There’s a hall of mirrors in John’s mind, nothing as impressive as Sherlock’s mind palace ever was, but it does the work. It’s a long corridor, and John decides he can finally see himself the way so many others have.
Of course they’re all just variations on a single theme. Desperation. Whether it’s the irritation of years of partners who couldn’t put up with him, the terror of soldiers he couldn’t save, the bewilderment of everyone who wondered why he trailed after Sherlock like a loyal dog, and even the madman who used him like the pawn he is, they’re all seeing the same picture of one John Watson. Desperate. Desperate for approval. Desperate to feel something. Desperate to feel anything.
It made John something easy to use and forget, replaceable.
And in the end it wasn’t enough to save anyone.