Monday, October 28, 2013

Thoughts on the Deep Blue Sea

So I watched this movie the other day.  Gonna go ahead and put a spoiler warning here, it's on Amazon Prime and Netflix (I think) if you wanna watch it. I don't get in depth but I do reveal the ending, so if that bothers you... anyway.

I didn't actually know what it was about, but Tom Hiddleston and Rachel Weisz were in it, and that was good enough for me. (Please note: I often make movie watching decisions like this. "Welp, it's got [insert name in it] so why the fuck not?" Results are decidedly mixed.)


So, it's about relationships ending. I just moved to California and am planning on divorcing my husband of nearly 11 years, so let's just say it is very fucking relevant to my life.

True story: I've never broken up with anybody before. I didn't really have any boyfriends in school (my teenage years were a goddamn mess and I didn't have the time or energy for friends of any variety) and so Greg was literally my first romantic relationship. I've never even broken up with anybody before.

A lot of the time, I don't know how to feel about it. I miss my friends and family, I miss Greg (in the same way I miss all my other friends, dude is literally one of three people I went to high school with that I still talk to, the other is my brother and the third is the person I moved in with), but I don't miss us in any significant way. I feel kind of numb when I think about it.

It's curious, how well the movie captured the end of two very different relationships, and how both of those really resonated with me in different ways.

Hester (Rachel Weisz) leaves a passionless marriage behind. It becomes clear, through the movie, that she's still fond of her husband, and he says he still loves her. He wants her back. This relationship serves more as a backdrop to the story between Hester and Freddie (Tom Hiddleston).

Freddie and Hester have passion, but Hester knows that Freddie doesn't truly love her- not in the way that she loves him.

I think of my separation from Greg as a quiet thing- when I told him I thought I should go, he agreed, and we were quiet and sad for awhile. But I forget all the fighting that had led up to it, all the little fights and the big fights.

The end of the movie was probably what cut the deepest, for me. Freddie says something to Hester very like "We're lethal to each other," and he means it literally. Hester started the film with a suicide attempt. Freddie is a drunk, and his fights with Hester are driving him more and more into drinking. But it really resonated with me, and I think I can say this with real certainty- a relationship, any relationship, that has gone sour is a slow poison.

I have watched my parents split up and get back together at least three separate times at this point (I would be fucking furious if they got back together again.) Countless friends have gone through dramatic divorces, quiet divorces, breakups of all varieties. I've had to frienddump people.

When a relationship has gone bad, persisting in it is like a thousand tiny little cuts. You scrape along each other and leave the other raw and bleeding, and you don't mean to. It just happens.

The end of that movie, man. Hester's husband wants her backs, offers to take her home, and she has to turn him down. It's hard for her- it'd be easy to go back. Like picking up an old habit. (I'm not gonna lie, that played a huge part in my decision to leave Norman- it'd be way too easy to go back to Greg.)

The moment he tells her it's over, and you can tell it's wrecking him as much as it's wrecking her. For all her insistence that he doesn't love her (possibly true), he truly does care about her, and that's clear.

That quiet conversation between Freddie and Hester the morning he leaves. Full of long, long silences. She shines his shoes one final time. He tells her that she should sell his golf clubs, to help cover bills. Asks her what she'll do with herself.

It's all so practical, in so many ways, and it was exactly like the last four days or so I spent with Greg. Which movies and books I would take, what to do about the animals, what I'll do for work when I get here, splitting the money.

The movie actually ends on a cheerful note, somewhat. You think Hester is about to try to kill herself again, but she's actually just turned on the gas fire and throws open the curtains, facing the day. I read a review about how it was supposed to signal the rebirth of England after WW2, and maybe it is. I don't know. (I think that sounds a little too cheesy pie, but I'd accept 'rebuilding your life after you think it's collapsed' and how that's applicable to all sorts of different shit.)

