Sherlock: Series 2, Episode 3 - The Reichenbach Fall

Published January 23, 2012

Sherlock spoiler

I finished up my last Sherlock review with a note on the writers trying to force emotions on us, which I don’t necessarily appreciate. However, I thought they handled the logistics of this final episode very well. We all knew what was supposed to happen, so starting the episode with a grieving Watson addressed that straight away. The story was not about the end result, it was about how we got there. (And afterwards, how it was done.)

Sherlock series 2 episode 3

“You’re boring, you’re on the side of the angels.”

Looking back on this episode from far too great a distance, the end overshadows the entire thing. But there was much to love about all that came before it. In particular, Moriarty’s incredible crime spree that brought him to trial. Sherlock grandstanding in the witness box, showing off just as Watson had told him not to. Molly’s incredible bravery offering Sherlock - the man who belittles her at every opportunity - her own beautiful insight and unconditional support.

The format of this episode was slightly different to the others. There was no major case to be solved in the same fashion as previous outings, but it was more a matter of following Sherlock as he gradually become a fugitive. Finding the reporter with a civilian Moriarty, acting out the role of an actor, helped throw some misdirection and confusion into the mix.

No matter what happened before, however, it all came down to the roof. Their confrontation was a great show of two mighty intellects butting heads, although some of the dialogue left me a little cold. I’m not sure it all made complete sense. Some of it felt like using big words just for the sake of it. Then again, that sounds just like something the two of them would do.

“Don’t think for one second that I am one of them.”

There’s plenty of speculation over how Sherlock has managed to fake his death falling from such a great height. The immediate conclusion is that Molly had something to do with it, but it cannot be that simple. Little things, like Watson’s bump to the head and blurry vision all add to the picture, but I can’t believe we’ll get anywhere near the real answer until it is revealed to us. Moffat suggests there is something we have all missed, a clue where Sherlock acts out of character. There are so many of those, though. His heart to heart with Molly, classing Lestrade as a friend. Even the emotional phone call on the roof would fall under what Sherlock usually so distasteful refers to as “sentiment.”

“Aren’t ordinary people adorable?”

I thought Martin Freeman was incredible in this episode. I wasn’t emotional, that rarely happens, but I could have choked up at the scene by the graveside. The fall and the preceding phone call were not such moments for me. I felt it was all too clinical, too unbelievable for Sherlock to be sacrificing himself for such a cause. He doesn’t care about other people, and falling to his death would help remove his growing fame (see also The Doctor in series six). Those bits weren’t about feeling sad. The aftermath was something else.

Watson’s stubborn belief, his words, and the smaller things like Mrs Hudson stumbling away over the uneven ground. Beautiful. We should have left it with that, rather than the in-your-face shot of Sherlock looking on. We all knew that he was going to be there somewhere, I’m not sure we had to see it. Perhaps it would have been too depressing an ending otherwise. This way, we were left with a glimmer of hope, and an awful lot of theorising to do.

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