Mary Watson

First Post on Sherlock’s Home

Hi lovely lurkers! Say, I’ve started to contribute writings to a website called Sherlock’s Home. Here’s an excerpt from my first post there. Find the rest here.   ~Jenn

I have to give these ladies major props for doing something I would have LOVED to do myself but haven’t. So no matter what else I think about this series so far, major kudos is in order. Good on you guys for adding your bit to the huge Sherlockian canon that’s currently out there.

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The More You Holmes

From: ep. 3.1~3.3

Character: Mary Morstan

Reference: Anyone who knows anything at all about the Sherlock Holmes stories knows that in the very second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of Four (only the second story that was ever published), Holmes’ client is a Miss Mary Morstan, with whom Watson proceeds to fall in love and to whom he becomes engaged at the end. In ep. 3.2 and 3.3 especially there are many little nods to Sign, not the least of which is ep. 3.2’s title: “The Sign of Three.” Character names like Major Sholto, and references in 3.3 to A.G.R.A. (the treasure that Miss Morstan inherited and Holmes and Watson investigated in Sign was called the Agra treasure), all point to this novel. Even Mary’s appearance is something of an echo of Watson’s description in the book (though in the show, she’s significantly more of a bad-ass):

Miss Morstan entered the room with a firm step and an outward composure of manner. She was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste. There was, however, a plainness and simplicity about her costume which bore with it a suggestion of limited means. The dress was a sombre grayish beige, untrimmed and unbraided, and she wore a small turban of the same dull hue, relieved only by a suspicion of white feather in the side. Her face had neither regularity of feature nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual and sympathetic. In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. I could not but observe that as she took the seat which Sherlock Holmes placed for her, her lip trembled, her hand quivered, and she showed every sign of intense inward agitation.

Sherlock’s best man speech also echoes Holmes’ reaction to Watson’s news of his engagement, at the very end of Sign, when he says “I cannot congratulate you.” Here is what Holmes says to Watson in the original:

He gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as much,” said he. “I really cannot congratulate you.”

I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.

“NoIMG_0004-0t at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met, and might have been most useful in such work as we have been doing. She had a decided genius that way: witness the way in which she preserved that Agra plan from all the other papers of her father. But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.”

(all quotes are retrieved from the Project Gutenberg online edition of Sign of Four.)

The More You Holmes

From: ep. 3.3 (but also 3.1 and .2 a little)

Character: Charles Augustus Magnusson

Reference: Charles Augustus Milverton is the nefarious villain in the short story named after him. Holmes despises him almost more than he ever hated Moriarty, and goes to great lengths to bring him down. Thing is, he’s not the one that brings him down in fact–he’s in hiding in Milverton’s room when he witnesses a female victim of Milverton’s shoot him dead. Sound familiar? In ep. 3.3, Sherlock breaks in to Magnusson’s place (interestingly enough, the same way he does in the original story: by becoming engaged to his P.A. [in the story, it’s a scullery maid in Milverton’s household]) and does indeed witness the gun-threatening of Magnusson by a female victim of his. Of course, this doesn’t turn out the same way as the original story….

For fun, here’s Doyle’s Holmes describing Charles Augustus Milverton. I think the Sherlock series’ portrayal of Magnusson nailed the combination of sliminess and smoothness and power that Holmes describes. What do you think? 

“Who is he?” I asked.

“The worst man in London,” Holmes answered, as he sat down and stretched his legs before the fire. “Is anything on the back of the card?”

I turned it over.

“Will call at 6.30—C.A.M.,” I read.

“Hum! He’s about due. Do you feel a creeping, shrinking sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents in the Zoo and see the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that’s how Milverton impresses me. I’ve had to do with fifty murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow. And yet I can’t get out of doing business with him—indeed, he is here at my invitation.”

“But who is he?”

“I’ll tell you, Watson. He is the king of all the blackmailers. Heaven help the man, and still more milv2the woman, whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton. With a smiling face and a heart of marble he will squeeze and squeeze until he has drained them dry. The fellow is a genius in his way, and would have made his mark in some more savoury trade. His method is as follows: He allows it to be known that he is prepared to pay very high sums for letters which compromise people of wealth or position. He receives these wares not only from treacherous valets or maids, but frequently from genteel ruffians who have gained the confidence and affection of trusting women. He deals with no niggard hand. I happen to know that he paid seven hundred pounds to a footman for a note two lines in length, and that the ruin of a noble family was the result. Everything which is in the market goes to Milverton, and there are hundreds in this great city who turn white at his name. No one knows where his grip may fall, for he is far too rich and far too cunning to work from hand to mouth. He will hold a card back for years in order to play it at the moment when the stake is best worth winning. I have said that he is the worst man in London, and I would ask you how could one compare the ruffian who in hot blood bludgeons his mate with this man, who methodically and at his leisure tortures the soul and wrings the nerves in order to add to his already swollen money-bags?”

I had seldom heard my friend speak with such intensity of feeling.

“But surely,” said I, “the fellow must be within the grasp of the law?”

“Technically, no doubt, but practically not. What would it profit a woman, for example, to get him a few months’ imprisonment if her own ruin must immediately follow? His victims dare not hit back. If ever he blackmailed an innocent person, then, indeed, we should have him; but he is as cunning as the Evil One. No, no; we must find other ways to fight him.”

Notice the signature of “C.A.M.?” Notice the look on Mary Morstan’s face when Sherlock reads the telegram from a “Cam” at the wedding in ep. 3.2? Yeah? Yeah me too.

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The More You Holmes

From: ep. 3.3

Event: Kate Whitney comes to Mary Watson, distressed, because her son Isaac has been gone at a crack house for 2 days. Dr. Watson goes to the crack house to retrieve Isaac and does, and finds Sherlock there undercover.

Reference: In “The Man With the Twisted Lip” this very thing happens, with very few changes. In the Doyle story, Kate Whitney comes to the Watson domicile late at night, not early in the morning, and it’s her husband Isa that’s gone to an opium den. Which makes Watson’s line: “Husband?” and Mary’s correction, “No, son” that much funnier in the episode. When Watson does go to the opium den, he finds Holmes and thus begins the adventure, but it’s not clear whether Holmes has been smoking opium to keep his cover intact, as it is in the episode clear that Sherlock has done heroin again.

Two more fun references in this episode: The character Billy Wiggins is a conglomerate of two boys of those two names respectively who Holmes uses often from the Baker Street Irregulars, and Molly’s line, “How dare you throw away the beautiful gifts you were born with?” echoes Watson’s line in The Sign of Four when admonishing Holmes about his cocaine use: “Why should you, for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those great powers with which you have been endowed?”

Holmes