Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer DVR Dump: Sherlock 2.03: "The Reichenbach Fall"

“You want me to shake hands with you in Hell, I will not disappoint you.”

“The Reichenbach Fall,” unsurprisingly to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with Sherlock Holmes, is based on the story “The Final Problem.” Famously, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his protagonist out of frustration in that story, only to bring him back in a future story due to public outcry. This, of course, means that the episode marches rather relentlessly towards Sherlock’s impending (temporary) doom, orchestrated by none other than his arch nemesis, James Moriarty. We learn what we’re going to be contending with right from the beginning when we get a bit of in media res of Watson telling his therapist that Sherlock is dead. It really sets the tone for the rest of the episode. The whole thing is very foreboding, even though it’s painfully obvious that the death of the show’s title character won’t stick.

We then flash back three months to see the events which led up to Sherlock’s apparent death. Sherlock and Watson are riding high. Sherlock has been solving a ton of high profile cases, and this has brought on lots of media attention. Instead of the Reichenbach Falls being the location of Holmes’ and Moriarty’s doom as it is in “The Final Problem,” in this episode, it’s the name of a famous missing painting that Sherlock locates. He’s then known as the “Reichenbach Hero” by the media. Watson warns Sherlock that this hot streak can’t last forever and the media will eventually turn on them, but Sherlock doesn’t seem especially concerned.

The tide begins to turn sooner than anyone expected. Moriarty pays a visit to the Crown Jewels and manages to cause complete mayhem at three separate locations at once: the Tower, of course, the Bank of England, and a major prison. Moriarty does this by pressing different buttons on his phone to alert his minions to take action. Moriarty doesn’t really do much than scare a bunch of people, though. He basically waits to be capture. It’s all part of some nefarious plan, no doubt. Moriarty is placed on trial, and Sherlock and Watson attend the whole circus, Sherlock as an expert witness. Sherlock manages to seriously piss off a reporter and get held in contempt of court for being a smartass to the judge while giving his testimony. Moriarty instructs his attorney to mount no defense, which instantly puts Sherlock and Watson on alert for some sort of nefarious plan. Their fears appear to be confirmed when Moriarty is found not guilty.

Sherlock rushes home and prepares for the inevitable. He’s playing his violin with a kettle of tea on when Moriarty arrives for the taunting. Meanwhile, Watson is once again summoned by Mycroft. Mycroft warns Watson that multiple international assassins (mostly from eastern Europe) have moved in around 221B Baker Street. They figure it’s Moriarty’s fault, of course. No sooner are Sherlock and Watson reunited then they get their case for the week. An ambassador’s two children have been kidnapped from their boarding school while their classmates were home on holiday. Molly helps Sherlock and Watson analyze footprints found at the scene, and she notices that Sherlock looks sad when Watson isn’t watching him, much like her own father looked when he was dying and thought no one was watching. Sherlock is defensive and doesn’t tell Molly what is wrong, but he manages to solve the case anyway. He puts the pieces together from all the clues contained in the footprints and finds the factory where the kids are being held. The kids are rescued, but when Sherlock tries to interview them, the girl just points at Sherlock and screams.

The girl screaming was part of Moriarty planting the seeds to make people start doubting Sherlock. Worse than just doubt, Moriarty’s scheme is designed to make people believe that Sherlock actually committed many of the crimes he’s solved. Donovan and her partner go to Lastrade with their suspicions. Lastrade doesn’t want to believe what his officers are telling him, but he has to do his due diligence anyway. Sherlock refuses to come to the station for questioning (he thinks that’s just what Moriarty wants). Unfortunately for Sherlock, Lastrade’s boss isn’t quite so nice as Lastrade. He orders Lastrade to arrest Sherlock immediately. Sherlock and Watson are indeed arrested (Watson for punching out Lastrade’s boss), but they escape pretty quickly. They run into one of the assassins who has been hanging around Baker Street, and before he’s killed by another assassin, the assassin explains that Moriarty left his gamechanging key code which he allegedly used in his crime spree in Sherlock and Watson’s apartment.

Sherlock and Watson see a copy of a newspaper which has published a big exposé about Sherlock. The article was written by the reporter Sherlock pissed off during Moriarty’s trial. They go to her house, and it turns out that Moriarty is hiding out there. He claims to be an actor named Richard Brook, and he also claims that Sherlock hired him to play his nemesis. Moriarty’s scheme to completely discredit Sherlock is now almost complete. Sherlock realizes that Moriarty’s plan has one final step, and he rushes off to the morgue to prepare for it. He tells Molly that he needs her help, although we don’t get to hear what exactly he’s going to ask her to do. Meanwhile, Watson confronts Mycroft about how much Moriarty knows about Sherlock. Mycroft admits that he had been interrogating Moriarty about the key code, and telling Moriarty about Sherlock was the only way to get Moriarty to talk.

Sherlock and Watson have a bit of a pow wow, and they think that the best strategy is to somehow obtain the key code from wherever Moriarty stashed it and turn Richard Brook back into Jim Moriarty. Before they can really work out a strategy, however, Watson gets a call saying that Mrs. Hudson has been shot. Watson rushes off to deal with this after berating Sherlock for being unfeeling. Sherlock himself goes off to the final showdown with Moriarty on the roof of St. Bart’s hospital. The standoff is a typical verbal sparring match between Sherlock and Moriarty, and Moriarty reveals that there wasn’t actually a key code. He just had minions who executed all the mayhem. That’s a big oops for Sherlock, because it takes away the best way out of his predicament. Moriarty wants Sherlock to die, and unless Sherlock jumps off the roof, Moriarty will have snipers kill Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Lastrade. Sherlock tries to make Moriarty change his mind, but Moriarty shoots himself in the head, leaving Sherlock no choice but to jump.

Watson arrives at Baker Street to see that Mrs. Hudson is just fine, which makes him realize that something is definitely very wrong. He arrives at St. Bart’s just in time to see Sherlock jump. Watson is hit by a passing bicyclist before he has a chance to react to the situation, and the crowd keeps him from getting too close to Sherlock’s body. This is a pretty big clue from a storytelling perspective that all is not how it seems. The episode ends with Watson and Mrs. Hudson at Sherlock’s tombstone. Mrs. Hudson leaves to give Watson some private mourning time, and Watson, in a great scene for Martin Freeman, begs Sherlock to not be dead. Watson gets no response to his plea, but we see Sherlock lurking in the background, still very much alive.

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