I loved that moment! They’re so delightfully ordinary, it makes their boys seem even stranger. I hope they crop up again at, say, a family dinner, so we can see the family dynamic.
Mark Gatiss once described the Holmes brothers as growing up like “hothouse flowers,” and I think this depiction of their parents and the revelations in this episode sit rather well with that. As Mycroft and Sherlock both thought Sherlock an idiot until they met other children, and Mycroft is seven years Sherlock’s senior, they must have been left on their own for a long time. Home-schooled, is likely then, and their home is probably quite remote. I’m still clinging on to the image of the rural country manor, with two mad, brilliant boys rattling around inside it, pouring through the books in their library, roaming the woods and conducting experiments on insects, educating themselves and each other rather than deigning to be taught.
Their parents allowed, even encouraged this, for years before trying to get their children to socialise more, and meet other children. That Sherlock was old enough to remember the event suggests that he was at least three or four and, thus, Mycroft had been allowed to remain alone for around ten or eleven years. It certainly seems that for a very long time they had no one else.
I can see what upset Mummy - she had a rather odd set of boys that sprung from nowhere. Mycroft was long a cuckoo in the nest, until Sherlock came along. I think it likely that their parents never really understood their slightly odd sons, but accepted them. Though the constant bickering can’t have been easy to live with!
Their parents certainly loved them, and Sherlock and Mycroft evidently love their parents too. Who else could get the British Government himself to suffer through Les Mis other than a devoted mother!
Anonymous asked you: OH WISE ONE- GIVE US YOUR INTERPRETATION OF MYCROFT’S OFFICE? FORTRESS, IF YOU WOULD BE SO KIND :>
Hello! I suppose an analysis is overdue – although I wouldn’t be surprised if the following suppositions transpire to be completely wrong.
The first thing I notice about the new office is how much darker it is than the old. Mycroft’s previous office was a ground floor affair in an old government building, possibly in Whitehall – the office of a minor government official – with street-facing windows with old-fashioned catches. The new office seems to be entirely windowless, more private and all the more secure, and therefore the more suitable location for a secretive meeting with your brother who supposedly died in disgrace. If I have to pick a location, I would lean towards the rather modern MI6 building in Vauxhall Cross, going by the decor. From the context of this scene, it is clear that privacy is key. “Fortress” isn’t far off!
Mycroft’s old office was full of files, papers, boxes, books and stamps, and other accoutrements of office work and bureaucracy. While neat and tidy, no surface was left uncovered and the bookshelves were stacked up to the ceiling. By contrast, this office is considerably more minimalist; the only file in there seems to be the one in Mycroft’s hand.
The furniture in the new office is more modern than that in the old, which was quite traditional dark wood, and likely standard government-issue rather than something Mycroft chose for himself. The new office is likely decorated to Mycroft’s personal tastes. The desk is considerably larger and more imposing, especially in what looks to be a fairly small office. The chairs are larger and more comfortable than before, and fit the more modern setting. As Mid0nz has discovered, the lamp on his desk is a Christen Dell Bauhaus design that likely dates from the 1950s. The fan on the other side of the desk is likely from the same decade – it bears a striking resemblance to my own vintage Pifco fan, but it’s difficult to tell. Also on the desk is a large glass globe – a beautiful little ornament that gestures towards the considerable power and influence wielded by its owner. If you look very carefully (and assuming my eyes haven’t gone funny), you can see Mycroft’s umbrella hung up on the wall on the right, just behind the fan. This is clearly a space that belongs solely to Mycroft and one that he is comfortable in.
The Norwood Builder has identified the painting behind Mycroft as the 1956 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Pietro Annigoni. This beautiful painting is considerably larger than the one in Mycroft’s old office (also identified by the Norwood Builder in her post), and makes the office appear considerably more opulent. It is the presence of this painting that makes me think that this is a governmental office rather than one in Mycroft’s private residence.
One thing that has remained almost the same is the red telephone on Mycroft’s desk, albeit a different model to the one in the old office. Reminiscent of the cold war hotline, and a symbol that has reoccurred in the corridors of power and Bond films ever since, this is clearly Mycroft’s emergency line.
