Why I love BBC Sherlock’s Mary Watson

Why I love BBC Sherlock's Mary Watson

Many members of the Sherlock fandom have been a bit pissed, to say the least, since His Last Vow ended. Mary’s “betrayal” has not gone over so well. I’ve seen many a post with sentences such as “I don’t trust her” or “John deserves better” or “John’s baby deserves better”. If you haven’t guessed already, I disagree a bit. While I can admit that an ex-assassin is not necessarily what one would choose in a mother-to-be given the choice, her past kind of made me love her more.

I knew she was not our average Mary Morstan the moment she started making “would you get on with it” faces during the almost proposal scene in The Empty Hearse; and only loved her more in the scene from which the above still was taken (The Sign of Three). It’s true enough that I would’ve been satisfied with this rendition of the character without the addition of her murky past. Amanda Abbington is a beautiful, hilarious, wonderful actress and they could not have cast a better woman. Before His Last Vow she seemed to be supportive of Sherlock and John’s intense friendship, which is wonderful, and she even encouraged them to go on cases. You could tell she loved John.

However, Mary is traditionally an incredibly boring character. She is meant to typify the suburbs. She is the opposite of Sherlock: sane, stable, uninteresting. Instead of relegating Mary as something to be run from (domestic life) as many adaptations of Sherlock have done, Gatiss, Moffat, and Abbington created a simultaneously lovable and exciting character. She is dangerous. She is domestic (baby). She is mysterious. And, perhaps most importantly, she is interesting. In a show all about interesting, dangerous people (I don’t even trust the freaking bridesmaids!) a typical Mary would have felt not only like an opportunity lost, but a waste of the viewer’s time. After a two year hiatus, we as a group are used to speculating instead of trusting. With the possible exception of Mrs. Hudson, I cannot see myself truly trusting anyone in this series. We don’t need another Mrs. Hudson. We have a Mrs. Hudson. Her name is Mrs. Hudson. I was ecstatic to see that this is not what they gave us. Instead, we got a witty, intelligent, loving, dangerous, interesting Mary Watson.

As to the aforementioned possibility of betrayal, I think it’s nonexistent. I am not saying that John wasn’t right to feel lied to and betrayed when he found out about Mary’s past, and I’m definitely not trying to belittle the feelings he had. He was definitely entitled to them. I just don’t think she’s an awful person to have done what she did. For one, she had already lied to everyone else in her life (things snow ball and it’s difficult to stop a lie once you’ve said it enough). For another, you’re not going to walk up to a possible boyfriend and blurt out the worst secret you have; and she couldn’t have known how serious it was going to get (I believe they said something about only having been together for six months). Not to mention, by the time she knew it was serious she was in love with him. The last thing she wanted to do was reveal that she, like Sherlock, had mislead to him. He was still broken. She didn’t want to make things worse for him. Yes, this was also selfish: she got to be happy when, as some would argue, she didn’t deserve it. But if you honestly think she didn’t feel awful every day because of this lie then you and I did not watch the same episode.

Also, Sherlock was right. I would never believe that John could accept a simple woman for life. Just as Sherlock could never settle for anything less than the enigma that is Irene Adler, John craves those who are like him: broken, danger seeking, observant, caring, crazy, wonderful people. She also managed to fill the void brought on by Sherlocks “suicide”. She was something John could fix. He could distract her, make her smile, make her feel safe (not that she can’t kick ass on her own, I think she’s proven that). Together they could feel normal. Even though they never actually can be.

Which is why I love BBC Sherlock’s Mary Watson. She’s not a stereotype. She’s a woman. With a past, a secret; but also a future.

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room that you’re probably gaping at by now. She shot Sherlock in the chest. This was not her best moment, I can admit. I’ve seen a couple complaints of “why didn’t she shoot him somewhere less deadly” or “why would she trust doctors to save him” and “why didn’t she just pistol whip him like Magnussen”. Let’s work in reverse.

She didn’t take the time to knock him out because a. this could’ve given Magnussen time to run/signal for help/attack her, as she would have to step away from him and would be distracted with her gun hand otherwise occupied. The way she did it allowed her to quickly turn and fire or at least point toward him if need be. Also, as we learned earlier in the episode, Sherlock is not exactly a whimp. It would’ve taken a lot to put him down, she had probably already sized him up, and she knew she did not have the time.

Why would she trust doctors to save him instead of just not shooting him? Given the previous paragraph, I’m just going to go with a. she was gambling, because frankly he was where he shouldn’t have been and that was not her fault and b. doctors are doctors, not random homeless people. She called an ambulance. That’s more than most people get.

Finally, why didn’t she shoot him somewhere less dangerous? Given the assumption that she needed him completely subdued she couldn’t just shoot him in the leg. For one, if she’d miss aimed it could have been just as deadly. If the bullet had missed the femoral artery, Sherlock may have been able to power through the pain for long enough to tackle her or further interfere with her plan. She couldn’t risk that. Same goes for any other extremities. This leaves where she shot him and places that would have killed him sooner. All in all, could’ve been worse.

Yes, Sherlock died because she shot him. He came back. As he pointed out, she could have shot him in the face and been done with it. One of the things I think John saw in her was her ability to be cold and calculating. Like Sherlock. She knew objectively that she could shoot Sherlock and murder Magnussen within seconds of each other and be gone before anyone could find out she was there, pinning it all on John. He had motive to kill Sherlock. It would seem odd, but he would fall. Instead, she wounds Sherlock and knocks out Magnussen. We can assume that Magnussen has had Mary under his thumb for years now. He proved to me in less that ten minutes exactly how disgusting that would be. She chose to leave immediate revenge behind because she loves John. If that doesn’t make you love her, fine. Personally, I’m sold.

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2 thoughts on “Why I love BBC Sherlock’s Mary Watson

  1. Thank you! She fits in perfectly with the kind of people that make John’s world.
    I think she’s a brilliant character addition! She’s clever, a powerful character in her own right, she loves them both and wants them to continue their sleuthing. She definitely adds to the holmes-watson (relationship)?
    I really don’t get why so many dislike her.

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