My Theory on “The Reichenbach Fall”

Okay, hopefully this will be the last Sherlock-related post you have to deal with from me for awhile.  Maybe…  We’ll see.  I’ve watched the whole show twice through now, and I’ve watched the final episode, “The Reichenbach Fall,” three times.  (I’ve also gotten both my mother and my friend, Nathan, to watch the first episode, and will soon be making sure they watch the rest of the series too.)

While watching “The Reichenbach Fall” I actually sat down and took THREE PAGES of notes (and my handwriting is small, so that’s a lot of notes).  And I THINK I may have found a small detail/clue that might be the one Steven Moffat was hinting at.  Now, I haven’t read every single comment, tweet, blog post, etc ever written on the subject of the last episode and theories about how Sherlock faked his death, and I doubt I’m the only who to ever notice this.  HOWEVER, based on the blog posts, comments, etc. that I HAVE read, it doesn’t look as if many people have noticed it yet, at least.  This little detail, that I’ll actually tell you about in a minute, doesn’t (I think) really change the basic theories that have been thrown around about how Sherlock faked his death, but I think it does help to confirm the theory (at least if I’m not seeing things).

So, before I get into explaining my theory, here are a few of the things that I took notice of while watching the episode that directly impact my theory.  All of these are things that others have mentioned/noticed before, though some people don’t notice them all at the same time.  I’m just laying them all out for you here. (Don’t worry, I’m not typing out all three pages of notes, just some of the major things).

- we know that Moriarty creates an alias, Richard Brook, who is an actor; we can assume he had access to other “actors”

- Molly notes, long before Sherlock admits that he knows that Moriarty is trying to ruin his reputation, that he looks sad when he thinks no one is looking (or more specifically when he thinks John isn’t looking), thus implying that Sherlock already suspected that the end game would be his death

- the girl who was kidnapped by Moriarty (or more likely, Moriarty’s men) sees Sherlock and screams, thus implying that Moriarty has some kind of Sherlock impersonator (an actor?) who looks enough like Sherlock to convince a girl she has seen Sherlock before

- we, of course, know that Sherlock goes to Molly for help – though he does not, of course, specify what he wants her to do, we know that Molly is the coroner, which gives us some ideas

- and of course it is obvious that Moriarty does not think about Molly and so can’t anticipate Sherlock’s plan, because he claims to be threatening the only three people in the entire world that Sherlock cares about: John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade (one would assume he doesn’t bother with Mycroft because Sherlock ACTS as if he doesn’t care about him, AND Mycroft would be ridiculously difficult to get to, even for Moriarty)

- I have watched and watched and watched and I’m almost certain that Sherlock and Moriarty are alone on that roof top (of course, if they were playing tricks with the camera angles, we’d have no way of knowing, and that’d be cheating)

- I’m almost certain that Moriarty is really dead (though no one mentions finding his body at the end of the episode, so who knows?): Sherlock is standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM when he shoots himself in the head, they show the body quite clearly at several angles, and there is no one else on the roof, so I’m pretty damn sure Moriarty is staying dead

- Sherlock is definitely the one who jumps off that roof, (in other words, there is no way he just threw an already-dead body off the ledge): they show him quite clearly standing on the roof with the phone, talking to John who’s standing below (and the camera angle again leaves little doubt that there is no one else on the roof, and Sherlock is not holding up a dead body in front of him or something like that); his arms and legs are actively flailing as he falls (so its definitely not a dead body) (Also, on a side note, Sherlock is crying in this scene. CRYING. It’s so hard to tell how much of that is real with him, though.)

- The camera actually blinks out for a second right before the body hits the ground and changes angles, so we DO NOT see one straight shot of Sherlock jumping, falling, and landing.  AND there is a truck full of bags – trash? old hospital gowns? – RIGHT beside where the body lands.

- John is standing below, near the building, but he’s at an angle to the point where the body lands, and he has to round a corner to actually see the body.  Plus, he is struck by the man on the bike (which I am, like everyone else, assuming was planned – perhaps one of Sherlock’s homeless network?), so that he is not the first to reach the body.  By the time John gets up and over to the body the truck has driven away and the body is surrounded by other people.

