Canon Thursday: Sherlock Holmes’s Worst Day

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I’m having what can only be described as an abysmal day at work. This led me to wonder:

What is Holmes’s very worst day in the canon?

There are several possibilities, of course. I’m inclined to pick the day Holmes learns that he has lost his client in “The Five Orange Pips.” His realization of his mistake in “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” is another contender, though he seems to take that one in stride pretty well. To me, days of failure are some of the best contenders for Holmes’s “worst” because he hates to be wrong, but there are certainly other possible perspectives.

What do you think? What is Sherlock Holmes’s worst day ever? Let me know in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “Canon Thursday: Sherlock Holmes’s Worst Day

  1. I’d forgotten about Orange Pips. Sure sign it’s time for a canon re-read. But I was thinking about DANC, when he’s too late to prevent the death of Mr. Cubitt. Also, one of his worst moments, if not days, had to be when Watson was shot during The Three Garridebs.

  2. Oh! And the moment he realized Watson was going to marry Mary Morstan. And I don’t mean this in a slashy sense. When you’re older and single, you tend to make your own family out of friends, and when one of those friends marries, it shakes your world up a bit. There is a bit of self-pity evident when he says “For me, there still remains the cocaine-bottle.”

  3. Oh, how I’m cheating …

    This isn’t from the Canon, so it’s really not in the proper spirit of the question. But this moment resonates with me so deeply, I hope you don’t mind if I share it anyway:

    There’s a scene in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” where Moriarty one-ups Holmes, using his (Moriarty’s) own understanding of Holmes’s deductive methods to actually use those methods against him. It leads to Holmes having to utter seven very unusual words: “I was mistaken. I made a mistake!”

    What I love so much about that, what resonates with me so much, is how quickly Holmes lets his mistake go. He does not spend the remainder of the story wallowing in guilt about his mistake (he was unable to stop the murders of a large group of people because of that mistake) — he doesn’t even spend the next *scene* struck with guilt. He acknowledges his mistake, is momentarily thrown and disheartened by it — but he quickly discards it and moves on. He does not beat himself up or let it stop him. He just keeps going, mistake be damned.

    That’s helped me on more than one bad day (and I’ve been having a string of them lately!). Even Sherlock Holmes makes mistakes. But if Sherlock Holmes can forgive himself for them, then I suppose I can forgive myself for mine, too. 🙂 And, to get back in the spirit of things: I’ve always appreciated that Canon-Holmes seems to have quite the same attitude. He *does* make mistakes — they are quite rare, true, but still … he is *not* infallible. That doesn’t stop him from doing what he does, though — and it doesn’t make him deeply doubt himself, either. He makes mistakes (a la The Five Orange Pips, indeed), feels the sting of it, but then “cracks on.” We can all learn from that, I think.

    (… but yeah, Leah: The Three Garridebs was probably his worst Canon day! ;-D)

  4. Of course, Holmes was still a young man when Watson married Mary Morstan. He is referred to as such by Athelney Jones and any of the possible case dates would confirm this, even going by the 1854 birthdate theory, to which I have never subscribed.

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