Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Killers Conundrum

Who is that Guy at the Bottom?

The top image is the picture in the file Mycroft shows John at his club.

The second image is of Sherlock just after the man saves him from being hit by a bus and a frame before the man is shot dead.  It's obvious that the top two are the same person.

The third is in Mrs. Hudson's flat while Sherlock is on the roof of Saint Bart's.  In fact, he showed up at 221B while John was off talking to Mycroft at the Diogenes Club.  We are supposed, apparently, to believe he is ready to assassinate Mrs. Hudson if Sherlock doesn't jump from the roof of Saint Bart's.

But how would he know?  He'll get a call on his mobile, presumably.  If so, why does he need his gun within inches of his hand in his toolbox with the lid open?  Just for the convenience of the camera?  Or is he protector rather than assassin?

Why is this Guy on the Stairway?

It seems as if we are supposed to think he is there to kill John.  But he was one of the "assassins" Mycroft showed to John, and they were all supposed to be sent by potential customers of Moriarty's for his computer code.

They protect Sherlock while trying to find the secret code. Are we supposed to assume Moriarty hired him away from his original handler and set him up to kill John?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Packet of Blood - Faked

This tumblr post, which has upwards of 30k "likes" and "reblogs," suggests that when Moffat said "there is a clue everyone has missed" he was referring to the three-part image at right.

And while we can appreciate the three images, as if we are moving in on something we might not otherwise notice, the picture is a "manip."  The "packet of blood," as the blogger refers to it, simply isn't there, as can be seen in the screenshot at left from the show.  

But there are two questions here and the wrong answer (fake blood packet) is in response to a WRONG QUESTION.

Moffat didn't just say there was a clue everyone missed, he also said that the clue involved Sherlock doing something out-of-character:

 "I’ve been online and looked at all the theories," Moffat told us, "and there’s one clue that everyone’s missed. It’s something that Sherlock did that was very out of character, but which nobody has picked up on."

Of course, as any semi-astute Sherlock observer knows there was very little in the episode that Sherlock did that wasn't out-of-character. Here is one example from The Reichenbach Fall 1

Moriarty must believe he is making all the moves and Sherlock must manipulate things to his advantage as much and as subtly as possible.  So Sherlock, who always shunned personal publicity, turns himself into a tabloid media star. He accepts accolades and gifts, submits himself  to publicity photos and video cameras.

What can be more out of character for Sherlock Holmes than seeking publicity and accepting gestures of gratitude?  Yet, he does it not once, but over and over.  Sherlock Holmes appears for the cameras with John Watson coaching him through it.  He not only manages a smile when he is given his own "Sherlock hat," he actually dons it for the cameras, and poses, still smiling. 

But even though the blood packet is a fake, watching the action closely does raise interesting questions.

Below is a series of screenshots from "The Reichenbach Fall" made yesterday, from the Netflix streaming video series.  You can confirm these images on your DVD:

Here is John's POV just before the bike hits him and knocks him to the ground.  

Pool of blood, Fatigue Guy, Young Doc

This shot of the body comes next, a view from above showing Sherlock on the ground, the blood already around his head, Green Fatigue-jacket guy running up, as well as Young Doc Guy, who supposedly had the blood.

Here comes Young Doc, his hand near his chest.  Reaching for something?  Possibly the actor is trying to keep the stethoscope he has around his neck from bouncing off while he runs.  Fatigue Jacket is hidden behind Suit Man. 

What's that guy on the left looking at?

Here is the image that has the "blood packet" shopped in, but it actually presents a very interesting question:

What is Young Doc looking back at?  His hand seems to still be on that stethoscope, but he is not looking at the poor guy on the ground leaking blood all over the sidewalk.  He has turned to look behind himself at ...

John getting up?  

A signal from someone in the phone booth?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sherlock Backstory 3: The Holmes-Moriarty Connection

What was Holmes senior having... an affair... a nervous breakdown... his solicitor change his will... gender-reassignment surgery?

The above quote (from the DVD commentary on "The Great Game") hints at the backstory Mr. Gatiss seems to be slowly paying out like fishing line for a shy trout.  Apparently he wasn't quite ready to share so much here, or possibly was shooting a future flashback. Part of what we do see is Mycroft threaten to "order" his recalcitrant brother to find the missing memory stick.  Sherlock Backstory 2: The Privateer theorizes that Sherlock Holmes not only acts as a consultant to the police, but also contracts on a case-by-case basis with the British government.  The threat, perhaps, a subtle bit of backstory, then.

Outside of this curious reference to what was cut, bits of the Holmes brothers enticingly mysterious past leak through the fabric of the plot-lines from the very first episode.
Even before Sherlock finds Mycroft waiting for him at the end of "A Study in Pink,"  we had hints from the Killer Cabbie, who taunts Sherlock, "Still the addict."   How would he know anything about Sherlock's addiction?  His sponsor Moriarty told him, apparently.  See Tale of the Killer Cabbie.  From that post:

"In any case, Sherlock must not be shot.  He must be one of the suicides. Moriarty wanted more than his death, only Sherlock's defeat would earn the final payment.  The words from the cabbie's mouth are Moriarty's, the method to entice him, appeal to both his ego and his inherent reckless disregard for his own safety.  He'll risk not breathing for the sake of "brain-work" because "breathing is boring." 

