Thrust Upon an Unsuspecting Fandom: Sherlock Holmes Meets the Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie was a box office hit, grossing over $65 million on its Christmas Day opening weekend in the US alone, and currently grossing over $500 million world-wide.

As you might guess, a sequel is now in the works.

Given that Sherlock Holmes had a plot that resembled nothing that ever appeared in the canon—or in any other Sherlock Holmes adaptation—it’ll be interesting to see what Guy Ritchie comes up with next.

Especially since the character of Mary Russell will officially become part of the new canon.

Now, Mary Russell is not the same person as Mary Morstan, whom Watson married both in the original canon and in the movie. Russell is the main character in Laurie R. King’s series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, a quite logical and insightful young woman who, in the books, discovers an elderly, retired Sherlock Holmes amongst his beehives on the Downs. He becomes her mentor. Her friend. Her BFF.

Her lover.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Of course, in King’s books, Sherlock Holmes is not really ancient; I look upon them as a sort of sidereal fantasy, the kind where the characters are forever in 1865, even if half a century has passed by. Both Holmes and Watson (and Mrs. Hudson) are pretty much frozen in age since Doyle’s last story about Holmes, “His Last Bow.” And it’s not like December-May non-dysfunctional romances don’t exist in the real world.

However, the prospect of pairing a young Mary Russell with a young Sherlock Holmes has… shall we say… many possibilities (most of them more acceptable to a wider audience; “ageism” has not really gone away). Though having two characters named Mary might be confusing to a film audience; whether Ritchie deals with this via renaming or some other method remains to be seen.

The impact of Mary Russell’s introduction to the story line will be epic—but not as epic as the conflict that will surely ensue among fans. I mean, not only have you got Holmes/Adler and Watson/Mary (Morstan), you also have the subversive context of Holmes/Watson. Adding in Holmes/Mary (Russell) is not just going to be like pouring oil on a fire, it’s going to be like dropping several tons of nitroglycerine onto a burning oil field.

And given that this is Guy Ritchie, he may even decide to add in a Mary/Mary sub-context. Which would be hella awesome. As well as a way to resolve the current Holmes/Watson/Mary triangle. An awesome way.

Wait. What about Mary/Adler? Or the other Mary/Adler?  Actually, one of those might be incestuous, depending on how Ritchie wants to play this (and what King will let him get away with when altering her characters as well).

My gods, this could be epic AND awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen: let the ‘shipping wars… begin.

Actually, now would be a good time to share with you my favorite, and most relevant, moment from the Granada TV series adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Watch.

Arachne Jericho writes about science fiction and fantasy, and other topics determined by 1d20, at Spontaneous ∂erivation. She also thinks waaay too much about Sherlock Holmes. She writes at on a semi-biweekly basis and would actually like to see widow!Mary/widow!Mary.


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