Sherlock Review: "The Reichenbach Fall"

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The acting, casting, direction and production values on Sherlock, as well as the underlying wit and creativity, are uniformly terrific. So what separates an amazing episode, such as "The Great Game" or "The Reichenbach Fall," from a merely great episode , such as "The Hounds of Baskerville" or "The Blind Banker?"

The best installments set up mystery after mystery, giving them a crazy, pinball energy unlike anything else on TV. In "Reichenbach," there are at least 7 distinct mysteries:

Sherlock Season 2 Finale Scene
  1. What's Moriarty's plan to get Sherlock?
  2. Why did Moriarty break into the bank, prison and Tower of London?
  3. Why are international killers moving in next to Sherlock?
  4. Where are the diplomat's kidnapped children?
  5. How is Sherlock going to clear his name?
  6. How is Sherlock going to save his friends?
  7. How the Hell is Sherlock still alive?


- Let's start with the obvious one: How did Sherlock fake his death? It would certainly seem like he enlisted Molly's help to create a lookalike corpse, but how he got it on the roof and fooled Moriarty's spotters is beyond me.

I rewatched his phone call with John a few times, and for what it's worth, it looks like he's calling from a different rooftop - you can see buildings behind him during closeups that you can't see when John is looking up at him, though that could just be a matter of perspective. I also don't think the bike rider who knocks down John is completely a coincidence.

- Sherlock's scenes with Molly, both here and in "Scandal in Belgravia" come off as sad and tender, where they could have very easily been sappy and manipulative in lesser hands. Credit to all involved for elevating them.

-  I was already on the edge of my seat from the tension in the final confrontation between Sherlock and Moriarty, so I was shocked by Moriarty's suicide, even if he hints at it with his boredom about "Staying Alive." I'm sad to see him go, as a worthy challenger to Sherlock, and while it was definitely showy and over-the-top at times, I loved Andrew Scott's performance.

- I'm not quite sure why Moriarty was so adamant about "I owe you" to Sherlock. That he wants to beat him and outwit him, I get, but "I owe
you" has an element of revenge to it that doesn't make sense, unless Moriarty feels like he lost at "The Great Game." Given that it ended with Sherlock and Watson almost being killed by Moriarty, seems like a draw at worst to me, but then again, I'm not a consulting criminal who is a few crumpets short of a tea party.

- I love the second scene between John and Mycroft, the two men who orbit and care about Sherlock, and Mycroft's realization and confession of how he betrayed him, after a little bit of sleuthing by John. But, are we to take it that when they were done with him, Mycroft's shadowy agency just let Moriarty go? Didn't that seem like a bad idea to anyone? He didn't trade information for his freedom, just for stories about Sherlock.

Plus, we know the computer key didn't really exist, so his information wasn't really worth anything. Let's just pretend he escaped and not give it any more thought, shall we.

- Poor John. Great work from Martin Freeman at the start, struggling to talk to his therapist (one of two significant call backs to the
first episode, the other being Donovan's warning that Sherlock will become a criminal). And then again at the grave at the end - really touching how much Watson and Sherlock mean to each other.

- I don't remember the last time I was so eager for a show to return. Maybe after the finale of the first season of Lost? And even then I knew it would only be a few months. Arrggghhhhh...


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (187 Votes)

(continuation of comment below) - when Sherlock steps on the ledge prior to jumping the surface texture is different than when he and Moriarty are looking over the surface. This suggests he jumped from a different location. He could have faked his death by having someone (perhaps Mycroft) lie on the ground by the bus shelter as he begins his last phone call to John. He then jumps from a position 20 to 30 ft up the sidewalk. John comes around the corner and sees someone on the gound and assumes it's Sherlock. He can't see further up the sidewalk. John is then hit by the bike and while he is recovering Sherlock is "made up" and takes over for the person on the sidewalk. The padding or whatever Sherlock jumped into is placed in the open bed truck by the curb. Sherlock is then surrounded by people who pull John away and he is quickly wheeled into the hospial and out of sight.
Moriarty's body is removed from the roof and Molly creates the paperwork that identifies it as Sherlock Holmes. He is then buried in Ssherlock's grave.


