And that is a whole childhood in a nutshell.
This is pretty.
Also, Sherlock’s quip ignites so many questions about the boys’ childhood. Where was their Mummy? Why did Mycroft have to step in? Is it this that has made him so overprotective of his baby brother? And Sherlock so resentful? Oh, those boys.
I think this is probably my favourite line from the whole programme.
I tend to get a bit touchy when people say they hate Mycroft and think he’s a smug prick who just wants to control his brother, a grown man. Sherlock, much as I love the character, is no walk in the park as far as brothers go. I think their relationship is adversarial on the surface, but as someone very wise once told me, you hate people as you love them: because they matter.
I think the brothers matter a great deal to each other, but being such rare creatures of incredible intellect, they just don’t have the tools to communicate and negotiate their relationship the way that normal people do. I seem to recall in either an interview or episode commentary how Mark Gatiss thinks their childhood was actually quite happy and normal, and I tend to believe this as well. How many of us were close to our siblings as children but grew apart due to circumstances, life changes and the steady accumulation of slights and hurts, both real and imagined?
I don’t believe for one second that Mycroft is simply out to control and manipulate his brother; I think he genuinely cares. So I hope for some kind of reconciliation, however muted, between them in S3.
Oh, this, this, exactly this. I know the show is as multi-layered as the proverbial onion, but sometimes I do think people draw the wrong interpretations out of certain scenes to the extent where I wonder if we’ve been watching the same show. Mycroft may be a difficult character to like if you judge solely by his surface traits, but the same is true of Sherlock - we are inclined to like Sherlock because we see him through John’s eyes, so see just the little bit deeper. You can’t take the Holmes boys at face value.
Just because Mycroft is powerful, we mustn’t mistake everything he does as being a power play. Imagine that home and that childhood for a moment. Mycroft is seven years older that his brother, an age gap large enough to fill him with a sense of fraternal responsibility. His brother is brilliant, but abrasive, and reckless. In may ways he is also plagued by the frailty of genius, and, at some point, turns to drugs to keep his mind occupied. ‘I’ll be mother’ comment aside, anyone would worry.
From the other side of that relationship, Sherlock grew up, evidently, under the care of an overprotective older sibling, but, additionally, a sibling whose genius outweighed his own. Mycroft was not only just that little bit more brilliant, but also better at masking his flaws from the world (I do think Mycroft suffers from the same anti-social traits as Sherlock, but just cares to hide them)…he’s also a couple of inches taller, which I’m sure caused no end of rows in the Holmes household. Who could compete with someone like that? Someone so similar, but just that little bit better? It would make anyone resentful. I think it’s evident that Sherlock resents and respects his big brother in equal measure - in spite of the bickering, Sherlock will defer to Mycroft when the situation warrants it. There is genuine care there, on both sides. The relationship is just, as Mycroft says, “difficult,” for reasons that are quite easy to understand.
I would like to learn more about Mycroft’s personal history next series, and learn how he ended up this, powerful, dangerous, shadowy government figure. I’m sure it’s not as straightforward as he was a power-hungry manipulator. The man has a genius intellect and a mind very like his wayward young brother’s. To turn Mycroft’s question back on himself, he has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, yet he elects to be a government official; what might be deduce about his heart?
In any case, next series, I know that whatever happens - even if, as I hope, the brothers have been working together during the hiatus - the reunion between the brothers will bring me to tears. Mycroft breaks my heart every time he’s on screen. He just cares so much.