The cheerful note didn't register with me. I'm still stuck in the silence that came between his "goodbye" and hers.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thoughts about False Memory by Dean Koontz

I think, though I am not entirely certain, that False Memory was the first Dean Koontz book I ever read. This would have been when I was between 16 and 18 years old. I enjoyed the book at the time, though there were some elements that made me uncomfortable, even then.

Upon re-reading it, it was... it didn't hold up. (If you're planning on reading this novel for... some reason, spoilers ahoy, I guess.)

The book is, largely, about Martie and Dusty Rhodes evading and 'beating' Dr. Mark Ahriman, who is a master of the kind of deep hypnotic controls you only hear about in conspiracy theories and cold-war era novels. (Funnily enough, the Manchurian Candidate is a central plot point in this novel.)

Martie and Dusty Rhodes are some of Koontz's very familiar archetypes. I've read enough to know that he has a few: there is the Nicest Person the Fucking World, there is the Grumpy Jerk (Who is Actually the Nicest Person in the Fucking World), and then there is the Bad Guy (who tends to have an obsession with sweets). There's no real need to expand on these archetypes, to be honest.

Martie and Dusty both fall under the Nicest People in the Fucking World character-type. Martie had a father who was, if possible, even more inhumanly good and nice, a firefighter who saved countless lives and later died of cancer, constantly referred to (even by Martie) as Smilin' Bob.

We get no true sense of Martie's father as an actual father figure, only as this distant hero. Not in a way that Martie resents or anything- that would have made it a bit interesting, exploring a heroic father who was so good at his job he destroyed his health and wasn't around to be close to his daughter- but every conversation was about what a hero he was, not about what kind of father he was. 

Martie is also described as a video game designer, but I get the feeling that she's described as such by someone who only has the vaguest ideas of what a video game even is. Like, he understand that video games are a Thing which Exist, and that naturally someone must be involved in the creation thereof, so let's just make Martie one and give vague references to it! Honestly, if he picked her career by spinning a wheel or rolling dice and consulting a chart, I would be the opposite of shocked.

Dusty is a house painter, and we know significantly more about that (presumably because Koontz has either known someone who was a house painter or hired a house painter). Dusty's career is treated as something 'real' while Martie ends up leaving her job to become a vet. This is treated as some kind of character development, though I don't know why, exactly. I guess it's because Martie wanted to be a vet when she was younger, but at one point in my youth I wanted to be a vacuum cleaner when I grew up (true story), so...


A very, very rough summary of the plot follows:

Dr. Ahriman is capable of 'programming' people to retreat into a completely docile and obedient state, and he often does so to his own amusement. He is a psychiatrist by trade, and often treats people he's programmed with terrible phobias. Susan Jagger, Martie's best friend, has been programmed to have a crippling fear of open spaces, and has been suffering for quite a period of time when the novel starts. Martie has just started down the road to a crippling fear of herself, again at the behest of Ahriman's programming.

Ahriman has also been using the programming to rape Susan on a regular basis.

While we're spared some of the gory details, it's definitely still really gross. Susan is later programmed to kill herself, because she knew something was up (though she had been instructed to believe her estranged husband was responsible) and she wanted hard evidence of it, so she set up a video camera and caught him in action.

Dusty later figures out something is wrong due to him noticing his missing time, and then later when he begins to tell Martie about reading the novel, he accidentally triggers the beginning state of her programming with one of the names. Strangely, it seems that Ahriman gave Martie the novel, but instructed her to never read it.(Susan's death occurs and then doesn't really impact the plot, sigh.)

It doesn't take Dusty and Martie very long at all to break their programming, largely due to Ahriman's (it must be said) extreme incompetence, which he claims is in the interest of a fair game. But mostly, every time Ahriman screws up, it's Because the Plot Needs Him To.

