Curator’s Note: Fan meta comes in all forms: essay, critical fanvid, conversation, or – as in this example – a hybrid of poetry and critique. “His Not-Last Vow” was written in response to Sherlock Series 3, teasing out motifs that run throughout this series and the show as a whole, and puzzling through questions left unanswered.
Is there, under the play and diversion and unmended, untended gaps of the third series of Sherlock, a sincere narrative of knowledge and love? What promise does this story leave us with?
Still not sure.
What do we do with a text littered with tokens that don’t always speak clearly except maybe in one hand reaching out tentatively to another, others—forgive me, marry me, save me, solve me, love me?
Gifts don’t always come full circle, but sometimes they do.
A pair of always-carried cuffs.
A composition finished.
A bullet flown from Hope to Magnussen singing I killed for you.
In terms of ritual, of exchange, the misses makes some sense too, because don’t diverted desire, eddies of longing and want– prismatic, binary, triangulated—also need their tokens, currented on the surface to the lost beloved? All the shiny (and sometimes dangerous) things we make promises with. Mary’s ring and Molly’s and the one Sherlock holds up to a woman he doesn’t love–but to whom are these really given? Is the giver a match to the gift, the gift to the recipient, the pledge to the pledged-to?
Sherlock makes three pledges to John—with a bomb (on his knees, the two of us against the world), with a waltz (on his toes, his first and last) and with a bullet, another,(on his back, on his knees, heartbreak and death). But only one of these vows is unveiled; not one is without heavy shade and consequence. Most of the series’ marriage-bonds, the ones we hear about, the ones we witness, are either in peril or past it. And the narratives we’re given,tempted to trust, follow a ricochet path, knocking around in the place where the heart is, maybe just missing—
So what’s to hold, token and talisman, in an unassailable ventricle of forbidden knowledge?
We might not have emotional clarity or epistemological certainty, but the gift-exchange between creators and created-for can still hold out, if not a perfect shining thing, a small ceremony, a closing circle, a promise of more–
It’s possible that the truest pledge, the not-last vow, really does happen in hands meeting on a windy runway- as they did on the step at 221B in “A Study in Pink”, as they did, cuffed, in “The Reichenbach Fall” (take my hand)-with a ritual phrase (best of days) that is amalgamation of past (adventure) and future (privilege); it was never going to be a goodbye, but even from our distant perspective arms compassed against history, marking (for a second, or an age) a fixed point, the greatest of all gifts that is time.
“His Not-Last Vow,” by aderyn, was originally posted on Jan. 17, 2014