The Power of Three

In Veronica Mars, our title character is a social outcast, her father the disgraced sherif, her mother gone and her social life destroyed. But in our other two films, we understand our main characters, Jeffries and Holmes, to be outsiders as well, Jeffries within the confines of his home and Holmes within the confines of his mind. Being an outsider in detective film, gives our main characters a perspective that enables them to be stellar detectives. The common thread that all three films weave is that either the audience or the main character looks at the film through both a metaphorical and a literal lens. In Veronica Mars, we see our main character’s literal telephoto lens that she uses to spy on people and in Rear Window, Jeffries watches his neighbors through his own telephoto lens. Sherlock is more subtle, the audience is placed behind the lens, always looking through windows or glass or the screen itself. Sherlock seems to exist in a sort of world all his own, very isolated from everyone and the audience feels that by being so removed from the action.

Isolation is a metaphorical lens that weaves these three together as well. Veronica Mars is a social outcast due to her father’s disgraced status as the town sheriff, her previous status with the popular kids revoked and we see her life tumble into a downward spiral that eventually leaves her cynical and on a path for vengeance. Jeffries, is also forcibly removed from his previous environment, having broken his leg. He’s stuck having to watch his neighbors for lack of better things to do because he cannot be in his normal environment. Like Veronica when we meet her, he’s not totally isolated, Jeffries has his girlfriend and caretaker during the film and Veronica has Wallace and her father (though her cynicism begins to make her not trust her father in the episode viewed in class). Sherlock is the lone character who is not forcibly removed from society and instead chooses not to partake of common societal norms (socialization for one…). This allows him to view the world from a different perspective, one that isn’t muddled with biases towards or against people. We can see this in the episode A Study in Pink where he begins to describe and convict Watson for shooting the villain, but then stops as he realizes it was Watson who most likely saved his life.


In The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett creates the idealized detective as someone who is removed and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals. In The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade throws his entire clientele to the police in order to save himself and bring back some semblance of normalcy. In Veronica Mars, our title character breaks into lockers and steals security feeds to bring some form of balance back to the corrupt justice system of Neptune High. Jeffries spies on his neighbors and ignores social norms to discover that his neighbor is a murderer. Sherlock constantly breaks laws, breaking into homes, stealing key cards, ignoring orders from authority figures, all to discover whodunit, how and why. Characters who partake of social hierarchy are usually portrayed as being less efficient then our detectives, who ignore rules and norms to achieve their ends and be stellar detectives.

Published by

E.P. King

Farmer boy, Permaculturalist, Barista, Photographer, Writer, Reader, Culinary Enthusiast. Tim Hegberg is an odd first year student at Dickinson College. He's been interested in photography for years, but picked up his first DSLR in 2007. Since then, he's traveled the United States and internationally taking photos along the way. He started experimenting with film that same year and taught himself to use Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Most recently he filmed a trip to Maine in a 6 video series, experimentally shot with a DSLR camera. He is currently enrolled in a program to earn a Permaculture Design Certification from the Permaculture Institue of Australia and just finished an internship at Side By Side Farms/CSA in Freeland, MD. He's done professional videography for Treasure Times Cooking, LLC. between 2008 and 2011. His photography has been featured on the front page of and occasionally writes articles for WhiteNoise and He also constantly has a sophisticated beverage and writes about himself in the third-person.