Sherlock and Sentimentality: A Lesson on Character Development

I admit that with the Sherlock Series 3 premiere just a few days away, I’m sort of going on a Sherlock binge, so forgive me for my latest post being an ode to Sherlock fans.  🙂

I’ve only become a recent fan after being wowed by Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in Star Trek: Into Darkness and Martin Freeman’s work in The Hobbit, and since I’m prone to watch BBC television anyways (thank you, Dr. Who and Robin Hood), it was only natural I’d become “Sherlocked” after watching the first episode.  Two days and a boat load of popcorn later after viewing A Study in Pink, I had both series’ finished and have been patiently waiting for Series 3 ever since.

But one of the things I love about the Sherlock show (besides the amazing acting) is the character of Sherlock himself.  Yes, he’s quirky, brilliant, and quick, and that makes him stand out as a character, but what enamored me the most with him is the growth he goes through as the series progresses.

When we first see Sherlock in A Study in Pink, he’s a bit of a loner.  He doesn’t have many friends.  He isn’t on the best of terms with his brother.  His ability to relate to people is questioned by everyone around him.  He’s almost seen as this cold-hearted, un-compassionate genius who loves nothing but solving cases.  The guy left poor Watson in the middle of a street, for crying out loud.  But by the time we see him in Reichenbach Fall, we see a different Sherlock than what we saw in the beginning.  We see him teary and risking everything for the sake of the few friends he has.  As the series progressed between episodes, we saw Sherlock slowly transform from a cold piece of brilliance to someone who really does have a heart buried beneath the intelligence.  Grant it, he’s still not as sentimental as Watson, and probably never will be, but if there’s anything we’ve learned at the end of Reichenbach, we’ve learned Sherlock really does care.  (He just may not know how to show it properly.)  In essence, his character developed over time.  He grew in his interactions with others.

Character growth, or development, is essential to story.  As an audience, we want to see that the hero (or even villain) has grown and learned his/her lesson or has become a better person in the end.  A character who hasn’t experienced growth simply remains the same and may leave the reader or viewer unfulfilled with the story.

I’m still hearing from fans about their reaction to the character of Loki in Thor 2: The Dark World.  Though I enjoyed the film, I can see the point of many fans when they say the last scene involving Loki and Thor (*spoiler* throne room *spoiler*) felt like an incomplete ending to Loki’s character growth.  In Thor, he was seen as the misunderstood brother just wanting to be Thor’s equal.  In The Avengers,  he was the maniacal villain.  In Thor 2, he’s at his lowest point, but this time finally finds redemption and reconciliation with his brother.
At least until the last scene-because when you see that, then you start to question everything he’s done in the film.
For some, this was a brilliant move on the writer’s part.  It keeps Loki’s true character in the dark and gives him a sense of mystery, strengthening his position as one of Marvel’s best villains.  But for other fans wanting to see growth, this left Loki’s character incomplete and inconsistent, and that left them somewhat unsatisfied with the film.  Whether it was a good move or not is still up to debate, but the point it makes about character development still sticks.  Character growth matters.
So as Sherlock Series 3 approaches, I’m curious to see how Sherlock’s character will continue to grow.  Will he become more sentimental?  Or will he just finally learn to be nice to Molly?  Only time will tell…
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