock are not working together, but Mycroft definitely knows more than he lets on. How does this fit together? Does it even fit together? That will be the last part.
Mycroft in His Last Vow(part I). Of course I bloody called him
When we look at Mycroft’s role during the last episode of series three we see a lot of strange things, in particularly, the question of how much he does or doesn’t know about what his little brother is up to, or why he seems uninterested in Sherlock getting shot, stand out. I’ll be going over them and we’ll see if there is an explanation to be found.
There are a few things I find odd about this scene.
The first one is that Mycroft doesn’t seem to realise Janine is the one in Sherlock’s bedroom. It could be that whatever surveillance Mycroft had his brother under has been lifted, so he might not have known about her before getting there. But Janine has been a regular visitor to Baker Street and she has spent the night there. Are we to believe that she moved like a ghost through the house, leaving absolutely no trace, no used tea mug, no impression on the sofa, no coat, nothing that would have betrayed her presence to Mycroft’s searching eyes? Remember that he is there supposedly to look for drugs, he would be even more observant than he is normally.
Next, why would Sherlock seemingly admit to using drugs to avoid Mycroft discovering her? This would only make sense if he were trying to hide his investigation of Magnussen from his older brother. But he tells him about it less than a minute later.
Third is the involvement of Sherlock’s fans in the drug bust. Mycroft claims to use them in order to keep the secret, but we know this isn’t true. “Fan sites, indispensable for gossip.” Sherlock tells John in The Great Game. I expect that Mycroft, being intimately involved with the British Secret Service, would know who can and can’t be trusted to keep a secret. If he really wanted to keep Sherlock’s secret Mrs Hudson, Lestrade and Anderson on his own would have been the safe bet. Plus, since Mrs Hudson cleans the apartment, she would be very handy for going through it. But by bringing in two strangers, Sherlock’s drug use is bound to get out.
And perhaps that is the explanation? Let’s go back a bit. In the Doyle’s story where Watson finds Holmes in an opium den (“The man whit the twisted lip” or something like that, the one where the husband is the beggar) Holmes is investigating the building. Here, however, Sherlock has no reason to be in this particular crack house, the same one John’s neighbour happens to frequent, laying right next to him. Must be a very big coincidence. Plus, if he really was so intent in remaining undercover, why did he greet John? If Sherlock hadn’t said anything John would probably not have noticed him.
We know Sherlock does it because he wants to create the illusion that he has a drug habit for Magnussen to exploit. The loud row he has with John seems to have worked, but how sure could he have been of that? Cocaine users are not known for their observational abilities. But if the plan was made between the two brothers, they would have expected John to call Mycroft, giving him an excuse to bring in witnesses who knew who Sherlock was and who were bound to blab about it on the internet. It also explains the charade of Mycroft thinking the drugs are in Sherlock’s bedroom and Sherlock then “confessing” to having them.
But why then, do they keep the act going after the fans leave? I’ve seen people suggest it is because Mycroft wants plausible deniability for Sherlock going after Magnussen, so they want Janine to overhear it. But Mycroft talks very softly and the door is closed. Besides, Janine’s relationship with her employer is not a happy one, I don’t think she would share any such information with Magnussen. I think the reason is the same, but the object is John. John is the one who tells the world about Sherlock’s cases, so he is the perfect witness. They could have told him the truth, but we have already seen that the Holmes brothers don’t have much faith in his ability to deceive people.
The final matter would be when Sherlock assaults Mycroft and throws him out of the building. It could be part of the ruse but I’m disinclined to believe that. It doesn’t really add anything, other than making Sherlock appear more unstable than he is. And they don’t need that since John is expected to agree to accompany Sherlock to a burglary that night. I wrote a lengthier interpretation of the scene, supposing Sherlock and Mycroft are not into it together, and I think it still works, with some slight modifications.
Mycroft would never agree to a plan were Sherlock would need to do drugs. The initial idea would be for Sherlock to pretend to be high. They would have expected John to take him to visit Molly for a drugs test, but there are a number of different substances Sherlock could take to get fake positives. But Sherlock, being Sherlock, would have been convinced he could handle the real stuff, and during the conversation Mycroft realises what his brother did, and he lets Sherlock know, and this pisses Sherlock off, for all the reasons I already mentioned and makes him lash out.
The next part will be about Mary and Sherlock getting shot.
The explanation of what the mind palace is and how it works has always been the same. Wether we got to saw what happened inside his mind or not. And the question remains, why would they do something so novel and complicated and not bother pointing it out. It would have been so esy tho show that it was a fake Baker Street. Mrs Hudson could have walked in on real Sherlock and he could be alone. Easy. But they didn’t.