We get a hint of this early on, when Ahriman doesn't realize that Susan has videotaped him until he is long gone, and must return and take care of it. This is largely to A: create a second or two of false tension and B: give Martie and Dusty a reason to believe that Ahriman is responsible for their programming without Ahriman knowing. This is only accomplished due to a wording quirk- Ahriman asks if Susan had spoken to anybody about the contents of the tape. (She hadn't, technically, she'd left a message on their answering machine because Martie was in the middle of a panic attack.)

Later, Martie and Dusty go to New Mexico (they get some information from Martie's doctor who somehow happens to have also had a run-in with Ahriman and has a handy file on him, that's what leads them to New Mexico). Ahriman doesn't try to call their cell phone and access their programming even when he knows they know something because... um, well, he thinks that they're probably being really careful about calls and so there's no sense in even trying. (Because.)

There's a subplot about Dusty's younger half-brother Skeet, but I don't care. He's just there to work as a plot point.

The plot is mostly formulaic and has a happy ending very typical of Koontz books. Oh, related: though threatened at one point, the dog lives. Koontz rarely kills of dogs, the only time I can remember a dog having an 'on screen death' (as it were) the dogs were highly trained, violent and deadly guard dogs.

In this case the resolution could have posed a tricky problem. Going to the police and claiming your psychiatrist has been programming you in order to rape you and use you to kill other people is just not going to gain you much ground. If Martie or Dusty just march in and shoot him, they'll get arrested and go to jail (or be put in a psychiatric institute when they start talking about the programming). If Skeet does the job, he'll be put in an institute most likely, having recently left a rehab clinic against medical advice.With those pieces in play, the only real way to resolve everything relatively happily is for Our Heroes to kill Ahriman in cold blood. Like, to plan his murder and get away with it. The novel was so close to being super interesting, man.

Koontz solves that problem by having a character come in at the last minute, introduced in the last 1/3 or so of the book, who shoots Skeet (*rimshot*) and then the doctor because she believes they're machines in the Matrix.

No, really. Literally. She was seeing Ahriman because she had cultivated an obsession with Keanu Reeves that had turned into a paranoia of him, and during the course of her therapy she began to suspect something was not on the up and up with Ahriman, so she followed him while he was following Skeet and another character and saw him 'kill them' (they were wearing Kevlar, Because) and Ahriman called her and convinced her that the Matrix was real and that The One had special interest in her.

So, in truth, had Martie and Dusty taken Skeet and just hauled ass for Mexico or Nova Scotia or Iceland, Ahriman would still have been defeated. The whole thing seems kinda pointless, at that point. Like, in most of his novels, at least the protagonists of the story solve their own problems, but in this case not even that much happens. The whole book is like this.

They wouldn't know Ahriman was responsible for their situation without Susan. They wouldn't have any info on Ahriman without Martie's doctor (who just happened to have a run in with Ahriman before and just happened to have a full file on the doctor). They wouldn't have been freed from their programming if Ahriman hadn't handed them the key. Their 'activating' triggers were all from the same book, the Manchurian candidate. The haiku poems that accessed their subconscious or what-the-fuck-ever, were all drawn from the same collection of 'classic' haiku poems, by the same poet. They take no actions that significantly impact the plot. The events of the plot don't really significantly impact them. (Martie changes careers. Whoop-de-fucking-do.) So, what is the point?

I think the point was Ahriman. Ahriman could almost have been interesting enough to make the novel work, but Koontz doesn't really work in subtle strokes, and doesn't know how to take something so over the top that it comes around again. (Too much is too much but way too much is just enough, you know?) So Ahriman is neither truly gleeful and evil enough to seem a true obstacle, nor subtle or layered enough to be truly interesting.

He's suppose to be smart, but he makes some astoundingly foolish decisions during the course of the novel. 

When he is following Skeet around, he has his housekeeper drop off his most subtle car, which is fucking purple. (He actually says it's the least attention-getting of his cars. I don't even. Are the rest neon colored?) He also completely misses being followed by the woman who eventually kills him, even though she's driving an equally noticeable car (a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud- google it real quick).

