Sherlock‘s Mary Watson is the anti-stereotype
January 1, 2016 – Tonight’s special episode of the BBC’s Sherlock featured appearances from Mary Morstan / Watson, the formidable nurse and former spy married to physician John Watson, sidekick of legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes. “The Abominable Bride” consists mainly of dreams the modern-day Holmes has about a case he and Watson confront back in their original Victorian setting. (Spoiler alert below!) The case focuses on the ghost of a wronged bride who seems to commit suicide but then returns to kill the guilty husbands of other women. At one point, it is revealed that Mary has been conducting a parallel investigation for Holmes’ older brother Mycroft. She summons Holmes and Watson to a remote deconsecrated church, where those really responsible for the murders are to be found. There, the following exchange occurs:
JOHN WATSON: You’re working for Mycroft?
MARY WATSON: He likes to keep an eye on his mad sibling.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: And he had a spy to hand. (To Watson.) Has it never occurred to you that your wife is excessively skilled for a nurse?
MARY WATSON: Of course it hasn’t, because he knows what a nurse is capable of. (To Holmes.) When did it occur to you?
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Only now, I’m afraid.
MARY WATSON: Must be difficult being the slow little brother.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Time I sped up. Enough chatter. Let’s concentrate.
Otherwise, Mary shows her usual diverse talents, with her modern-day incarnation casually hacking MI5’s archive security on her cell phone to gather facts relevant to the case. Of course, her role on the show is limited. And it rarely involves what we would normally consider nursing. Still, in contrast to the roles nurses often play on popular television, Mary gleefully matches wits with one of the most intelligent characters in the history of fiction. Displaying brains, knowledge, and courage, deferring to no one, but with a real concern for others and no hint of the battle-axe, she aggressively refutes virtually every nursing stereotype. Yet she remains an entertaining, three-dimensional figure. Granted, Mary doesn’t exactly counter the “seeking romance with physicians” image. But there has been no suggestion that Mary was looking for a physician to marry. And there is little doubt that Mary is at least an equal partner in the relationship. When modern-day Watson, exasperated with Holmes, makes the mistake of announcing that he will be taking Mary home, Watson quickly corrects himself to say that she will be taking him home. We thank writer-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
You can send a message to the creators via Emily Rees Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org