“Brotherly” Compassion… or Rivalry?

A closer look at the Holmes children, from the Masterpiece Mystery series on PBS and BBC, Sherlock, Seasons 1-4 Part one-

Conclusion number one: According to the stories by Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is a genius. Not just that, but an accomplished, high functioning sociopath. Throughout the BBC/ PBS series, Sherlock has no problem taking down his enemies and solving cases, but he has a huge issue with people, especially when dealing with emotions and Dr. Watson’s feelings.

Conclusion number two: Both Sherlock and his brother Mycroft have the same deduction abilities. The only difference is Mycroft works for the British government and he’s a little bit more careful when it comes to people’s emotions. Maybe not so much whenever he’s in the room with his parents or when he’s insulting John Watson.

Conclusion number three: Even when Sherlock is a consulting detective working with Scotland Yard while Mycroft has business with MI6, there is quite obviously a sibling rivalry, and there are clues that they do have some brotherly affection for each other. Even in the end of season three, “His Last Vow”, where Mycroft (writer and actor Mark Gatiss) says, “I don’t have the position of showing brotherly compassion… You know what happened to the other one.” Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes both have their ways of showing how much of a family they have with each other, along with their constant rivalry and their relations with their parents.

And this is just one of the reasons why Sherlock is one of my favorite dramas of all time. Not just that, the series has made it to the top 20 fandoms of all time, behind Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Marvel and DC, the Star Wars movies, and Star Trek.

In this post, I’m going in chronological order of the many moments between Sherlock and his older brother, from “Study in Pink” in season one to “The Final Problem” of season four.

1- Study in Pink, final scene: “And you know how it always upset mummy.” Throughout the first episode of the series, a mysterious stranger talks to Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman from The Hobbit and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), asking him to spy on his new friend Sherlock. At the end of the show, we see this stranger again, only when Sherlock and Dr. Watson approach him, Sherlock knows just who he is. At first, we think it’s Moriarty, Sherlock’s enemy #1, but then it’s revealed through the dialogue that the stranger’s in fact Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft Holmes.

In the original pilot script that was passed on to BBC, Steven Moffat originally wanted to write the show as a one hour drama procedural, which had no time for the extra fluff. The 60 minute episode that was in the DVD special features had no mention of Mycroft, Moriarty, or Holmes and Watson chasing after the cab through London’s back alleys. BBC loved the one hour pilot so much that they told Moffat they wanted more, and they wanted to stretch the series into three 90 minute episodes per season.

That was when Moffat’s friend and writing partner Mark Gatiss agreed to fill in the empty space to play Sherlock’s brother. And to be quite honest, he does a great job acting as he does in screenwriting.

So when Watson asks if Mycroft spying on Sherlock means that he is actually a great concern to him, Mycroft says, “Oh yes, of course.” Meaning- Mycroft does care about his little brother constantly, as family does mean a great deal to him, even though Sherlock does not like the idea of someone spying on him, especially a sibling.

2- The Great Game, 221B scene post explosion: In this scene, it’s the morning after a huge explosion went off in the building across from Sherlock and Watson’s apartment on Baker Street, which in this case was really caused by Moriarty. But Sherlock has no idea who’s done this bombing and he’s about to get a call from Lestrade about when the next explosion is going to happen, after receiving a mysterious envelope with the pink cell phone from the Study in Pink case. Safe in their apartment, Watson finds Sherlock playing around with his violin while Mycroft is sitting across from him.

Sherlock: “How’s the diet?”

Mycroft: (in a condescening tone) “Fine.”

In the series as well as the stories, Mycroft doesn’t like to talk about his weight, especially since he’s always been the overweight one in the family since childhood. But Sherlock does like to make fun of him for either losing or putting on weight, as he is a sociopath. Then to poke fun at his brother even more, Sherlock scrapes his bow across the violin strings, making an annoying, almost nails against chalkboard sound, to annoy Mycroft’s ears.

In the first book Study in Scarlet, Sherlock is very good at playing the violin, according to the doctor’s accounts. When he’s running his bow across the strings like that, he’s only annoying his brother as he’s leaving, as most brothers do to their siblings.

In addition, Sherlock and Mycroft have already made a deduction on Dr. Watson when he entered the room.

Sherlock: “How was the lilo?”

Mycroft: “Sofa, Sherlock, it was the sofa.”

Sherlock: “Oh yes, of course.”

Both of them could tell where Watson was sleeping the night before when the explosion happened. The night before, he spent the night at his girlfriend’s place, but she made him sleep on the couch instead of her bed, which was slightly uncomfortable and a sign that she wasn’t a very good girlfriend. So this high functioning deduction ability tends to run in the family.

And there’s also this in the episode:

3- also from The Great Game, Bart’s Hospital scene: Sherlock gets a text alert while he’s analyzing the pair of sneakers from the abandoned Baker Street apartment and asks John Watson to look at it. The text is from Sherlock’s brother, asking about the case about Andrew West, who was found dead by the train tracks in Battersea, and if Sherlock had made any advancements in the case. Sherlock is a little miffed that his brother canceled his dentist appointment for a root canal to keep texting him about this “stupid” case.

We notice that at the beginning, Mycroft has a pain in his mouth and starts putting a hand to his face to null the pain away, so Sherlock made a deduction that his brother needed to see the dentist but refused to make an appointment so he could still talk to his brother- and Watson (for he starts texting him in the rest of the episode)- if they’ve gotten around to making any deductions or clues to finding out who killed Westie and where are the missile plans.

Sherlock does tell Watson that Mycroft doesn’t text or do any communication with anyone if he can’t talk, say, after a dental procedure. This makes the detective and the doctor ever so slightly annoyed.

To be continued in the next post, starting with season two of Sherlock!

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