In Defense of Mary Morstan

All of this #221Back hubbub reminded me of something. Or, should I say, some people discussing what they hope happens post-haste in Season 4 reminded me of something. I LOVE Mary Morstan. I’m surely not alone, but somehow she’s turned into a polarizing character in fandom and she certainly has her detractors. And this leaves me all types of confuzzled.

(Obvious Note Time!  I’ll be discussing Season 3 of Sherlock in full. Spoilers, if for some unknown reason you haven’t caught up yet.)

Full Disclosure: I’m not generally a fan of Moffat-written women. I don’t hate him by any means – I will defend Moffat when I think he deserves it and loudly complain when he deserves that too. But, I do tend to find his portrayal of women troubling and simplistic. I’ll save a deep-dive into my schizophrenic views of Moffat for another day and another post, but this all goes to say that when The Empty Hearse premiered on New Years Day, I was beside myself with giggly adoration, not just for Sherlock’s grand return or Watson’s perfect headbutt, but for the character whom I quickly declared the first Moffat woman that I hands-down-from-word-go loved.

Mary is awesome, guys. She just IS. She’s clever and alert and hilarious and not even remotely afraid to have a difference of opinion from the men who surround her. (Which shouldn’t count as something to be lauded, but hey, #lowbar.) I give you: the moment I knew I loved Mary.

My greatest fear about how the writers would handle Mary was that they’d, for lack of a better phrase, Yoko Ono her. How many times have we seen this go down in the public sphere?  Women used to pit the men against each other, used as a tool to be fought over, or fought with, or vilified in whatever fandom they’ve had the misfortune to anger. It’s heinous and annoying and I hate it. I especially hate it when we lady geeks buy into the arguments against these women, which is what seems to happen in some more puzzling sectors of the internets when you bring up Mary Morstan.

So here’s why I’m so confused. Mary doesn’t ever want to break up our very favorite Consulting Detective Team. She brings out the best in Watson and in Sherlock alike. She plays them both with her wedding plans, letting them both think they’re in charge, she folds to Sherlock calling Watson out on the mustache-to-end-all-mustaches, she’s charming and lovely and – oh yeah – she’s a totally badass assassin. She isn’t used as a wedge in their relationship – if anything she lets Watson see how thoughtful Sherlock can be, and lets them be closer emotionally than they imagined with that spectacular Best Man speech. Would that have happened if Mary wasn’t great in Sherlock’s eyes as well as John’s? No. Not it would not.

Yes, she’s a sign of change, which I know can be hard for us nerdy folk to take. And, er, she shoots Sherlock. Yup. She does. She had no choice in the matter, as Sherlock explained and as John came to agree with. Her decision to hide her badass assassins past hurt John. Very true. Find me an honest representation of a marriage where someone doesn’t get hurt. When Sherlock confronts her on her assassin-ie lies, with John hiding in the backround, it’s brutal and all three of them are in remarkable amounts of pain. That said, she doesn’t force John into accepting her again, or manipulate him into deciding to stay. John Watson is a big boy and he made his own decision based on all the love and care that the two of them had in their relationship up to that point. I could go on, but really, here’s the headline:

John loves her. Sherlock loves her. She’s a quality female character with a fascinating past and a ton to add to the dynamic of the show. What’s not to love? I’m the first to fight against a Moffat-woman-failure, and this ain’t one.

I don’t get it. I don’t want to believe it’s because people want Johnlock to happen *that badly* but I don’t know what else it could be. Please, leave a comment and help a girl out if you think you can explain this to me. I don’t think I’ll agree with you, but at least help me understand!

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5 thoughts on “In Defense of Mary Morstan

  1. I have to admit…I hated Mary before I knew her. I thought I knew what was coming as you said. She was to be a wedge between my two favorite leading men. I held on to that grudge no matter how awesome I knew she really was. I now agree with your view on her but I still have a little lingering “things were better before” feelings. Like you said, use nerdy folks don’t take kindly to change (no matter how awesome she is).

    1. That’s fair though, you certainly kept an open mind about things! I understand a lingering “but … but … now what?” and I felt that myself when we found out that she’s pregnant. But she’s just so great that I’m along for the ride. And thanks for the comment!

  2. I guess the worst thing Mary Morstan ever did was daring to survive the season. Most fans found her nice enough before TLV, and while some of her haters claim it is because of what she did in the episode (I wrote an article about that topic here: http://swanpride2.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/tv-vs-reality-or-the-anatomy-of-a-shooting/ ), I think in a lot of cases the real reason is that the fans who originally liked her were content to do so because they believed she would get killed by the end of season three, allowing John to go back to Sherlock.

    I love her, and I hope she’ll survive at least another season. The new dynamic works for me just fine!.

    1. That’s an interesting point, I hadn’t thought about the idea that she might not live out the season. Of course that day is coming, but I also hope it’s not for another season or at least till the end of S4. And thanks for the link to your blog – I really enjoyed your article and agree that at the end of the day, the shooting storyline comes down to the storytelling. And the storytelling is firmly on Mary’s side.

      Thanks for the comment!

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