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I've been thinking a bit about His Last Vow and the Marry-Magnussen plot arc, and the more I think about it, the less it makes sense. A lot of people have talked about how the whole shooting of Sherlock and forgiveness (-ish, so majorly -ish) of Mary doesn't make much sense at all. I don't disagree with that, and that's a major part of why I felt Team 221B has only given us fans half of a story and left us dangling for two years. The events particularly in HLV seem to contradict each other no matter which way I approach them, and it's not a compelling cliffhanger so much as a What the !@#$ is going on again? moment that's frustrating rather than compelling.

But I actually don't want to talk about that issue of plausibility because I think there's a much more fundamental one that makes the whole plot just seem sort of stupid. Namely: why does Magnussen think controlling Mary would help him control Mycroft? (Major SPOILERS for HLV ahead, obviously.)

The starting situation as I understand it is that Mary has a Past with a capital P, one that is not only immoral but dangerous to her and John. Magnussen thinks this sets up a chain of people he can effectively threaten: Mary to John, John to Sherlock, Sherlock to Mycroft. Which gives him what he wants more than anything, the most powerful man in Britain under his sway. The problem is, the chains of influence is going the wrong way, and it's actually hugely improbable to me that this would give him that control. Here's why.

(1) First, there's Mary. Obviously she cares a great deal about keeping her secrets, but a lot of that desire seems to come from wanting to keep John in the dark. She thinks it will drive him from her, that he'd never forgive her. And John hasn't actually done anything questionable regarding her except be fooled by her at this point. So the only way Mary gives Magnussen pull over John is if John decides to stick by her, which seems unlikely enough that Magnussen wouldn't count on it - meaning that the moment he tries to exercise power over John because of Mary's past, he risks throwing away that control.

(2) Second, there's the link from John to Sherlock. Sherlock would do quite literally anything in his power to keep John happy and safe. If John wants to get married, Sherlock will start poking around YouTube learning how to fold napkins into Sydney Opera Houses. If John's safety requires him to throw away his reputation and his friendships and his life in Baker Street and even his continued existence by John's side, then he will do that. Sherlock cares enormously about John's wellbeing, and if John stayed committed to Mary and Sherlock decided this was a commitment that would actually give John a good life, then Mary's past gives Magnussen leverage over Sherlock. But that's a mighty big if. Even if John stays committed to Mary after learning the truth about her (long-shot #1), Sherlock still has to think that John staying in a relationship with Mary is actually going to be a good, safe life for John (long-shot #2). Because it seems very plausible that Sherlock would turn to John on hearing the truth about Mary and say that this is a woman who lied to you at every step of the way, she shot me and would have landed you right back where I did two years ago (my deepest apologies once more for that, by the way, I know that was completely inexcusable), and what we need to do is get you out of this relationship. We need to do it safely, we need to work out a way to protect your child, but Mary is not a woman you can trust.

Put more directly: Sherlock could have decided to protect John and Mary's relationship, which would have given Magnussen leverage over him. But just as plausibly (if not moreso), he could have found a way to protect John by safely extricating him from the relationship with Mary. Some fans will argue that a lot of what we saw post-Lauriston Gardens was play-acting for Mary's benefit, that to keep John and John's child safe he had to make Mary think that reconciliation was a possibility. But even if you think it was genuine, that with absolutely no explanation why, Sherlock was willing to jump from "John Watson is definitely in danger" pulling him back to the dead all the way to "Let me make this dangerous relationship work for John even if it means I have to go to prison or exile so I won't be around to protect him anymore" - even if there's a story we haven't been told yet for why that jump is plausible, that's one heck of an assumption for Magnussen to make, that not only would John want to stand by her side but that Sherlock would decide supporting this relationship was the best way to support John.

(3) And finally there's Mycroft. Mycroft obviously cares deeply for Sherlock in the same way Sherlock does for John, but he's always seemed on the fence about John. He seems to trust John professionally and he keeps an eye on him because John's well-being impacts Sherlock's well-being. But going all the way back to Study in Scarlet, Mycroft wasn't sure that John was good for Sherlock. In TSOT he told Sherlock he shouldn't have gotten involved, we've got the whole "caring is not an advantage" thing. I mean, Mycroft will be there for Sherlock because that's what he does, but I'm not sure that Mycroft's preferred path to making Sherlock happy and hale would be to keep John around, much less keep John around in a relationship with Mary. (I mean, even without knowing what we do about Mary's past, three weeks after the wedding we find Sherlock passed out on a mattress in a drug den and then later that same night mysteriously shot through the chest, so it's not like John's marriage is working out so well for Sherlock.) So again, Mycroft is going to protect Sherlock but Magnussen needs more than that. He needs Mycroft to protect Sherlock by protecting John by protecting Mary.

