“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”

This is an extremely belated post about A Study In Pink, which means that it’s actually more about the episode in the context to the rest of the series.

Really, if you start thinking about the fact that there will be more Sherlock in the future, then it’s easy to guess that eventually we’ll look back on these episodes and that primarily all three, not just the first one, are about how Sherlock and John’s very unique relationship began and started to develop. It’s actually so obvious that it might not even merit mentioning, except for how in the course of just three it begins, grows, changes, starts to crack around the edges, and ultimately deepens so much.

To me, A Study In Pink isn’t simply “this is how they first met”; in reality, it’s “this is why they started walking this path together”. Because when you think about it, they’re really not a very likely pair, either of them. John begins the episode in a very dark place, a place where he doesn’t like his life or himself very much, and that’s not usually conducive to developing a strong relationship with others; and Sherlock… is Sherlock, and being Sherlock isn’t conducive to developing any sort of relationship.

There’s two questions: what made Sherlock become interested in John as a person and potential companion, and what kept John from turning on his heel and walking in the other direction as fast as he could. And it’s interesting because although you can gleen answers to either question, my personal opinion is that the focus is subtly on John’s side, because that’s how it always was. The story of Sherlock Holmes, from the beginning, was told primarily through Watson’s eyes, so it’s fitting.

The obvious answer as to why John didn’t just stick around to share the flat, but went with Sherlock, not just the first time, but every time after that, is that in his own way he was just as bored as Sherlock gets without stimulation, former military having a hard time adjusting to civilian life, etc. He craves danger, but maybe wasn’t prepared to really admit it – “Enough for a lifetime, far too much” – until Sherlock asks “Want to see some more?”. And although that’s all true, it doesn’t really explain why he becomes Sherlock’s friend. Ultimately, it’s as simple as he likes Sherlock. He likes his intelligence, is fascinated by it, obviously, but John also just likes him, Sherlock, difficult though he is. And I think you can pinpoint the exact moment John realizes this.

“That’s not what people normally say”.
“What do people normally say?”
“Piss off”.

And that’s the moment. For the first time that we see, John cracks a smile, and that’s when he gets Sherlock, at least a little bit, and realizes he likes the guy after all. After that will come the cab chase, and then laughing together about it, and by then they’re in it together, even though John doesn’t really know much about Sherlock just yet. And although Sherlock has surmised a lot about John, he doesn’t know him either. He didn’t expect at all that John would kill for him, he’s kind of floored by it, and then they’re laughing again, and bantering, and when Sherlock simply asks “Dinner?” you get the sense that John is no longer a (socially acceptable) stand in for the skull. By then, I think that for Sherlock it’s ceased to be just about having someone to bounce ideas off of and it has become about spending time with someone whose company he actually enjoys.

Sherlock & John

3 thoughts on ““I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”

  1. For me, Holmes in any incarnation is always about the interplay of those two personalities, just as much as the puzzles.

    I rather like that this incarnation of Watson has been given issues of his own. I think they gave a satisfactory answer to what would have to be the central question, “rich eccentrics were tolerated in Victorian London, but why would a modern-day guy stay around the obviously crazy Sherlock Holmes?” – making Watson feel three-dimensional without lessening his own strong qualities.

    I think you’re right that the initial acceptance had to be on Watson’s side rather than Holmes’s. Holmes, as far as he knows, doesn’t see any difference between a skull and a skull with a face and body attached – I think he’d put up with pretty much any flatmate, and not notice them overmuch as long as they didn’t get in his way. It’s Holmes’s personality and habits that would drive off most sane people.

    1. For me, Holmes in any incarnation is always about the interplay of those two personalities, just as much as the puzzles.

      Yes, this, basically, and yeah, in this case it had to be answered or you’d start asking why John puts up with everything Sherlock puts him through.

      This is something I’m planning to touch on when I get around to posting about The Great Game, that in that final episode in particular the two of them are bickering constantly. Not just bickering actually, but John in particular, he’s kind of at the end of his rope with Sherlock to the point where I think most people would say to hell with it and cut their losses, except for the fact that the first episode showed that he does like Sherlock personally, and so that makes it understandable that he’d stick around. If Sherlock just provided excitement, it doesn’t make sense, but because they’re friends, improbably though it is, it does.

      Thanks for commenting. :)

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