It was personal from the very beginning. 

In "The Great Game," the episode that brings Sherlock and the viewer into direct contact with James Moriarty, a pink phone is sent to Sherlock in an envelope addressed specifically to him, connecting the crimes and the perpetrator to the Killer Cabbie and his sponsor, Moriarty. 

In Lestrade's office, some light dialogue suggests that the kidnapper has gone to some trouble to make it look like Jennifer Wilson's phone because he read John's blog.  But in the basement, when they find the shoes, Sherlock says quietly to himself,  "The curtain rises," and when John asks what he means replies,  "I've been expecting this for some time." 

Expecting what?  Old shoes?  A bomber who kidnaps random victims?  To find Moriarty had already invaded his personal life, putting shoes in the building where he lives?  Sherlock has  been expecting Moriarty to approach him; it's personal, somehow.  In "A Study in Pink," the Killer Cabbie came to get Sherlock at his flat, we saw him come walking right up the stairs.   In "The Great Game," the first explosion is so close to 221B it blows the windows out of the flat and knocks Sherlock off his feet.   Moriarty's first words to Sherlock are, "Hello, sexy." Through the second victim, Moriarty says to Sherlock, "This is between you and me."

What's between Moriarty and Sherlock?  At the end of "A Study in Pink," Sherlock tells John he has no idea what "Moriarty" is.  How can anything be between them, if Sherlock has no clue what "Moriarty" might mean?

Starting at the beginning, why did that cabbie seek out Sherlock at all, much less at his flat?  He had no reason to think Sherlock would find him, he drove away after Sherlock  dismissed him.   Yet, he put himself at risk, trying to conquer and kill Sherlock Holmes in a way which would humiliate him in memory and invalidate his reputation.   The great Sherlock Holmes would fall victim to a funny little man driving a cab.  It foreshadows "The Reichenbach Fall", where Sherlock "will die in disgrace."  Of course, that's the point of this, James tells him. 

Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty are tied together from childhood, from the time the detective describes as "where I started:"  Carl Powers.  And if the words in the cabbie's mouth are Moriarty's, it's a very small leap to that cabbie actually being Moriarty.

Recall what Sherlock said to him, "Either way, you're wasted as a cabbie."  True.  Because  he wasn't a cabbie at all.  In this case, we didn't see Sherlock force the name of his "sponsor" from him by inflicting pain on him.  Moriarty senior was declaring his identity:   calling for his son to step up and take over the payment of the debt, that which he owed to Sherlock Holmes.

Moriarty.  So much more than just a man.  What's more than a man?  A family.  A clan.

The four Irish kingdoms eventually broke into five nations under the High King, or Ard Righ. These royal lines would later produce such great kings as the fourth century King Niall of the Nine Hostages who died in France while cutting off the retreat of the Romans from Britain, and King Brian Boru who died in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, finally expelling the Vikings from Dublin and Ireland.
The grreat Gaelic family Moriarty emerged in later years in county Kerry. This distinguished Irish Clann were descended from O'Muirtheataith, who was descended from Domhnall, King of Munster, and possessed the "Flock abounding Plain" of Aisde on the river Mang in that county. They also held Castlemaine Harbour. They lost much of their territories in the Anglo/Norman invasion of Strongbow in the year 1172 and they were ousted by the Fitzgeralds. They also branched to Kells in county Meath but this was also confiscated. The Moriartys were a strong ecclesiastical family and the Rev. David Moriarty was Bishop of Kerry, but many of them lost their right to preach under the Penal code of 1714. Notable amongst the family at this time was Father Thady McMoriarty.
During the 12th century, 1172 A.D., Dermott McMurrogh, in his fight for the position of Ard Righ, requested King Henry II of England for his assistance. This was the first intrusion onto Ireland of the Anglo/Normans. Many native Irish families lost their lands and possessions. This was followed by Cromwell's invasion of 1640, when further loss of the land befell the unfortunate Irish people. Ulster in the North was seeded with protestant Scottish and English. And, again many Irish families lost their ancient territories.
Black raptor on the chest of the cabbie's son.
It is noted in more than one newspaper story in "The Reichenbach Fall" that Moriarty was "Irish-born."  Noting that the Moriarty Coat of Arms is a black raptor (or eagle) on a silver field, we can find two instances of raptors in "Sherlock" that are both related to Moriarty: the picture of the Killer Cabbie's children, and the wings left on the wall outside 221B Baker Street in "The Reichenbach Fall" as Sherlock and John escape the police. The wings are also seen in daylight as John runs from 221B and back to Sherlock after finding Mrs. Hudson unharmed.