If I were Mycroft, I'd arrange for Mary to get run over by a bus crossing the street. If I was feeling particularly generous I'd wait until the baby was born. And that's not because I hate Mary or want to see her dead or particularly like the idea of evil!Mycroft - it's that Magnussen makes her a threat to his influence and I think Mycroft could justify the death of one ex-assassin since in his line of business those sacrifices don't seem all that unusual.

And if I were Magnussen, I don't think I'd need Mary. Mycroft has done some seriously shady stuff in the course of the series. There's Bond Air and his brother's involvement. The complete lack of any kind of prosecution for the bombings in The Great Game. The fact that Sherlock was allowed to get hold and try to pass on the Bruce Partington Plans and then his laptop. I mean, all Magnussen needs to know is that Sherlock got his hands on a top-secret government laptop to paint Mycroft as dangerously incompetent (at best) - he doesn't have to accept it, just question how the heck Sherlock even got his hands on it, and Mycroft's career gets nudged into a nose-dive. That's so much more damaging than the whole "your brother is best friends with a man who just married a woman that (a) said best friend met while your brother was completely out of touch for two years, and (b) neither said best friend nor your brother knew about her past or have done anything to cover up."

As I said, it just doesn't make sense to me why a master blackmailer would take Door #1 in this scenario. If his real goal is to control Mycroft rather than just make life miserable for Mary, this plan seems pretty far-fetched and not at all the most likely course to get him that control.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
And all this is why plotting my story is breaking my brain....

Sep. 5th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
I owe you an email. I owe you several emails, actually. I honestly have not forgotten. Do you want to drop me a note on where you are so I can see if I can help?

And on the off-chance it helps, I so hear you on that frustration. You are not the only one, and I'd be willing to lay odds that it's not just the two of us, either.
Sep. 7th, 2014 05:06 pm (UTC)
This thread has been hugely interesting and helpful to me, as I work my through the options ahead. I've just posted Chapter 5, which may hint at where I (think) I'm going.

Sep. 5th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
hmmm. you make some good points here.

one thing I think might be missing from your analysis (which doesn't negate it, but might be another element to consider) is that it's not merely Mary's secret identity that's at stake, it's her life.

MAGNUSSEN: It works like this, John. I know who Mary hurt and killed.
(He flicks his cheek again. Sherlock has now lifted his gaze and is looking at him, his expression grim.)
MAGNUSSEN (to John): I know where to find people who hate her.
(He flicks him again, then again. The soldier stares back at him, tolerating it only because he has no choice.)
MAGNUSSEN: I know where they live; I know their phone numbers.

so what we're talking about is not merely that John will find out what Mary's done and be upset, or even that Mary has done illegal things and will go to prison (which we might fairly say she deserves). It's that CAM will tell Mary's enemies where she is, and they will come and kill her.

Even if John and Sherlock had (quite reasonably) decided this marriage was based on false pretenses and therefore is null and void, they probably wouldn't be eager to see Mary killed -- especially if they felt personally responsible (ie, the only reason she gets killed is because CAM is trying to control *them*). You're right, it's still a gamble, but less of one if CAM knows that Sherlock saved Adler's life in similar circumstances. He does have a weakness for "damsels in distress". (does CAM know Sherlock saved Adler? probably, given that she shows up on Sherlock's list of pressure points. but more on that in a second.)

and John will be particularly disinclined to see her killed since she is carrying his child -- knowing anything at all about John, CAM could probably count on that, and count on Sherlock to support John in trying to protect his child, no matter how they felt about Mary.

Now, does that give CAM Mycroft? Maybe... I agree that there's no reason to think Mycroft gives two shits about John or Mary *or* the baby. He wouldn't be fussed if they all blew up tomorrow. And caring about Sherlock doesn't necessarily make him care about the others. But all CAM needs is for Sherlock to know that CAM wants Mycroft. Then all he needs to do is threaten Sherlock in some way, and Sherlock will move mountains to make sure CAM gets Mycroft, if it means protecting John's family.

