After watching the final Sherlock episode, I began trying to work out the clues like many across the web. I’ll admit, I’ve got a nerdy obsession with this show, and I love a good puzzle. I’m not concentrating at all on how he survived the fall. Here is the theory I subscribe to:
http://finalproblem.tumblr.com/post/16308384121/hey-sherlockians-want-to-play-a-game-a-slightly. finalproblem has a very complete analysis and plausible theory.
As far as I am concerned though, there was no mystery at all regarding how he survives the suicide, since it’s easy to deduce that he definitely jumped, and he definitely did not die. The mechanics and who was involved are less important than figuring out WHY moriarty killed himself, and HOW Sherlock got to “die” on his own terms and HOW he intended to keep Moriarty from seeing the whole fake suicide operation if he hadn’t blown his brains out.
This is the central mystery, Sherlock’s survival was all a clever magic trick but we need to understand what he discovered that put him several moves ahead of Moriarty and allowed him to walk out of a seeming check-mate unscathed.
First, let’s start with the facts, only what is clearly shown or stated by the characters, and what these facts imply.
Just the Facts:
- Sherlock faked his suicide
- Sherlock correctly guessed that Moriarty intended to make him be the hero and jump to his death but die in disgrace…John and possibly others would be the leverage that force Sherlock to jump.
- Sherlock played stupid on the roof at first and acted like he didn’t know what Moriarty was intending. Sherlock was acting. He knew this was the part in Moriarty’s story where he is supposed to die.
- Therefore, Sherlock couldn’t give away that he knew the plan…perhaps then Moriarty would realize he’d found a way to thwart it. Possibly there was something that Sherlock needed Moriarty to reveal or confirm. (when he asks about the snipers: “but your not going to do it?”)
- Sherlock also MUST have deduced something, a flaw in Moriarty’s plan, something that he could use as leverage, something that could bend Moriarty to Sherlock’s will, something that made Moriarty choose to kill himself.
This is the “Key”(not the non-existant code).
- Moriarty’s body was disposed of by someone who was in on Sherlock’s plan and was trustworthy: definitively, we know Molly. Possibly Mycroft. We also know there is a supposedly-Sherlock-occupied-but-really-empty grave that would make an easy hiding place for a body.
- Jim initiated a relationship with Molly, knowing of her unrequited love for Sherlock. He was either looking for information, or using molly for his plan. [see her ‘blog’ below**]
- Molly “has always counted” and Sherlock “Has always trusted Molly”
- Molly agrees to do “anything” for Sherlock, even “If I wasn’t everything that you think I am—everything that I think I am—would you still want to help me?”
- Mycroft had Moriarty in interrogation for some time, because there was some information he needed to extract from him. Mycroft was able to obtain this information in exchange for details about Sherlock’s life story.
- Mycroft is watching Sherlock because he reveals to John the identity of 3 (4?) snipers that have taken up residence around 221B.
- The allegory of the fairy-tale is central to Moriarty’s plan. “Gretel” reacted violently to seeing Sherlock in person. Therefore, she had seen Sherlock or someone who looked like sherlock before in some capacity. This could be nothing more than to help frame him. Or it could have further significance.
- Moriarty had found a way to “sow doubt for the past 24 hours”. That is a short amount of time to plant such a large and porous falsehood. Time is critical to Moriarty’s plan because he must end Sherlock before people have time to fact check him or doubt their own conclusions. Sherlock must die (via suicide, NOT murder) which solidifies and befits his apparent fraudulence.
14. The assassins around baker street were protecting Sherlock’s life.
15. An assassin is killed when Sherlock tries to shake his hand. Moriarty shakes Sherlock’s hand immediately before killing himself.
16. This one is iffy…but at the end there is only 1 sniper, the one that can see Sherlock. The one that is fixed on John. The other two could not know if Sherlock jumped or not, because Moriarty was dead and Sherlock was “dead” and it seems improbable that the snipers had coordination among each other since they’re competing for the (non-existant) code and picking each other off.
Theories that Suit Facts:
1. Moriarty is dead. Let’s get this out of the way first.
Moriarty’s body was found and disposed of by someone who was in on Sherlock’s plan. So far, we know this to be Molly. Mycroft is questionable. Moriarty’s body is almost certainly in Sherlock’s grave. The only other option is that Moriarty is alive. The episode is titled The Reichenbach fall. The Richard Brook Fall. Moriarty is really dead.
- Moriarty will be made aware that Sherlock had guessed the suicide plan, and figured out a counter move. He is completely willing to off himself with his own sniper and change the entire course of this “fairytale’s” narrative. Moriarty calls off his snipers–at this point killing John(/Lestroud/Hudson?) could only result Sherlock’s sniper shooting Moriarty…Jim could hurt Sherlock at the cost of his own life, but he cannot beat him, which is his sole aim. So both live, snipers are dismissed (and I am assuming Sherlock would not murder Jim at this point…seeing as his reputation is in the toilet as it is) and the game continues at the same impasse, the final problem that there seems to be no solution to. [unlikely]
- Moriarty allows Sherlock to have himself shot and deals with the aftermath. But this is so very un-sexy. Sherlock is betting his life on this NOT being the case.
