My Favourite Piece of Postmodernist Flare
I love this detail, here. It breaks the fourth wall by referencing another version of this scene: the one in the original pilot.
It speaks to an audience with previous knowledge of a separate, parallel work by this same team. It speaks directly to you, the informed viewer, while also making direct reference to the creators. Their hand is here and we see it and they know we see it.
This says, ‘remember when there was a shot of Sherlock, here, on the roof, looking like Lordy Byron, bathed in moonlight? Yeah, we took it out. But, you know that’s what John is looking at, don’t you? Well, we know you saw that interview where we discussed that only Moffat liked it so we got rid of it. Here, is one of the creators, Mark Gatiss, literally keeping us from seeing this scene by calling John as Mycroft. See what we did there? Of course you do’.
A postmodern masterpiece like Sherlock doesn’t just acknowledge us explicitly in episodes like TEH, with its nod to fans and shipping. It knows we are there, the informed audience, from the moment it begins to the moment it ends.
This level of interaction, whether we are conscious of it or not, is one of the x factors that makes this show have such an enthusiastic following. We are inside this show, in every nuance and in every way.
This is a little piece of subversion: we get to have John’s reaction still strike us meaningfully while not showing what he’s reacting to. This way, the creators show us their process as well. Here they compromised: they took out Sherlock but kept John. And those with the right eyes will still see what we’re meant to. And that’s how we know that they’re always speaking to us, whispering. (Sometimes screaming, actually). And that the things we think we see, we are always meant to see.