Before reading this recap, please be aware there will be spoilers, so if you didn’t watch “The Reichenbach Fall” don’t read ahead…
So last week’s Sherlock had Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) deal tussle with the hound of Baskerville. At the end of the episode, Holmes’ arch nemesis, Moriarty (Andrew Scott) was released from jail. We also learn that Moriarty is Holmes’ biggest fear, as it’s his face that appears to Holmes when the great detective is under hallucinogenic gas.
“The Reichenbach Fall” opens with Watson at his therapist’s office. When asked why he was at the session, he finally manages to say, “My best friend, Sherlock Holmes is dead.”
Once we get this shocker, we’re zipped back a few months and Holmes is feted by various folks that Holmes had helped. He gets a lot of media attention – he even has to wear a hunting hat for the tabloids. Watson is worried about all this fame, because he points out that it’s hard to be a “private” detective when one is famous.
Meanwhile, Moriarty, done up in tourist drag makes his way into the Tower of London and eyes the crown jewels. In a swift move, he manages to breach the security of the Tower, the Bank of London and Pentonville Prison – all with a handy app. As with a lot of TV tropes – we’re treating to the whole “everything is controlled by a couple codes” thing. Moriarty lets himself get caught by the police.
Holmes gets to be the expert witness at Moriarty’s trial. Holmes being Holmes, he pisses everyone off by pulling his weird, Rain Man crap, except in the presence of the judge. He even lectures the prosecutor about how she’s going about the examination all wrong. The judge continuously warns Holmes about his behavior, but to no avail: he ends up being escorted into a jail cell.
Despite not having any witnesses, Moriarty is acquitted. He makes his way to 221 Baker Street, and the two have a tense tete-a-tete; Watson, on the other hand, is summoned by Holmes’ brother, Mycroft via an ATM. Mycroft lets Watson know that assassins have moved into Holmes’ neighborhood, and the great detective will need watching.
Because Holmes is a famed super-detective, he’s called on to solve the mystery of the kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador’s son and daughter. Holmes is able to deduce through some clues left over by the son the whereabouts of the purloined kids. The daughter was so traumatized, that the mere sight of Holmes sends her screaming. This coupled with Holmes’ ability to discover clues out of thin air, has a police officer suspicious of Holmes, believing he may have had a hand in the kidnapping. Convincing Sargeant Donovan that Holmes may be guilty, Holmes is arrested. He escapes by taking Watson hostage.
The two break into a reporter’s flat. There they run into Moriarty, who has successfully duped the reporter into believing that Holmes created Moriarty, the psychopath to prop up his own reputation. Moriarty creates a person of an out-of-work actor, hired by Holmes to go along with the ruse, so that Holmes can appear to be the heroic detective.
So, then viewers have to watch the rest of the episode with a notebook to keep track of what’s happening – because it’s nuts. Holmes goes over to a forensic pathologist friend for a “favor” – we don’t know what the favor is, and I’d love to…Holmes figures out that Moriarty was able to break open the security in the prison, bank and the tower by using a code that Moriarty tapped out with his finger when they had the terse meeting at Holmes’ flat.
Are you confused, yet? I had to take stock and make sure I understood what was happening. So, Moriarty and Holmes are on the rooftop, confronting each other – this is stupidly tense. During their confrontation, we learn that the assassins weren’t for Holmes. They were for Watson and Holmes’ beloved landlady Mrs. Hudson. Moriarty reveals that the assassins will kill Watson and Mrs. Hudson if Holmes doesn’t kill himself. Moriarty also reveals that there was no “big” code to breach the security – Moriarty had guys from the inside who were on the take.
Holmes at one point thinks he has the upper hand because he realizes that Moriarty can call off the killings with a code. Before convincing him to share the code, Moriarty shoots himself. Holmes realizes that he’ll have to die. Watson at this point jumps out of a cab, running toward the building where Holmes is standing on the edge of the roof. He asks that Watson watches and gives him a goodbye message before plummeting to his death.
After the funeral, Mrs. Hudson and Watson look at Holmes’ tombstone with grief. Alone, Watson begs Holmes to not be dead – and if you don’t cry watching this, then you need to see if your heart is made of stone. He leaves the cemetery…
I didn’t think I’d be so moved by an episode ofSherlock, but the way Holmes’ suicide is handled is beautiful. Freeman proves that he deserves every TV trophy out there. His performance in the therapy session scenes or at the cemetery is beautiful.
There’s another season for Sherlock – it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out. Holmes’ death is summed up by a tabloid headline: “Suicide of Fake Genius.” Even if Holmes is alive, his reputation is damaged.
Anyways, what did you think of “The Reichenbach Fall”?