In The Reichenbach Fall, the part that made me cry the hardest, was when John said “He’s my friend!” when trying to get to Sherlock.
I don’t know why, but that just destroyed me.
This bit was the beginning of my own personal descent into a snot-ridden sobbing mess that culminated in the graveside scene and my husband coming downstairs to find out what the hideous wailing noise was.
They place such an importance on the word “friend” throughout the series and when John needs to get to him, get to his friend, he can’t. It destroyed me too.
And the way he says it. Desperate. Begging. Quivering. Like the sound of resonating glass, right before it completely shatters.
I was really struck by the woeful weakness of the word in that context, how utterly it fails to express Sherlock’s role in John’s life.
For all the times other people have tried to define their relationship from a distance, and John’s near-constant rebuttals (what he is not), here John tries to articulate why he is special to Sherlock, why he should be granted a few moments with him, why he is different than anyone else on the street.
In The Blind Banker, John asserts that he is Sherlock’s colleague, not his friend. Back then he was deliberately putting distance between them. He chose a word then that didn’t entirely make sense. He’s not really Sherlock’s colleague, is he? Colleague has totally different connotations, and doesn’t really fit. Here, we have the same kind of situation: he’s using a word that doesn’t really work, not entirely. He is more than Sherlock’s friend. He’s his best friend, his only friend, his flatmate, his caretaker, his social tutor, his chronicler. They are sort of business partners, in a way. Sherlock has effectively ousted all of John’s girlfriends, and he is, in every way that matters, John’s life partner and soulmate. I doubt that’s really something anyone would debate. For once, in this scene, John is trying to articulate the closeness of their relationship, and fails. Language really gets in the way.
He’s attempting to articulate that his relationship to Sherlock means he should have special access, no matter what. But he doesn’t get special access, even after telling them he’s a doctor. He barely manages to touch Sherlock. This is probably the one time John wishes people would assume they were lovers if it would make them stop pulling him away from Sherlock’s body. He is trying to make them respect the level of grief he has in that moment, and there just aren’t enough words for him to do that.
What would John have done if they had not pulled him away? Of course he was attempting to examine Sherlock, to see if there was any sign of life left. Could he survive, or was he dead, or was he dying, right then, essentially alone? Of course, the people around him are deliberately pulling John away so that he doesn’t find signs to prove that Sherlock is still alive (presumably). But John must be frustrated that he can’t articulate his relationship to Sherlock well enough to make them stop pulling him away. He is not a random person on the street with a morbid interest. He deserves to be by Sherlock’s side as he dies. He need to be. He’s my friend.
I kind of love that that’s all he can say, and how completely inadequate it is.