Since my fall theory apparently turned out to be mostly correct, thanks to a couple of notions, some field work and a bit of common sense, now I feel like taking a blind stab at Vow.
The teaser was Bow, which was depressing because “His last Bow” is indeed the very last of the Sherlock Holmes’ stories. Obviously Vow sounds less menacing but still.
Now, this is postmodern, transformative stuff therefore contamination is needed. We’ve had crime, horror, romance, tragedy, comedy, parody, and now we’re clearly ready for some huge plot turn.
Mary is sweet, smart, supportive, just like in canon. Just like in canon, she has a no-nonsense approach and she encourages Watson to spend time with Holmes, thus allowing us to enjoy classic cases while witnessing Holmes’ heartbreaking loneliness.
So far so good.
Clues are self-evident though.
The telegrams are only apparently a comedy filler. We have Molly phoning Mrs Hudson, then we have Mars Hudson laughing madly and Watson noticing it. This can’t be a harmless comedy filler, there’s no such thing as a filler in good cinema anyway. We are definitely being told that the telegrams are important.
One is from Mike Stamford, one is from Ted and Stella, one is from Cam. Now I will concede that Ted and Stella may be a comedy filler. But who is Cam?
Of course it can’t be a coincidence that the new villain is called Charles Augustus Magnussen, especially since in Conan Doyle’s story “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” we have the following:
“Will call at 6:30—C.A.M.,” I read.
Universe is rarely so lazy, imagine Moffat and Gatiss.
Now, Mary flinches upon listening to Cam’s telegram, but it could also be because it’s about her lost family, so she may be flinching about her lost family, which in turn could be aggravating because where is her family in the first place (father disappeared in India maybe) and what does Cam have to do with it?
Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton!
So Mary may have a secret about her family which came into the power of Magnussen who is blackmailing her. A secret so secret that not even Sherlock knows about it, although he did deduct already she’s a liar. She may be one of Milverton’s victims, possibly the one who ultimately kills him in cold blood.
Besides, if the bonfire was meant to scare Sherlock, why does Magnussen text Mary instead? Does this make John the heartbroken (dead) husband? A marriage would still be involved.
Also, at the end of Empty Hearse, Milverton is obsessively rewatching footage of the bonfire. We see his (penetrating of course) eyes and we hear Mary shout and shout, John, John. At some point his gaze shift and the the camera cuts to the screen showing Sherlock (or possibly Tom). Therefore Milverton was not focusing on Sherlock before that.
So it’s either Mary or Mike Stamford and clues seem to lead to Mary. But it wouldn’t be canon at all, and Moffat and Gatiss are always canon, well, their own way.
And what are Moffat and Gatiss doing with Watson’s heart anyway? Mary dies in Conan Doyle’s stories and no baby is mentioned. This is sad enough for Watson. I can’t believe Moffat and Gatiss would be so cruel as to write in a baby only to kill it (and with Conan Doyle having lost wife, son, brother and two nephew in the same years, and all). Is Watson the single father an option? At this point the only reasonable option is not to kill Mary at all, but this would change the tone of the rest of the series, compared to canon, we wouldn’t have Watson going back to Sherlock. However, in Moffat and Gatiss’ world, dead canon characters tend to be not literally dead, but either socially dead (Sholto) or as good as dead (Harry). Maybe John and Mary’s marriage might not work, they might become estranged.
I don’t know. This is confusing, I don’t even have a mind palace.
And what about pirate Redbeard, who took the name of his brother when his brother died and kept being a pirate, all alone? What about Redbeard, why is Sherlock so traumatized about Redbeard? Who’s Sherlock’s “dead” brother? Watson, lost to marriage? Someone else in the past? Victor maybe? Or maybe Mycroft was Redbeard, when Sherlock became an addict?
We have seen the Persian slipper full of cigarettes, which was nice, of course now we need to see something a little bit more disturbing. Canon Holmes uses cocaine (perfectly legal in Victorian England) despite Watson disapproving of it, so it makes sense that we’ll be exploring a bit of that.
About the sad ending to the Sign of Three, this is how the story goes, in fact.
“The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?”
“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.
I love this season so much. I love that it’s character driven pastiche. Only I find there are annoying redundancies here and there especially in the dialogues. Why does Watson deliver the “wisest man” speech twice? Why does Sherlock repeat the “you’ve always counted” speech twice? For the lazy public? Why are both Lestrade and Watson tricked into rushing to Baker Stress for nothing? Of course it’s cute. Why is Watson pulling rank twice? I will admit it’s hot. Not being able to find a valid function for these repetition, I’ll have to conclude they are glitches. Or aren’t they? Maybe we’re being told we must think backwards in order to understand?
Anyway, I go for Mary being blackmailed by Magnussen and dragging both Watson and Sherlock into some terrifying disaster, with the bonfire being a mere teaser. But can it really be so easy?
Something is going to happen and it must be bigger than that, considering all the deliciously maddening subtext.