He also is a character that the book so badly wants to be on par with Doctor Lecter (at some point Goldberg Variations is supposed to be playing during a scene between Martie and Susan, which I think is a direct reference). He's built up to be this very intelligent and dangerous opponent, who thinks of everything and can adapt to any outcome. He's supposed to be incredibly disarming and has pioneered a secret field of psychologically handling people for a secret organization.

He's also an atrocious psychiatrist. In practice, he has less charm than smarm, and he's about as subtle and nuanced as a brick to the face. His decisions from beginning to end are often questionable at best. His motivation is, supposedly, a game. Life is a game, and all the men and women in his command are just for his amusement- except it doesn't really feel like that at all. It's just an excuse to have these things happen, I think. The book smacks heavily of Plot Because Plot, without any real reason, and it seems like everyone is just doing what they're doing Because. Nothing happens for any reason other than Because.

Normally Koontz books are fast reads for me. Though they're formulaic, I do enjoy them (really!) but this book was difficult for me to slog through, especially towards the end as more and more of the padding dripped in. I would say that if you enjoy Koontz books (or like fast reading, formulaic books with happy endings where the sweet dog prolly won't die) you still should give this a miss in favor of his other works.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Elementary: Final Thoughts on Season 1

First of all, I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my post about the Moore tornado. Please remember that Moore is going to be rebuilding for a long time, and people still need your help. You can make a donation to the United Way of Central Oklahoma which has a long-term fund for Moore tornado victims. There are more links here.

I intended to do this last week and have only just gotten around to it: I fucking loved the finale to Elementary. For real.

Elementary is my favorite adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. End of. It has surpassed every other version in my mind, including the Grenada Holmes (which remains a close second). Yeah. I love it that much. I love it more than Cumbersherlock. I love it more than RDJ and Jude Law Making Sweet, Sweet Love With Their Eyes. It is my absolute favorite. 

Note: I am not saying that any of these are better than any other, I am just telling you which my favorite is. Do not tell me I am wrong, because I don't care. But keep in mind, that every adaptation I listed, I absolutely do love, in spite of any flaws it has. There are other adaptations I love that I haven't listed, either, and at least three or four which I haven't tried but fully expect to enjoy. :)

Spoilers below.

You have been warned.

Let's talk about the episode before the season finale for a second. Lucy Liu is a truly excellent Watson, and Watson's growth as an investigator and as a friend to Sherlock has been wonderful to watch. She really stands her ground when the people around her are trying to do things or get her to do things ~for her own good~ (and that's been true for the whole show, actually). She actually tells Holmes "Look, I have worked on this just as hard as you have, and I deserve answers too," in regards to the Moriarty clue, and also points out that she's a grown-ass woman and can make her own decisions about whether something is too dangerous for her.

Jonny Lee Miller is also a PHENOMENAL Holmes, and I have to say that his reaction to seeing Irene Adler alive and well was incredibly well done. (Seriously, not everyone can look like they're about to faint, puke, and burst into tears at once on command. He actually turned a little grey, though that may have been a special effect.) We knew Natalie Dormer had been picked for Adler, so we knew she was going to show up, but throwing her at the end of the episode before the finale was pretty cool.

So, the finale: oh my god. I can't tackle it in order, it's been too long since I've seen it, so I'm just gonna talk about shit as I remember it.

I spent the WHOLE time (up until the reveal) going "I wonder why they went out of their way to cast Natalie Dormer as an American?"

Ha ha. Ha. Ha.

I actually paused when she revealed herself as Moriarty so I could just take a minute to process it. (Also so I could wordlessly point at the screen while looking at Greg like DID YOU JUST SEE THAT? HOLY SHIT! I am sometimes annoying to watch things with.)