So I don't think it's totally nutty for CAM to think having info on Mary will be useful to him. But yeah, it is a gamble -- there are a lot of points where this plan can potentially break down, which makes it weak. For an example, we only have to look at what did happen -- Sherlock promised to hand Mycroft to CAM, and he did... but not really. As CAM figures out immediately, Mycroft's laptop is useless to him, since thanks to the GPS, Mycroft is about to show up. Even if CAM had not gotten shot in the head, having the physical laptop in his hands gained him nothing, and Sherlock knew it.

(sidenote: why would Sherlock even have Mycroft's password? did Mycroft tell him just for funsies? or are we supposed to believe Sherlock guessed it, just like he guessed all the other passwords on the show? Because I was *seriously* hope that Mycroft fucking Holmes, arguably the cleverest man in the world, has a more secure password than "sher" or "maggie". It is one thing that endlessly frustrates me about this show that everyone's passwords are SO WEAK. There is no excuse for that. If you want to make Sherlock a genius at guessing passwords, make him guess passwords that are *difficult* at least. Are we really to believe that Mycroft's password for his top top top secret laptop is "I<3Sherlock"? And it has only one layer of security? Even totally ordinary laptops these days often come with a thumbprint scanner. Sooooo... in my own personal headcanon, I have to believe Sherlock was bluffing on the password thing, and had no intention of giving CAM the password, since in fact he doesn't know it.)

But one could argue that was a miscalculation on CAM's part -- that his success in blackmailing has made him cocky, and he didn't anticipate that Sherlock would look for a way to *seem* like he was handing him Mycroft without actually doing so.

(tbc, as usual)
Sep. 5th, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
Although... now that I think about it, maybe that was CAM's plan all along. All he needed was for Sherlock to *appear* to be selling him state secrets, and for Deus Ex Mycroft to swoop in to save him. Then all CAM needs to do is say, "I'll print in the paper tomorrow that your brother tried to sell me state secrets", and Mycroft, to protect Sherlock, would say, "Okay, CAM, what do you want from me to hush this up?"

Still a gamble, but not a bad one for CAM, because even if it doesn't work, CAM has nothing to lose. He's not putting himself at risk.

Except that he did. Which brings me to what I view as the single biggest, most glaring hole in the whole damn episode: how the HELL did Sherlock and John manage to bring a gun into CAM's house? The first time CAM meets them, he has his goons immediately check them for weapons. Why on earth would that seem less necessary this time? For someone like CAM -- for anyone who goes to the trouble of having personal goons -- this should be a matter of course. A person like CAM doesn't throw a damn dinner party for friends and relatives without checking everyone for weapons, but somehow he's going to let *enemies* into his house without a pat down? They shouldn't even have been let on the helicopter without being checked. Even if it didn't occur to CAM at that moment, what the hell is he paying these goons for, if not to check *everyone*, *always*??? We *see* the goons standing right there in the Appledore scene. It's completely gobsmackingly absurd that they don't pat them down.

And I don't believe that particular hole is ever going to be explained down the road so... basically... yeah. On a plot level, it doesn't exactly work.

Good thing I don't watch this show for the plots. ;)
Sep. 5th, 2014 04:51 am (UTC)
BUT, since we're on the subject, I have some CAM questions I wanted to get off my chest, so wth, I'll post them here.

It's about the pressure points (and this is something that I do hope is not merely a plot hole, but stuff that will feature more as we go on):

Does it strike anyone else that... basically none of CAM's blackmail/pressure info on anyone is at all correct, or useful? I'm referring to the words that appear on the screen when CAM meets someone.

First up we see Mrs Hudson -- her only pressure point is marijuana. really? that might well be true but... who cares? does he really believe he'd be able to blackmail her with that info? like, if he needed info on Sherlock or something, supposedly she would give it up over being exposed as a pothead? nope, not buying it.

Next we have John, whose pressure points include Mary and his sister, whom he doesn't get on with and didn't even come to the wedding. Can't do any better than that, CAM? Because it seems like EVERYONE IN LONDON knows that Watson is mad about Sherlock -- I don't even mean necessarily in a gay way, but like, obviously if there is anyone Watson would give his life for, lie for, give up valuable information to save, it's SH. so... that seems like kind of a big miss there.

