If you are at all familiar with the character of Sherlock Holmes, you are probably aware of the lack of social skills the character seems to have. He is completely unaware of how to properly act in society and confused by the way other people interact. On many occasions, he has outbursts that others deem inappropriate, but that he feels are completely normal.
When we first met BBC’s version of the great Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock,” he was the definition of “a high-functioning sociopath.” We were introduced to only three people who actually seemed to like him, and a few who only tolerated him because he was brilliant at solving crimes. Even John Watson was quite put out with him for a while after they first met, but his love for danger kept him close to Sherlock. However, in the third and latest series of shows, something changed. It seemed as though Sherlock began to acknowledge his lack of social ability and see other people’s love for him despite his flaws.
The change was seen through several of his relationships. The first was with one of the three people who liked Sherlock from the beginning: his brother, Mycroft Holmes, who shared the same sociopathic characteristics. In the first two series, we were only shown that they had a strange relationship bonded solely through their shared blood. However, in “The Empty Hearse,” the first episode of series three, we saw a more intimate look into the brotherhood of the Holmes boys. During a game night, Mycroft points out that Sherlock has become more sociable, actually caring about relationships. Sherlock, in return, expresses his concern for Mycroft by pointing out that being different does not mean you have to be lonely. The concern Sherlock feels shows the drastic change in him because previously he did not care about his own loneliness, let alone anyone else’s.
Sherlock’s relationship with Molly Hooper also shows a change in his social abilities. In “The Empty Hearse,” he was finally able to admit his feelings for her. After solving a case together, he said: “Moriarty slipped up. The one person he thought didn’t matter to me was the person who mattered the most. You made it all possible.” In this proclamation, Sherlock showed that although he was never really able to show it, he cared deeply for Molly and he was finally able to put it into words.
The most vivid illustration of the change in Sherlock is seen when he gives his best-man toast at John’s wedding. During the toast, he says, “I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant and all-around obnoxious (jerk) that anyone could have the misfortune to meet. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. So, if I didn’t understand I was being asked to be best man, it is because I never expected to be anyone’s best friend.”
Before this season, he had not acknowledged that he comes off as an insolent fool. His pride kept him from admitting his faults, but when he realized he was John’s best friend, he was humbled and able to admit how much of a jerk he could be.
The reason behind the change in Sherlock can be illustrated in one simple sentence: “And today (John), you sit between the woman you have made your wife and the man you have saved.” John’s willingness to befriend Sherlock saved him from the “high-functioning sociopath” he had been before. Through every step of their relationship, Sherlock has wanted to be better, to not offend as much, to be the best friend John deserved. While Sherlock will always be the dangerous, ignorant jerk that fans of the character know, his relationship with John has changed him to realize the benefit of having friends.
While Sherlock’s personality can be quite offensive, his focus on logic also makes him a very forgiving person. When Mary betrayed him and John, he fully understood the reasoning behind her actions and forgave her. John was utterly perplexed as to why Sherlock would do such a thing, but it was never really a question for Sherlock. Mary did something wrong, but she did it for logical reasons, and Sherlock, more than anyone, can fully understand and forgive that.
The friendship, or bromance, between Sherlock and John, shows that even seemingly unlovable people need friends who see behind the façade. If a kind and sassy soldier can save a high-functioning sociopath, imagine the difference you could make in the life of someone who’s just a bit socially awkward.
Make time with a friend to watch “Sherlock” on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. You won’t regret it.
Jessica Kersey is a senior journalism/public relations major and assistant digital editor for Cedars. She is an absolute geek and loves having conversations about random things with random people.