Two Sides of the Same Coin: Jamie Moriarty from “Elementary”

My name is Moriarty. I believe we’re overdue for a chat.

She followed a career in opera as a contralto; she was a talented singer. She had “the face of the most beautiful of women and the mind of the most resolute of men.”

He was a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. He was a criminal mastermind whom Holmes describes as the “Napoleon of crime.”

What can be common between these so different people?

As shown by the American TV series Elementary, much more than it seems at first sight. Despite many movies and TV incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, the creators of Elementary wanted to surprise the audience, and they succeeded. Their Irene Adler and Professor James Moriarty turns out to be one person… Jamie Moriarty. Intriguing move, isn’t it? But what else could you want from the series where Dr. Watson is a woman? And a very smart woman…

Well, you’re the detective, Sherlock—you tell me.

So, where did this story begin?

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If only Sherlock knew where his work at Scotland Yard would lead. In this job, Sherlock interrupted several of Moriarty’s ingenious plans. Moriarty couldn’t just let it go. So, Moriarty hatched a revenge scheme. But alongside her need for revenge, Moriarty became interested in Sherlock’s mind and outstanding personality… one Moriarty madly wanted to understand. She wanted to reveal the secret of his mind by coming closer to him. So Moriarty came up with a great way to achieve that while keeping a safe distance and not revealing herself.

Imagine my surprise when I realized how much we have in common.

She became Irene Adler and arranged for Sherlock to visit her. It was a wonderful day (or not) for Sherlock when he met an American in London who restored historic paintings, stealing some so she could properly preserve them, which Holmes chose not to report her for. A passion for art is one of features which characterize not only Irene, but Moriarty herself. Then Moriarty/Irene tricked Sherlock into falling in love with her so she could study him incognito.

During this time, Moriarty understood everything about Sherlock and realized she and Sherlock have a lot in common. Two unrecognized geniuses with delusions of grandeur (which each implement in different ways, which Moriarty calls “puzzles” and “games”). And they share loneliness. But in her “search for Sherlock” Moriarty went too far and had to withdraw.

Same old Sherlock. You look at people, and you see puzzles. I see games. You… you’re a game I’ll win every time.

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Moriarty staged Irene’s death and resumed her business as Moriarty. Moriarty wanted to leave Sherlock with a sense of guilt and manipulate him from a distance. She succeeded. The story of Irene “broke” Sherlock. When they much later met anew, Moriarty could not win the game she had constructed. Sherlock exposed her. Despite Sherlock discovering her identity, the two continue to have conflicting feelings for each other and great mutual respect for each other’s intellectual powers.

Even after her arrest and imprisonment, Jamie has a great impact on Sherlock. He writes her letters because she is the only person he can relate to. And maybe, given their fondness for each other, and the romantic nature of their letters, they weren’t lying to each other about everything.

You don’t want to believe me… and yet, your legendary powers of observation are screaming that I’m telling the truth right now…

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is candidate of philological sciences specializing in the first Russian drama and theatre of XVIIth century. She’s also a film and TV critic by calling. You can find her essays on her Lumiere page and on her blog.

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