The Reichenbach Fall

I love Sherlock, but just how did he pull off his own fake death at the end of series two? Molly was obviously involved, my wife thought he just threw Moriarty off the roof but on a second watch it doesn’t look that simple.

From the moment Sherlock leaves the reporter Kitty Riley’s house he says “There’s only one thing he needs to do to complete his game and that’s – “. He stops mid sentence, suddenly aware he has to commit suicide to stop Moriarty. From that point on my theory is he is planning his own fake death.

After that he visits Molly, and clearly engages her assistance in his plan. He then summons Watson to help him work out how to get Moriarty’s computer code. However, within a few minutes he seems to work out the whole binary code thing but keeps it from Watson. In fact he looks rather shifty towards Watson as if he’s hiding something. An external shot follows, and the night wears on.

In the next scene Watson looks exhausted after waking from sleeping at the desk and receives a call informing him Mrs Hudson has been shot. When he takes the call Sherlock again looks very shifty. It’s my theory Sherlock arranges that call to get Watson temporarily out of the way. Watson rather cuttingly says “friends protect people” in reply to Sherlock’s refusal to join him. Of course, Sherlock is doing this precisely in order to protect him.

Sherlock then meets Moriarty on the rooftop, in what is a superb verbal clash of two crazed geniuses. There are a few shots of the ground, where we see a clear rectangle drawn with what looks to be chalk on the pavement. This is Sherlock’s target.

After Sherlock seems to acquiesce to jumping he asks Moriarty for “a little privacy”. He briefly looks down and then laughs, I presume by this point the truck has parked next to the pavement marks, ready to put his plan into action.

After Moriarty’s shock suicide by gunshot Sherlock appears to panic. I don’t think Sherlock could have anticipated that. But it could also be to make it seem to those watching that he’s loosing it.

Watson arrives, the taxi setting down on the opposite side of the road. There are a few shots of a low building near the entrance to Barts which is in between Watson and the pavement where Sherlock falls. When Watson gets out of the taxi he directs him to a specific position, so he can’t see where he falls. That’s also why he later cries out to Watson “stay exactly where you are, don’t move”.

He talks on the phone for a while, presumably to ensure there are no pedestrians near when he falls. And of course, to try to convince Watson he really is the fake Moriarty wants everyone to believe.

When he does fall the street is totally empty. It is very early in the morning, and two buses picked up all the waiting passengers. And I think it is Sherlock that falls – from the scene that much seems obvious. Presumably he lands on something that breaks his fall (provided by the driver of the van) and most likely swaps his body with a relatively fresh cadaver in his clothes.

At this point Watson’s view is obstructed by both the building in front of him and the van. And as soon as he runs to Sherlock he’s violently knocked to the ground by a cyclist – who promptly flees the scene.

The van next to the chalk rectangle suspiciously leaves very shortly after Sherlock falls. My guess is with Sherlock inside and driven by Molly. The body on the pavement is lying sideways and just outside of the chalk rectangle. Possibly because the body was just thrown out of the van?

So I think Sherlock knew he had to jump before he got there and he’d laid out an elaborate plan to fake his own death. This must have required the help of Molly (who helpfully works in a mortuary) and at least one other (the cyclist). It all seems very clever, and Sherlock had to keep the secret for months afterwards to ensure the assassins really were called off.

I wonder if the above is right, I guess I’ll just have to wait until series 3, whenever that will be…

Best line.. Sherlock: You’re insane. Moriarty: You’re just getting that now!

[Edit: In the recent series of Sherlock in Jan 2014 it turns out there is no explanation of the fall after, instead the programme decided to play with the fans by presenting one crazy theory after another! My theory was pretty close to one of them.]