My feeling is that this is Mycroft’s secret or alternative office, consummate with his stature as “the British Government” itself, and he still retains the old office to store things and to keep up appearances, a venue for taking meetings with those who believe he really does just hold a minor position in the British government. The unabashed display of the globe on his desk seems to indicate that anyone who sets foot in there knows just who they are dealing with and Mycroft has no need to pretend to be anything less.
But it all still remains to be seen! I’m still hopeful we might get a glimpse of Mycroft’s Pall Mall flat this series, which is still a possible, if unlikely, location for this scene.
"Initially he wanted to be a pirate" is such a lovely line, and the face that he makes - that half-smile dissolving into sadness as he remembers Sherlock’s pirate days - he looks utterly haunted by his past. This is the first clear window we have into the Holmes brothers’ childhood, and it breaks my heart every time. But why did Mycroft bring it up? For an answer to that, we may have to look at the context of the scene as a whole.
The whole cafe scene from Scandal is a bit of a foxy one, as the whole conversation between Mycroft and John can be read as being a test. If many Reichenbach theories prove correct, mine included, then, by this scene, the brothers are already laying the groundwork for their final battle with Moriarty and are trying to decide whether or not they can bring John into the fold.
Consider the following: That Sherlock wanted to be a pirate when he was a boy is one of the few indisputable facts we have been given regarding Sherlock’s childhood, and from the most reliable of sources. This is also a fact that, it would appear, Jim Moriarty is not privy to.
As Mycroft was, allegedly, the one supplying Moriarty with the information to destroy his brother, one would think Sherlock’s boyhood fascination with piracy might have been brought up again. Instead, Moriarty’s playing with another familiar childhood trope - fairytales. He’s leaving the collected Grimm lying around, cooking gingerbread men, carving red apples, re-enacting a murderous version of Hansel and Gretel - he’s really pushing the theme throughout Reichenbach. But why? It’s possible that fairytales hold a fascination for Jim Moriarty himself, but it is equally possible that Mycroft led Moriarty to believe that Sherlock’s childhood fascination lay in the area.
I fully believe that Mycroft was working alongside his brother throughout the events of Reichenbach, but he will still have had to tell Moriarty something during their little interrogations. Moriarty is a genius; he would smell a lie before it was even spoken. But Mycroft is a genius too, and he could make a half-truth seem plausible.
Therefore, that Mycroft mentioned Sherlock’s love of pirates to John may have been him throwing out a small clue in the hope that he picks up on it.
Before closing however, I must say, despite this being my theory, I’m not wholly convinced of it. I do think Mycroft was just reminiscing about the childhood he and Sherlock had shared. He does have something of a soft-spot for his brother, after all, and it can’t be often he gets a chance to talk about him. Oh, I so hope we learn more about the Holmes Brothers’ past next series!
Anonymous asked you: Hey ! First of all your blog is my ultimate reference on the subject of this dear Mycroft, who is definitely one of my favorite character of all times ! So, I was having a discussion with a friend and she said that John was the only one in the show that was ready to kill in order to save or protect Sherlock, and I completely disagree with her : without even thinking about other characters, I’m positive Mycroft would do it too, if he hasn’t already. What is your opinion ?
Hello Anon. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to answering! I am undoubtedly on your side of your debate.
The depth and steadfastness of John’s loyalty was made clear in the very first episode when he shot and killed Jeff, the cabbie, in order to save Sherlock’s life. There is no debating that - John can and has killed for his friend, and, if his threat to the Golem in The Great Game is anything to go by, he is more than prepared to do so again.
