3rd September, 2014
Hello! Love your blog, I frankly spend waaay too much time on here. Not that it's a bad thing! Anyway, I sort of just realized something. But I was just curious on your take on this. In TSiB, John tells Sherlock his middle name is Hamish. So, why TSoT is Sherlock, with all his mindpalace, trying to figure out his middle name. He should already know right or do you think this is a way he can focus on John in safe manner? "Look John at all this time I am spending thinking about you. <3" Thanks! -J
Hi, and thank you! The Hamish timeline is really tricky, because in TSoT Sherlock’s MP sequence includes a bunch of flashbacks. He’s not trying to figure out John’s middle name during the wedding – he learned it years ago, and now he’s remembering how he obsessed over it, how secretive John was about it, and the lengths Sherlock had to go through to figure it out. He’s just realized Tessa knew John’s middle name, which Sherlock found unusual because John was so tight-lipped about it.
But this is definitely a place where the fabric separating reality from metaphor is worn thin. Because, as Sherlock acknowledges, “Hamish” was on John’s wedding invitation. Therefore it wasn’t a secret – anyone who saw the invitation would know. Tessa saw the wedding invitation, and that was the clue that triggered Sherlock’s Mayfly Man deduction process, but it was entirely unnecessary to show us that lengthy flashback montage demonstrating how secretive John was with his middle name. That secrecy was irrelevant because Hamish appeared on the wedding invitation. It wasn’t a secret in TSoT.
So why did Sherlock spend so much time remembering how he obsessed over it? And why on earth would a man who has no room for the solar system or who the prime minister is in his mind obsess over learning his flatmate’s middle name so much anyway? Because as he keeps doing on the wedding day, Sherlock is making one more deduction than he expected – that he’s in love.
We know from the flashbacks that Sherlock had procured John’s birth certificate before John blurted out “Hamish” in front of Irene. And the first flashback, when Sherlock first sees the “H,” shows Sherlock has started smoking again.
In TGG, Sherlock is still on nicotine patches: he reminds John of this at Janus Cars and says “I’m doing well.” So the smoking began again between TGG and ASiB. Which makes perfect sense – he started smoking after what happened at the pool with Jim, when John offered to sacrifice his own life to save Sherlock.
Sherlock has no idea what to do with these feelings he has for John. He doesn’t even know what they mean. That confusion, all those emotions he doesn’t understand, manifest into a renewed smoking habit and an otherwise inexplicable obsession with something as trivial as John’s middle name.
Now, at the wedding, he’s finally coming to understand what those emotions and that obsession meant/mean.
Metaphorically, “Hamish” represents John’s other secret: his own feelings for Sherlock. That’s why the only flashback in the sequence that was actually from a previous episode is the one where John blurts out “Hamish” when he thinks Sherlock is flirting back with Irene. Both John’s secrets are revealed at once – his middle name, and his jealousy. Back in ASiB, Sherlock didn’t understand John’s outburst. But now, at the wedding, Sherlock is putting the pieces together.
He realizes he’s in love, and he realizes John just might feel the same. But his mind is still preoccupied with the Mayfly Man case, so he hasn’t had time to think about what this means – about the fact that hey, John just got married. For once, Sherlock’s heart is ahead of his brain. That’s why he looks so, so purely happy here:
His brain catches up once its solved the mystery of Sholto and the delayed action stabbing, and the metaphor rises to the surface again with the Sholto-Sherlock parallel (Mr. Holmes, you and I are similar, I think. Yes, I think we are.)
As Sherlock talks to Sholto through the door, his epiphany about John begins to sink in – you can see it happen. Despite what he feels (and what John feels), Sherlock knows he can’t tell him now.
Not at John’s wedding. We wouldn’t do that, would we…you and me. We would never do that to John Watson.