From Mark Laynesmith, Anglican Chaplain:
I am a late convert to Sherlock. For those of you even less with it that I am, Sherlock is the name for the recently revitalised Sherlock Holmes BBC series.
One of the main engines of the series is the frisson of unrequited love: John Watson is struck with awe and wonder for his friend Sherlock, but Sherlock continues to process case after case, with all the emotional intelligence of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, oblivious to John’s affections or indeed the interest of Molly Hooper, a plain Jane forensic scientist.
Sherlock’s intellectual powers place him far above other mortals, but unwittingly also separate him from human company. *Spoiler alert!* Last week’s final episode saw Sherlock facing his nemesis Moriaty. Moriarty succeeds in making Sherlock alienate public opinion by his arrogance, and persuades the police that Sherlock himself has all along been the mastermind behind the crimes he has solved. Sherlock’s powers of deduction take him into a dead-end: he is stuck.
It is the plain Jane character, Molly, who notices Sherlock’s hidden anguish. ‘If there’s anything at all, anything you need, you can have me…’. Sherlock is baffled: ‘what can I need from you?’.
But later in the story, when the web of his own arrogance has drawn tight around him, Sherlock finally realises his need of friendship and recalls her offer:
‘If I wasn’t everything that you think I am – that I think I am – would you still want to help me?’ he asks her. ‘What do you need?’, Molly replies instantly. ‘You’ says Sherlock.
Here is a moment where the gracious offer of one person to another, where deep gift, breaks through an impasse to bring liberation. And in the rest of the episode Molly’s gift cascades on through Sherlock himself to the point where the detective gives himself, apparently dying so that John can be spared from the threat of death.
To reinforce the theological territory the series has strayed onto, the writers even furnish us with a final scene featuring John (Sherlock’s beloved disciple?) visiting a garden tomb.
Christians ought to recognise what’s being alluded to: generous, unexpected, unmerited gifts by one person can bring transformation and liberation to others. This is how Christianity interprets Jesus and the way he did his living – and dying – for others.