Mycroft, however, is not the man of action that John Watson is, and so hasn’t the same chance to demonstrate where his allegiances lie or what he is capable of on-screen. We know very little about him and his shadowy, government job, that ties him to Whitehall, Westminster, the Palace and MI6. He is dangerous, to be sure, and, going from his indifferent expression when confronted with the “bashed up” body of a woman assumed to be Irene Adler, with facial damage so extensive it even makes Molly, a morgue technician, wince, he is no stranger to death. Whether Mycroft has ever fired a gun, though, or simply ends a traitor’s life with the swish of a fountain pen across an official warrant, is a matter for one’s own headcanon. But there is certainly more to Mycroft than his front of the genteel civil servant.
It is established fanon that Mycroft has, in the past, used his shadowy powers to help his younger brother out of trouble. I agree that this is likely - Sherlock may be a capable and brilliant detective, but he has an unstable personality and a history of drug-use, and Mycroft has demonstrated a consistent, albeit controlling, level of care throughout the series. Who can tell what it may have been necessary for him to do in the past? We will probably never quite know what has happened between them, and how far Mycroft has had to go for the sake of his brother.
What we do know, however, is what Mycroft was prepared to do when confronted by Irene Adler in the dénouement of Scandal. Irene had a phone full of scandalous secrets and a list of demands that elicited a look of alarm from Mycroft - but her real bargaining chip was Sherlock. When she first confronted him in the plane, he was staring her down, fury in his eyes and the machinations of his magnificent mind hard at work. It was when she mentioned that she had tricked Sherlock into implicating himself in the derailment of Bond Air that he wavered, and had to look away:
You have no idea how much havoc I can cause and exactly one way to stop me – unless you want to tell your masters that your biggest security leak is your own little brother.
One may presume that, had Irene not had that leverage over Sherlock, Mycroft would not have so quickly capitulated to her demands. He may have had a go letting his people attempt to extract the information from her - as he did when faced with Moriarty and his computer code. Because Sherlock was involved, he gave in far quicker than he otherwise would have done.
Giving up governmental assets and, in turn, potentially facing the ire of his masters, may not be quite the same as killing someone to save Sherlock, but there is a degree of self-sacrifice to this move that Mycroft was willing to make.
We’ve yet to see Mycroft at his most dangerous, his most deadly. We’ve yet to see him take a life, but I could envision him doing as much for Sherlock. He was prepared to sacrifice so much closer to him than a criminal’s life in order to protect his brother.
I am also of the opinion that Moriarty would have been swiftly disposed of on Mycroft’s orders, were it not for his his web and that Sherlock had other plans. But that’s only a theory. Time and Series Three will tell.
Hello dear. Sorry for my delayed reply; I hadn’t noticed this one in my mound of messages!
My thoughts run in two different strains regarding Mycroft and the possibility of his memory palace:
The first - he doesn’t have a need for one, as he has an eidetic memory. We know Sherlock needs to delete things to keep his brain functioning well, and makes use of memory tricks like his mind palace to recall obscure facts that he has stored in the back of his mind. Mycroft may simply remember everything, whether he wants to or not. Every sub-clause in international treaties, every decimal place in the treasury’s budgets, every unkind word his brother has ever said to him. He doesn’t have to strive to remember anything; he retains every memory, and they remain, simmering under his consciousness until they rise up from the depths, unbidden, to haunt him.
However, considering Mycroft’s little book that he carried around with him in Study in Pink, and his scribbled note on his shirt cuff in Scandal in Belgravia, it probably is more likely that he, like Sherlock, does have to employ a number of memory devices or mnemonics to support his intellect. It certainly seems as though he keeps inconsequential details out of his memory stores, by writing them down in notebooks or on his cuff, as it would be a waste of space in his own mind palace to remember them.
The second option, then, seems the more likely. My own headcanon regarding Mycroft’s mind palace has been heavily influenced by this fanfiction, by Finding Sherlock, in which Mycroft is the one to teach Sherlock the method of loci. In it, they both use the city of London in place of a palace or attic, and this image has stuck with me. What could be more fitting for a mind such as Mycroft’s than an imaginary version of the city he inhabits and clandestinely controls serving to improve his memory?
Happily, there is already some in-universe thought as to what might have become of Sherlock had a career as a consulting detective not beckoned. In A Scandal in Bohemia, Watson muses that:
The stage lost a fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime.
