Sherlock Holmes: Pursued Pursuer

April 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm


863483-alice-x-zhang-artwork-bbc-benedict-cumberbatch-men-paintings-pink-background-portraits-sherlock-bbc-sherlock-holmesThroughout 4 seasons now, the brilliant folks at PBS Masterpiece and the BBC have given us the gift of Sherlock Holmes. Updated for the 21st century, the heroine addicted Holmes is now given modern tools of technology and equally modern cases to solve. For the uninitiated, there is scarcely room enough here for a full explanation of a story that provides as many plot turns as any other show in recent memory. Sherlock’s own character (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) has proven to be every bit as complicated as the cases he attempts to unravel.

All at once a sociopath, a genius on the level Savant, and a narcissistic megalomaniac, Sherlock is also a man at constant war with his inner self. Often aware of his social inadequacy, Sherlock simultaneously loathes and longs for intimacy. Of his desperately small circle of friends lies one man, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), a former military medic, and Watson’s wife Mary (Amanda Abbington).

In the most recent season, Sherlock is confronted with unimaginable grief and loss. I will spare you spoilers, but suffice it to say, Sherlock’s circle of friends becomes notably smaller. In his despair, Sherlock spirals downward into increased drug addiction and self-loathing. In his state of despair Sherlock is approached by a woman who is suicidal. Their dialogue is classic Sherlock, direct and unfeeling, while logical and absolutely correct.

SHERLOCK: ‘Taking your own life.” Interesting expression. Taking it from who? Oh, once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.

Later in the same episode, Sherlock is confronted with a sudden act of forgiveness that chips a hole into his normally fortified soul. In the process of saving Sherlock’s life, a woman has lost her own, and the weight of the gift is simply too much for Holmes to bear.

SHERLOCK: In saving my life, she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend.

Your life is not your own.

In saving your life, a value has been placed on it.

It is a currency we don’t know how to spend.

As a legendary and timeless character, I seldom ever see myself in Holmes. But in a few brief lines amidst the chaotic race to find a killer, Sherlock uttered words pregnant with eternal weight, and all at once summarized much of the world’s agonizing pursuit of meaning and the ever-present sense that there is something much more to this life than we are often told. In a word, Holmes summarized the gospel- the good news- that having been bought at a price we are not our own, but now carry the weight of value in currency we do not know how to spend. For some that is freedom, for others a prison. And yet we remain pursued by a lover who won’t surrender until the lost are found.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven”