This scene was actually when I went from feeling more or less neutral on Joan to actively disliking her.
Because wow, that was patronizing.
I loved that scene in Elementary.
1) Firstly, because it immediately deconstructs the “hero throws and breaks something in frustration” cliche (Sherlock throwing a glass slide in HoB, anyone?) it might even be seen as a parody of that cliche.
2) Secondly, because the dynamic is different between a man and a woman than it would be between two women or two men, the visual of a man smashing something in a temper in front of a woman can be taken as threatening or borderline abusive. Joan Watson immediately shows that she is not intimidated by Holmes’ behavior.
3) Lastly? One of the running themes of Elementary is the deconstruction of Sherlock Holmes as the solitary, antisocial genius, and his becoming a member of a community. Holmes’ gifts are given their due respect, but no one in Elementary plays the game of Because Sherlock Holmes is a Bloody Genius He Can Do Whatever He Wants So There. When Sherlock goes after Moriarty (“M”), Captain Gregson suspends him. When Sherlock doesn’t want to talk about his addiction, Alfredo says “You’ve got to get over yourself.” And when Sherlock behaves like a spoiled child, Joan tells him “Use your words.”
You see Joan patronizing Sherlock. I see a member of Sherlock’s community teaching him how to behave like an adult member of that community.
It’s amazing to me how many people will say they like female characters, and they do! They like a lot of female characters. Even typically “unlikable” or antiheroic ones with lots of negative qualities. UNTIL that female character does something that shows she is NOT A DOORMAT for a “more important” male character.
A female character who does not drop everything in her own life to care for HIS emotional needs 24/7, who dares to not show 100% sympathy or 100% approval for everything he does, etcetera, etcetera. It’s actually hard to pick up on because a lot of people will *still* like the female character who is bitchy to other women or unsympathetic men, or like her when she is acting “unsympathetic” in a way that benefits the “hero”— but turn on her when she is anything but subservient to the “hero.”