And thus 90% of you go ' . . . whut? Why HER?'
Hear me out . . .
I never know what to feel about Sally Donovan. She, I think, is one of Mofftiss' most provoking characters and I am as guilty as all of you in wanting to see her, if not actively harmed, then certainly humiliated and ostracised for her treatment of Sherlock.
However, I came across a short defence of her the other day, only a tiny one, and it got me to thinking. And I think now it's time for someone to REALLY think
about Sally Donovan and try to be a bit fairer.
What do we know about Sally Donovan? Really?
Nothing. Other than she greatly dislikes Sherlock and has slept with Anderson at least once.
Now, the sexual affair with Anderson is a distasteful notion to us for two reasons A) dishonesty, he is married and B) We all love Sherlock and it's the old the friend of my enemy is my enemy thing (Yes, I did it backwards deliberately.) Who knows? Maybe Anderson is desperately unhappily married and they are actually deeply, deeply in love and are meant to be together, however we probably will never know.
Her impatience and slightly curtness with people can easily be attributed to the long, unsociable hours inherent in her work. Also, imagine the things she has seen in the course of her work as a homicide detective. Precisely how nice to people would YOU be able to be after that?
And now, for the crux of the problem. The reason why we are meant to dislike her.
She greatly dislikes Sherlock.
There are several things we need to consider here.
A) She knew Sherlock before John civilised him. And he HAS civilised him, that much is plain to see from watching the show. Does he EVER belittle Greg for needing his help in the second series? Can you imagine the Sherlock of Series 1 making apology coffee for someone?
B) Sherlock can be an utter dick at times. For most of the time, actually. This is undeniable. The only reason WE don't hate him is because we know that he IS capable of being sweet on rare occasions. BUT, only where John and Mrs Hudson (And very rarely Greg) are concerned. Everyone else is treated like they are nothing. Imagine working in close proximity with Sherlock when he is in a horrible mood, for case after case, trying to do your best, only to be outshone by this eccentric, rude man who seems to be tap-dancing along that fine line between lucidity and madness. And this man who can see every tiny shameful secret in your life just by taking a good long look at you and who is not above revealing them in front of all your colleagues and co-workers . . . I assume she scrubbed your floors going by the state of her knees . . .
C) I know we all wish we knew Sherlock. Because he is brilliant and who hates brilliance? BUT, imagine meeting him in real life.
Imagine those people you see in the streets, at bus-stops, that one in every school year who never blinks enough and looks at you with that empty expression like they're on the outside and the world is just a game and they're the one holding the controller. The ones who talk about the more macabre things in life, not with a matter-of-fact realism, but with that strange tone of calm acceptance that sends shivers down your spine. The ones that are impulsive, unpredictable, and you're never quite sure whether they are all there mentally.
Now, chances are they are all there. They're just a little bit different, and that's fine. BUT, don't lie to yourself and pretend they don't unnerve you. But, how different are they from Sherlock, really? They're generally more intelligent than average. Have a tendency towards the macabre. But where we love Sherlock, they creep us out a bit.
We accept Sherlock because he is SHERLOCK HOLMES, beloved literary icon and because we know that his pathetic excuse for a heart is not so pathetic and he would willingly give his life to protect Dr. John Watson. We also accept him because, unlike the ones in real life who freak us out who are generally smelly, mouth-breathers who tuck their t-shirts into their jogging bottoms and are unacquainted with basic hygiene, Sherlock is clean, presentable and - seeing as how he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch - a highly respectable example of male beauty and we are conditioned to associate good looks with good hearts. But, looks are ultimately meaningless.
So, if you will. Close your eyes and empty your mind.
Imagine a man, without any distinct features. He speaks too fast. Moves erratically. Darts from place to place. Ignores people, seems oblivious at times as though in the middle of a mental black-out. Which are symptoms of a lot of serious mental illnesses.
He has a history of narcotics abuse. He actively seeks out situations which would give most ordinary people nightmares. He is dismissive, superior, rude and will respond with aggression if challenged. Nevertheless, he also displays a dangerous ability to charm people wherever necessary.
He also is frequently in unlawful possession of a fire-arm. And can easily see people's darkest secrets. He is emotionally stunted, finds bloodshed diverting rather than disgusting and is frequently cruel to people for his own amusement.
This, with all the romance stripped away, is Sherlock Holmes. And he IS off-putting and scary and we shouldn't criticise Sally for feeling that way.
True, WE know that Sherlock was set up by Moriarty. But Sally Donovan is a detective and detectives follow the evidence and the evidence led to Sherlock and, if she had leapt to any other conclusion than the one she reached then she would have been guilty of failure of duty. She is not a bad detective, no matter how much it suits some - including me - to imply.
We love Sherlock Holmes. And that's fine. We should. Because he IS Sherlock Holmes and, although he is scary, he is good underneath. However, we should accept that we have the privileged position of being able to view what he's like in the rare moments when he's being human which mostly happen when he's at home with John, moments which Sally won't get to see.
I think the crux of the problem, the REAL reason why we hate Sally Donovan is not because she can't understand how good Sherlock is, but because she doesn't WANT to see how good he is. She is always determined to see the worst in him. But even that's fine. Because the entire world is full of people who refuse to see the truth.
Sally Donovan hates Sherlock, but she'll still work with him if it'll get the job done. She is, I think, one of the most human characters Mofftiss has created and as such she deserves some respect.
So, love Sherlock Holmes - because he IS a good man - and hate Sally Donovan if you wish. There is a lot there to dislike.
But accept she has perfectly valid reasons to dislike Sherlock and that she deserves respect for being human. Even if it's the side of being human we don't want to admit we have.