24. USA. yet another fangirl with a tumblr.
Right now I (still) reblog a lot of Sherlock and I (still) have a stupid celebrity crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. I also love Star Trek, The Hobbit/LOTR, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Marvel movies, Disney, Psych, ALTA/LOK, other tv and movies, various anime/manga, video games, and j and k dramas. I like talking about all of the above but I'm shy. Feel free to send an ask!
Attention: This blog will occasionally be NSFW.
You know why I love AUs? Because the whole point of them is that everything is changed, and yet these two people are still going to meet and fall in love- that they’re so set in stone and so meant to be that you can change literally everything in a hundred universes and they’ll fall in love over and over again.
- A lot of Natasha’s mysterious reputation around SHIELD stems from the fact that she sometimes doesn’t know how to end a conversation so she’ll dive away Batman style when the other person’s back is turned.
- Whenever Natasha walks into a room, she immediately ranks everyone in it from most to least threatening, then favorite to least favorite. For the second list, no one can match Tony’s ability to go from a respectable placing to dead last in the span of one sentence.
- She’ll watch any movie with “shark” in the title, provided the movie is also objectively terrible.
- Natasha loves emojis.
- Natasha genuinely enjoyed spending time with Pepper while investigating Tony, but once her mission was over, Natasha immediately disappeared to avoid the awkwardness of the “so hey, I was undercover and everything I told you about myself was a lie” conversation. Then Maria starts working at Stark Industries and arranges power lunches that seem a lot like the three women getting mimosas and complaining about their day, and now Natasha and Pepper have a standing dinner date every time they’re in the same city.
- She changes her hair so often for the novel joy of being able to choose what she looks like. Natasha has liked all her hairstyles, except that one perm which we don’t talk about or acknowledge existed, Clint, don’t you dare show those pictures to Steve.
- She knows it’s childish, but Natasha identifies to an uncomfortable degree with any robot character who seems to be programmed to experience emotion, especially if the humans around them doubt the robot really feels anything. (It’s not like she’s written anything down about it, she’s not that sad, but for the past decade Natasha has been working on this version of Blade Runner where it’s this replicant who’s the hero, and she ends up escaping Earth and heads off to explore alien planets with a mech-shark she stole from the Tyrell Corporation, it sounds dumb but it’s actually very exciting and oh god, Natasha is that sad.)
- Once Natasha left her phone on Sam’s kitchen table. When she came back two minutes later, Sam and Steve had managed to take eighty-two selfies. She kept them all. It’s embarrassing how happy they make her.
- But it’s more embarrassing to Sam and Steve when Natasha shows the selfies to Maria and Pepper at lunch, and that makes Natasha pretty happy too.
A Story, Probably Not True: The Two Faces of Mr. Holmes
(There is a LOT going on in this meta so patience, my friends!)
About the “The Coventry Carol" Audio Sample
We begin this scene from A Scandal in Belgravia with Sherlock plucking the violin sensually in front of the fire. He’s plucking, not bowing. Plucking like a lute or a guitar. The notes Sherlock plays constitute one of the motifs (aka motives) of “The Coventry Carol.” It IS Christmas after all.
In the audio sample above I mashed up the violin notes from Sherlock with a generic guitar recording of the notes of the ”The Coventry Carol" motif. I cut out everything extraneous and sped both recordings up considerably so you could hear the notes play in synch. The tuning is the same as The Mannheim Steamroller’s version. Here is the Carol on strings. Here’s the full carol in all its choral glory.
Hearing Sherlock’s Motif/Motive
The motive is the smallest structural unit possessing thematic identity. -John D. White (x).
So why is it a big deal that Sherlock plucks “Coventry Carol" motive? Well he could have played more of the melody so the musical reference would be obvious to Irene and us casual viewers. Remember Sherlock uses the violin, composes because it helps him think. He’s in his mind palace searching for associations. It’s the musical representation of Coventry that comes to him first. Sherlock plucking the motif is the aural equivalent of his a-ha! look. The Coventry Carol and the Coventry Conundrum are linked in his mind palace. In this case his revelation is subdued and Sherlock is somber. His first impulse is to tell John.
Irene and we, the viewers, need Sherlock’s exposition about The Coventry Conundrum to understand his deduction about Bond Air, to be allowed a peek into his mind palace:
In his 1974 book The Ultra Secret, Group Captain F. W. Winterbotham asserted that the British government had advance warning of the attack from Ultra: intercepted German radio messages encrypted with the Enigma cipher machine and decoded by British cryptoanalysts… He further claimed that Winston Churchill ordered that no defensive measures should be taken to protect Coventry, lest the Germans suspect that their cipher had been broken. (X)
The use of the musical motive indicates that Sherlock gets Bond Air. He knows (or thinks he knows) the “same old song” and what its most important, fundamental constituent parts are.
