RE: Irene and Sherlock.
So, I’ve been thinking about these two and how their characters function in the show. I really think that Adler is very like Moriarty in that she’s a type of person that Sherlock could become. It’s a class thing.
Bear with me.
In these stories, the people with narrative power are the people like Sherlock: geniuses with a certain type of intelligence. That kind of of intelligence, for the purposes of this argument, is the Capital. Sherlock, Moriarty, and Adler all choose to associate with people of their own “class”—those in power and those with their form of intellectual Capital. At least in the beginning.
This is where John becomes vitally important. Moriarty and Adler are, in some (simplistic) ways, what Sherlock could be without John.
Irene is really interesting in her difference from the ACD canon Adler. ACD’s Adler was motivated essentially by “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.” BBC Adler is more like “poke with stick, run away.” She loves her power, in anyway she can get it. Not because she’s aristocratic (she doesn’t play that role), not because she’s necessarily economically privileged (though she is). Just because she likes the feeling of being the one on top, the one with the narrative power. In control.
She is, as I would say if I knew her, kind of an asshole. They all are. Those with the intellectual capital to control the narrative tend to be assholes. (disillusioned? who, me?) So Mycroft, Moriarty, Sherlock, and Irene all at least partially occupy that space.
One of the main things that unites them is their acknowledgement of their own class. They are in power, they know it, and they have no problem with that. It’s “us” and “them,” “genius” and “idiot.” The idiots are, essentially, cannon fodder. Unnoticed, numbers on a page, corpses to be trampled.
And John. John, Mrs. Hudson, Molly and Lestrade are all—as far as the narrative is concerned—expendable. (I mean narrative in terms of Moriarty playing with Sherlock, Irene playing with Mycroft, etc. I’m not saying the characters aren’t vital to the story, I’m saying they don’t have the same kind of power. Sorry if that’s confusing.)
This is where Sherlock is becoming different. Irene can play whatever games she likes, sell out bits of information to whoever she chooses, and not have direct contact with the Cost. (The Cost, in this case, being the expendable people mentioned above.) It’s unclear what role her assistant Kate played, but given her lack of concern when Kate is assaulted by the Americans I would bet that their relationship is not quite a parallel of John and Sherlock. As far as I can read, Irene stays pretty much above the masses, having relationships with people in power—economically, politically, intellectually—and mostly ignoring the rest. She doesn’t pay John a whole lot of attention except for one scene, and even then he is barely in her sights.
Sherlock, however, is changing. His direct and nearly constant contact with John and his world of “mundane trivia” puts him more in touch with the Cost of things. Not to say he cares in the sense that John cares—consciously and actively. But I think a greater awareness is there. He plays Christmas carols for Mrs. Hudson and apologizes to Molly. Would Irene play a song for anyone without expecting something in return? I would guess not. Given my reading of her.
(Mycroft, incidentally, is also more in contact with the Cost, even given his position of extreme power. I think his connection is actually made through Sherlock—not Sherlock the Genius, but Sherlock the Baby Brother. He isn’t hugely empathetic, but 400 human lives does mean something to him if he puts Sherlock’s face on one of them. Which is kind of funny, then, that Sherlock says “I’m not the Commonwealth.” Because, for Mycroft, that’s exactly what he is.)
So. There isn’t really a point here. Just observations about the classed nature of Irene and Sherlock’s interactions. And the reasons that he can’t really fit there anymore. And maybe she’s on her way to another arc, as well, given her observation of his own attitudes. But still, Irene can put hundreds of civilian lives at risk with no concern beyond her own direct safety and security. Two hundred dead in bombing? No one can trace it back to me, so it’s all good. You can bet that Sherlock won’t be able to hear that statistic without a voice at the back of his head: "What would you like me to make him say next? On the count of three, shoot Doctor Watson.” It’s not as fun as it used to be, and that’s down to John.
I was just thinking about these things.
I thought the characters were compelling and interesting and I loved watching their dynamic. And well played.