“Staying Alive” after The Reichenbach Fall

Source: Weheartit

*Please Note: This blog contains spoilers on Sherlock S2.*

After Sunday night’s Sherlock episode, I’m having a tough time…
Thinking clearly.
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?!

BAFTA winner Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. From the moment we see Watson in this episode you know Sherlock's gone. Cue tears.

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.

Watson listens while Sherlock gives him his "note"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


13 thoughts on ““Staying Alive” after The Reichenbach Fall

  1. Fabulous post!! Really! I really think you’ve nailed it. I’ll be re-watching with all this in mind. Let you know if I pick up anything else.

  2. A very Sherlockian approach. I’ve been racking my brain to try to find an answer to how he did it, but I’ve found the best theories are those I’ve been able to find online. There is so much going on in that scene and while I’ve rewatched it once already, I’m still baffled. I think you’re right about several of the points: not wanting John to move from the spot, the rubber ball (Sherlock even uses the words “magic trick” when he’s on the phone with John), the garbage/laundry truck, and Molly’s involvement, for instance. Now we just have to put all the pieces together! All I can say is that this show is certainly one of the best things I’ve ever watched and I love that it keeps us thinking and deducing, just like the great detective himself.

    • I was reading up a few theories and others too have noticed his use of the words “magic trick.”
      I must re-watch it over the weekend and see if there is anything I missed.
      Moffat gave an interview where he said he’s read the theories and everyone has failed to notice one vital clue. I wonder what it could be!

      I purposely read “The Final Problem” and “The Adventure of the Empty House” yesterday to see if there’s anything that could provide a hint. In the latter, Sherlock has a waxed body double/figure sitting in a chair at 221B Baker Street. Could the hanging dummy be Moffat & Gattis’ version of the waxed figure?

  3. I think that Sherlock’s fall overshadows one of the most important instances of the episode. The exchange of words between Sherlock and Moriarty and the result of it: what was the logical trap S. caught Moriarty with?? was there something in Sherlock’s words that made M. pull the trigger (I doubt that he killed himself because he was crazy). Did he make M. believe that it was S. behind all the crimes?

    • There’s definitely something very important about that face off between the two of them on the roof, and you’re right, we’ve overlooked that exchange because we’re so focused on figuring out how he survived the fall.

      Several folks on Tumblr have noted that Sherlock was perhaps recording Moriarty–there are a few shots where he’s concealing something in his hand. Note that he acted confused, making Moriarty explain himself and answer questions. Normally Sherlock doesn’t ask questions, he doesn’t want help, he just wants to figure things out on his own. Could he have been recording Moriarty’s confessions, so when he does “come back” he can clear his name?

      I’m still not sure what made Moriarty pull the trigger, I can’t figure it out. There had to be something in what Sherlock said “I am you.” Or maybe by killing himself it was his way of ensuring that Sherlock had to jump…since Moriarty was the only one that could stop the sharp shooters. The possibilities are endless!

      I just can’t wait to see what Moffat and Gattis have in store for us.

  4. I am coming in a little late with my views. Have seen the episode 10 times and have read all that has been blogged. We already know that Sherlock won’t enter into anything without actually planning it, so we need to think about the construct of the crime scene. He had planned the scene – name, place, time. He must have set up the call to John W., about Mrs. H being badly injured..this being timed by the entry of Moriarty into the building. The moment John got the cal, he knew M. is around. Yes, Molly and the homeless network must have played their part, although one wonders how SH could have banked so much on them being so timely and accurate performing their parts!

    So, there must have been someone else helping him out. How about Irene Adler? Moffat and Gatiss cannot let that trail go cold after so much of sizzle in Scandal in Belgravia. Although, out of respect for M., it is hard to believe that he wouldnt know about her survival and existance! But this line of thought can open up a face-face moment between Molly and Irene.. Not that Molly is important but one cant deny her devotion for SH.