I recently viewed this episode of Sherlock and have read weveral blogs outlining ideas for how Sherlock faked his death. I have an idea that I don't believe has been presented. One hint we received from the writers was that Sherlock acts out of character in this episode. My thought is that it is out of character for Sherlock to become "almost famous". He has apparently worked with the police on numerous cases and yet had previously kept his name out of the paper. I believe the publicity was purposely sought out to draw Moriarty out and ultimately destroy him. Given this, the fact that his brother fed Moriarty information about Sherlock suggests that the two were working together in this endeavor. If Mycroft and Sherlock are working together it puts a different slant on his faked death. I would suggest that all of the people on the street that day were working for Mycroft (i.e. the government). The one other important observation, pointed out by others, is that when Sherlock steps up on the ledge prior to making his phone call to John the surface texture is different from that which was shown when he and Moriarty were looking out over the ledge. This suggests that Sherlock does not jump above the bus stop shelter and phone booth but at another point on the roof. I would suggest that he jumps from a point 20 to 30 feet down the roof. Given this I believe the following sequence of events is very likely: 1. While Sherlock is on the phone with John someone dressed as Sherlock (possibly Mycroft) lies down on the ground near the bus stop shelter and phone booth. This is why it was so important that John remain at his location behind the smaller building because if he had come much closer he would have seen "Sherlock's body" on the ground before he jumped. 2. Sherlock jumps off the roof 20 to 30 feet further up the sidewalk and lands on a large pad or some other safety device that allows one to survive a fall from that height. 3. At this point John begins to move around the corner of the building and sees what he expects to see - Sherlock's body on the ground. Because of his line of sight he does not see Sherlock and the safety device further up the sidewalk. He does not get any closer at this point because he is struck by the person on the bike. 4. It is while John is down, and recovering somewhat from his fall, that all of the activity occurs. Sherlock jumps off the safety device. Some members of Mycroft's team fold it up or deflate it and place it in the open bed truck at the curb. Other people change Sherlock's appearance by applying blood and makeup and possibly placing something in his eyes. They all then move quickly up the sidewalk to where the person is lying on the ground. Someone adds some blood to the sidewalk while Sherlock changes places with the person lying on the ground. Then everyone crowds around Sherlock to prevent John from having too much time to take a pulse. They rapidly pull him away. Sherlock is loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled into the hospital. Once inside he is free to clean himself up and leave by a back door, possibly in some sort of disguise. 5. Meanwhile, Moriarty's body is removed form the roof and taken to the morgue where Molly creates the paperwork that will identify the deceased as Sherlock Holmes. He is then buried in Sherlock's grave. One possible problem with this is we actually see a body hit the sidewalk but I would suggest that as we are seeing the events from John's perspective that image his is assumption of what occurred beyond his line of sight. Well, that's it. Any comments? Kathy

@ Kathy

I'm just reading this now - holy crap, did you have insider information?! :-)


Now heres a thought, what if Molly, the garbage truck, and what I think to be a viewer imagined dummy had nothing to do with it. What if all the camera angles shown,in fact only showed what Watson saw. Nothing more, nothing less; after all Watson believes he is dead. What if the only way you could tell how he survived was if you were the one falling, and we saw what Sherlock saw as he was plummeting to his somehow survivable death.


The Moriarty found not guilty at the trial thing is just to prove he's awesome. He broke every security system and be able to just walk away because of the code, and that is a really stunning advertising[except we know it doesn't really exists]. And why JM's death isn't a bigger headline? because he merely is a storyteller/actor Sherlock hired to be Moriarty, that's how he planned it to be, how he wants the world to think that Sherlock is a fraud and none of Sherlock's move can undo that.