It’s a beautiful use of music as a “cinematographic” tool to further underscore (get it) Sherlock’s mental processes (like the words over the screen when he deduces) but it’s much less obvious to the casual viewer than even camera angles, framing, etc. So aside from the fact that it’s supremely cool, why use motives here rather than, say, those written words on the screen over Irene while he deduces her? There are many possible answers but here’s a simple one. As with Reichenbach, the majority of the dramatic suspense depends upon what Sherlock knows and when he knows it. Most of the time he’d better be far ahead of all of us or we’d lose patience. We’re often aware that Sherlock’s aware of something that he doesn’t share with John even if we don’t know precisely what it is. To his flatmate and to us he must often seem to be omniscient…OR utterly clueless.
[Post S3 note— I don’t think Sherlock and Mycroft have a leg up on Moriarty until the end of this episode when Irene tells the Holmes boys that Moriarty sends his love. That’s another meta. For now, the important gap is between Sherlock and Mycroft who didn’t let little brother in on Bond Air until it was too late. Did Mycroft think Sherlock would blab about it and blow his cover? Did he later convince Sherlock that John would blab about Sherlock’s fake suicide?]
Sherlock’s elder brother, Mark Gatiss has told us, is even smarter than he is. It’s indeed taken little bro some time to catch up with the Bond Air scheme. The confrontation scene in the airplane isn’t amazing because it’s a plot or puzzle reveal to Sherlock. It’s amazing because Mycroft has his undivided attention while Sherlock has to accept the righteous reaming he gets for his colossal fuck-up. Sherlock’s humbled a bit in this episode by Mycroft (who, interestingly, actually assists him in Hounds.) And most importantly he grows to understand that Mycroft cares. He is as human as Sherlock is. Moreso, perhaps. Perhaps the key of Mycroft’s tune isn’t the “all lives end” part, it’s the “all hearts are broken.”
Sherlock’s rage at Mycroft was sorely misplaced. This wasn’t to be Coventry all over again.
Seeing Double: Sherlock’s Motive
Let’s see what the dialog and the camera do in this scene to assist the magnificent and hard-working score…
(Irene, still wearing Sherlock’s dressing gown and with her hair still down, is curled up in John’s chair watching him closely.)
IRENE: I’ve never been. Is it nice?
SHERLOCK: Where’s John?
IRENE: He went out a couple of hours ago.
SHERLOCK: I was just talking to him.
IRENE (smiling): He said you do that. What’s Coventry got to do with anything?
SHERLOCK: It’s a story, probably not true. In the Second World War, the Allies knew that Coventry was going to get bombed because they’d broken the German code but they didn’t want the Germans to know that they’d broken the code, so they let it happen anyway. (x)
When Sherlock replies to
not!JohnIrene with his explanation of Coventry, he speaks on two levels. The first is what you can trust, what’s coming out of his mouth and what we can take at face value. The Coventry story’s probably not true, he says. But wait. Did you notice Ghost!Sherlock in this scene?
Here. Take a closer look at the right of the screen.
Our Consulting Detective is doubled like Janus!
Erm. Wait minute! Remember Janus Cars in The Great Game?
Yeah— Mofftiss like Janus.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, passages, endings and time. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January (Ianuarius) in his honor.
Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. (x)
But Moftiss’s version of Janus plays on the say-one-thing-but-think-another modern implications of Janus’s two-faced imagery. Sherlock is of two minds, telling two tales, experiencing two trains of thought. The camera uses visual counterpoint to tells us flat out that Irene’s only hearing one part of the tune, one side of the story. This is natural for Sherlock’s deduction scenes— when solutions come to him, he’s always already made a plan that he never lets John or the rest of us in on. We only ever hear the deduction, not what Sherlock plans to do about it.
In other news, your Johnlock ship’s afloat, my darlings. Sherlock isn’t after sex from Irene here and this scene isn’t evidence that he’s in love with, or even fancies, her. When Irene changes the subject immediately from Coventry to lust, the audience either thinks she’s uninterested in Ultra or that she knew enough from Sherlock’s deduction to serve her machinations. Time, now, for her libido. Either way Irene doesn’t need to have anything further
mansplainedexplained to her. So what does she really want here in her seductive state? Sherlock plays the innocent virgin. Don’t we all know that Irene’s got a "you just haven’t found the right woman" kink.
Look at the right of this shot. Sherlock is still doubled. There’s his body leaning into Irene’s sexual advances (not very original is she, with her pick-up lines?) and his analytical mind is observing. It’s the ghost on the scene, the Janus, the two faces of Sherlock.
Later we learn that this second mind has been thinking more about John than
not!JohnIrene. Here’s what I mean.
So yeah, Irene Adler is The Woman, however Sherlock’s loyalties ultimately lie with John and even Mycroft in the end.
Back to the Coventry conundrum and Bond Air! When Sherlock breaks into Baskerville we see that Mycroft has “Priority Ultra” clearance. He’s MI6:
The name [Ultra] arose because the intelligence thus obtained was considered more important than that designated by the highest British security classification then used (Most Secret) and so was regarded as being Ultra secret. (x)
The Empty Hearse confirms Mycroft’s role as The British (Secret) Government.