This week’s episode of Sherlock included all kinds of shocking moments, not least of which was the death of Amanda Abbington’s ex-spy Mary after Sherlock spent a little too long taunting a murderous receptionist.
However, fans were possibly even MORE shocked (if such a thing is possible) by Martin Freeman’s John Watson, who met a mystery woman referred to as “E” on a bus, got her phone number and then apparently embarked on an illicit affair with her while he and Mary were just getting used to having their first child.
Just look at John’s late-night correspondence with the mystery woman (John in blue):
It’s been too long
I know. Sorry.
You’re up late.
Flirtatious stuff – but after suggestions of more late-night texts and calls John seemed to think better of the relationship, crafting a goodbye text on the bus.
This isn’t a good idea.
I’m not free.
Things won’t end well.
It was nice to get to know you a little.
However, the mysterious “E” was waiting for him at a bus stop (below) just as John sent the text, with the pair exchanging a smile that suggested things were still far from over.
More like this
Then again, it could be that nothing is as it seems – this is Sherlock, after all. And according to some fans, there could be a very different explanation for John’s behaviour…
“At the beginning of the episode, we are shown that Sherlock is very much glued to his phone, and in my opinion, a bit more than usual,” Canadian tumblr user Bienedict posts. “Yes, he has always been very fond of using his phone, but I feel like they made a big deal at the beginning of the episode about Sherlock being on his phone.”
After analysing the interactions between John and E a little more, they continue: “We are made to BELIEVE that it is ‘E’ he is texting, BUT it is never outright SAID to us.
“‘I miss you’ ‘It’s been too long’ etc etc these texts are vague on PURPOSE.
“These are things that could just as easily been said between Sherlock and John. And going back to what I touched base on earlier about us being shown how much Sherlock has been using his phone lately, I am then lead to believe that John must be texting Sherlock.”
Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock on the phone...
The post goes on to suggest that the only TRUE text to “E” is the very last one John sends, and that all the rest were from Sherlock in a slightly more romantic mood than usual. It is tumblr, after all.
But what’s the real truth? Was this text a secret chat between Holmes and Watson, as tumblr thinks? The ever-vigilant Sherlock posing as "E" on the phone to distract Watson from committing a real affair (he did say he deletes all John's texts, which would eliminate the evidence)?
Or was it a non-romantic interaction that was actually referring to John’s relationship with Sherlock when he said “I’m not free”? Or an evil plan by next week’s big villain Culverton Smith (who can be briefly seen on a poster behind "E", suggesting a link) to get closer to Sherlock?
Or did John just actually do an awful thing and betray his wife, emotionally even if the new relationship wasn’t consummated, leaving him with an enormous sense of guilt that he’s taking out on Sherlock?
Sadly, this is one mystery Holmes can’t solve for us, and as we’re not detectives ourselves we’ll have to hold on for the answers. Hopefully they won’t keep us waiting for too long…
Sherlock continues on BBC1 next Sunday (8th January) at 9.00pm