I was always convinced of that fact. I was one of the very few Sherlolly shippers out there who firmly believed that it would become canon. I knew I could be wrong, of course. But I think this is it. Or rather as close to canon as we can get. To me, the Final Problem confirms all of the suspicions I’ve ever had as to why they wrote Sherlock and Molly the way they did. Take note that what follows is obviously with shipper goggles on. But still.
You do count. I need you. You mattered the most. But why?
I like the idea of Sherlock realising that he loved Molly under duress. I see no issue with the idea at all. It makes perfect sense to me. This is Sherlock Holmes after all. Loving someone romantically has never been an option. He wouldn’t even consider asking himself the question. Add his life-long conviction taught by Mycroft that caring is a disadvantage, the repressed loss of Victor, the loss of Mary, the constant threat of losing John and the case of Irene Adler to the mix and that’s what you get: Being in love? Never.
But seriously, guys. He lost the battle against friendship long ago. What would be the point of that scene if not to prove that he lost the battle against love too? More of that in my other meta: Why I think Eurus knew Sherlock loved Molly.
Can Sherlock Holmes love?
If yes, who?
This has been the unknown in the equation for John Watson since the very first episode, at Angelo’s (girlfriend? boyfriend?). Same question asked to Mrs. Hudson in ASiB. And an itch he needs to scratch both in Sherlock’s mind (murderous ghost scene in TAB) and in real life (the chat before The Hug in TLD). In a story, if a question is asked more than once, you can safely assume that it will be addressed later on. Another example: both John and Mycroft wonder what his feelings regarding Irene Adler can possibly be at Speedy’s as well.
And, coincidence (?) both are in the room when the phone call happens. Passive and silent. Spectators. An audience. Us. The scene is set to be a revelation for them as well as for the viewer regarding Sherlock’s heart. A forced and long overdue introspection into the one area left unexplored. Three minutes of unbearable tension leading to an outstanding emotional breakthrough. What could that be? That Sherlock loves Molly as a friend? Nothing new under the sun.
John believes that loving someone will complete Sherlock as a human being. A notion Sherlock doesn’t understand (”That doesn’t even mean anything.”) And it would have stayed that way. If not for Eurus. If not for his psychopathic sister who spent ‘such a good day’ reconciling his brother with what he suspected he already was. Human. And a very emotional one at that. John thinks that Irene will be the one to do the trick. Then distances himself from the idea and figures that Sherlock needs his own Mary. Unconsciously describing this potential person to be exactly what Molly always has been. Right before they go out to meet her for cake. Right before TFP happens. The universe is rarely so lazy.
If you consider the possibility that Sherlock discovers in the span of 3 minutes that he has loved Molly Hooper in that way all along, every single interaction clicks into place.
– His civility and, dare I say, enthusiasm with her in the early days. He is awkward in his approach and sometimes even indelicate. But he is also tempting to be nice. (He even drinks her awful coffee and doesn’t say a word!!). Keep in mind that this is before John Watson started to do his magic. Sherlock is at the peak of his sociopathic behaviour.
– His passive aggressive behaviour towards her regarding any potential suitor in the first two series (Jim in TGG, the mysterious recipient of her gift in ASiB, her lunch date in TRF). These scenes are, in fact, the only moments he becomes cruel. With Jim from IT, he even thinks he is being kind. Oh, and the line Molly says “He’s not gay. Why do you always spoil…?! He’s not.” suggests that Sherlock frequently deduces her dates to death.
– The idea of her not counting immediately sounds preposterous to him. Foreign.
– He comes to her when things become really dangerous and dark. The fall is coming. He’s got Mycroft and the entirety of the British Secret Forces or whatever on his side. He knows what is to come. He could have done without her involvement, surely. But he needs someone he cares deeply about to know the truth about him. That he is not a fraud. And so, he goes to her. Tells her he needs her. With tears in his eyes.
– His uncharacteristic tenderness on their crime-solving day.
– Why she’s the one who keeps him grounded and focused so he can fall on his back and prevent further damage when he gets shot.
– Why he hides away at her place when he needs it.
– His behaviour towards Hooper in TAB. He never strikes back in the morgue. Holmes is deliberately unresponsive. Better than that, BC acted tongue-tied. Same for the Christening scene in TST. She chastises him, knocks him in the ribs, teases him. He never looks annoyed. You can conclude from that interaction alone that he is incredibly fond of her.
Not to mention that the writers kept Molly intentionally free from any other man (end of her engagement). Because yes, to execute the Sherlolly becomes canon plan, Molly also has to stay emotionally available until he is on the same page. I see no other reason for it. Seriously. From a feminist perspective, that doesn’t sound very good. But Mofftiss have been careful. Molly is in love but it’s not gratuitous and purposeless, nor is it what defines her as a person. They made sure she always stands her ground. She takes care of him but doesn’t take any of his shit. She is not a bloody doormat. Up until the very end, she has the upper hand: “You say it. Go on”. Her love matters. Makes him a better man.
