The Empty Hearse Metaphor: Sex, Lies, and Videotape


A Clusterfuck of Psycho, Part 1

In which Jim is still running the show, Mary’s secret past isn’t so secret, and Sherlock discovers his sexual orientation.

This started out as a fun little meta about dicks. I never intended it to be part of the Clusterfuck of Psycho series I’ve been working on. I just wanted to examine the train-tunnel imagery in TEHAnd I ended up making a few more deductions than I was expecting. Namely, that The Empty Hearse mystery, much like The Sign of Three mystery, is a giant metaphor for something much deeper. Pun so very much intended.

With me? Here we go.

First: if you aren’t familiar with the train-tunnel trope, it’s one of the most oft-used metaphors for sex in tv/film. For a classic example, take half a minute and watch the ending of Hitchcock’s famous film North by Northwest.

On to TEH. The writers kick things off with a fun fake-out Anderson-fantasy scene (in which Sherlock makes out with a woman!), and Sherlock informing his torturer about his wife’s infidelity (with a coffin maker!), so we’ve all got sex on our minds. Cue the opening credits, and then…



Doors close, train speeds through the tunnel, John’s on board and looking haunted. Check.

Take note of the episode title, the way it’s slapped on the door as if labeling the train. Because that’s exactly what it’s doing. Yes, “The Empty Hearse” is the name of Anderson’s fan club. But just like the Skeleton Mystery they planted, it’s a bit of a fake-out to divert our attention from the real empty hearse – the vanishing train car. 



Yes, we get it. Trains move through tunnels.




what the hell’s up with this porn soundtrack


so many trains in tunnels oh my god. There’s even a fast-slow pacing going on here (I didn’t adjust the speed on the gifs).

and here comes the first in a line of this season’s most epic transitions:


It’s even more epic with the music. It’s porn music, guys. Music for pornography. Seriously, go back and listen. Oh, and the whistle blows. 

Anyway – extended trains-speeding-through-tunnels sequence with porny music and varying fast-slow speeds, a train comes at/by you, WHISTLE SCREAMING EVERYTHING’S FAST AND BLURRY fadingfadingfading and then John’s swaggering away from the tunnel exit (YUP), putting his key in to unlock 221B, walking inside, and the bow-chicka-bow-wow music comes to a close.

Hitchcock would be proud. And we’re not even ten minutes into the episode.

Oh, then John hears himself and Sherlock after their first date crime solving adventure, panting and laughing about “the most ridiculous thing he’s ever done” as they lean against the wall side-by-side in what totally does not look like the stock over-the-bed shot of a post-coital couple. (And let’s not overlook that lip pucker.)




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To all hunters, time lords, detectives, cannibals, hobbits, superheroes, trekies, wizards, demigods, tributes, mishamigos, gleeks, trainers, homestuckies, hetalians, directioners, and every other fandom out there…

Everyone that reblogs this will get their url written in this journal so in the case of a sudden zombie apocalypse, I know who I can count on to help me kill them. I’ll take a picture when it’s all filled up.