Seriously, before that Holmes had suggested the whole "Adler works for Moriarty!" thing which... had been done, and honestly I don't think it's been done particularly well. So I was like "Eeeehhhhh I dunno," and then the reveal kicked my ass and made me love it.

I love Irene Adler as Moriarty (or vice versa), and here is why (in no particular order):

1: I hate the "oh, she works for Moriarty" plot point, but I also don't think it's been done particularly well. Especially in the RDJ/Jude Law movies.
2: Natalie Dormer has got some FANTASTIC villain body language that she put to great use.
3: More powerful, smart women in popular fiction!
4: Natalie Dormer
5: Holmes did not defeat her.

See, I was seeing this go around a lot on tumblr with "Oh, I didn't like that plot point because Adler actually beat Holmes in cann, she's supposed to win." Which... okay, yes, it appears that Holmes won. In that scene, however, he was the bait, not the trapper.

Joan laid that trap out, guys. She won.

Joan Watson was amazing. She was fearless in the face of Moriarty ("too angry to be scared") and just as helpful and knowledgeable as Holmes would have been. She ran that investigation without Sherlock's help, figured out Moriarty's blind spot and used it against her. These were all things Sherlock was too emotionally compromised to do himself. (These were all things that Moriarty knew, too, proving she was superior to Holmes in some ways, perhaps ONLY because she could see more clearly than he how emotionally compromised they both were in regards to each other.)

Also, they TOTALLY HAD ME with the whole "Sherlock ODs and it's ALL MORIARTY'S FAULT" plot, an excellent parallel to the false fall. Not that they're NOT going to fake a death later (though I would love it if they have JOAN fake her death so she can go haring off after an escaped Moriarty, because*) but I also like that the first season wraps up pretty neatly.

In the ongoing theme of me interpreting Elementary as a dark AU where Watson was an American and therefore couldn't be in London when Holmes started to need someone like Watson- not so much an interpretation as what is actually going on. Anyway, this totally works out. His first interaction with Adler in canon is that he is after her because of a case, then she bounces to America. In this interpretation, she fakes her death and... bounces to America! Well, eventually. Anyway, it all still fits, is what I'm saying.

 *OMG I just realized how fucking traumatizing this would be for Sherlock. *evil laugh*

TL; DR I love every tiny bit of this show (except for the Bing product placement, but I'll deal with that if it means I get to continue to have my BroTP), especially Joan Watson, and was left extremely satisfied with the finale.

What did you think? About the season in general, or the finale? Or anything else. I'm open!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore Tornadoes

I was planning on posting about the Elementary finale. I still will do that, but it will be a separate blog post.

This is just my impression of today- what happened to me, what I did, what I have heard. I may have heard facts wrong or misinterpreted things. I was not in the tornado, this is not a survivor's account.

I live in Norman, which is the town south of where the big tornado hit today. Moore has been struck by several tornadoes in the last 14 years, the last big was on May 3, 1999. This was before I moved back to Oklahoma, but I have always had family here, so I was aware of it. That tornado was hugely devastating to much of the same parts of Moore as the tornado today.

I was not in danger today. The storms that were tornadic were to the north or the south of me.

Yesterday, I was in danger, but I took precautions when the activity got close to me. For those who do not know, tornado precautions are: get into the smallest, sturdiest room of your house. If you can, cover yourself with a mattress or something else soft, to keep glass from harming you.

My safe place is my bedroom closet. I pulled everything out of the floor and gathered all the pets I could grab (two of my cats had a fight and hid in cabinets, but I had to hunker down). I grabbed a blanket. Our closet is full of clothes and I planned on pulling them all down if I heard anything drop on the house. I sat in a closet with the dogs and Bats until the radio told me I was safe. The rotation that threatened me eventually did drop a tornado, but it had moved east of my town by then.