Similarly, sat with John in Speedy’s Cafe, Mycroft has some comparable thoughts, reflecting that his brother "has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, yet he elects to be a detective." Yet, in spite of these other career paths open to him, Mycroft seems to understand why Sherlock’s heart lies elsewhere. Sherlock requires both physical and mental activity to function adequately; as an actor or a philosopher, he would get too much of one and not enough of the other. Sherlock requires constant mental stimulation, the puzzles and mysteries, but he also plays "the game for the game’s own sake."
As to Mycroft himself, I have always envisioned him as a mathematician, thanks to what is described in The Greek Interpreter as his "extraordinary faculty for figures" and in The Bruce Partington Plans as "the tidiest and most orderly brain, with the greatest capacity for storing facts, of any man living." As he is also the less practical of the Holmes Brothers, an academic life - of solitary contemplation, eternally tasked with the act of higher reasoning, demanding no physical exertion of any kind - would suit Mycroft quite well. Although there has been a lot of speculation that Mycroft ascended to his position of the British government itself due to a thirst for power, I take an opposite view. I don’t see Mycroft as an emulous political mastermind; after all, he is canonically described as having "no ambition and no energy." Instead, I see in him a man who has stepped into a vacant role because he was needed. He probably really did start out auditing books for some of the government departments before he was asked to fill the void and secretly run the government from the shadows. The complex logical reasoning that leads to a level of perception so intricate that it can be mistaken for omniscience, that is so suited to his profession, would also be of use had he elected to pursue a purely intellectual field.
What I think is perhaps more interesting, though, is why the brothers did not choose these other potential careers. Both have ended up in fields that, although are professions that provide their incredible brains consistent mental stimulus, are also professions that cast them in the role of protectors. Despite both being solitary, introverted individuals, acutely aware of the differences between themselves and ordinary people, they have both selected careers that, while giving them the mental stimulus they crave, also assist their fellow man. This stands in contrast to someone like Jim Moriarty who, gifted and cursed with similar mental prowess, instead sees people as though they were ants, ripe to be manipulated according to his whims, or merely crushed. There is something that holds the brothers on the side of the angels, working as forces for good, even though they both have talents that, it is acknowledged, might have lead them elsewhere. We may theorise wildly as to why this may be, but I doubt we will ever receive a straight answer to that.
Enigmas in Sherlock Part 2 – Irene’s Royal Flush
Most fans have analysed the Holmes Brothers on Bond Air and the wonderful scene at the manor from an emotional point of view.
I examine what actually went on between the lines during Mycroft and Irene’s confrontation. Analysis of the scenes shows us intricate plots and delightful cunning from Irene and Mycroft that was only hinted at in the script.
- Why Irene Adler had to get Sherlock to solve the email code and so long after she first received it
- What Irene had really been planning when she came to see Mycroft on the plane
- Why Irene gave Moriarty all the credit
- Why Mycroft was prepared to give her a queen’s ransom (and it’s not because he loves Sherlock)
- The CIA man – a really bad agent deserved a good analysis.
Please read Part 1 first for detail on Mycroft’s background.
Reblog if you like it!
The answer to this will probably never be revealed on screen, and will most likely be left up to your own headcanon. Personally, I suspect that it’s likely that Mycroft tried to help Sherlock and failed. But continues to try, and will always continue to try.
I’ve covered a lot of this ground in previous asks, so I will have to send you back here for more information. Coming up with an answer to this question would require knowledge in two areas the series is reluctant to give us solid information on: Sherlock’s past drug abuse, and the Holmes Brothers’ feud. But, let’s have a look as to what we may deduce about the brothers and this period of time between them.
Sherlock seems to have kicked his habit approximately five years prior to the series beginning. Lestrade gives us that time frame when, in Study in Pink, he states he has known Sherlock for a total of five years, and that he also knows about Sherlock’s history with drugs. Assuming Sherlock’s age is more-or-less the same as Benedict Cumberbatch’s, we’ve to assume that Sherlock kicked his habit in his late twenties. Beyond this, the history is very hazy.
