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The Nature of Addiction

by Dr. Ni 

Posted: 24 May 2008
Word Count: 970
Summary: SHERLOCK: A CASE OF EVIL starring Vincent D'Onofrio and a Mr. D'Arcy provides an interesting and perceptive take on the nature of addiction.

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Niama Leslie J. Williams
Copyright November 2006
958 words

What of the nature of addiction? Can one’s addiction to one substance save one from the clutches of another? Can dramatization of such plunge one into the cold, watery depths of reality to hold up, glistening, shiny and wet, the promise of a future clear-headed and sane, as sharp in definition and color as when one is ’œClaritin-clear’?

It has been a long time since a film turned my stomach, but images from D’Arcy and D’Onofrio’s Sherlock: A Case of Evil could do more to end the firm, greedy, salivating grasp of addiction than any Just Say No/Just Do It campaign or feverish allegiance to membership in Dr. Bill’s growing clique. Twelve-step psychology, theology, spirituality, and fellowship has taken over the airwaves but nothing, nothing has turned my stomach more firmly from my own sweet needle’”sugar’”than the coalescing of addictions represented by D’Arcy’s initiation into hell.

I was pulled in by D’Onofrio’s catlike moves, panther perhaps, lion; he is too large a man to have feline grace associated with a house pet, but as Sherlock pursues him in the opening scenes, that one moment when his Moriarty stops, pauses, turns ’˜round then gestures, silently instructing his companion to watch the darkened doorway as Sherlock will soon appear, one suddenly gasps for Det. Robert Goren, D’Abo’s ’œBobby,’ moves with the grace of a dancer. It is only a moment, followed fast on its heels by Moriarty, masterful, flexing his long, luxuriously top-coated arm, thin sword glinting at arm’s end as he displays a fencer’s expertise. We think, D’Onofrio? Swordplay? Yet like most things asked of Goren’s master, D’Onofrio has mastered it, and as D’Arcy naively yet rapidly gains the upper hand, surprised when in three moves Moriarty’s sword is flung upwards to crash on stone between them, we know this is D’Onofrio’s Moriarty, and thus the taunting meant to unsettle Holmes was all for show, not heartfelt, and Moriarty’s defeat and death are part of a larger, more fiendish plan.

It is of no small note that A Case of Evil presents us with a Moriarty always falling from great heights into large bodies of water, a reminder that his death is never to be trusted, much like the ceasing of an addiction. Bill W.’s friends will tell you it is always and forever one day at a time, and I say to you for those of us with food allergies, we walk the tiger three times a day. Oh my envy of the substance abuser is voluminous; he can do the Nike, he can just say no; we overeaters have to dance with our Moriarty three times minimum, 365 a year, twice a day during the holidays.

As December 1 approaches and the seasonal frenzy begins to take shape, I watch D’Onofrio and am lost as the bile creeps up my esophagus and my hand rises to my mouth. A rare reaction to the artist I love, but watching my Vincent not gleefully, not passionately, but with a scientist’s clarity and purpose throw back D’Arcy’s sleeve once, again, again, a third time, calculating the descent into unconsciousness, the rolling back of the eyes and head with an eagerly consulted pocket watch; it is too much. My Vincent, my savior, my happy addiction, the one who every Sunday into the wee hours (on reruns) trips up the most dastardly with their own brilliance; my Vincent, here, coldly planting an icicle in the pit of D’Arcy’s stomach as he moves into the cage, waving the needle once again.

He is setting the tiger loose in Sherlock’s veins, and I will never be the same.

For what have I learned? That addiction always is born of the truest pain; that all we addicts seek closure of a hole, a yawning gap that only Bill W. could see God fills and no other entity. We want a union, a completeness, a satiety that sex brings momentarily, but it is a completeness that never stays, that parries and thrusts with permanence. This union we only glimpse, and when Anwar sneaks up on the recovering Sherlock for whom she has cared three days, a week, slowly bringing him down amidst the shakes and unconsciousness; we watch her palm travel the length of his arm and side and buttock, then slowly he wakes and they kiss, it is a meditation before the lips brush, an acknowledgement of her fear of death from Moriarty and a mutual recognition by both that passion only peaks after great pain. We addicts all lost something substantial, are without some essential ingredient: mother’s eye when in the hands of an abuser; father asking only for verification of the accusation so he can administer justice and get the hell out of there. Always left twisting in the wind at some essential point, we fill the hole with a cipher, with a chemical or behavioral or psychological pattern that soothes without variation and every time to the same degree. We may need more as time collects, but the high, the blank out, is always the same.

I will not forget Vincent’s face as he pushes the plunger, sending the tiger deep into D’Arcy’s soul. That scene far more horrifying than the shooting of D’Arcy’s caretaker. How generous of the artist to show us the passionless determination of true evil, no Bobby Goren head fakes for this Moriarty. He strikes too close for us to feel comfortable contemplating what parental malady might have resulted in the man who becomes Sherlock’s torturer. This far more than the birth of serial killer or detective; no, this a meditation on the Machiavellian tenacity of the very tiger that took hold when you were in the womb, hungry to see light, and your mother’s eyes.

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