FEATURE: The Great Sherlock Conundrum


This time last week, everyone was preparing themselves for the finale of the BBC's Sherlock in which we eagerly awaited the showdown of the century, an epic battle of minds that we all knew would result in a fall of momentous proportions between Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty. It did not disappoint. But was anyone really prepared for what happened at the end? For those of you who haven't seen it yet (if not, why not?!), you may want to look away now as this post contains spoilers of both the literal and theoretical nature.

Fans of the stories will know, of course, that the confrontation at the Reichenbach Falls ends with Sherlock and Moriarty falling to their deaths. Updated to the modern setting, the ending was nothing short of genius. But how did Sherlock fake his own death? Well we, like the rest of the show's audience, have our own ideas, which we present to you for your perusal. Please feel free to comment with your own theories or to continue with some of ours.

BECKY: 
           Having rewatched the end of The Reichenbach Fall, I now present to you my theory. Going from the point at which Sherlock calls John on his mobile as he gets out of the taxi, Sherlock places a huge amount of emphasis on where John is to stand, even stating at one point "Keep your eyes fixed on me". John is so emotionally wrapped up on Sherlock's 'suicide note' that plenty of other things could have happened in front of him without him noticing.
First of all, Sherlock's previous conversation with Molly is essential; as a pathologist she has access to both dead bodies and medical staff to aid her and Sherlock in convincing both John and the assassins waiting to kill his friends that Sherlock has actually fallen to his death. 
For the eagle-eyed among you, the first shot of Sherlock's 'body' on the floor also features a rubbish truck that is filled with bags and neatly parked in front of the landing. Sherlock actually jumps into the rubbish truck whilst Molly has placed a dead body, daubed in blood and in Sherlock's clothes on the pavement. When the rubbish truck drives away, as it does once pedestrians and John start to surround the body, it takes the very much alive Sherlock with it. Molly has organised the paramedics to take the body away and the people around aren't necessarily the wiser for what has happened (Another interesting theory that I have seen is that the people surrounding the body are members of Sherlock's Homeless Network, mentioned throughout the episode as having helped the investigation).
Meanwhile, in John's trip from where he was standing to where the body is on the floor, he is crashed into, rather conveniently by a cyclist. The point of the cyclist is that he administers John with the fear-inducing hallucinogenic drug from the previous Baskerville episode. In the moments leading up to this event, John is told that his best friend is about to commit suicide right in front of him. Therefore, when John makes it over to the body, his worst fear will be seeing Sherlock dead on the pavement. So that is what he sees.
"But!" I hear you cry, "we see Sherlock's body for ourselves!" But do we?
The shots of Sherlock's body are mostly obscured; we see the back or side of his head. Before the facial shot we do see, the camera focuses on John looking at Sherlock's body, perhaps hinting that we are seeing things from his point of view. If he has been injected with the Baskerville drug, then the audience is seeing his hallucination, not the reality of the dead body.
Also, to keep the rumour alive that Sherlock is a fake, Moriarty is buried in Sherlock's coffin, thus destroying any evidence that he existed in the first place and proving that Sherlock made him up.

There you go, my nerdiness and attention to detail knows no bounds. Over to Jen.


JEN: 
        I don't think there can possibly be anything you've missed here...or can there? 
According to an interview with Steven Moffat in the Guardian (which I admittedly haven't actually read, just heard about), there is one crucial detail that all the online theorists are missing. Thanks a million Steven, like we weren't all going out of our minds enough. I would love to say that I am now able to reveal that detail to you, but that would be a cruel lie. The only thing I can think of which is not in this (lengthy) theory, is Sherlock's face. I'm totally with you that John being crashed into by the cyclist is very important, but I don't think that he only sees Sherlock as the dead body because of fear, drug induced or otherwise. Earlier in the episode, the little girl Moriarty kidnapped screams when Sherlock walks into the room. Why? Because, as Sherlock himself poins out, she has been conditioned to fear this face. This could have been done with photographs and video footage of Sherlock, yes, but to produce that kind of reaction it's likely that Moriarty would have needed far more than a photograph. He would have needed to make the little girl believe that Sherlock was in the room with her. And to do that, I think he had a mask. It is this mask that is the 'something of mine' Sherlock tells Moriarty he has, i.e he has his face, and it is this mask that we see on the dead body- the dead body of Moriarty.
I do agree with you that Sherlock jumped into some sort of truck and escaped. I seem to vaguely remember there being a market stall, although I could be getting it confused with the truck. Again, I agree that this obscured viewpoint has definitely got to be the reason John has to stand exactly where he is told.

Thoughts? Personally I think we should just kidnap the entire production team until they tell us the truth and be done with it!


BECKY: 
           Whilst kidnapping is both tempting and a perfectly good solution to our conundrum, let us continue to speculate. 



As you very correctly pointed out, I did not refer to the girl screaming at Sherlock and yes, this is a gap in the theory I have proposed. The mask is a pretty convincing idea actually but, there is a slight flaw in that the dead body is wearing Sherlock's clothes. We see him before he jumps, and indeed when he is in the air wearing the iconic coat that John so affectionately took the mickey out of in the previous episode. Ah yes, the previous episode... So how about this for an explanation?
In The Hounds of Baskerville, Dr Stapleton specifically mentions that cloning is something that is going on within the world of science. Moriarty has connections pretty much everywhere. SO (and stick with me on this), he not only has Sherlock's face, but his entire identity and the girl screams at Sherlock because his clone had kidnapped them. Sherlock realises this, tracks down the clone, kills him, throws the clone body off the roof and convinces everyone, including John, that he is dead.

Who ever said these theories needed to be realistic?


JEN: 
       Argh I didn't even think about the clothes! NOT a sentence I ever thought I would say/write.
But yes, now that you so eloquently mention it, we did most definitely see said iconic coat flapping most gloriously about as Sherlock jumped. It is plausible that he could have put the coat on Moriarty. However it is less plausible that he would have wanted to be parted from it. So it does cause us a problem.

Go with the clone theory?


BECKY: 
           Let's go with the clone. Or Moffat could do something entirely wacky; the whole death is never explained because just as it's all about to kick off with fancy graphics and mind-bending twists, someone's phone starts playing 'Stayin' Alive'. Oh wait...


JEN:
       I still say we kidnap him.


BECKY: 
          Agreed.

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