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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?

OBSERVATIONS AND LINGERING QUESTIONS

- 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...

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (187 Votes)
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None of the theories explain how Sherlock expected to fool Moriarty that he was dead. He expected to meet Jim on the roof and was, like us all, shocked at JM's suicide. It does nor matter whether Jim's suicide was faked or not. Even if Sherlock could persuade him to keep a distance before dropping to his "death" he would expect Moriarty to check over the edge of the roof as soon as he jumped. So all the positioning of Watson, the truck, the cyclist and everything else could work only if Moriarty was disabled or killed before Sherlock's staged jump. But then the suicide surprises us all...

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Moriarty killed himself because as he says as long as he is alive there is a chance that his plan won't go through. The only way to ensure that Moriarty go through is if he kills himself. And as is he Moriarty will do anything.

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(cut off...) Even if he /is/ alive and can come back, how the heck is Sherlock going to be /able/ to return to everything, considering how much was 'burned'? Unless he gets proof...
Thoughts?? :))

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(cut off...) (I //really// need to watch that part again!!).... earlier, when anxious Sherlock is sitting on his lab's floor, bouncing a squash ball... apparently, you can put one of those ball under armpit and it will 'dull' your pulse enough to be faked (But not really necessary if he had Molly there). Also, they claim there was a truck in the right spot, and the roof seemed missing after we see him on the ground (placed there with a landing pad?), and it's seen driving away shortly after. Still not sure how he'd completely pull off a long convincing fall uninjured so quickly.... The I owe you thing you mentioned. That's still stuck in my head, and think it's more meant to be 'I O U'... you even see those letters as graffiti at several points on Baker Street. A clue? A scientific element/acronym? Man it's going to be hard to not keep trying to picture how things are going to happen and wait it out til we find out what happens next! Even if he /is/ alive and can come back, how the heck is Sherlock going to be /able/ to return to everything, considering how much was 'burned'? Unless he gets proof...
Thoughts?? :))

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Well, I'm a little late to the commenting party, having only found this review after being unable to let this episode go and found it among many other reviews online! Nice to find others who loved it just as much! But... yes... among the many things that had me emotionally on the edge of my seat, I just wanted to say I enjoyed your review and agree that a couple details were more of the 'wait..what?' kind.
Mycroft letting Moriarty go without getting much out of it (unless he escaped, like you said). Seriously, now.
Obviously, Molly helped Sherlock by being on the scene to pronounce him dead/wisk him away from John... somehow they also got the biker to delay John. I find other people's thoughts that Sherlock sent a fake, or Moriarty over the roof, but not convinced... how would he push it over without being noticed... and how would it look like a man actually falling instead of a lump of a body. Someone on another review site noticed two things (I //really// need to watch that part again!!).... earlier, when anxious Sherlock is sitting on his lab's floor, bouncing a squash ball... apparently, you can put one of those ball under armpit and it will 'dull' your pulse enough to be faked (But not really necessary if he had Molly there). Also, they claim there was a truck in the right spot, and the roof seemed missing after we see him on the ground (placed there with a landing pad?), and it's seen driving away shortly after. Still not sure how he'd completely pull off a long convincing fall uninjured so quickly.... (con't..)

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@magnificent - Moriarty can be really dead, and still reappear without anything supernatural being involved. Remember, in the books, he had a brother who was a military officer...and strangely named James as well. However, if Moriarty faked his own death, Sherlock couldn't very well use his body as a decoy as so many are suggesting. That would be hilarious - to fake your death only to be thrown off a roof by your nemesis, who wanted to fake *his* death. Talk about karma...

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Sorry. *everything we know and love about the Sherlock Holmes mythos. They want to change it up on us, keep us from guessing everything just based on the fact than many viewers have read ACD's works. We knew that in whatever capacity, a/the Reichenbach Fall was the end of a rivalry. I think we have big surprises in store for us. And honestly, I CAN'T FREAKING WAIT.

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Oh, John Watson at Sherlock's grave was the most heartbreaking piece of acting I have ever seen. Period. I'd already seen it once and I still cried like a fool. I'm fairly sure Jim faked his own death as well, leaving the pressure on Sherlock to jump fast and think later - of course, we know he faked it to save his friends, but why would Jim simply shoot himself? I suspect it's tied to his faux-persona as an actor, where the truth is that Jim was someone was someone else before, and Jim Moriary was the lie he wove into a pre-existing truth, like he did with Sherlock and Richard Brooks. But if we could all guess and be right, we wouldn't have so much fun being shocked. Most telling is how the creators have expressed a desire to shake up the Holmes canon. You don't introduce the nemesis to end all nemeses just to kill him, or let him do it himself, as it were. We're also missing the hinted-at Sebastian Moran, John's own foil. I think they're making their first push at upending everything we know and love about Sherlock Holmes. And I can't wait for more.

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@Pat & others - There is a lot of concentration on what Sherlock might have done to convince John. But, the weak part in all arguments is that they would not have convinced the 3 assassins. Moriarty said, "As long as I'm alive, your friends will live." Then he kills himself so Sherlock loses everything he values - his friends *and* his reputation. Do we all think Moriarty would have set it up so that his kill order was rescinded based on anything Sherlock's team did? Moriarty is a "scorched earth" kind of guy IMO. He wants EVERYONE to burn. It was a fabulous episode. But, it wasn't perfect. Another faulty bit of plot is that Moriarty actually agrees to meet Sherlock at *his* chosen time and place. I don't think so. A crafty guy like that would have found a way to move the meeting to where HE had the advantage.

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Here's my theory:
1) Sherlock used Moriarty's body for the initial fall the John sees
2) Everyone on the street was in on it except John, including the bicyclist who knocked him out so that...
3) Holmes switches himself in for the fallen victim (after for real injuring probably) so that John sees the correct body when he wakes up
4) Molly's role was to fake the hospital records (and probably was part of the crew who wheeled him away from the scene so there came be a fun reveal of that later)
5) The End I'm least certain about step 1: that may have happened differently with Holmes using padding or stunt equipment or something, the rest I stand behind

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.

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