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Did Sherlock do the right thing? February 3, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Having just watched the season finale of “Sherlock” last night, our friend Ben was unprepared to read an article this morning that attacked Sherlock for shooting and killing the villain, Charles Augustus Magnussen (a play on Charles Augustus Milverton, “the king of blackmailers,” in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original story). The author of the article said that Sherlock should have been able to come up with a rational, non-violent way to defuse Magnussen without killing him.

I have no doubt that Sherlock could have, and did, think of these options. But that’s missing the whole point.

The whole point being that Sherlock is more than “a high-functioning sociopath,” as he often describes himself. More than a computer embodied in flesh. He is, in fact, a human being who is fiercely loyal to the few people who mean something to him.

The reason he killed Magnussen was not that he hated him for being a blackmailing bully, or because he couldn’t think of any other options: It was because Magnusson was torturing his dear friend Watson, and Watson was helpless to resist because of his love for his wife Mary. We saw another example of this in an earlier season when a thug had been hurting Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock, completely out of character, hurled him through a glass window into a dumpster two stories below. I feel certain that he would do the same to anyone who tried to hurt his brother Mycroft, his parents, or his colleagues Molly and Inspector Lestrade.

And let’s not forget that in “A Study in Pink,” Watson shot dead the man who was threatening Sherlock’s life. Nobody suggested that he was behaving badly by doing so; he was simply showing a very human loyalty and protective instinct towards his friend. Could one expect less of Sherlock himself, described by Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson as “the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known”? I think not.

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