As if I hadn’t anything to do, I started watching BBC’s “Sherlock” some days ago, and today I couldn’t resist to watch the final episode — The Reichenbach Fall.
Damn you, Mr. Moffat. I mean, you make me feel so… ordinary, so plain, and so, … DULL.
For people who haven’t watched the series: It is a modern variation on the ever popular Sherlock Holmes theme, set in modern London. Actually, at times Mr. Moffat, the playwright, has the elegant and sometimes brilliant approach of a good fan-fiction writer who just sets his story in a good Alternate Universe and picks whatever he fancies of the original.
Unlike some of Agatha Christie’s novels, or even like some of the original Conan Doyle stories, his plots are very feasible. He leaves clues all around — the riddle can be solved, and sometimes it isn’t so hard after all. The first one was the easiest I think. Obviously it was a cab driver or a policeman, and by one scene later we are sure — of course, a cab driver.
So, after watching the “Reichenbach Fall” for the very first time, all I know is — I have to re-watch it, definitely. (I watched the end various times in single-frame though).
The plot in short
Moriarty wants to destroy Holmes, and more than in a physical way. The latter would be easy. He has a gun, why not simply put a bullet into Holmes’s brain? Moriarty wants to play though, so, he sets up a devellish plan. (What a great word to write — I think I never used it before!)
The episode starts impressive, but harmless: Moriarty breaks into the Tower of London, simultaneously breaking into the security system of the Bank of England. Nothing goes amiss, Moriarty just flaunts his jewellery. (Gosh I love him in that.) He gets sued, and despite an abundance of proof and the lack of a defence, he goes free. He just bought the whole jury. Or more likely, blackmailed them, as none of them seems so very happy before the verdict.
So, he plants an idea in people’s heads. It is just impossible that Holmes solves cases with ease that others fail at. One possible explanation: He is darn brilliant. Second explanation: He was involved.
The suspicion is raised when a rescued abduction victim screams when Holmes enters her room. It is to be noted that I personally think she points out Watson, so it is him that frightens her, but more on that later on.
People start to doubt him. This is helped by the fact that Moriarty knows a great deal about Holmes’s life, made possible by Holmes’s brother, Mycroft, who gave Moriarty tit for tat to get him talking when he “inquired”. Another helper is an apparently disappointed ambitious journalist. She is the one whom Moriarty turns to.
Now that’s where the genius comes in: Moriarty makes her believe that he is called Rich Brook (Which is actually what “Reichenbach” means, more or less, just btw.) and is an actor. Holmes has paid him to play the villain. His role surely deserves an Oscar there.
In between there is a lovely scene where Moriarty interrupts Holmes playing Bach partitas. They have tea and Moriarty butchers an apple, adorning it with the letters “I O U”.
The final showdown is unavoidable. There are assassins about, they all moved into Baker street. They are not after Holmes, it seems, in fact, no one could wish for more diligent guardian angels. They are there though to make sure to kill his friends should Holmes survive, as Moriarty assures him. He seems to have told the truth; after Sherlock is lying on the pavement, Watson’s head flips out of the crosshair, and they are packing their things.
Moriarty does something completely unlikely, and not very explainable: He shoots himself in the head, apparently. Looks like a bloody mess.
Holmes has been convinced that there is no secret code, and no way to call the assassins back either. Holmes jumps from the top of the building, where the showdown has taken place, one that can also be filed under “Slashiest Moments In The History Of Filmmaking”.
So, of course, obviously, Holmes is not dead. The actor has already been contracted for the next episodes. Holmes stands at the side of the graveyard, smiling, as final act of Moffat to just rub it in.
So now… HOW?
But wait, wait, maybe this is the wrong question altogether. Moriarty insists a few times in the episode on the importance of the right question, so, what is it?
I think it is connected with the very mysterious IOU. What is it he owes him? Or do the letters even mean something completely else?
Maybe the right question has to be asked before the suicide of which we know it is a fake: What the heck is going on?
In scene one already Holmes is seeing it cannot continue this way. He is too popular. No way to investigate if you are a “public” detective all of a sudden.
I think the flaw in all the theories I have heard and read so far is that they start on the roof-top right before Holmes jumps.
My theory: Everything matters, especially in this episode, maybe even some things said and done in the episodes before. Not only seeing Holmes jump makes Watson believe. Everything that happened beforehand makes him believe. And what is more — We believe! We see Holmes chased by enemies, without any possible escape. Everyone is against him, not even his brother is able to say anything to wash him clean of it.
