How Did He Do It?

If you saw last night’s Sherlock episode (The Reichenbach Fall – note the singular, by the way, a nice joke), you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, and don’t want spoilers, then stop reading now.

I suppose, in a way, with a title echoing the climax of the original Conan Doyle story The Final Problem, which features the Reichenbach Falls, it was obvious what was going to happen; but the question is: how did he do it? There are lots of theories floating around, and while I’m unsure of the precise mechanics, I’m fairly sure of the following:

  • Molly was in on it (and what a wonderful character she has proved to be throughout the two series)
  • John Watson was not.
  • Mycroft may have been.
  • We did see a live human being jump (he was moving his arms to control his balance), and I am sure it was Holmes.
  • Watson was knocked over by a bicyclist in the period between seeing the jump and running to Holmes’ body. That is certainly significant.
  • Watson feels for Holmes’ pulse, and presumably doesn’t find one. Holmes was shown earlier playing with a squash ball. Could this be the old “squash ball in the armpit to stop the pulse trick”?

Some viewers have complained that we shouldn’t have got obvious confirmation that Holmes faked his own death by seeing Holmes alive in the closing seconds, but I thought it was a good plot device:

  • It confirms to the viewer that Holmes is alive and sets the ball rolling on “how did he do it?” Great for the next series…
  • It gives extra poignancy to the fact that we now know that Holmes has heard Watson’s eulogy to a friend that he supposes is dead.

The writing and the acting of this series has been outstanding. Hats off to all concerned.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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10 Responses to How Did He Do It?

  1. Pat says:

    The falling body did flail its arms – but that may simply have been the desire of the stuntman to remain alive long enough to get paid ;-) It’s a short drop and he had to be in control all the way down.

    My solution involves the observation that the kidnapped girl had seen Sherlock before – so there’s some method in-story of looking like Sherlock without being Sherlock. Mind you, I reckon Moriarty is still alive too!

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      I don’t buy the theory that the falling body was already dead. If that were the case, then why didn’t they just shove a Sherlock dummy off the roof? Answer: because it would be too obvious that it was a dead body, and strained the versimilitude of the tale too much. No, I think that had to represent a live Sherlock, not a dead Moriarty wearing a Sherlock mask (pace the kidnapped girl).

      I think there could well be something about the girl being connected in some way, and I suspect that you are right about Moriarty. Although I have to say that this strains credulity – we are expected to believe that Sherlock was taken in by Moriarty’s faking of the blowing out his brains? That’s a step too far…

  2. iVenky says:

    Steven Moffat said that we are missing something and it’s a thing what Sherlock usually won’t do. So I guessed this- What if Sherlock indeed kidnapped that girl? That should clearly explain why she screamed at the sight of Sherlock. This is something what Sherlock usually won’t do. He should have done this for some purpose though I don’t know how.

    What do you think?

  3. Joe says:

    The gas from the Hounds of Baskerville may have been used on the girl to make her think it was Sherlock who kidnapped them, and this would be why she screamed and pointed at him.

    Sherlock acted out of character a few times in the episode.
    First notable one would be when he is at the lab with Molly, and Molly says to him that he looks sad when Watson isn’t looking, Sherlock says “thank you” to her, which is out of character because he knows it’s illogical for him to say it at that point… then she asks him if she can get him anything, and Sherlock says “actually…” but she interrupts saying “I know you don’t” and she walks off.

    Second slight out of character moment was when Moriarty was pretending to be “a hired actor” in the journalists home. Sherlock screams at him to “stop it, stop it now!” right before he makes his escape through the window. Shortly after this scene, Sherlock seems to have figured out what Moriarty is up to… Sherlock says to Watson “there’s only one thing he needs to do to complete his game and that’s…” that’s when Sherlock figures it out and goes to the lab.

    Then when he was at the lab again with Molly, and he asks her if she would still do anything for him even if he wasn’t what she thought he was. Along with the first scene with Molly (mentioned above), Sherlock is acting out of character, as he usually ignores her completely, but now he is opening up to her.

    The last out of character moment is when he is with Moriarty and he says “I may be on the side of the Angels, but don’t ever assume I am one of them!” Which implies he could have a dark side… one that would explain “why” he may have kidnapped the children (unlikely), but could imply some other form of crime.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      I don’t think it’s the interactions with Molly that SM is referring to as “the big clue”, but you may be on to something with the interactions with Moriarty – particularly the first one in the journalist’s home. However, they still don’t seem to add up to what I would think of as “the big clue”, so I suspect it’s something else entirely!

  4. Robert Dammers says:

    I think Joe’s point could conceivably be extended – were Watson under the influence of the Baskerville nerve agent, his mind, suitably suggested, might fill in Sherlock’s face on the falling body – but on the ground? Perhaps not.

    As with “The Final Problem”, Holmes may wish to remain dead for a while to clear up any issues left around by Moriarty, so that makes eminent sense. And Watson’s grief is powerful testimony to the world that the great man is dead. But since anyone in the UK with a pulse, just about, knows that Holmes survived “The Final Problem”, the sight of Holmes at the cemetery is hardly a spoiler.

    Molly has had a wonderful series. Just imagine, if they hadn’t made “Mayo” (which people were terribly rude about, but I rather enjoyed), Lou Brearley would never have been considered for the part. And what a missed opportunity that would have been.

    This series of “Sherlock” has been a joy – I could have giggled most of the way through the first episode just because it was exciting, and such fun (“I never beg” – “Twice!”). It takes the very finest acting to keep such an excellent script on track. Thank heavens the plans are to get the next series out before the end of the year!

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Hi Robert, thanks for your comments. I never saw “Mayo”, so you now prompt me to try and catch up with it. Glad you share my feelings about Molly; she is just such a wonderful character, and Brearley is perfection in the role. Yep, it’s been a joy throughout. Roll on the next series!

  5. Arth says:

    It was definitely him that jumped, John’s constant watch, paired with the flailing limbs! I think he landed in something, got bloodied up, and moved to the pavement. The ‘Civs’ dotted around on the pavement could have well been his ‘homeless network’ which was referenced in the episode. The cyclist riding into Watson was no accident, probably for the purpose of disorientating him long enough for the switch as said above – he needed to be clueless to make it plausible, and save him from the assassin. No need for body switching, Watson was disorientated, and using the squash ball he had earlier he could mask his pulse – A nice clue.
    After being taken to the morgue I’m sure we’ll see a clever Sherlock sitting up, with Molly preparing any body to be buried after he’s made his pretend death get away! That’s my guess anyhow!

  6. Pingback: So That’s How He Did It – Maybe… | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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