Then we get Sherlock's file, which says his porn preference is normal... Okay... But I'll let that slide. It also lists Sherlock's pressure points as John Watson (naturally enough), Irene Adler (which makes sense only if CAM knows she's alive), Redbeard -- a dog that's been dead at least 20 years? how is that a pressure point? how could that possibly be useful in a blackmail situation? But okay, maybe RedBeard is a code word, maybe there is more going on there than I know. Possible.

Next is Moriarty! Who is... at least theoretically dead. And even if CAM knows he isn't, he's Sherlock's enemy! Sure, they have nifty sexual tension, but it's hard to imagine how that info is going to be useful to CAM. I mean, I am a hardcore Sheriarty shipper, and even I don't believe Sherlock would sacrifice anything to save or protect Moriarty, of all people. Part of the appeal of Moriarty over John is that he is *not* a damsel in distress -- he doesn't need Sherlock to protect him, because he is every bit as crafty as Sherlock.

And then, weirdest of all, is "Hounds of the Baskerville". So... what's the plan here? CAM will torture info out of Sherlock by making him watch himself in the worst episode of the show? Because other than that, I got nothing.

I mean, even if we allow that Baskerville is on there because it was a rare time when Sherlock felt vulnerable
and afraid, he's not afraid of the dog *now*. He solved it!

So idk, but *someone* must have put some thought into these pressure points, even if it was only a production assistant. I would love to hear if you have thoughts on what they could possibly mean.
Sep. 7th, 2014 09:49 am (UTC)
That's a good point, re: Mary's life is at stake. And I know from my volunteer work at a domestic violence shelter, the fact that someone is a truly shitty person and doesn't deserve their SO's love doesn't always mean the other person doesn't still love them. I'm not saying Mary was abusive to John, but my point is love is irrational, you can be put through the wringer by someone (for whatever reason) and still come out the other side not wanting them to come to harm, still caring about them even. In abusive relationships you have to train yourself to be able to love the person and still make a rational decision, weigh the risks of a course of action, etc. But that doesn't mean you're not affected by the prospect of something serious happening to the other person. Particularly while Mary's pregnant and even after that because Mary's death means the loss of a parent for John's child. This would be significant, and John would want to avoid this.

But I'm not convinced CAM releasing information means Mary dies. If her past is as dark as it seems to be, she's pretty good at taking care of herself, she'd have to be. I'd imagine she could disappear and reinvent herself. This becomes much more difficult with John + Baby Girl in tow, of course - but I think a Mary who didn't have to worry about anyone else would almost certainly survive. Of course, at some level the question is about perception because it's what CAM can reasonable rely on John (and other people) to do.

Which is the real problem, I think. It's not that CAM's plan has no chance of working. It's that it seems to me an awful lot to put such faith in, when there really are much better options to control CAM. The fact is that Sherlock's actions over the last few hears have given CAM lots to hold over Mycroft's head, which if he's half as decent a blackmailer as he seems to be he really should know about. I think that's what really bothers me here. It's less that the plan couldn't work, than that it just seems like a bloated way to get to Mycroft.

I really like your thoughts on CAM's actual plan in the second comment. The thing that's frustrating to me is that it's just not hinted at all in the show. I mean, it's possible, sure, but it seems more clever than what I think we can reasonably expect. And so it feels to me a little like... I guess if I can give an analogy, it's like if you're going to have someone shoot a dinner-guest in the final act of the play, it's no fair to have them pull the revolver out of a bureau just before. It feels like a deus ex machina in this kind of genre, at least to me. Your theory is much cleverer than what CAM actually describes. And if it was CAM's plan all along, then refusing the laptop or not making it clear to Sherlock that it was now up to him to actually provide evidence that was likely not incriminating and actually accessible was what he had to do if he didn't want to see John's and Mary's life ruined. I think your plan has a decent chance of working, it's what I'd do if I was CAM, but it doesn't seem to fit that well with the actual episode.

(I am with you on being frustrated to hell about the lack of a pat-down. It makes about -1,000% sense. Almost as little sense as Sherlock assuming they'd be allowed to bring in a gun when he told John to bring it along. Just... ugh.)
Sep. 7th, 2014 10:52 am (UTC)
it's just not hinted at all in the show.

hmmm... I'm not sure about that. I mean, I'll grant I didn't pick up on it right away, so it's not exactly *plain*. But the fact that CAM acts like he's already won even after Sherlock tells him the laptop is password protected... that suggests pretty heavily that CAM never really expected to get the password. CAM points out immediately that Mycroft will show up any minute, and yet he is not perturbed. "Then why am I smiling?"