No matter what, through thick and thin, she is always, always there. It’s a beautiful thing from both perspectives. Molly stays because she is strong, she loves him and would rather be his friend than nothing at all. She doesn’t ask for anything in return. This is a lesson of bravery, selflessness and kindness. The lesson Louise Brealey cares so much about. From Sherlock’s point of view, and up until TFP, it’s not clear as to why, she stays because he wouldn’t have it any other way. He knows of her feelings and how difficult it must be for her stay. Still, Sherlock needs her to. The mere concept of her not being by his side is inconceivable. We know it is. She would have been long gone otherwise.
You could argue that he kept her around only because he loved her very very much as a friend. But if Mofftiss wanted Sherlock to become a good man (which is the whole point of the show) but not for him to fall in love, then Sherlock would have stayed away from Molly for good after he realised what she felt for him. Because that’s what you do when you deeply love your friend and want them to be happy. Not doing so would be the most selfish thing in the world.
After TRF, two golden opportunities presented themselves to kindly deal with the problem of Molly Hooper and prevent her from becoming a potential love interest. One where she stays in his circle and one where she leaves. In a way, Mofftiss used both. And destroyed them in the next breath.
1. Happy ending. She stays.
She marries another man. Perfectly reasonable. She doesn’t see him for two years, falls in love and never looks back. She can stay his friend and we don’t lose awesome Molly. A very handy solution because she is Mofftiss’ original creation and they want her to stick around. Ideal to have her develop a beautiful dynamic with Sherlock based on deep respect and camaraderie. “God, you’re such a dick sometimes. I can’t believe I fell for you.” “I know. I don’t get it either, Molly Hooper.” They twisted that option and used it instead to prove that no one but Sherlock will do for her. It started as being a few hints in TEH and TSoT and became the truth in HLV with one single line “Sorry your engagement’s over, although I’m grateful for the lack of a ring”.
I won’t even talk about that line. Come on. It’s so ambiguous it’s laughable.
Also, Tom was purposely made to be a facsimile of the real thing and Molly was droolin’ all over Sherlock during his speech in TSoT. So yeah. It’s him or nothing.
Not to mention THAT SCENE RIGHT THERE. At the time, also known in my book as: Sherlolly is gonna become sooo canon bitches. I knew there and then, that something big was coming.
2. Bittersweet ending. She leaves.
The solution I mentioned before. Sherlock decides to do the right thing and lets her go. As a friend, as someone who cares (and we know he does), he cuts himself from her life and thus allows her to move on. Rings a bell? This is the hallway seen in TEH. It could have been the very last interaction between Sherlock and Molly on the show. And it would have been beautiful. If it was definitive, it would have been as effective to make Sherlock a good man as him destroying her coffin because he couldn’t bear to break her heart. I would have been sad, devastated even but all in all not surprised by this turn of event. I think we can all agree on that. We would have been proud of Sherlock. Relieved for Molly. He grew up. He wants to protect her. He lets her go, even if it means losing her friendship in the process.
But again, they nipped it in the bud. Again, with a single line.
“Maybe it’s just my type”.
Both keep coming back to one another. Like magnets.
Molly because she knows who Sherlock is deep down and loves what she sees. He’s her type, and it is what it is. Sherlock because he needs to have her in his life. In any way he can. He refuses to free her from him. Why? When you think about it, I think Mofftiss made crystal clear the fact that he just can’t.
Because he is, and perhaps always has been, in love with her.
Lastly, best of all for me, the I Love You scene finally explains why he never made a move. I don’t know for you but my take on that was that he knew of his feelings for her but repressed them because he considered himself unworthy of Molly Hooper. It made my shipper’s heart happy. I never asked for more. It fit his behaviour as I read it and the show could have ended with them staying apart. I was satisfied with that view of things. In fact, if not for Sherlock Holmes to realise that he was in love with Molly Hooper, the I Love You scene was completely unnecessary. Just like the end of TSoT in the gif above.
And it makes perfect sense, now.
He simply was not aware of the depth of his own feelings, clueless idiot that he was. He needed a big push, in his case, a life or death situation, him contemplating a life with no Molly Hooper in it, for him to face the truth.
This is not far fetched at all, you know. It does happen in real life. I’ve known two specific examples, both with the same pattern. They are the best of friends. They spend so much time with one another that people keep asking them what is really going on there. They keep insisting that it’s only friendship. And then life takes over and threatens to tear them apart. That’s when they realise.
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