- Moriarty, trapped, kills himself under the false belief that it will guarantee Sherlock’s death, executed according to plan. He can hope that when his (Moriarty’s) body is found, Sherlock will look like he murdered/forced Moriarty’s hand in the suicide. Sherlock still dies in disgrace. Moriarty looks like a victim. Here is the closest he can come to winning, probably ever, he realizes.
2. There is a strong biblical allegory:
The line of greatest significance is when Sherlock says: “I may play on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them”. This is the turning point at which Moriarty realizes Sherlock is not all talk, and that whatever he has deduced and is using as leverage is solid, there is no way out for Moriarty. Think about it…what could Sherlock possibly find that could burn Moriarty…he has no friends, no love interest, nothing he can’t take by force or manipulation. Sherlock is prepared to burn, but Moriarty has nothing that’s even flammable. Except his ego. Except the fear he can’t beat Sherlock. When Sherlock says he is willing to burn, he means himself, because it means burning Moriarty too in the only way possible. Then he shakes his hand, and kills himself, thinking he’s getting the final upper hand.
There are too many references of a religious nature to ignore. Here, it seems Sherlock the “emitter of light” is compared to Lucifer, the light bearer, the fallen angel, as he essentially describes himself to Moriarty (with the sunlight conveniently radiating from behind him).
There’s also the previous angel references during the tea meeting earlier (Moriarty:…”We’re the same, you and I. Except your boring. You play on the side of the angels”). Then there’s Sherlock saying “If you expect me to shake hands with you in Hell I will not disappoint you”—in Baskervilles Sherlock “sees” the devil in the hollow and it is Moriarty. The song that plays on the way to the trial is “Sinnerman” and describes “So I run to the Lord, please hide me Lord/But the Lord said, go to the devil/So I ran to the devil, he was waitin’/I ran to the devil, he was waitin’.
The biblical story of the 3rd temptation of Christ…where the devil takes him to the top of the temple and says “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Satan could not himself throw Jesus off the pinnacle of the temple. He could do no more than suggest, so he must ask Jesus to throw Himself down.
Seeing a parallel here? Moriarty has built up this fairy tale, where he frames Sherlock the way he perceives him, as the arrogant Hero. The Hero who can be manipulated by his heart, and will sacrifice himself to save his friends. Weak. Predictable. Ordinary. But then, Sherlock says “I’m you remember? Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do…prepared to burn (it’s far fetched, but what if this is in reference to burning in hell?). Ordinary people don’t commit suicide to win a game. Ordinary people do not risk burning themselves to “burn” their opponent or prove a superior intellect. Ordinary people do not ask their friends to be snipers and help them carry out this battle of brilliance and insanity.
**An interesting side note: Jim says “how are you going to make me call them off when your brother and all the kings horses couldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want”. Interesting, because “all the kings horses’ refers to humpty dumpy, which was originally a RIDDLE. [[yet another fairy tale parallel] Humpty Dumpty is reduplicative: a pair of two words that are identical and echo each other except for a single letter difference.**
1st temptation: the reporter woman who wants to be “on his side”.. (does he take the recorder from her? Did Jim give her instructions on it? Is that the “something of yours you might want back?”) (very loose parallel to the ‘stones into bread’ temptation…do you manipulate what is unyielding to save yourself?)
2nd Temptation: Tea with Moriarty at Baker Street- the ‘riddle’? In a room of locked doors he who holds the key is king…Find the key and be king, wear the crown.. (Moriarty has the key to all the ‘kingdoms’ through his vast criminal network, this is stated by Sherlock: “you don’t want money or power, so what are you after” Sherlock is the key. Only he doesnt realize it yet.)
Lets look at this in terms of chess. Moriarty is the white king (the initiator of play…and you should see him in a crown…) and safely removed from the action. He has Sherlock’s remaining pieces in immediate jeopardy, and sherlock himself in a check mate using his white pawns and pieces…almost… [ Remember, Sherlock jumps back down from the ledge and says–your not going to do it then?–referring to killing John.] The snipers shoot unless they see Sherlock jump ( hitting the ground is not so important…as long as the see him leap, and then see John panic).Or, Moriarty can just call them and tell them not to shoot…if Sherlock’s friends’ deaths are no longer an asset, no longer leverage.
Whatever move Sherlock (the black king) makes next is going to result in Moriarty’s being the death blow to the trapped King. He himself is stuck but Sherlock has another piece left on the board that has gone overlooked, (probably Molly) and by ignoring his perceived imminent doom, sees there is another option…
One of Sherlock’s overlooked, seemingly benign piece can in one move put Moriarty, the white king, in unquestionable check mate. Sherlock DOES NOT MAKE THIS MOVE, instead he allows Moriarty to know he’s spotted it, or better yet, planned for it….leverage. Sherlock’s brain is still superior, Moriarty can’t win this round. This is how he will make Moriarty call off the gunmen…which is probably what Sherlock expected to happen.
And then, Moriarty kills himself to ensure Sherlock’s death. To ensure he jumps to save his friend/friends –if he is going to go down, he is sure as hell going to take Sherlock with him.
But Sherlock planned for this possibility too, and had his homeless network and Molly’s fake autopsy to fake the suicide (again, see http://finalproblem.tumblr.com/post/16308384121/hey-sherlockians-want-to-play-a-game-a-slightly for full explanation).