Let’s leave the good-and-evil business out here for now; let’s assume Holmes has a criminal mind. For the first time, he does what others normally do: He plots, and isn’t only snivelling the trails of a crime.
I refuse to believe that Holmes is a victim of events. Let’s assume he is active, or at least that he gives the plot a turn even one essential time, leading it exactly where he wants to.
Let’s not only see, but observe — (I feel so ordinary, damn you, Mr. Moffat …)
- What is missing? The camera. It is never cleared up who planted it there — Mycroft’s surveillance?
- Let’s imagine you are a sociopath maybe, but you have one best friend. You want him to WATCH you jump? In seriousness? He’ll believe it anyhow when you’re dead on the pavement, huh? So why is this so crucial? Pride? I don’t think so, I think Mr. Boast-A-Lot was cured. So, this is a real riddle. The theory with the inflatable thingy where Holmes lands upon not to break his neck … Almost impossible to exclude the possibility of a witness.
- He tosses the cellphone aside before he jumps. Why? John has still his eyes on him. So, the body was not his down there, and there was no way the cellphone could be planted on the body, which means — he never came close to that body then.
- Why is he so emotional towards Molly? This is the thing most out of character for him, actually. “You always mattered”, or what was it again? This sounds like *now, kiss!* and also, it is so over-emotionalized I find it creepy. It sounds like something Moriarty would say, exactly because it is something Molly would love to hear. She loves dependency.
- The rubber ball he keeps tossing and catching. Maybe a way to mask the pulse, but my cell-phone theory assumes that it isn’t his body there.
- The puppet in one of the first scenes. It is hanged. (Not hung, thank you Mr. Holmes, surely you know the difference between a hanged man and a hung man, according to your wicked smile.)
- Moriarty’s Sir Boast-A-Lot story seems like a hoax. Who is the one flaunting His Majesty’s crown?
- Where does Donovan have her ideas from? She could be blackmailed or bought, maybe it isn’t this spontaneous.
- What happens before the screaming kid? Some dialogue along the lines of “Whatever, just don’t be yourself.” In the context, I find it weird.
- Holmes seems chased and driven in the episode, apart from the one time he meets Moriarty at his flat. He’s already got the kettle boiling, like a good host. He never asks Moriarty how he would like his tea. This is essential, as they haven’t exactly had tea together before. Or have they? What if …
What is more than a riddle, and could be part of the solution:
- In the episode with the missing children, we witness Holmes thinking progress like in all of the other episodes. However, we don’t see him like this at the episode with the crown jewels, only later on in court when he judges the jury. Later on? Nothing. Which means: It isn’t a riddle for him. It is not even of interest: He set it up!
- The meeting with Moriarty in his flat. Is it that I am not English, … but if the man I have sworn death to is kind enough to visit me, I would at least pour the hot tea into his lap and not have banter! Is this gentlemanly? I don’t know, but it seems all too gentlemanly. Whose is the camera? Whomever it belongs to — they must have watched the encounter. With Holmes knowledge, too, in my opinion, as again, when Holmes finds it, it isn’t subtitled in thoughts.
- Moriarty’s suit alone would have at least a hundred little hints he could have read, but apparently he focusses on the tapping of his fingers. Now this is very far off.
Solution? The meeting was staged on Holmes’ behalf. It was recorded. My assumption: Mycroft has the recording.
We know from the Hound of Baskerville episode that Holmes has no hesitation to scare Watson almost to death, putting him under drugs, and making him belief that a huge hound is after him, just to prove his theory. What if he is just as cold-blooded on other occasions?
Watson is authentic, he won’t be able to fake grief; Holmes knows this. He deliberately leads Holmes to the showdown he has with Moriarty on the roof. Just by the way, the coat the corpse on the pavement has, has one strange button. The camera, maybe? No doubt the encounter was recorded as well.
Let’s suppose Moriarty and Holmes have a deal of sorts. (Yes, the IOU bothers me highly.) By what could Moriarty feel bound? By a favour? I highly doubt that Mr. Holmes is able to give any favours that would bribe Moriarty. (I have some very interesting ideas in that respect, but this is off the point.)
So, I guess that whoever solves the riddle of “IOU” has the solution. I haven’t. So I’m going to re-watch and guess on tomorrow.
Maybe we’re all Sir Boast-A-Lots, and the solution is really deadly simple.