If you ideally want to watch this season, it may be best to skip “The Hounds of Baskerville” altogether, or just save it for the end. “The Reichenbach Fall” picks up almost exactly where “A Scandal in Belgravia” left off, both in plot, and in tone. Instead of Sherlock brooding with one mildly interesting case, he’s back with juggling a coterie of impossible riddles while sparring with Moriarty. He’s more famous than ever, this time for saving a painting of Reichenbach Falls, finding a kidnapping victim, and capturing a rogue mafia capo. He has reached his absolute height.
Enter Moriarty. Just as he predicted a few episodes back, Moriarty returns to burn the heart out of Sherlock. But first, he breaks into the Tower of London, Pentonville Prison, and the Bank of England simultaneously using his magic iPhone app just to get Sherlock’s attention. Sherlock has never put together a more striking opening sequence.
At the trial, we get Moriarty at his creepiest, asking a guard to fish gum out of his pocket, and Sherlock having to put up with a pestering journalist (Jen from The IT Crowd!) in the men’s room. Sherlock, never to shy from a moment, is arrested for showing off his skills a little too much during the trial. Moriarty enters no defense and is freed. He can break into the most secure places in England with no consequence. He spends his first few moments of freedom with Sherlock. The show lives on the interactions between John and Sherlock, but it thrives when Moriarty is needling him.
Soon after, Sherlock solves another improbable case, and things start going wrong. First Moriarty tells us there’s a trap. Then he comes back in the cab and shows it’s already been sprung. Viewers have come to accept and love Sherlock’s abilities. But imagine a person existing who’s actually like Sherlock. The guy at school who’s condescending when he knows an answer that you don’t. That’s an easy guy to hate. It’s easy to want him to fail. By having Sherlock save the ambassador’s children, Moriarty took control of the game.
Then comes maybe the greatest moment in Sherlock’s run. The reporter has written a story about Sherlock, and he wants answers. Then the source walks down the stairs: Moriarty. He says he’s an actor. He even has a portfolio and resumé of previous work. Moriarty actually went to the trouble of becoming a semi-successful actor to bring down Sherlock. Watson later figures out Moriarty’s plan. He realizes that Moriarty found Sherlock’s life story from Mycroft. That was all he needed.
In the climax, Moriarty brings out his inner Joker, vacillating between depression and excitement about how ordinary Sherlock is. He then reveals the final trap: all three of Sherlock’s friends are at gunpoint and they will be killed unless Sherlock kills himself. Sherlock, in the most telling line of the series, manages to turn the tables saying, “I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.” Sherlock can and will do anything to save his friends. So Moriarty ensures there’s no way for Sherlock to win. He kills himself.
That leaves no recourse but for Sherlock to jump.
Cue the sad music, and flash forward to the graveyard. Watson talks to the grave and walks away sadly. Cut to Sherlock. He’s still alive.
What just happened?
Our Favorite Lines:
Sherlock about the deerstalker hat: “Why does it have two fronts? What do you do with it? Do you throw it? Is it a death Frisbee?”
The judge to Sherlock: “Do you think you could survive for just a few minutes without showing off?”
Moriarty: “We’re just alike you and me, except you’re boring.”
Moriarty: “Falling’s just like flying, except there’s a more permanent destination.”
Moriarty: “There is no key…DOOFUS!” Has the word “doofus” ever been more threatening?
What did you think of the Sherlock season finale?