He says that he's smiling because he knows there are no vaults. But that just means he doesn't have to give them any files on Mary -- why should that make him particularly happy? Why should that make him feel like he has "won"?

The reason he is smiling is because Mycroft is about to show up, and "Speaking of news, you’ll both be heavily featured tomorrow – trying to sell state secrets to me... Can’t wait to see you arrested."

CAM has to be being disingenuous here. Seeing Sherlock and John arrested gains him nothing. He's not vicious, he's not spiteful -- he's a business man. The *only* plan that makes sense at this point for CAM is that he will blackmail Mycroft with the threat of putting Sherlock in the papers for treason. *That's* why he is smiling. And since he is smiling through the whole scene, he has to have had this plan from the beginning.

I know this isn't spelled out precisely in the show, but I don't think it's pure headcanon, either -- maybe I am nuts, but it really seems like this is the interpretation of events that must have been intended by the writers.

That said... YES you are right there should be better ways to get to Mycroft. And in fact, what does any of it matter? He doesn't even need to know about any rule Mycroft has ever bent, because CAM explicitly tells us that he doesn't need proof for any of his accusations, he just needs to print it.

MAGNUSSEN: Proof? What would I need proof for? I’m in news, you moron. I don’t have to prove it – I just have to print it.

So why bother finding any dirt or pressure points on any of these people? All CAM really has to do is tell Mycroft he's going to print that Mycroft... wears women's underwear, or is fucking the queen, or is secretly an alien, or sold arms to North Korea -- whatever the hell he wants -- and that's that. Mycroft owned.
Sep. 7th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC)
All that said... yeah, there a ton of plot holes of various sizes, but in truth, I'm not all that bothered.

I'm writing a book right now, and lord am I *ever* aware of how difficult it is to construct a perfect plot with no holes. We can call it sloppiness, but sometimes it's more like the lesser of various evils.

It happens to me all the time that I come up with a plot development that seems really brilliant -- not cliche, not obvious, deeply revealing of character, thematically significant, emotionally satisfying... perfect! Then I realize, "oh shit, there's a logistical problem." Something like, someone would definitely have called the police, or people don't bleed to death that quickly, or that's not actually something a physics professor would know how to do, or there would be a much simpler way for the character to accomplish the same goal. Or the heroes would have been patted down for weapons.

So what do you do at that point? You can dump your brilliant plot and try to come up with something else that runs the risk of being banal and unsatisfying, but technically works. You can handwave the problem by saying something like, "the physics professor spent ten years in tibet where an old man taught him how to do this thing he only needs to do in this one scene." But often that just draws attention to the problem.

Or you can ignore it and hope people don't notice, because for the most part, the plot really is very elegant.

Of course, when you are writing for a VERY popular tv show that people regularly watch over and over and over, inevitably some people are going to spot all your holes. But at that point, all you can really do is hope for their good will and understanding...

given where I am right now in my writing process, I am inclined to be forgiving. ;)
Sep. 5th, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
My guess is that Sherlock gets enormous revelations after he poses himself the question, "Mary Morstan. Who are you?" and we don't see any of them, but they explain to him that she's been working to bring down an extensive and extremely violent group since before she met John and still is, that her cover and the survival of all of them depends on people believing she's working against Sherlock and John (necessitating a fatal-looking shot to Sherlock), and that her fear of John finding out is relationship-fear compounded by the worry that if he rejects her and leaves her, she won't be able to protect his life anymore. So I think Sherlock distinguished between her legitimate secret (can't let the bad guys know where she is now or they'll come after her and kill her loved ones, too, like the loved ones they threatened before she changed her identity from A.G.R.A.) and her fear of John no longer loving her, which he understands because he went through the same anguish when he had to maintain life-or-death deceptions of John during S2 and his "death." HLV didn't show us any of what Sherlock deduced about Mary while he was sitting in the hospital bed because the reveal about that is going to be simultaneous and intertwined with the reveal about the "why" (rather than the "how") behind Sherlock having to fake his death for John. This mystery would be a lot easier to take if there were one week between episodes rather than years and years and years and years.

