Chivalry Isn't Dead: Sherlock in Elementary

Sherlock doesn't even turn Clyde into soup.
In Elementary, Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) claims that he isn't kind. This is mostly accurate. He doesn't experience an upwelling of warm emotions in reference to people's circumstances. (And although Joan harasses him about this--she is more imaginatively empathetic than Sherlock--she is essentially more like him than she realizes).

Despite the lack of upwelling emotions, Sherlock is actually impressively kind. The word that describes his behavior best is chivalry.

In the pilot episode, the villain deliberately manipulates his patient into killing his, the villain's, wife. He puts his unaware patient on steroids to exacerbate the poor man's violent nature, then places him in the victim's way.

"He was your patient," Holmes chides the villain, "and you took advantage."

Take into consideration that this is Jonny Lee Miller saying "took advantage" in husky, drawling, entirely English tones that indicate absolute consternation at the other man's acts. The phrase is also rather old-fashioned: "took advantage" as Austen would have meant it.

Using other people's weaknesses to commit crimes is the opposite of chivalry as Holmes makes clear when he calls the villain out.

"You Do It Yourself" 

My favorite example. Joan helps an ex-boyfriend, who is also an addict, get clear of a crime he didn't commit. She knows he is a lost cause but she still goes to the rehab center where she arranged for him to have a bed. Sherlock joins her.

He doesn't scold or remonstrate or point out the pointlessness of what she is doing. He simply requests the privilege of sitting with her. 

Granted, Sherlock has an investment in this matter; just as Joan isn't giving up on the ex-boyfriend, Sherlock doesn't want Joan to ever give up on him. Yet he doesn't behave selfishly. He sits with her while she waits, stating that he has nowhere else to be that night. His chivalry is the chivalry of letting the situation be what it is.

"Dead Clad Walking"

Sherlock makes arrangements to meet a woman with whom he has been exchanging erotic letters. She is also an expert in antiques. She is a sophisticated, elegantly coifed woman at least 20-25 years his senior.

Sherlock doesn't guffaw or act embarrassed or snigger. He is polite, respectful, and gives her the ultimate compliment: "You have a rare gift [of writing], madam. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Chivalry isn't dead!

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