Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall

Oh good grief this was a brilliant finale. Twisty as a twisty turny thing, full of shock and awe, it’s also the one in which my enjoyment of Andrew Scott’s ‘Jim’ Moriarty reached fever pitch.

One of many things that gave me great pleasure about this is how the writers (Steve Thompson for this one) are playing with the powerful celebrity persona that developed around Sherlock Holmes. It tormented Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With the massive popular success of his character, he found he’d created a fictional monster. The public were addicted to Holmes, and to this day, people still believe Sherlock Holmes really existed. No-one was ever really interested in any of Doyle’s ‘serious’ writing, and at the time, he wrote to his mother in frustration,”I must save my mind for better things, even if it means I must bury my pocketbook with him.”

And so, sick to the back teeth of Holmes, Doyle wrote The Final Problem, in which he believed that he had finally got rid of the character that tormented him so, by killing Holmes off in a dramatic scene where he and Professor Moriarty fight to the death over the Reichenbach Falls. But as Victoria Principle found when Bobby came out of that the epically long Dallas shower, things are not always that simple. The public found Doyle’s belief in fairies less than convincing and screamed for the return of their beloved Sherlock Holmes. Doyle eventually had to bring him back to life in The Adventure of the Empty House.

Now, so much is known by the public about Doyle’s stories, the trap that scriptwriters of Sherlock can fall into is to be too clever for their own good, which I felt happened with Baskerville episode (not everyone agrees I know). But I didn’t feel that in The Reichenbach Fall. And there was so much that was scream-makingly excellent:

  • The touching, bookending scenes of Watson seeing his therapist to try to deal with the death of his friend Holmes, and visiting his grave.
  • The court scene with Holmes unable to stop himself being a smart arse.
  • The cameo of IT Crowd’s Katharine Parkinson as plaited haired Rita Skeeter-esque investigative journalist, Kitty Riley. I particularly enjoyed her encounter with Holmes in the Gents’.
  • The beautifully done interplay between Holmes and Molly Hooper in the morgue scenes.
  • Moriarty. So very fine an opponent for Holmes. I loved The Thomas Crown Affair meets The Wrong Trousers fun stealing-of-the-Crown-Jewels scene, particularly Moriarty being found by the police sitting on the throne in the jewel cabinet, wearing them. I think Andrew Scott has played him beautifully, exuding evil power with frightening, manic intensity without ever appearing totally psycho. Best bits for me: the chaos causing apps on the mobile phone, the carving of IOU into the apple and the delicate sipping of tea with Holmes. So many superb performances in this series, Cumberbatch and Freeman, Gatiss as Mycroft, Rupert Graves as Lestrade. But his is up there too.
  • The rooftop scene on St Barts and Holmes’ fall to his apparent death to save the lives of people he cares about. The eruption of excitement on my Twitter feed afterwards when we then see him alive lurking behind a tree in the graveyard. What happened? How did he do it? Was Molly involved, was a ‘spare’ morgue corpse switched at the last? Utterly gripping.

MORE BBC more. Bring it back and bring it soon. Best telly ever.

Posted by Inkface

10 Comments

Filed under Sherlock Holmes

10 responses to “Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall

  1. Tim

    So much to love about this episode. The prologue and coda with John were magnificent, although I wish they hadn’t explicitly shown Sherlock alive. Maybe it would have been enough to have just said “Sherlock will be back next year” as a closing voiceover?

    I had only minor quibbles here, most notably the way Mycroft is revealed to be a total mug. But this was quite wonderful – I even finally fell in love with Andrew Scott’s performance as Moriarty, and his portrayal fell into place for me when he first admitted his own insanity and then shot himself. Never saw that coming.

    I loved the way Moriarty is able to so easily present Sherlock as a fake with a few well-placed suggestions. All the while, everything he does is fake: he allows his own capture so he can bleed Mycroft for info, his trial is a sham, he adopts a fake identity, and even his big triple crime is a fake – it’s not a whizzy code, it’s just plain manipulation of pawns. I love the way this series has hammered home how the pair are flip sides of the same coin: “You’re me”, the final handshake and then the shocking, visceral ending. Bravo.

    Series 3 cannot come soon enough.

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/01/16/sherlock-the-reichenbach-fall-review/

  2. HolbyNut

    Quite brilliant!
    Though it’s so intense that I’m not sure I could take so much cleverness every Sunday evening, so 3 feature-length episodes keeps us keen. Yes, look forward to the next series as a perfect escape to the January blues.

  3. Moriarty’s accent drives me crazy, it’s like a bad impression of
    Graham Norton! But he was good, and to be honest Sherlock should have just shoved him off the roof when he had the chance.

    I thought Sherlock was alive before we saw him, because I think John mouthed “He’s okay” when he was checking his pulse. So maybe a switch in the morgue, yes.

    I did love John’s salute to Sherlock’s grave, though. Great TV.

  4. Qwerty

    Excellent review Inky. I especially like the way you’ve drawn parallels with Conan Doyle’s exasperation at the adoration for Holmes with the modern day tabloid build-em-up and knock-em-down stuff in this episode. I still think this is a terrific interpretation of Moriarty – a slick, unpredictable and very modern man. Albeit a little Ant+Dec. There’s a brilliant Guardian thread today which covers every possible interpretation of the ending imaginable.

  5. .::Big.Bang::.

    I completely agree with that theory! Although I also believe the medics, bicyclist and the van were in on it.

    But what about the amazing music? The music never gets any recognition. :( Three beautiful pieces too. Can’t wait for series 3! Thank God for Moffat & Gatiss confirming it right after the episode – don’t really care for what Stephenson says. The BBC should do more masterful and awesome programmes like this, rather than MasterChef, Songs of Praise and whatever antique crap they go on about.

  6. WaterlooVamps

    loved this episode!!! :D

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