Sherlock Finale and Its Problems with Women

This post is full of Sherlock season 4 spoilers.


I know this is a book blog, but Sherlock is obviously based on books and stories, all of which I read between the ages of 12 and 15. This blog is subtitled “all things bookish,” after all, so here we go, with a very thoughtful review that is not scattered or disorganized at all:

I logged onto my old Sherlock-centered Tumblr last night post-finale, hoping for funny memes and touching GIFs memorializing all of the funny and touching moments of the episode. Instead I found a whole lot of anger that the finale hadn’t gone Exactly As People Wanted It To, which bummed me out enough to log off and fangirl on the phone with old friends (plus my mom! hi mom!) instead.

I basically stopped caring about Sherlock after Moriarty died, so the flashback with him was enough to make the entire episode endearing to me. I additionally continue to be impressed by how they’ve humanized Sherlock without taking away his genius exoticism. He’s still weird. He’s still Sherlock (not, mind you, recognizable as the Mr. Holmes I knew as a teenager, but a wildly different and lovable character in his own right). He just cares openly about people now, he’s a good man, and I find that to be a touching arc.

But let’s talk Euros (Eurus? Euro? Gyro? I kept thinking ‘gyro.’). Let’s talk Sherlock women in general. I hated their Irene Adler. I hated that she ended up just being a pawn of Moriarty’s who needed saving, was reduced to a damsel in distress. I hated that her clever gimmick was to get naked. Like, come on.


I see no difference.

Euros could have redeemed them: It’s possible, after all, that Moriarty was her pawn, and her intellect really did seem to be the equal of Sherlock and Mycroft’s. But I have some major disappointments:

  1. She was, in the end, reduced to a damsel in distress. Why has Sherlock needed to save every woman in this show, including those who are supposed to be as intelligent as him but obviously aren’t?
  2. I think she was…a rapist? She had nonconsensual sex, with a nurse, and didn’t note the nurse’s gender because apparently she mutilated the nurse? Am I wrong in this? Let’s break this down some more:

a. It bums me out that people are so angry about Johnlock not being canon, but it is eyebrow-raising that the only people on the show to not be straight are the villains and John’s invisible, alcoholic sister. Moriarty, Adler, Euros Holmes: All pansexual, apparently, as if portraying “deviant sexualities” as evidence of evil is somehow new or interesting.

b. Why make her a rapist? They could have just not. Literally nothing else would have changed since it was mentioned in one passing comment that in no way affected the plot.

c. It in no way affected the plot, which is weird, because the villains Sherlock seems to really, really hate are the ones that enjoy nonconsensual assault. Magnussen with his weird cheek-licking: Sherlock shot him. Culverton Smith with his “tell me you don’t want to die” and “I like to make people into things”: Sherlock destroyed him, too.

I have the feeling that Moriarty isn’t a rapist while Magnussen and Smith so easily could be. Firstly, Moriarty doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. But secondly – there’s a kind of mutual respect between him and Sherlock that can’t exist when one party disregards the concept of “consent.” They’re participating in a two-player game. Moriarty just doesn’t strike me as someone who would be sexually violent.

So this is a show where sexual violence is the worst of crimes when men commit it, but when a woman is a rapist, Sherlock gives her a hug? It’s wrong and sick and if anyone can offer me any explanation, I would so happily take it.

  1. As this graph shows, Sherlock Holmes has been made into animals and vegetables more times than he’s been a woman. A woman Watson? Sure. But a woman genius? Nope.

They never showed Euros making deductions, did they? Like, she was smart, but she lacked the Holmesian deductions that would seem to make a Holmes a Holmes. Can they really not imagine a woman “deducing”?

And it’s even more disappointing that when there was a third, smarter Holmes sibling, a female, she was evil. It seems like the punishment for her intellect: Women can be smart, but they can’t handle their smartness, so they snap and go insane. And need to be locked up forever.

It’s so chillingly Victorian that I can’t quite get over it, sorry. The Holmes sister needs to be locked up while her big brother rules England and her other big brother is the world’s #1 detective. Gag.


Weirdly, I enjoyed the finale. I woke up this morning very happy for having seen it. I thought it was a fitting conclusion. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect.


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