I adore this scene because it’s so weird. It looks like it’s a manip but it’s 100% real from Hounds. John’s giving us that “I’m real sick of your shit, Sherlock” look and he’s in essence looking right at the camera which is usually a no-no.
In scene, John’s not looking at the camera (though Martin is), he’s looking at the drawings on the wall. Our naughty Consulting Detective is looking at the old mirror where he can see John’s face reflected in the glass over the drawings. Sherlock’s making sure John doesn’t notice him fiddling suspiciously with his beverage.
So they key to the weirdness is that it’s actually kind of a split-screen. (Well technically it is a split screen but play along with me.) Imagine the the scene as if the screen has been folded together in a kind of V shape. Think of the point where the red arrow meets the butt of the yellow. Make that your center. Stand there looking into the mirror and grab the sides of your frame with each hand and pull them towards you until they form a V. That’s kind of the perspective that’s going on here.
what if John noticed and played along with the drugging, which is why he only slightly resisted drinking the coffee
You know— that thought crossed my mind but I think it’s an effect of Martin looking directly into the camera. It breaks the 4th wall which is Not Done in Sherlock and makes it seem as if he’s in the know. In that sense I’m not sure it’s an entirely successful shot. It’s inventive and weird but it doesn’t really fit the series. Did John really seem like he saw the lab fiasco coming? Nah, I don’t think so.
Okay but John isn’t actually looking into the camera as in “I see you, audience” he’s looking at the paintings… We are watching him study the paintings from two different perspectives. And he has no idea what Sherlock is up to. Also, there are other instances of John and Sherlock looking directly into the camera…
Oh but you wouldn’t have known that without looking carefully in retrospect. That shot’s only a few frames long and the angles are so convoluted there’s no way you’d get it without screen shots. There’s no doubt IN SCENE that John’s not looking into the camera but it definitely appears that he’s breaking the wall in the the split screen. Looking directly at the camera breaks all the rules and causes mayhem. Can you give me some specific examples of John or Sherlock looking directly at the camera? I’d like to explore that some more.
It actually happens pretty frequently. But most of the time the camera is masquerading as something else so it doesn’t register.
Pink- First scene with Sherlock, the camera was in a body bag. The beginning of the ‘nicotine patches’ scene right when he opened his eyes. During the two pills scene, just as John finds Sherlock, he looks through the window and into the camera. I think there’s also a scene in the way beginning when John’s sitting in his therapist’s office staring directly into the camera.
Banker- I’m not sure.
Game- at the big climax, sherlock’s looking at the painting and directly into the camera.
Scandal- Sherlock looks through a magnifying glass and we get a huge closeup of his iris. The part before the Mrs. Hudson scene when he walks down the street looking into the camera.
Baskerville- During the reveal of H.O.U.N.D., everyone is looking through the computer screen and into the camera. While Sherlock is in his mind palace, his eyes are closed but as soon as he finds the answer, he looks into the camera.
Reichenbach- I’m sure there was something. But I don’t remember.
Ohh— you’ve given me plenty of material for a meaty meta which is in my queue to write. I’m specifically looking for scenes that break the 4th wall or come dangerously close like this one. The instance of the body bag, for example, isn’t what I’m talking about b/c the angle, framing, everything makes it perfectly clear we’re in the POV of the dead person. Any time the POV is obviously in scene or from a character’s POV that’s all fine. I’m talking about scenes when the characters look at the camera with the express (or unintended) effect of seeming to be addressing the audience directly. In the case of this shot, the angles are so convoluted it’s impossible for the audience member to know where John is looking in scene— intentional or not, it’s a narrative boo boo.