Canonically, Sherlock Holmes spent only two years at university - yet, a standard undergraduate degree typically takes three years to complete. Within the context of the series, there could be a few reasons for his early completion - either he’s exceptionally clever and raced through his degree (perfectly plausible), he got bored and decided he didn’t need to finish his degree (again, plausible), or something else prevented him from finishing. If the latter were the case, drugs would seem a likely candidate.
By the time Sherlock has finished his second year of university and resolved not to return for the third, Mycroft would be about 27 years old, and already a rising star within whatever field of governance he works in. He would, most likely, have lived apart from his younger brother for almost nine years - since leaving home for university. Depending on when their feud started, or how deep it really runs, this may also mean that Mycroft has not had an awful lot of contact with Sherlock over those past years either. It’s easy to imagine a young Mycroft as an intellectually driven individual, so caught up in his own machinations and cerebral complexities, that he allows himself to forget about that troubled baby brother back at home.
Then disaster strikes, and Sherlock goes off the rails. Mark Gatiss, discussing Sherlock and Mycroft’s past on The Great Game commentary, has this to say:
Probably, you can imagine a backstory where he’s…um, and Mycroft’s absolutely despairing because he’s vanished in Central Europe for six months doing God knows what. But, actually, suddenly he finds purpose, and it focusses his life.
After, eventually, recovering his addict brother from whichever godforsaken country that Sherlock found to hide beyond the locus of Mycroft’s control, it seems likely that Mycroft would then pay more attention to Sherlock and take more care of him. It may be around then that the term "danger night" was coined, and Mycroft began a concerted effort to clean Sherlock up.
Of course, Sherlock is a wilful individual, and is never much inclined to do as his brother asks, so the fact that he remained a drug user for some time subsequently should come as no surprise to even the casual Holmes-observer. It seems to me that, given the time frame, it was Lestrade’s promise of murderous puzzles, in combination with Mycroft’s consistent interference, that persuaded Sherlock to wean himself off the drugs.
Mycroft continues to observe Sherlock’s habits, though. And when something worries him, as did Irene’s apparent death at Christmas in Scandal, he intervenes. It’s likely that he’s learnt at some point before that he has to, and, after learning the hard way, he always will.
Of course, that’s just one interpretation of the events. Headcanon is a wonderful thing.
Anonymous asked: Mystrade and Mythea ships aside, what sort of personality traits, in your opinion, would someone need to have to be Mycroft’s ideal ‘partner’? Do you think they’d have to be quirky? Someone who knows how to step back and let him lead but steps forward should the occasion arise? I’m honestly curious as to what you think would ‘bring out’ the best in our older Holmes man.
Ah, tricky one, Anon. Although I have not given up hope that we may see something of Mycroft’s home life on screen at some point, it seems increasingly likely that Mycroft’s love life, or apparent lack thereof, may always remain unknown.
He is such a solitary figure in the show, but it is difficult to tell whether this is by choice or not. He is a member of a club that promotes silence and isolation and, when we see him sat alone, usually seems lost in the complexity of his own thoughts. He seems, by turn, comfortable in his solitude and unspeakably lonely. How much he would welcome someone into his life is debatable.
Certainly, he or she would have to be very intelligent and quick witted. Anything less and Mycroft would consistently outclass them, and thus rapidly tire of them.
They would also have to have immense patience. A Holmesian-level intellect cannot be easy to live with and, with Mycroft’s presumably rigorous work schedule, he would make something of an absentee spouse too. The long hours at the office combined with the almost intense, mercurial introspection that Mycroft seems to exhibit would drive most people away.
In addition, they would also have to be able to put up with Sherlock - the beloved and rather indulged baby brother - as Mycroft is unlikely to appreciate anyone who is disdinful of Sherlock. As troubled as their relationship is, they are still brothers - outsiders would not be permitted to question their fraternal bond.