Today, a tornado absolutely devastated Moore. My father-in-law works in Moore as a postman, and when we texted him after the tornado he texted us back immediately- we knew he was all right as soon as we asked. But when we texted my husband's mother, she informed us that the tornado had hit the post office, and it's very likely that my FIL's car was completely destroyed- another car in that lot was completely gone, and the others were totaled.

The highway was closed, and we had no idea how we were going to get to him. My MIL was not driving- she was too upset to drive, really. My husband drove her car and she directed us through some of the smaller back roads. We got to almost where my FIL was, but we were on the other side of the highway, in gridlocked traffic. We parked in a parking lot and walked over the bridge.

We were on 19th street, which is near the big Warren Theater that was hit (but, again, on the other side of I35 from it.) The Warren had been hit, and looked bad. A lot of the cars from the parking lot were tossed into the highway. There was a lot of debris all over everything- little wads of mud covered cars, buildings, the road. Tiny bits of trees, mud, hay, and peoples lives covered everything.

The power was down, there were officers everywhere directing traffic. We crossed several intersections and ran across the bridge. We were in the middle of a crosswalk when an ambulance came bombing up the exit ramp, and we had to haul ass to dodge them. I could smell smoke from a fire, my MIL saw the plume of smoke.

My FIL was fine, he was apparently nowhere near the path of the tornado. He hid in a school and then finished delivering his mail before going back to the post office. He couldn't get his vehicle back to the office due to traffic, so he had to park it and walk five blocks. Seeing him was good. We were all relieved, even though we knew he was all right.

Walking back, I was watching where I stepped carefully. There were baseball cards, some still in sleeves. Someone's collection. A torn corner of a picture (if it had been a whole picture, I would have saved it, but it was just a snatch of one). A muddy child's blanket. A star barrette. More baseball cards.

Someone got into a shouting match with the police directing traffic. He wanted to go straight, and the officer was insisting he turn. We told him to park his ass and walk. Don't know what he did.

The sound of sirens was never ending. We must have been passed by dozens of ambulances. We were right by the triage area, so that's to be expected.

When we got back, the phone and the internet and the tvs were all still down. We went to Walmart to get an antenna, but they didn't have any at all. A guy who was also looking for one said he had been everywhere in Norman, this was his last home. Radio Shack had a sign up, saying that they didn't have any.

We drove to the Walmart in Purcell, and they did have antennas. There was another couple buying antennas, trying to figure out how many they needed.

It's hard to watch the news, but it's hard to do anything else.

Oklahomans will turn out in droves to help. We always do. We're being told, right now, that they don't need anybody. If they did, I would be there, and not at home, watching the news.

Here is an excellent article about the tornado and it's context. It explains about tornadoes, Moore's tornado history, and more technical details about tornadoes and how they're formed.

Here is a collection of information on how to help the victims of today's and yesterday's tornadoes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Thoughts On Elementary Season 1 Part 2 (of who knows how many)

So I'm caught up until the Valentine's Day episode, and first thing I want to say is: I think we can confirm my theory about this being the dark, alterna verse where Holmes does not meet his Watson until after his canon cases. Lest it need be said: I am really, really enjoying this.

Part of what this show aims to do is show how much Holmes NEEDS Watson as a steadying influence in his life. Part of that is the evidence from the now- Sherlock flat-out tells her that she makes him a better detective, even though he doesn't know why. But part of that is from how badly things went in London- without her there. It's bit of a meta concept, really, but I do think it's intended. Without Watson, Holmes flounders. It's clear now, and it's clear then.

I'm also loving the honest-to-god character arc we're seeing with Sherlock. Here's a man who, in the beginning, was confident that he didn't need Joan. He didn't need the help with recovery, and he wasn't going to even try to do drugs again. In more recent episodes, we see Sherlock not only adjust to the knowledge that he needs help with staying sober- that it's a fight every day- but to the fact that he really does need Joan. He needs her companionship, her ability to call him out, and her strength.(Point of order: everybody needs somebody in their life who will call them out on bullshit and lend them a shoulder.)

