Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Editorial: Moffat Takes (Canonical) Female Victiories Away In Sherlock

 So, two days ago, while at work, I was thinking to myself, when I realized something, something slightly troubling, about one of my favorite shows, Sherlock. And I thought I would share it.

Spoilers for "A Scandal In Belgravia" and "His Last Vow"
 Oh, Steven Moffat. Where do I even begin with you?

 He's kind of become rather infamous for his sexist comments (and other very terrible comments in general), and his writing (which can also be quite sexist). As for me? Well, I don't agree with a lot of what he says. A LOT of what he says. And I will admit: his writing isn't as good as it was to me three years ago. Though I will give him credit: he has written some of my favorite Doctor Who episodes and my favorite Sherlock episode. And I think season 8 of Doctor Who is showing signs of improvement from the last two specials (though part of that could be the new Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi). Other than that, I have noticed a decline with his work. And I do think he needs a ego/reality check. I may even be so bold as to compare him a bit to Frank Miller. Sort of.

 But anyway, when I was thinking, I realized something about Sherlock:

 Moffat took away two female characters victories from canon, and gave them to Sherlock.

 Okay, hear me out: let's start with the one that got me thinking of this: "His Last Vow".

 So, in that episode, it's revealed "Mary Morstan" was actually a former secret agent and assassin, who was being blackmailed by Magnussen. When Sherlock discovers this, she's about to kill Magnussen, but is unsuccessful because of Sherlock's intervention. (I'll go more into my thoughts on this twist on Mary's character in my review of the episodes, which I hope to start next week).

 Now, I know some people bring up that she's a lot like Canon!Moran, but honestly, I think these people overlook that she's sort of a compostion of Mary and one of Milverton's (the character Magnusson is based on) victims, who is actually successful in her attempt on Milverton's life.

  Anyway, later, towards the end of the episode, it's Sherlock who gets to kill Magnussen, sparking all the in-universe drama and blah blah blah, stuff I'll get into in the review. Anyway, it's something I noticed. Mary, one of quite a few women who's been directly victimized by Magnusssen, doesn't get to kill the man. No, instead our male hero (who's not as victimized, IIRC) gets to kill him because... Protagonist.

 That feels sort of wrong.

 But then there's the even worse offender. The often criticized "A Scandal In Belgravia". At the end of my second least favorite episode, Irene Adler is inexplicably turned into a damsel in distress for Sherlock to somehow miraculously save. Really.

 Now, in the Canon, it was not even remotely like that. Canon!Irene is never captured by terrorists, she gets away to America safely with her not-Sherlock husband to live happily ever after, taking and disposing of the photo that Sherlock, Watson, and The King of Bohemia (long story) are after. She never needs Sherlock. Heck, she was even bold enough to follow Sherlock in disguise (as he is high off his assured victory over her), and TELL THE MAN GOODNIGHT before leaving. It was really awesome, both for how subtle it is, the fact she got one over on SHERLOCK, and that this was written in the Victorian Era, which I don't usually associate with feminism.

 (This is part of the reason I take offence to this comment I heard Moffat make in a panel about the ending to "A Scandal In Bohemia" being boring.)

 Anyway, I think it is worth noting is both episodes are written by Steven Moffat. While, as I've said before, I'm not sure how the episode writing goes for the show (for all I know, Gatiss suggested the ending of "Belgravia" and Thompson suggested Sherlock shooting Magnussen), but I'm more inclined to point the finger at Mr. Moffat.

 I will admit, Molly does get some victories, but she's an original character to the series. These are characters based on charcaters hundreds of years old.

 I think this is a rotten thing, and something I hope they avoid in the future. Though, given Moffat's track record, I ain't getting my hopes up. Hey, BBC, Thompson, Gatiss! If any of you happen on this, can you slap some sense into Moffat?