    In the original series, when SH does return from being dead, it is said that he had help from Mycroft and couple of Moriarty’s cronies – John may blame Mycroft for many things but Mycroft might have been instrumental in catching Moriarty all along and the Holmes brothers might have teamed together to snare him. Notice how John never allows Mycroft to finish his sentences. All Mycroft is able to tellus in that scene is that they watch people like Moriarty. This could have been their plan all along. With John being so gullible and blinded by sentiments for SH, he worked out to be the perfect person who needed to be fooled about SH’s death and thereby stand as witness to the fall.

    I can’t rule out Lestrade either. Haven’t been able to factor him in though.

    And now for the items that SH would have used to plan his escape. SH throws away his cell phone, but what about M.’s? That could be used to call up/call off the snipers. Although he pretty well knew that the snipers ar waiting for his body to fall to call off their shooting, he might have decided to go on with the ‘falling to death’ plan so as to dissappear – that way it would be easier to catch M’s allies. M’s allies needn’t ever come to know about his death, SH could use the phone for those purposes ( little far fetched, I agree since we have got to respect both M’s and SH’s intellect – the phonebook would be empty, M would have been careful about that; and SH is not going to bank on something as indefinite as that!)

    About Bart hospital. Its not difficult for the police to figure out where the fugitives would be hiding. More so, Lestrade would be preventing the officials to make a search there. But what I want to draw attention to is that in all the episodes of Season 2, SH has been shown reading the newspaper, and twice, if I recollect correctly, the paper carried the news of some hospital being under renovation. The picture the paper caried was not that clear but it could have been Bart. This could help in setting up the scene to fake SH’s fall.

    SH appears at the graveyard, resurrected just as he was before he jumped. although his clothing is not important – he does dress up in exaclty the same way…why? ( I think I am just rambling off now!)

    The best person to hide SH would be Mycroft. The hogwash about their sibling rivalry is just to pull wool over John so that he doesnt go badgering Mycroft, leaving the trail warm for Moriaty’s people. And whatever the sibling rivalry is, SH and MH are far to supeior to allow these things to ruin a carefully constructed plan to catch Moriarty. Mycroft is as essential for SH’s comeback as Gatiss is to write Season 3!

    Wish they would take such a long time to produce Season 3, although I read somewhere that they have filmed the rest of the scene – as it had to be in continuation with ” The Final Problem”

  5. Very good. I do find it a bit suspicious that the van standing on the street drives away as soon as he has hit the ground… Well, we’ll see.

  6. Brilliant! Just one more thing: am I mistaken? Sherlock on the roof is wearing a white shirt. See him falling from the roof, he wears a white shirt, yet the blood covered body on the ground wears a purple shirt. And something else: could it be that Moriarty too faked his death? How come we don’t see or hear anything about his body having been found on the roof? Wouldn’t that have been in the news in some way or the other? And I still wonder if we are all missing out on another meaning of IOU….Why would there be this huge graffiti on the wall? IOU and wings attached. Wings of an angel….Ahhhhhhhh…does anyone else hear this slight sizzling noise coming from my brain? 😀

    • I actually think Sherlock was wearing a purple shirt. The white we see when he’s falling is the apparatus that’s keeping Benedict safe during the fall. If you search on you tube there is footage from a fan who was in London while they filmed the scene. You can see Benedict adjusting the white strap around his belly.

      I’m thinking Moriarty is dead, especially since Moffat and Gatiss are so loyal to the original works. But then again there are two Jim Moriartys in the ACD books. The professor and his brother.

      We’ll just have to wait and see! Lol

      • I checked and you are right. And I thought I was up to something.
        At least the mistake I found in “a study in pink” is valid. It’s “Die Rache” (f.) not “das Rache” (n.).
        Unfortunately this is not helping with the Reichenbach Fall conundrum…..

  7. I also noticed beats in the background right before the fall. At first they were fast, maybe a little slower than a heartbeat but as the phone call goes on, the beats get slower and slower until they stop. This might support the idea of Sherlock slowing his heart.

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