What Happened to the Female Victor of This Sherlock Story?


The U.S. only just got the season three premiere of Sherlock, but across the pond they just watched the finale. But some fans are pissed, because the modern update cut a major female character clear out of the storyline. MAJOR SPOILERS, my dear Watson.

The Daily Dot points out the problem with “His Last Vow.” In the original, evil blackmail mastermind Charles Augustus Milverton is defeated by a woman he blackmailed and ruined. In the modern version, Charles Augustus Magnussen is beaten by Sherlock.

Now, obviously, there’s nothing wrong with departing from the original Conan Doyle texts. Use them as a launching pad for a rocket into outer space, as far as I’m concerned! (I’d say make Sherlock in Space, but they already did, he’s called Doctor Who. COME AT ME, BROS.) As long as the adaptation is compelling, go with God.

And yes, the way this particular Sherlock is structured, it’s getting tough to shoehorn in new characters and develop them well. The original stories are like Victorian Law and Order episodes, in the sense they’re mostly one-offs. Those scenes where Sherlock and Mycroft talk about their childhood mean there’s less time for new faces.

This conversation in Empire with co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss galls, though:

Moffat: If you read [The Adventure Of] Charles Augustus Milverton, Dr. Watson in the opening paragraph tells you that he’s about to tell you a porkie. He says, ‘I even now must be very reticent.’ I think what Doyle is hinting at is that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson sat in Baker Street and said, ‘Right, we’re going to have to go and kill him, aren’t we? That’s the only way we can do this.’ So they break in, kill him, and then Dr. Watson writes up a version of the story that puts the murder [on someone else].
Gatiss: They’re hiding in their burglar masks behind the curtain, and this random woman comes and shoots Milverton in the face and then grinds her heel into his face. It’s odd, isn’t it? So I mean really, it’s just an extrapolation of saying, ‘Well, he probably did it, I think.’

Uh, what? It makes more sense for Sherlock and Watson to pop the guy than one of his blackmail victims?

I definitely missed the part where Arthur Conan Doyle revealed Sherlock was actually a hit man. Nor does it take Jessica Fletcher to tell you that duh of course a blackmail victim is the person most likely to murder a blackmailer.

Holger Syme also does an excellent job of outlining why this particular plot switcharoo is so annoying.

And guess what? They had a recurring female character who could’ve stepped into the plot, and that’s John’s wife Mary, who’s been a great addition to the show. SERIOUSLY WE’RE ABOUT TO GET SPOILER-Y Turns out she’s being blackmailed by Magnussen and is also a fucking assassin. Little out of left field, that, but we’re already through the looking glass when it comes to believability, here.

And yet in the end, Sherlock handles it. That’s getting dangerously close to this.

Admittedly, it’s an interesting turn for Sherlock’s character, but this wouldn’t be so bothersome if it weren’t part of a pattern. Irene Adler was transformed from the one who beat Sherlock to someone he trounces, then rescues. (Still not over that.) Mrs. Hughes SORRY, Mrs. Hudson sticks around mainly to serve tea, and the portrayal of Molly Hooper seems a little harsh, no? Oh, and here is a very good recap of Moffat generally being an asshat. Sherlock is a great show, but this is just getting aggravating.

Moffat & Associates might want to think about the fact that a goddamn Victorian Englishman is more willing to show a woman with a bit of agency. Get it together, people.

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