(Wow, less than an hour after the season finale finished and I’ve already churned out meta. I’m surprised I could stop weeping long enough to write this. HOLMES BROTHERS, WHY MUST YOU TORTURE ME SO.)
(Also, spoilers abound. Consider yourself warned.)
There are many things that make Elementary remarkable, but I think this is one of the most important things: in both season finales, the victory that we would expect Sherlock to have is taken from him.
Granted, the first season had a far more optimistic ending, once it was established that Sherlock didn’t actually OD (that part, if memory serves, had me screaming hysterically at the TV). Joan “Not Your F***ing Mascot” Watson got the last laugh over Moriarty, and the season closed on the note of a new species of hybrid bees named after Joan, the symbolism of which was blatantly obvious to us faithful viewers. But this season had a much darker ending. Joan’s going to move out, which maybe doesn’t kill the hybrid bee analogy but certainly weakens it. Sherlock (and Joan, too!) insisted he could fix Mycroft’s mole problem – and maybe he could have, who knows. But this time it was Mycroft who got the final decision, who basically chose to die. Yeah, he’s not actually dead, but he might as well be. Mycroft took matters out of Sherlock’s hands and fixed the problem himself.
Sherlock, as we’ve seen in the past few episodes, is unbelievably clingy. He has his people and his stuff and his ideas as to how all that should be sorted. His idea of loving someone (because now there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he loves Joan immensely, in his own way) is keeping them close, very close. When his world has what he perceives as order, he’s happy as a clam. But Joan and Mycroft are people, of course, not objects, so naturally they’ll screw with his order whether they mean to or not.
What I’m getting at is this: Sherlock can’t seem to recognize other people for what they really are, namely suns in their own right. Joan really nailed it with the astronomy metaphor. As far as Sherlock’s orderly brain is concerned, she orbits him. I think that’s what Sherlock was expecting from Mycroft too – orbiting. (Though why he still held out for that, even after Mycroft proved himself to be a force against Sherlock’s order multiple times, is beyond me.) Sherlock wanted Mycroft to wait for him to make everything right.
He didn’t hug Mycroft back, because how can you exert a gravitational pull on something that’s so wildly out of orbit?
That’s the brilliant thing about both these victories being stolen from Sherlock – they ultimately show how flawed his worldview is. I don’t know if Sherlock will ever get past this mental thing he has going, but I definitely think that would be a good direction for his character development to take. He said to Joan, after all, that he could change for her. Let’s see him change the way he views her. It’s too late for him to save his relationship with Mycroft, but if he means what he says, he can still make things work with Joan. He can still recognize her for the blazing sun she is, instead of simply seeing her as a constant satellite.*
In the meantime, though, I’m going to sob for ages about thAT HUG. I DIDN’T NEED MY HEART ANYWAY. IT’S FINE. AUGH.
*The references are to Vienna Teng’s wonderful song “Gravity.”