That's where I'm putting my two cents, anyway. Goodness knows what we'll find out. There were areas where I was unbelievably wrong in my predictions post-S2...
Sep. 7th, 2014 10:51 am (UTC)
That's a really interesting idea, and I think there are some hints that Mary may not be pure villain. They're scarce but everything is scarce at this point. I'll say that my own desire for "kinder!gentler!Mary" as I put it (or at least not-entirely-villainous Mary) comes out of things she does that our intuitions are to interpret as bad but that kind of impulse could be used against us. Like we know Mary was an assassin who worked "freelance." A lot of people read that as meaning she was just a hired gun who would kill anyone if she was offered enough money. Freelance doesn't have to mean mercenary, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary people will assume it does. Kind of like how Harry and Clara all the way back in ASIP didn't have to mean a heterosexual marriage where Harry was a man, but Sherlock makes the assumption.

I'll also be upfront and say I don't think John's forgiveness in HLV was genuine. There was something about the wording he chose, the way he was so stiff, the way he didn't even bother to shave before being reunited with his wife... it just didn't feel genuine to me. But then I have my own biases (full disclosure, I ship Johnlock and actually think the show is driving toward actualizing that relationship [you know, TJLC] so this may be a case of me seeing what I want to see.) But that theory has its holes as well, like the way John calls Mary "his wife" later when there's no one to put a show on for; or the way Sherlock shoots CAM to save that relationship, if John was giving a false confession Sherlock certainly doesn't seem in on it! I just see less holes with the fake-apology thing than I do with the John-and-Mary are happily reunited thing.

I think this is what's so frustrating to me and a lot of people about this episode is that this isn't so much a matter of a cliff-hanger; it's that the whole story is just incomplete. And like you said, that may be okay from week to week, even over a six-month hiatus until the next season (like with Who Shot JR or the Locutus/Picard thing in Star Trek), but with a hiatus of this long, where there were so few episodes? It's not thrilling or exciting intellectually, it's just flat-out frustrating.

But getting back to CAM, I think my point was that even if John was genuine in his reconciliation with her... it seems like an unlikely choice to me. If I was in CAM's position, would I be willing to rely on that relationship in a move to take down the Holmes brothers? Because Mycroft is big game, and there's that told adage (at least where I'm from) that when you go big-game hunting you take it down with your first shot because you don't get another. I guess it seems like, even if that apology is genuine, it's not something to really be relied on.

But then, what do I know? I'm an asexual and haven't dated in over a decade. I really am no great expert in romantic relationships or human psychology for that matter. :-)
Sep. 7th, 2014 11:34 am (UTC)
Like we know Mary was an assassin who worked "freelance."

Right -- Sherlock at Appledore gives us a demonstration of what that might look like! It just means not following the orders of a boss, and goodness knows the CIA isn't always the most moral of bosses.

full disclosure, I ship Johnlock and actually think the show is driving toward actualizing that relationship

This is not incompatible with John having a true love affair with Mary. :-) As Amanda Abbington said somewhere, everyone knows what happens to Mary Morstan in canon...

If I was in CAM's position, would I be willing to rely on that relationship in a move to take down the Holmes brothers?

This was an interesting question! I pondered it and I started thinking, What does CAM know about these people that makes it a good guess? He knows Mycroft will do anything for Sherlock, since Sherlock isn't dead. He knows Sherlock will do anything for John. He can't be sure John will do anything for Mary, but what does Mary do when her loved ones are threatened? She changed her identity and left behind everything and everyone she loved, possibly to protect people (if we're going by the pointers in S3 that equate Sherlock and Mary) without anybody else knowing. So the saving-people-thing (to go all Harry Potter on you) is very strong in Mary, which would go along with the theme of it being improbable and yet very strong in Sherlock as well. "John Watson is definitely in danger" -- the thing that drags Sherlock back from the dead -- could mean not (only) that Mary is a threat to John but that the people Mary is hiding from are people who would kill not only Mary but everyone close to her. So CAM could figure that Mary would do anything if she knew that John was a target.

Just trying to follow along. :-) At this point, it really does feel like I'm putting up one of those boards with bits of red string connecting everything!
Sep. 5th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
OMG, this is fascinating. I have so many thoughts and feelings, most of which are frustration that we don’t know the answer yet!!