Beyond that, it is difficult to say, which may be why I have some quite diverse ships. I like to imagine someone calm and down-to-earth humanising Mycroft, making him relax more and smile more. But I equally like to imagine him with someone as polished and as dangerous as he is, their relationship a union of Machiavellian wiles that causes all of Whitehall to tremble. I suppose, really, a man like Mycroft would require both things from his partner.
In long and short, I really can’t decide.
I really like the dynamic between Mycroft and John; it’s interesting. It’s a strange relationship - Mycroft is merely the brother of John’s friend - it’s not a natural association. It’s also not a friendship - John certainly regards Mycroft, at some points, as something of an inconvenience - but there are indications of trust and mutual respect peppered throughout their interaction.
John’s developing relationship with Mycroft has been a subtle thread woven through the background of each episodes; each time the two of them appear on screen together, the nature of their association has changed slightly.
I’ve seen some people very confused by John’s behaviour towards Mycroft during the events of Scandal in Belgravia: assisting him by searching Sherlock’s room, and using the code “Danger Night”, percieving his as somehow a betrayal of Sherlock. But John’s trust in Mycroft and his motives did not manifest overnight. Indeed, it had been slowly building up ever since he found out that, far from being Sherlock’s archenemy, he is merely his overprotective big brother.
Mycroft made an unforgettable first impression. When they meet, in Study in Pink, Mycroft initially leads John to believe him to be an enemy, and John surprised, mouth agape, when he discovers that the sinister man who kidnapped him and made veiled threats in a darkened warehouse, is no more than his friend’s elder brother. A lesser man than John may have held that treatment against Mycroft, but when John and Mycroft cross paths again, he is nothing but respectful to the elder Holmes, now he knows what he is and the position in governance that he holds. He even puts on a suit and tie when he goes to Mycroft’s office! Bless him.
John was never antagonistic towards Mycroft once he correctly identified the difficult relationship between the Holmes brothers as little more than sibling rivalry. John appreciates that what Mycroft does is in Sherlock’s interests, and so will surrender information or search the flat if there is genuine cause for worry. Scandal is the clearest indicator of this - he searches 221b for drugs at Mycroft’s behest, and, later, when he is at Battersea Power Station, expecting Mycroft, he begins to give a report on Sherlock’s grief-like behaviour before Irene appears:
"He’s writing sad music; doesn’t eat; barely talks – only to correct the television. I’d say he was heartbroken but, well, he’s Sherlock. He does all that anyway.”
Although not friends, they do become familiar with one another. After some time has passed, John even feels comfortable teasing Mycroft in the manner that Sherlock does, and bears similar sorts of frustrations with Mycroft’s “power complex” and controlling behaviour. We’ve John roll his eyes with weary resignation as he clambered into the black car accompanied by a beautiful woman - presumably, this happens to John quite a lot, (which explains how Irene was able to fool John; she was using Mycroft’s modus operandi) - and John’s irritation with Mycroft’s unnecessarily shadowy, sinister way of doing things.
Their relationship is not just a one way street, though. Mycroft’s regard for John has been growing throughout the series. He is intrigued by John and, although initially treated him somewhat as though he were an employee, gradually begins to treat him with courtesy and respect.
"Interesting, that soldier fellow."
After, what we can assume to be, several trips to abandoned warehouses or other site of dereliction, Mycroft finally acquiesces and meets John in a cafe; on John’s home tuft, as it were. Later, when Mycroft has John picked up again, he has him brought to the plush surroundings of the Diogenes Club. Finally, we see Mycroft tacitly accepting John on an equal level.
What all this will mean in the wake of Reichenbach is anyone’s guess. Will their tenuous friendliness be irrevocably broken? If, as I suspect, Mycroft’s behaviour is thoroughly vindicated during the events of The Empty House, will John still be angry? Will he be able to trust Mycroft after such an enormous lie? Everything remains to be seen.
- - - - - - - - - -
A final note, regarding the shipping aspect: I’ve always found Johncroft to be among the oddest of the ships, and very rarely executed in a way that feels in character, but I am a big fan of Deklava’s Promise to the Living series.