Sherlock’s Mind Palace Was Just As Fabulous As We Thought

Benedict Cumberbatch, SherlockBBC

We’ve seen glimpses of it here and there, but in the Sherlock season 3 finale (sobs), we finally got a good, extended look at Sherlock’s “mind palace” (his words, not ours).

And it didn’t disappoint: it’s always interesting to watch Sherlock retreat to his mind palace, but watching him take refuge there in the hopes of saving himself from a potentially fatal gunshot wound?  Fascinating.  

What a great window into Sherlock’s thought process – what takes us minutes to process passes through his mind in seconds. It’s a visually striking (striking all around, actually) and surreal bit of TV that reminds us just what makes Sherlock special.

Molly, a scientist herself, walks us (and Sherlock) through most of it, starting off by slapping him silly (or is it slapping him un-silly?) as we see flashes of flashback mingled with possible flashforward (an even whiter version of Sherlock in the morgue with Molly). Even Sherlock’s favorite idiot Anderson and Mycroft (spewing more epithets about Sherlock’s inferior epithet, no less) show up to help him determine the best way to prevent himself from bleeding out. Then, once he’s safely (?) on the ground, he has to keep from going into shock, and what he does to calm himself down is downright adorable (and slightly heartbreaking): he pictures his childhood dog. All this happens as warning sirens intermittently blare and a general oversaturation of light seems to take over everywhere.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is who Sherlock turns to to distract himself from the crippling pain of a bullet wound: Moriarty. Moriarty’s locked up in a padded cell in the distant corner of Sherlock’s mind palace, chained up, straight-jacketed, and more deranged than ever. Moriarty lulls Sherlock to sleep with a bastardization of a nursery rhyme, and Sherlock’s heart stops. But as Moriarty taunts him, he happens to bring up John. And Johnlock shippers cheered with joy when it was the idea of John in danger that caused Sherlock to keep fighting for his life: Moriarty only has to mention John (who was very conspicuously absent during the whole mind palace excursion) and Sherlock’s waning heartbeat returns.

The whole sequence was thrilling, dreamlike, and more than a bit frightening. Let’s hope we get to explore Sherlock’s mind palace even more in the ever-distant season 4!