What is going on here? A view from a psychologist perspective.
John likes danger, yes, the excitement, the adrenaline rush but not just from the cases; he relishes the fact that Sherlock brings this to their relationship in their emotional dynamics. Even without a case, John cannot look away if Sherlock is in his presence, he is a moth to the flame and is very much party to the way Sherlock ‘plays’ with him. Sherlock brings it to John’s attention that he IS manipulating him, toying with him, he always lets John know that it is a GAME. John even anticipates that the ruse is in play, he states it, warns against reprisal. There is an understanding that when Sherlock brings out certain emotions that they may not be real or they may be disguising some other issue. But John understands this and wants this, he loves it, and notice the reproach never actually arrives. Just like in the tube, John sees manipulation when Sherlock begins, he does his shouting, his faces, but in the end he allows it to continue, and he ends it with a diatribe and a smile. Sherlock knows that smile is coming. It’s all sexy to them.
John does literally throw himself, body and soul, onto Sherlock once he is back. We may not have seen a hug, like we did with Lestrade, or a kiss, as we did AU with Molly and Jim, but John was around Sherlock’s neck, on top of him and in his face. This is their way of getting physical. If I had these two men in my office for a counselling session I would point out that they were substituting anger for sexual passion. One of them has latent homosexual feelings, the other is gaining pleasure from the game versus from the physical act of sex. One taunts and manipulates, the other reacts and is impressed. Consent is very much a given here. It’s a form of S & M. John wants Sherlock to up his game. The more Sherlock does it the more ‘love’ he is showing John.
Occasionally we see the two drop the act, the scene in the hallway was an example. If the stakes get very high they don’t do this ‘dance’, in TRF the stakes were too high and we saw a more grounded and desperate interaction, even the manipulation that Sherlock did to John was done in a far more serious and reticent vein. I am assuming we will get more of this in the ‘climax’ by series end, when the stakes will be raised very high. In the tube they were dancing their dance, healthy? No. Consensual? Yes. It is how they say ‘I love you’. The smiles at the end signify message recieved.
I can get behind this theory 100%. If you look at the timing of it all, Sherlock takes advantage of the emotion they were sharing pre-bomb diffusing and when he comes up from the bomb he admits that he doesn’t know how to fix THINGS. He never refers to the bomb specifically after he diffuses it. He is using the emotion/adrenaline to ask for forgiveness in the only way he can. John thinks (at first) that Sherlock is asking him to forgive him for getting him into this mess, and they both run with that. Almost having two separate conversations. Sherlock does look genuinely shocked when john says he forgives him…i think maybe sherlock was going to try to pick a bigger fight and let the adrenaline take over for both of them so they could get it all out…but then john surprised him with his forgiveness. Our tiny tyrant ALWAYS surprises him.
Initially I was not ok with this scene, but now that I rewatch it, and I can look for the timing, I have decided I am very much ok with it.
It is Sherlock communicating and being emotional in the easiest way he knows how. It’s a language both parties have agreed on. They’re just a little rusty.
I am just going to say “Umph…”