After a small bump in the road, Sherlock made a huge comeback with “The Reichenbach Fall”, which was not just the best episode to date, but probably one of the best examples of television over the last couple of seasons. Yes, it was that good.
As Sherlock’s fame started to rise, James Moriarty revealed a plot to discredit his rival. Step one of this plan involved breaking into the Tower of London to take the Crown Jewels while also bypassing the security systems of both the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison. Before smashing the case that held the jewels, Moriarty scribbled “Get Sherlock” – and instead of snatching the goods, he put them on and waited for the police to arrive. Moriarty’s court date was the trial of the century, and Sherlock was the star witness, but he fell into a trap because he allowed his ego to take over, and his misstep did not make him look favorable. In another odd move, Moriarty did not present a defense, which added to the fact that it was all for show. What should have been an open and shut case was further complicated when the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty.
Now that Moriarty was free, he paid a visit to Baker Street. During their sit-down, the criminal mastermind explained to Sherlock that he was able to scare the jury into letting him go by hacking into their televisions and threatening their families. He even went a step further and revealed how he broke into three different facilities at the same time. As it turned out, all he needed was some computer code to hack the systems, and he underlined his point by telling Sherlock that having the key to everything makes him powerful and every bad guy in the world’s after his services. The meeting ended with Moriarty admitting that he’s not in it for the money or the power but to solve the final problem between him and Sherlock, and he left it with the ominous message of “I owe you.”
Part 2 of Moriarty’s plan revolved around the kidnapping of an ambassador’s children. The two kids were taken from a high-class boarding school, and the ambassador personally asked that Sherlock be brought in on the case due to his newfound fame. Once there, he came across an envelope with a red seal that contained a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which was a clue to where the children were taken because Watson also came across a similar package filled with breadcrumbs. Obviously, everything pointed to Hansel and Gretel, which led to an abandoned sweets factory. The authorities were able to save the children, but when Sherlock was asked to question the girl, she freaked out because the Moriarty implanted the thought that he was involved in her abduction. Not only did the girl think that Sherlock was involved, but some on the police force also started to wonder whether or not he’s the real villain.
In spite of Lestrade’s loyalties, the police chief insisted that Sherlock be brought in, but he was able to get away during his arrest and took Watson as his “hostage”. While on the run, they visited a reporter who tried to get an exclusive scoop from Sherlock at Moriarty’s trial. Instead of helping Sherlock, she was working on an expose to out him once and for all, and her source was Moriarty posing as an actor by the name of Richard Brook. He claimed that Sherlock paid him to play the part as a way to dupe everyone into thinking that he’s a genius detective. Before Sherlock and Watson could get to Moriarty, he got away, but Sherlock was able to figure out the final move of the game, and he needed Molly’s help. While Sherlock went out on his own, Watson spoke with Mycroft and learned that he had given up details of his brother’s life to Moriarty in exchange for information on his key code.
Sherlock texted Moriarty to meet him on the roof of the hospital so they could resolve their issues once and for all. On the rooftop, Moriarty rambled about how their final problem was staying alive and how he chose Sherlock as his adversary because he was tired of distracting himself with ordinary people, but even he ended up being mundane. He even showed his hand by admitting to Sherlock that the code didn’t exist, and he just paid people to help him break into the Tower, the bank and the prison, and he knew that he’d fall for it because everything has to be clever. The final step of Moriarty’s game was for the disgraced detective to take his own life, and to make sure he did just that, he planned on killing Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade if Sherlock didn’t do just that. Before jumping off the building, Sherlock realized that he could get Moriarty to call of his assassins and still live because he’d be willing to do anything to make his rival talk. Moriarty acknowledged that he and Sherlock were alike and that he and his friends could live if he stayed alive, so he decided to kill himself to force Sherlock’s hand. With Moriarty dead, Sherlock accepted the fact that he would have to commit suicide to save his friends, and he had one final conversation with Watson where he confessed to being a fraud. After uttering his final words that would act as his “note”, Sherlock threw himself off the hospital to the pavement below.
The episode ended where it started, with Watson recalling the events during a therapy session, but it’s hard for him to accept what had occurred. He then visited Sherlock’s grave with Mrs. Hudson where he begs for his friend to not be dead, and then there’s a glimpse of Sherlock watching him from a distance.
Wow, now that’s a finale even though I have no idea how Moffat’s going to explain how Sherlock faked his own death. Over the course of this series, I’ve complained about how the run time’s been the biggest hurdle, but that wasn’t the case with “Reichenbach” because of all of the twists, turns, tension and fake-outs. Plus, it had tons of emotion which made it ten times better because the audience was allowed to see how much Sherlock’s grown. It’s doubtful that the man we met in “A Study in Pink” would entertain the needs of others much less sacrifice himself for someone else, but that’s something this Sherlock was willing to do. It also didn’t hurt that he still got one over on Moriarty when it was all said and done.
Speaking of Moriarty, he was another element that was somewhat problematic at the start of the series. His brief cameo during the end of “The Great Game” was entertaining enough, but his shtick quickly grew tiresome during “A Scandal in Belgravia”, so I was glad that we got so little of him during the middle instalment. When I realized that he was going to be prominently featured in this episode, I had some reservations, but Andrew Scott quickly quelled my fears with his insane but brilliant performance. Sure, Moriarty was still a little too over the top, but his scenes with Sherlock crackled and popped so much that I was willing to give in to the lunacy of it all. The next big question after how Sherlock faked his death should be if Moriarty somehow did the same. What if Richard Brook was real – and an actor – but was working for Moriarty the entire time?
Other Odds and Ends:
- Moriarty’s story of Sir Boast-a-Lot was a bit on the nose, but still wildly entertaining.
- How many shippers squealed when Watson punched Lestrade’s boss? Or how about when Sherlock told Watson to take his hand?
- Who has their nemesis’ number on hand so they can text them?
- I cannot figure out how Sherlock faked his own death. At least we’re getting a third series to answer that one.
- “Every fairy tale needs a good, old-fashioned villain.”
- “In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king. And honey, you should see me in a crown.”
- “Suddenly I’m Mr. Sex.”
- “Aren’t ordinary people adorable?”
- “Yeah, well you know what he’s like – CSI: Baker Street.”
- “No one can fake being an annoying dick all the time.”
- “Take my hand.”
- “No, friends protect people.”
- Sherlock: “You’re insane.”
Moriarty: “You’re just getting that now?”
- “You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.”
- Moriarty: “You’re on the side of the angels.”
Sherlock: “Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.”
Another series of Sherlock, and another masterful piece of television (yes, even if you include “Baskerville”). It’s just a shame that we’re going to have to wait another year before we get another episode, but if the new ones are a fraction of good as these, then it will be well worth the wait.
Photo Courtesy of PBS