The first time you see it, it can hit you really hard, especially since Sherlock is on a total roll and John delivers the line “please God, let me live” in a way where you can be forgiven for not being sure if it’s serious or snark. It apparently has the same effect on Sherlock, as well.
We never do get any details on how Captain John Watson of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers was wounded in action. But from this exchange alone, it’s clear the situation was extremely serious. He was badly wounded, nearly died, and developed PTSD- Sherlock had himself earlier pointed out that the original circumstances of John’s injury must have been ‘traumatic’, and he meant emotionally traumatic, not just violent and painful. The blunt earnestness of John’s response even trips up Sherlock for a second or two, and he’s just been ranting and raving about not understanding why a woman would care about her stillborn baby after fourteen years. This also works as a tearjerker in hindsight if you recall ‘Please God, let me live’ whenever John is genuinely in physical danger elsewhere in the series.
Pretty much everyone in the room agrees that in your last moments, you would think about the people you love the most. John apparently had no one to think about when he was close to dying. He really must have been lonely even before he returned from Afghanistan.
I hate you for making this post because it’s the best I’ve read on this subject and it hurts.
This is all very interesting, but I beg to differ on one point: I don’t think we can assume that John had no dear ones to think about when on the verge of dying, in Afghanistan, just because his “last” thought would be “Please God let me live”.
Instead, I think this shows us that John has a better, less “romantic” and more realistic, understanding of the psychology of people in such extreme situations.
What I mean is that, while when a person is CERTAIN that he or she is going to die (for instance, because is going to be executed) in a few moments, it’s likely that his/her last thoughts will be for her/his loved ones (even if an understandable regret for having to leave this world would be as much human and as much likely), when, instead, a person is in a life-threatening situation whose outcome is NOT certain, where the risk of dying is huge but there is still some, albeit small, even VERY small, hope of survival (of being rescued, of escaping, of surviving the wound, etc.), the most instinctive, primal thought is more commonly a plain, basic, simple “I DON’T WANT TO DIE. Please - God, Fate, Whatever - let me live”.
I personally know people who have been in this kind of situation and I can assure you that THIS is what they thought in these occurrences - not family, not spouses, not children, but LIFE itself, their will to live, their own attachment to life.
It’s this that John is saying (thus contradicting Lestrade and Anderson, too), because he knows it by experience: when someone is trying to kill you, your dominant thought is just “I DON’T WANT TO DIE”.
Which, in a way, is a closer understanding of Jennifer Wilson’s last mood and feelings than Lestrade’s and Anderson’s one, and it’s also closer to Sherlock’s own intuition: after all, by scratching a clue in order to lead the police on the track of her murderer, Jennifer was seeking posthumous vengeance, that is, a way of affecting this world even after her death, a sort of survival after her own death…