Why would he change his clothes? Because he is wearing yesterday’s clothes. After a night out I find nothing as pleasurable as taking a shower and changing my clothes. And of course John comes back. Sherlock probably gave him an estimate about how long it would take him to get anything interesting from the site, and John is still very interested in the case and in Sherlock’s methods. he still blogs about them, he isn’t going to leave the investigation half way through.
I really can’t believe you think that inventing and entire new mechanism for the mind palace, having to find an explanation as to why the writers would first make this change and then not bother to point it out, or do anything with it, is simpler than “John went home for a shower when he had a couple of free hours on his hands”.
Logic tells us several hours must have passed ( 50 cases to locate and identify, maybe even talk to some of the women. One of Sherlock’s maxims is to never start to reason without having enough data, his investigations are always thorough. Then he has to contact al four women and arrange for them to chat with them. These are all busy ladies, they are not hanging around their computer all day)
The food, the laptops and John’s clothes are all there to indicate the passage of time, just like how John’s Christmas jumper, the decorations and Sherlock playing Christmas carols on the violin are there to indicate passage of time in ASiB.
As for the scenery changing, that looks awesome, like how the bed came up to Sherlock to indicate him passing out and being brought to Baker Street. Or how Sherlock and John’s conversation seemed to complement each other in the TEH, or several other examples, because these type of stunts are characteristic for the series.
So on one side we have a simple explanation for John actions, logic, his clothes, the food and the laptops. On the other we have a complicated alteration to the mind palace , a number of questions like why did the writers not make it clear that this was happening, why did John abandon the investigation half way through, why would Sherlock imagine food in his mind palace, (considering his disinterest in it, and how well he guards what does and does not go into it). And non changing shadows, even though the type of lightning does change. And you think the second is the simplest one?
Also, you might want to consider, that had they changed the position of the lightning to a higher point as would have to happen is it was later that day, there would be very little light coming in through the windows, which would mean that several of the light sources would have to come from within baker street itself, which would look considerable less striking than it does now. It wouldn’t be the first time they skimp a bit with rules about where light sources should be to get more impacting images.
I don’t see anything odd in a shift between two scenes. I remember, for example, In ASiB, it all of a sudden being Christmas, several months passing in one scene shift.
The mind palace explanation is not logical at all. Whenever we are in Sherlock’s mind palace we know so almost inmediatly, the only time we are fooled into believing that a mind palace is a real place was with Maggnussen’s mind palace and this was part of the plot. Why would the writers first create the exceptional inverosimil situation of Sherlock creating a mind palace room inside a mind palace room (he doesn’t need it to talk to a mind-John, the inhabitants of his mind palace move freely across all rooms), and then not even bother to point it out? It’s an unnecessary complication. Occam’s razor.
Of course John goes home. Why would he hang around Baker Street with Sherlock immersed in his investigation? Mary is probably expecting him back by now, and no doubt he wants to see her, tell her about his night out. Furthermore, John moved out of Baker Street more than two years ago, he doesn’t have any clothes there, he doesn’t live there any more. Again, the simplest and most natural hypothesis is that he went to his own home.
The fact that the shadows haven’t moved indicates that Baker Street is an indoor set and that Arwel Jones didn’t bother(or forgot) changing the placing of the source of light. However, and this can be seen even in the small gifs, the type of light has definitely changed. Note the colouring if the map, the chair and the lamp, they are clearly much lighter in the first one. Benedict’s face is directly illuminated from the “outside” in both scenes, yet in one the left side of his face is almost pure white. Even if the lighting were the same, Sherlock has to locate and analyse 50 different stories, he is going to need several hours for this, there is no way for it to still be morning by the time he is done, unless it is morning of the next day.
I did not necesarilly mean that they’d be working, but having a full time job, one would expect at least some of them to sleep in during the weekends. (Specially Vicky, I imagine her staying in bed well past noon)
Sherlock’s Mind Palace: The Baker Street Room
Explanation: It’s latter that same day.
The scene where John is wearing the blue shirt is right after they come home from the stag night. It’s morning, which is why Mrs. Hudson serves him breakfast.
Sherlock shows John that he has started his investigation of the Mayfly Man. There are 8 pins on the map, although, eventually, there will only be five women. The investigation has just begun and Sherlock hasn’t read all the stories yet, or eliminated the irrelevant ones. This is further confirmed in the mind palace, with almost 50 women standing up, and Sherlock dismissing them one by one.
Now how would he have done this? He’d read their stories, compare them, analyse them. This is going to take him several hours. So is John just going to sit around doing nothing, being ignored by Sherlock? Of course not. He goes home, has shower, gets laughed at by his soon to-be-wife and has a change of clothes. When he comes back to Backer Street Sherlock has identified the other four woman and has managed to secure a private chat with them.
Besides this chain of reasoning, the passing of time is confirmed by Sherlock’s food. Dinner, not breakfast. Mrs Hudson bringing him food, even when he refuses to eat is well established.