*Please Note: This blog contains spoilers on Sherlock S2.*
After Sunday night’s Sherlock episode, I’m having a tough time…
Making sense of things.
The episode is haunting me. Not in a negative, oh my God I’m having nightmares, sort of way, but rather in the way an ex haunts you after a break up. You stand there post-break up, this crying mess, wondering “what did I miss? Where did it go wrong?” That’s how I felt after watching “The Reichenbach Fall.”
An emotional and mental mess.
I’ve seen the episode three times and I still have a lump in my throat. I’m still saying WTF?!
The finale itself was a masterpiece, an intricately woven work of art that kept the suspense coming throughout, building with each passing minute. It kept us guessing at each turn, prompting us to observe, question and over analyze. The script was perfection and was further solidified in its awesomeness by Cumberbatch and Freeman’s wonderful acting, which in my opinion is among the best acting I’ve seen in a long time.
BAFTAs for the both of them. Please.
For those that have yet to see the episode I ask you kindly to step away from your screen, because I’m about to spill the beans and give you some of my theories on what I believe we witnessed.
Setting up the fall
After a week of taunting from creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis on twitter, audiences buckled down Sunday night and held their collective breath, waiting for the fall to take place. We knew it was coming. But what the end result would be was still up in the air…similar to our favorite consulting detective.
The Final Problem
For readers/viewers familiar with Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Final Problem,” —it served as the inspiration for the series 2 finale— the turn of the episode’s events weren’t a surprise. In the story Sherlock and Moriarty fall to their deaths at the Reichenbach falls, while in the BBC drama Moriarty chillingly informs Sherlock that he owes him a fall.
“I O U”
And a fall is exactly what Moriarty gives him.
First you have a metaphorical fall: Sherlock’s fall from grace.
Moriarty discredits Sherlock, convincing the world he’s a fake; He even goes so far as to say that Sherlock has made up this Moriarty character, hiring an actor named Richard Brook (the English translation of Reichenbach) to play Moriarty, in order to elevate himself to celebrity detective status.
As for the final fall—this one would in fact be a physical one.
Moriarty would force Sherlock to commit suicide by jumping to his death— and if Sherlock didn’t, Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade would be killed by snipers.
Its a game that Moriarty has played with Sherlock from the start and he’s finally won.
Or has he?
As Sherlock gets ready to jump he realizes that he doesn’t have to, all he has to do is convince Moriarty to call off the killers. Sherlock tells him “I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.” And when Moriarty calls him an ordinary person who is on the side of the angels, Sherlock replies with “I may be on the side of the angels but don’t think for a second I’m one of them.” And with that, they shake hands. For one second you think all will be well. Moriarty seems pleased but then Mr. Crazy puts the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger.
I sure as hell wasn’t expecting that. Sherlock didn’t even expect that.
With Moriarty dead, Sherlock has no choice but to jump. He must sacrifice himself in order to save his friends; and as he stands on that rooftop, he stretches his hand out, reaching out to his dear friend John Watson, he says his goodbye and jumps. Your heart just breaks.
Watson quickly tries to make his way to the body but is knocked down by some dude on a bike. When he gets up and sees Sherlock lying on the ground with his eyes vacant of any life, he reaches out to him, grabbing his wrist briefly in an attempt to feel his pulse.
The scenes that follow are heartbreaking with Watson sitting alone, barefooted at 221B Baker Street; then on his way to the cemetery with Mrs. Hudson. At the grave site he says his final goodbye and pleads with his dead friend “…there’s just one more thing, one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me, don’t be …dead. Would you do that just for me? Just stop it. Stop this…” He then, in what is seriously the moment that broke me, allows himself to sob, collects himself, stands up straight and becomes military John Watson. Serious. Sad. Lonely John Watson. And walks away.
As he walks from the grave the camera follows behind him before finally pulling back to a wider shot, until it reveals a very much alive Sherlock Holmes (who Watson doesn’t see) standing there in the flesh, watching his good friend mourn for him. And with that the screen fades to black.
After the initial shock subsided fans were left wondering how did Sherlock survive the fall? How did he fake his own death?
There are a plethora of theories out on the internet as to what happened to Sherlock.
First we should look at what we know for sure.
-Sherlock arranged the meeting, and picked the location. He’s a smart man, he knows he could very well be walking to his death, but he wouldn’t do this unless he had a plan. He’s Sherlock, after all.
-Right before he texts Moriarty to meet him on the roof, he tells Molly he’s going to die and that he needs her. So we know Molly is key in his survival. She has access to the morgue. Plenty of blood, plenty of bodies.
-Sherlock was looking at and talking to Watson right before he jumps. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is the one that jumps from the building.
Back in H.S. my English teacher told me “you never introduce a deer head into a scene unless its important.” During this last episode there were a lot of deer head moments.