I think, though, that in many ways it could work as it does. For example:

So the only way Mary gives Magnussen pull over John is if John decides to stick by her, which seems unlikely enough that Magnussen wouldn't count on it…

I don’t know about this. I mean, eventually John does seem to know what’s going on and still sticks with her, even though he and Sherlock both know that it’s probably not in John’s best interests. (Now, maybe they’re both playing a game and just pretending, but that’s what we’ve seen so far.) John knows his wife lied and lied and lied to him in order to protect herself, but he still sticks with her, even though it might make him unhappy. Why? Honestly, it seems like it’s a mix of her being pregnant, him being an honorable army doctor who likes to protect the vulnerable, her being a (as he sees it) vulnerable woman, them being officially married, and Sherlock urging both of them to reconcile (which is admittedly very weird). I think at least some part of John feels that honorable men do not permanently leave their pregnant wives, no matter how morally ambiguous they turn out to be. It’s reasonable to assume that Magnussen would guess that about John.

Sherlock still has to think that John staying in a relationship with Mary is actually going to be a good, safe life for John (long-shot #2).

I don’t actually know if this is true. Yes, Sherlock is crazy for John and has literally thrown his life away for him multiple times—but I don’t necessarily think that’s in aid of keeping John safe anymore so much as respecting John’s major life choices, even when they’re not beneficial to Sherlock. I think after Reichenbach, to some extent Sherlock doesn’t trust his own intuition when it comes to what is best for John. Sherlock now protects not necessarily what’s best for John but what John thinks is best for John (even if Sherlock disagrees). He sees that John’s chosen Mary (over him, in his own mind, if not in John’s), and it will take John choosing to get out of that relationship if he wants to.

To me, the real question is not “why didn’t Sherlock urge them to stay apart for John’s safety” (which I think Sherlock would never do) but “why did Sherlock actively try to keep them together and get John to forgive her?” I mean, personally, I think there’s something going on where only Sherlock knows that John’s safety depends on him staying together with Mary (for whatever reason), but even if there is no shady subplot, this could be a reverse psychology play on Sherlock’s part. Think how much more powerful an act John choosing to leave Mary over Sherlock’s objections would be than John choosing to leave Mary on Sherlock’s urging. Particularly if you think that the endgame might be John and Sherlock in a romantic relationship together. I wonder if it’s just Sherlock’s last vow to protect all three of them coming into play—protecting them no matter what.

Sep. 5th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
"Let me make this dangerous relationship work for John even if it means I have to go to prison or exile so I won't be around to protect him anymore"

But Magnussen didn’t assume this was what Sherlock was thinking. Sherlock wasn’t expecting to go into prison or exile: he was expecting to give Magnussen Mycroft’s laptop, which would call in Mycroft’s men, who would search the vaults and take all the files away somewhere, and then Mycroft would be proud and Sherlock could have a look at the files on Mary and get rid of them in order to protect John, Mary, and the baby. It didn’t work because Sherlock wasn’t anticipating Magnussen to have a mind palace. Once he realized Magnussen has a mind palace, Sherlock knows he needs to kill Magnussen to prevent killers coming after Mary (and possibly John), and he can’t just shoot him with John’s gun without witnesses because then people might assume John killed Magnussen. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Magnussen would think Sherlock would see that protecting Mary also protects John.

Your points on Magnussen going the waaaay roundabout way to get to Mycroft, yeah, those are issues. Maybe he is a little like Moriarty and just likes to see the spiders in his web dance. This chain of loyalties is probably a lot more fun to see play out than just threatening to print that Sherlock stole Mycroft’s ID to get into Baskerville. He does love to see everyone squirm.

If we accept that, then again, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Magnussen would think Mycroft would do anything to protect what Sherlock feels is important. If killers came after Mary and also killed John, then Sherlock would lose his shit, which Mycroft doesn’t want to see even if he personally doesn’t care about Mary.

If I were Mycroft, I'd arrange for Mary to get run over by a bus crossing the street. If I was feeling particularly generous I'd wait until the baby was born.

Oh my goodness, this is harsh but probably true. And assuming they stick to the (sparse) canon on Mary, she will eventually have to die in some way. The question is if she will redeem herself beforehand or if we’ll get to see what, if anything, Sherlock is hiding from John regarding her.
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