And now we come to the detail that none of the other theories/blogs I’ve read have mentioned: in all the scenes prior to Sherlock jumping off the roof (sitting in the lab with John, telling John to go check on Mrs. Hudson without him, and going up to the roof to meet Moriarty), he is wearing his purple shirt.  Now, I could be wrong, and I want some others to take a look and tell me what you think, but I’ve looked and looked and looked, and I’m pretty sure the shirt the body is wearing a dark navy or gray shirt.  What do you think?  Am I just seeing things?

This, to me, confirms that the body John sees on the sidewalk is NOT Sherlock.  Obviously, plenty of people had already assumed that (though I also read one or two theories that he said he took something to make his heart slow to near-death), but this would seem to be proof.

So, here’s my theory, which is not at all different than most of the others, though perhaps a bit more specific.

Having figured out what Moriarty intends, and having guessed that Moriarty must have had some kind of Sherlock-impersonator in order to frighten the kidnapped girl – Sherlock finds (or has someone) find the impersonator (who, I would assume, Moriarty had already had killed and hidden somewhere).  He enlists Molly’s help to prepare the corpse, and to later (after the jump) to make sure she is the one who does the autopsy/coroner’s report.  He enlists the help of his homeless network or others to have the body ready in the truck (and to keep John distracted for a moment).  When Moriarty kills himself, taking away Sherlock’s last ditch effort to avoid the faking-his-death scenario, Sherlock does in fact jump from the roof, landing in the truck, at which point the person helping him throws out the body of the impersonator (dressed, of course, in Sherlock’s clothes), which John does not see because it’s around the corner.  And then the truck drives away, with Sherlock probably injured but relatively whole.  John, being distraught and, of course, looking into a face that’s smashed and bloody, is fooled by the impersonator – though I would guess that a very thorough report on Molly’s part to keep him from suspecting after the fact.

So, there’s my theory.  At least for now.

I’d like to think I’ve got it figured out.  But I have no delusions of grandeur and I have no doubt that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are WAY smarter and way more devious than I am, so they’ve probably got something up there sleeve that I’ll never see coming.  But it was a ton of fun trying to figure it out.

For an even better run-down, check out this beauty from Flick Filosopher.

There are plenty of other little things of note through out the episode that are fun to point out, but don’t bare specifically on my theory.  For instance: the “I O U” message spray-painted on a wall across the street of 221B Baker Street when John is jumping into the cab to go after Sherlock.  Moriarty’s ring tone is “Staying Alive” which cracks me up and plays to the whole theme of the episode.  I’m wondering if the gunman who was trained on John might be Sebastien Moran (maybe?).  All the references to Bach seem important: Reichenbach, Rich Brook (Brook being “bach” in German); “Bach couldn’t stand an unfinished melody,” the fake key code is a melody by Bach (Partita #1, I think Moriarty says) – but I’m not entirely sure what all of that points to.

Of course, I still have questions.  For one, the sudden introduction of the Chief Superintendent, who orders Lestrade to arrest Sherlock, seems important to me.  When you’re dealing with the kind of economy of time/movement/character that you are in a movie or tv show, every new character needs to be there for a good reason.

Also, WHY IN HELL’S NAME, if Mycroft had Moriarty captures and in a secure facility, would he EVER let him go again? I keep wondering if Mycroft has more to do with this than we realize.  Perhaps he orchestrated the whole thing to get Sherlock out of the country for some covert job?  He would certainly be able to get a hold of a Sherlock look-alike for the body-swap.

And lastly: how in hell’s name is Sherlock going to clear his name?!

Okay, I’ll stop bothering you with posts about Sherlock for awhile now (maybe…).  Oh, except to give you the best Sherlock fan-girl Tumblr blog EVER: We’re Basically Filling In For Your Skull; which is the perfect thing to help keep you sane while we wait for the new episodes.  Just be aware that there is some spoilery stuff on there if you haven’t seen season 2 yet.

God, those EYES! I can’t even–! GAH!

10 thoughts on “My Theory on “The Reichenbach Fall”

  1. I think your theory seems plausible. Whatever happened, we can be sure that it will be revealed in rapid fire fashion in Sherlock’s signature machine gun monologue next season. So limber up your writing hand, because to get all that down you’ll have to sprint, haha

  2. Also noting all of the mirror imagery and use of “doubles” in the first 30 minutes…. (That’s all I could rewatch last night before I fell asleep.)

    • Ah, good point! Also, I just remembered, there are in fact TWO Johann Sebastien Bachs. Bach the composer, and his son the painter. So there’s another doubling/mirroring. Hehe.

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