1. We had the hanging dummy that was dressed very Sherlock-esque in their flat. Could the dummy be the body we see on the floor?
2. Moriarty’s playing of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees (Thanks Callie for pointing this out). Its the same tune that plays when Irene disturbs him (and his snipers) at the pool during the first episode of the season. Staying Alive, Sherlock lives another day?!
3. The little kidnapped girl screams when she sees Sherlock. This has led some to speculate that the kidnapper had a Sherlock mask on.
4.The Homeless Network: Sherlock has been known to rely on his homeless network in the past, and even turned to them earlier in the episode. Could they have played a role in Sherlock’s survival?
5.That ball he’s bouncing. a) If you put a ball under your arm it stops your pulse from beating. He could’ve had that under his arm so when Watson checked his pulse he would feel nothing. b) Sherlock was fussing with the ball while he was in the lab “thinking.” Could he have figured out how to make something fall and then have it “bounce back?”
6. Tall tales: The journalists had “Make Believe” on her wall–Moriarty calls newspapers fairy tales…a possible foreshadowing that his death would be faked?
7. Sherlock is adamant that John remain in a certain spot, preventing him from seeing the entire sidewalk and obstructing his view partially once the body hits the pavement,.
8.The guy on the bike that knocks John Watson over obviously did it on purpose. He kept going, didn’t bother to see if John was OK or what the fuss was about on the side walk.
9. The garbage (or was it a laundry) truck. Its kept there and blocks John’s view, but the moment the body is shown to hit the ground it drives on. Could the truck have concealed a mattress or a suicide net that helped cushion Sherlock’s fall? Or could Sherlock have jumped on the truck and then rolled over on to the ground?
10.Then we of course should take the previous two episodes in series 2 into account. In the first we see Irene Adler’s death faked, not once but twice—with the second fake death assisted by Sherlock. So we know he can fake a death that will fool even the government. During the Hounds of Baskerville we were introduced to a gas that would let “you see what you expect to see,” it would essentially make your worst fear come true. Could john then have been seeing what he expected to see, similar to the HoB episode, except instead of a psycho animal with red eyes, he sees a dead Sherlock on the pavement? And if so, did anyone see a fog around him that would indicate the gas from HoB was being used again during “The Reichenbach Fall” episode?
11. Recurring theme of Sentiment=fall. Throughout the series we’ve been reminded how “Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” Its how Moriarty gets the jury to say he’s not guilty. Sentiment is what gives Adler away and puts her in danger after her password is revealed “I A M S H E R LOCKED” And its how we as an audience knew Moriarty would use the people Sherlock loved most, to get him to do something unthinkable.
12. Here’s something else I want to throw out there. Did you notice that whenever Sherlock shook hands or touched anyone of those trained assassins, the assassin was killed by a sniper. Is it ironic then that once Sherlock shakes Moriarty’s hand he kills himself. Is there a connection? Lets think about this for a second, Sherlock purposely says “He was killed because I shook his hand” earlier in the episode, and when he shakes the hand of a shaken up and teary Moriarty, BOOM!
Something else to ponder.
Could these all be pieces of the puzzle?
Here’s my theory:
Sherlock did jump, but since we don’t know how much time passed between Moriarty shooting himself and Watson showing up, Sherlock could’ve called Molly to set something up. I’m thinking she rounded up the homeless network and they’re the folks that run to Sherlock’s body when he falls. And I’m guessing he either landed on the truck or on a padded surface of sorts (maybe even a suicide net) that would prevent the fall from killing him. Its him on the floor. You can’t deny that’s his face, his eyes and his outfit.
Molly then signed the death certificate and the body in Sherlock’s grave is actually Moriarty. We never did hear about Moriarty/Richard Brook’s body being recovered. There’s no mention of it on John Watson’s Blog. So I’m guessing Moriarty’s body is in the grave. (I do think Moriarty is dead). Meanwhile Sherlock hides in the shadows, trying to keep his love ones safe all the while attempting to down Moriarty’s network behind the scenes.
The Science of Deduction
Moffat has said that the answers on how he survived the fall can all be found in the episode. So what did we see? We saw him jump. But did we really see him? Or did we see what we wanted to see? Observation has always been key in this series.
I guess at the end of it, to find the answer, we the viewers have to become our very own versions of Sherlock, watching the episode over and over and observing as much as possible. Perhaps we should take a hint from Sherlock’s own blog and follow his example:
1. I observe everything.
2. From what I observe, I deduce everything.
3. When I’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.
While we wait for the real answer to be revealed in Series 3 (it may not premiere for another year and a half) tell me what you saw when he jumped. What have you deemed to be impossible and what’s the truth?
You can leave a comment here or shoot me a tweet @shirlz1123