Sorry again. Mycroft's final scene at the club, not Moriarty. Hurry up 2013!


Question? Why isn't Moriarty,'s death a bigger headline than SH being a fake? I have other? ponderings, too, that are keeping me awake at night. I would like to know what others think. Either way, very engaging series. Brilliant! Kudos to all involved! Hope they win lots of emmys! Just save Some for Downton Abbey!!


Sorry, mistake. Anyway. The comment about the background on the building being different is true. Both rooftops are at St Bart's but the one they used for Moriarty and Sherlock is more open, giving better staging. The jump was done on a different roof, safer for BC to do his own stunt. I chuckled out loud at the comment about JW punching SH at the reveal. I'm betting more than one! I also am conflicted about Mycroft's part in all of this. Yes he was an idiot to feed Moriarty information about Sherlock. But, I think he cut Moriarty loose. He had to really since it didn't seem like he had any reason to hold Moriarty. Mycroft may have also cut him loose to trick him into slipping up with the supposed code. It would also seem Moriarty knows something from his final scene at the club and his expression. LOTS to consider. I have 2 ponderings keeping me awake at night. First, Moriarty was found not guilty at the trial of the century and kills himself some time later. Why isn't That bigger news than Sherlock may be a fraud? In all the papers shown after there isn't even a Mention of Moriarty. Second, one of the writers, on another site, said SH did something before he jumped that he had never done and that no one has caught that in all the speculation going on. I don't think it had anything with SH calling JW on his cell phone. Even though SH's seeming preferred phone contact is texting, he Has called others before. There seemed to be quite a bit of doublespeak in his phone/note to JW. What the writers have dropped in casual conversation, as well as pointed conversation, is how little SH cares about what others think of him and yet JW does care. I think what we are missing is tje hidden


There are only a few things I am absolutely certain of in TRH. Molly is extensively involved in the charade of SH's death; it is highly likely the biker was involved in slowing JW down; it was a live person who jumped from the roof-not a dead body; Molly WAS NOT outside either as herself or incognito; whatever SH did to fake his death was done AFTER he jumped. I say all of this having watched the phone/note from SH to JW at least a dozen times- a few in normal speed and the rest frame by frame. The buses leave, the truck with bags pulls up-very close to the curb-but you can't see it too well because of the camera angles, intentional, I think, to show the fall from JW's perspective thus giving him creditability if he were questioned about


First off, I love this show! But I don't see how everyone thinks Sherlock threw Moriarty's dead body over the edge. The scene clearly shows Sherlock drop his phone and jump off. There is no one else around and no possible way someone pushed a dead body over the ledge. You can see him flailing his arms and legs as he falls. A dead body would not do that.

Ga addict13

I can't believe I didn't know there was Sherlock page on TV-Fanatic until this moment!!!!! All the theories are really interesting, but I can only speculate so far. One, I think Moriarty is going to be actually dead and stay that way. But this gives a great opening for Moran to come in, just like in the books. As for how, Sherlock lived, I have no idea, but am sure it will be genius. More interesting to me, is how they are gonna reunite Watson and Sherlock. In the books, he sneaks in as a shabby homeless person, whips off his disguise, and Watson faints. Personally, I always thought that was a bit off. Wouldn't anger be the more natural reaction? I am really curious to see how the writers work that. That for me is the best thing about the show, is how true they are to books, while being modernized. Way better than the American movies.

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Sherlock Season 2 Episode 3 Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: I'm confident the star witness at the trial should
come across as intelligent.
John Watson: Intelligent, fine. Let's give smart ass a wide berth.
Sherlock Holmes: [pause] I'll just be myself.
John Watson: Are you listening to me?

Sherlock Holmes: There are two types of fans.
Kitty Reilly: Oh?
Sherlock Holmes: Catch me before I kill again. Type A.
Kitty Reilly: Uh-huh. Whats type B?
Sherlock Holmes: Your bedrooms just a taxi ride away.