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In Sherlock S03E03, every time when I watch the scene of Mary shooting Sherlock, I get perplexed about Mary's actual intention.

Let's have a look at the facts:

  • Just after she shot him, Molly and Anderson (in Sherlock's head) decide how he should fall, because merely falling the wrong way would be fatal.
  • Sherlock uses his mind palace to calm himself, as both Pain and Shock would kill him.
  • He is declared dead for some time (the ECG shows a flat-line). The doctors walk away. He comes back only through superhuman force of will, to save John.
  • When John informs Mary that Sherlock has woken up and pulled through, Mary's face becomes serious.
  • In the Leinster Gardens, Mary points the gun at the shadowy figure as if to shoot him then Sherlock reminds her "If I die here, my body will be found in a building with your face projected on the front of it. Even Scotland Yard could get somewhere with that".

So, did she actually intend to incapacitate Sherlock? Or her motive was something else?

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So, did she actually intend to incapacitate Sherlock? Or her motive was something else?

Incapacitate?...Yes. - Kill?...No

The intention was for her to apparently kill Sherlock in order to gain time to actually get him to keep quiet and not tell John Watson that she was an assasin.

Magnussen would keep quiet because it was his MO as a blackmailer/influence peddler.

Sherlock clarifies later in the episode and Mary agrees.

MARY: "Why would you help me?"

SHERLOCK: "Because ... you saved my life

"When I happened on you and Magnussen ... you had a problem. More specifically, you had a witness.

"The solution, of course, was simple. Kill us both and leave. However, sentiment got the better of you.

"One precisely-calculated shot to incapacitate me ...in the hope that it would bide [NB or "buy"..it's not clear] you more time to negotiate my silence.

Full Transcript

Mary then called the ambulance

JOHN: How did she save your life?

SHERLOCK: She phoned the ambulance.

JOHN: I phoned the ambulance.

SHERLOCK: She phoned first.


When John informs Mary that Sherlock has woken up and pulled through, Mary's face becomes serious.

Because she's afraid Sherlock will reveal her involvment in his shooting. Indeed she visits him in the hospital to make sure he doesn't tell John.

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