Sunday, March 5, 2023

I Know as Little [YELL]

Much has been said about Sherlock Holmes's failure in "The Yellow Face."  But I have to say, I don't fault him for falling short on this one.  As a wise man once said you can't make bricks without clay.  And Holmes is dealing with a severe handicap in this case because Grant and Effie Munro might be the dumbest people in the Canon.  How can you solve a case when it is being bungled on so many levels before it ever gets to you?

Let's run down some of their behaviors:
  • Grant accepts that Effie's first husband died of yellow fever when he saw the man's death certificate, but never wondered why there wasn't a death certificate for her daughter.  Also, Effie doesn't have any pictures or papers from her previous life.  Annnndddd.... she wears a locket but says it doesn't open.  There is some shady stuff going on here, but dear old Grant, or Jack, or whatever his name is, isn't bright enough to question any of it.  
  • Effie expects to get a hundred pounds from her husband and not raise any suspicion in him.  Hmmm.....
  • Grant gives his wife a hundred pounds without any explanation and "never thought any more of the matter." Must be nice to never have to think about that kind of money.

  • The Munros live in a fairly uninhabited area, but Grant decides to NOT tell his wife of the unpleasant people who just moved in down the street. Sounds dangerous.
  • And then he lets his wife sneak out at night after knowing there's something odd going on at that house?  This guy doesn't seem very bright.
  • Effie is a very bad liar when Grant catches her sneaking back in that night.  If she's sneaking around, she probably should have been ready with an explanation.

  • The next day, Grant actually catches Effie coming out of that house.  And her plea?  "Trust me only this once."  It seems like she's already been asking his trust plenty in this story.
  • Does Grant find out what's going on with his wife and why she's been acting strangely lately?  Nope.  Instead, he says, "Okay, but no more of this nonsense.  Got it?"  Grant Munro has clearly never heard the adage "Give her an inch and she'll take a mile."  Of course she's going to agree.  And of course she's going to keep sneaking around on you, you dope.

  • Because as soon as Grant leaves the house again, where does Effie go?  Right back to where he asked her not to.  How does this guy honestly expect his wife to avoid it?  Even if she did try to stay true to her word, it's right down the street.  There is no avoiding the problem here.  But go ahead, Grant, hide your head in the sand, you blockhead.
  • Now, if Grant Munro isn't dumb enough already, let's look how this next thing plays out.  He returns home to find Effie gone.  Asks the maid where she is and hears she's gone for a walk.  He tells Holmes, "My mind was instantly filled with suspicion."  He knows she's gone off to the forbidden house, but he runs up to their bedroom to check?  Grant Munro has no idea what's happening in that strange house, and instead of rushing after her, he checks the bedroom, just to make sure.  He's lucky there's not an ax murderer in that other house.  What a dummy.
  • Effie tries to calm Grant down but still won't tell him what's going on.  He clearly doesn't want her going to that house, but says he can't trust her and leaves.  Hey, smart guy, guess where your wife goes when you aren't around?  I can't believe this guy didn't drive Holmes to drugs.  Oh wait....
  • (Side note, Grant hasn't gone to work for a couple of days by this point.  He is either A: someone with a very reliable staff, B: someone who isn't that important at the office, or C: someone who is about to get fired. You decide.)
  • After all of this, Grant Munro visits Sherlock Holmes and tells his story.  Holmes listens, sends him back, and says to see if anyone is still in the house.  Grant does, and when Holmes and Watson arrive, by golly, Grant Munro has decided that he will force his way into that house.  Where was this decision making when a scary face was looking out of the window, or his wife was sneaking off in the middle of the night, or his wife was walking out of the actual house?  Now this guy gets a backbone?  Grant Munro is the worst.
  • I've focused quite a bit on how dumb Grant Munro is, but here Effie Munro really starts to shine.  Her husband and two complete strangers approach the mystery house and she tries the same old ploy.  "Trust me again, and you will never have cause to regret it."  Lady, you've got to have something stronger than that.  You haven't really thought this out, have you?
  • Turns out, Effie Munro's daughter from her previous marriage was still alive, and Effie left her there to move to England?  Mother of the year, right there.

  • Okay, so here was Effie's great plan.  Move her young daughter and caretaker into an abandoned house down the road from her own.  The kid was never allowed outside and had to wear a mask and gloves at all time so no one would know that she was a Black child.  Has Effie Munro ever been around children?  There is no way that this, or any kid, will keep a mask and gloves on 24/7.  And that's your big plan?  A mask?  Good Lord, these two people are paragons of intelligence.
  • But back to Grant.  Because even when he was in the same room as Effie's daughter, he couldn't tell she was wearing a mask?  I'm at a loss for words with this guy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Doctor Watson listed "The Yellow Face" as one of Sherlock Holmes's failures.  Not because Holmes couldn't solve the great mystery of a little girl wearing a mask, but because Holmes's client and adversary were so stupid that Holmes's deductions couldn't stoop low enough to make rhyme or reason of their behaviors. 

Maybe "Norbury" wasn't a code word to keep Holmes humble after all, maybe it was a reminder that some people are so stupid that not even Sherlock Holmes can help them.

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