At one point early in the series, we see that Holmes hates to be wrong, and hates when there's an outcome he doesn't expect. More than once he tries to tell Watson that he TOTALLY expected that outcome, he TOTALLY coached his kidnapper to text Joan in a way that would show Sherlock was being kidnapped. Joan completely calls him on this. In the Deductionist, he points out that the profiler has this same flaw, and at one point admits that he was wrong about the case.

I also love what we see happening with Joan: we know she's unhappy being a sober companion. She's doing it as a form of penance, and I believe she's very good at it. It's hard to admit you're miserable doing something you're good at, but I think the only real satisfaction she gets from her work is being proficient at it, and that the work itself gives her no actual joy. Being with Sherlock does- he challenges her in unexpected ways, he brings out the part of her that enjoys solving puzzles (I believe most of us have this in us) and he shows her new ways to look at the world around her. (Also, I love how Joan's Mom breaks this down and tells it to her.)

These changes in both characters lead up to the Valentine's Day episode "Details", when Sherlock reveals that he knows Joan has been lying about the extension, he knows why, and instead of being mad or regressing he seems to understand. He tells her in hesitating, halting sentences that he'd like for her to stay, he would make it possible for her to stay in whatever way suited her best ("you can stay in the brownstone. Or not."). He was as open as vulnerable as he's been so far- he wasn't sure that his gambit would work. Even though it seemed to be what Joan wanted, and the ideal way to solve both of their problems (she hates her real job and loves what she does with Sherlock, she gives him an edge and support that he doesn't otherwise have), it still may not work, and he put it out there anyway.

This is not just about her being his apprentice, but about how their relationship is mutually beneficial, and I think that's what moves Joan to accept.

Her acceptance wasn't assured, and I'm glad she made her own terms (including one where Sherlock continues to attend groups) before she'd accept it wholly.

Additionally, I'm happy that we were not introduced to Moriarty so early. We know he's going to be a Big Bad, but I'd really prefer if he were a Season 2 big bad, and it seems like things might lean that way. I think Sherlock (the series) blew their wad a little early with Moriarty (though I can see why they would do that), and I was worried Elementary would follow in those footsteps.

My favorite thing about this series is how emotional Sherlock is, especially compared to other depictions of him. I like that he is moved by the plight of those less fortunate, that he is genuinely distressed for the episode after Joan was endangered by the undercover DEA Agent. When he reveals the illegal immigrant status of an innocent woman, he is fucking haunted by the idea, and openly states it. The puzzle is important to him, and that is clear, but the people are ALSO important to him.

What I'd like to see: Alfredo! (I think I may be spelling it wrong.) I do believe we will see him again (after all, there's been no sign of Moriarty since the episode he was mentioned, and we know that's not the end of that) but because he's intended to take Joan's place after she's no longer Sherlock's sober companion, he hasn't been involved yet. I do want to see him get involved, now- Sherlock does need someone like him, and Alfredo is objectively awesome.

Joan going back into medicine- whether or not she becomes a surgeon again, I think that medicine is clearly a part of who she is and how she relates to the world. I don't think this will happen this season, but some tentative steps in the right direction would be wonderful. (Maybe she could consult! That would be thematically appropriate.)

More of Joan's family would also be nice. 

What I don't want to see: I like Sherlock and Joan as friends, and I still DON'T want any 'will they/won't they' regarding a romantic relationship between them. I think a solid, platonic friendship between a man and a woman is refreshing and fun and I really enjoy their growing friendship.

I also don't want to see Moriarty for real this season, unless it's a teaser in the very last episode. (Like, his face is revealed then CUT TO BLACK would be acceptable to me.)

On a slightly silly note: Possibly my favorite thing on the show STILL is Joan's face when Sherlock says something phenomenally aggravating and/or frustrating. Lucy Liu is a woman of a thousand irritated eye rolls and I love her for it.