Black raptor wings on the wall: Moriarty owes Sherlock.
Weaving a thread through the episodes from what seem like disparate elements and taking into account the remarks of the writers that the most frightening thing about a terrorist is his acting with disregard for his own life, an ancient feud fueled by old wrongs unrectified and new hurts by a perceived historic enemy would be right in line with bringing Sherlock into the modern world.  Holmes is also a family name traceable to the 1200s at least, and some of the English Holmes "moved to" and "settled in" Ireland.  It's hardly difficult to assume as part of or closely related to invading forces that usurped the lands of Irish clans.

The Killer Cabbie may have been a man with an aneurism, he also is easily cast as the senior Moriarty, a proper genius, father to James, intent on destroying the son of Holmes senior, his enemy.   Moriarty plays the role of the "funny little man driving a cab" well, right down to the shaving foam on his neck.  Why?  Always the question for Moriarty in any form: why are you doing this?  What's it all for?
Carl Powers, John.  It's where I began.

Who did Holmes Senior possibly run off with?  The only woman we've seen who makes a good candidate is the one torn from the picture of the Killer Cabbie's children.  Was it an affair?  Or did he disappear with her to rescue her and her children from a psychopathic husband and father who helped one of his children murder another child?

Who would have put Holmes Senior onto the crime?  Sherlock, the boy genius who knew Carl Powers' shoes would have been with his clothes.   Sherlock said, "I made a fuss, I tried to get the police interested, but nobody seemed to think it was important."  Perhaps his father listened to him more carefully than he knew.

Mycroft somehow blames Sherlock for whatever happened, for what made him have to assume an adult's role at home and "play mother" to Sherlock.  Even assuming the senior Holmes didn't share his investigation of the Carl Powers case with his son, it's easy to imagine the hyper-astute Sherlock noting behavior patterns and physical evidence that would lead him to perhaps blurt out that his father was keeping company with another woman.  If Holmes senior left, it could have led to the breakdown of his wife, or even her suicide. 

If Mycroft blames Sherlock for being the catalyst that started the reactions leading to the breakdown of the family, Moriarty senior and the child psychopath James, the boy taken from his father's side, surely also blame him.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anticipating Series 3: the Next Moriarty

"Shooting up" at Baker Street.
In Professor Moriarty Out of the Shadows Part 2, this blog makes the case for the Professor Moriarty we have not yet met as an adult, being a woman. 

It is incomprehensible that the team of Moffat and Gatiss will not bring us James Moriarty's sibling.  The issue of how many Moriarty's exist and their correct names is as large a part of Sherlockiana as his drug use and even the deerstalker hat that never appears in the Canon.

The basic elements of the Moriarty as Woman theory, include:
  • The Killer Cabbie never referring to Moriarty by gender (neither "he" nor "she").
  • The softness of the voice of the Moriarty who spoke to the old woman blown up in "The Great Game."
  • The first words Moriarty "speaks" to Sherlock through the first hostage in The Great Game: "Hello, Sexy."
  • The continuing seductive and intimate language throughout.
  • The clue's in the name: "Janus cars."  The mythological God Janus has two faces, often characterized as male and female. 
  • The envelope for Sherlock with the pink phone that we see early in "The Great Game" was addressed by a woman using a fountain pen, a "Parker Duofold with an iridium nib," according to Sherlock.

The full theory is at the link above.  But about that Parker Duofold with the iridum nib.  This answer was given by a poster with the handle bborchar at the The Sherlock Forum, where this blogger posts as Allin1:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the Parker Duofold to record the adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Examining the red herring.
Certainly it says so at the link.  Further research reveals this isn't precisely factual.  Near the end of his career and his life, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was paid to appear in ads for the Parker Pen Company advertising the Duofold. This thread at The Fountain Pen Network forum, explores the topic.   The Duofold wasn't produced until 1921, so if Conan Doyle used it, it was only for a few his last stories and he couldn't have used the iridium nib pen, which came much later.

What Does This Have to Do with Moriarty?

Again, we can refer to bborchar, post #39 of the same thread:

Actually, the point of that scene had absolutely nothing to do with the pen (it was just a random deduction that had no explanation- the writers said that they do that all the time because it makes for fun dialogue) - the point of the scene was about the paper.  I will take the words straight from Mark Gatiss's mouth on the commentary on the third episode blu-ray:

Mark Gatiss: "Mrs. Wenceslas here, this is part of a little "Czech" thing, a light motif.  Which is a huge red herring, really.  The Bohemian stationary, she's got a Czech name, little things meant to actually distract, which in the ultimate resolution are shown to be a red herring.  Except we cut it, so that's what it's about.  It's not just a mistake."

Therefore, the pen doesn't factor into it- neither does the woman's handwriting.  It was all part of a red herring that was supposed to throw Sherlock off until revealed in the final resolution (notice how he tells Ms. Wenceslas that the whole case has a "decidedly Czech feel to it"), but was edited out before it aired.
But the red herring wasn't edited out.  Can every element in the scene be irrelevant to the larger story?  That's certainly possible.   But all they left out was the information that showed that it was. They left in all the elements, including the gender of the person wielding the pen. They simply omitted the revelation that it was meant as a distraction.  They could  have edited out 15 seconds from the scene in Lestrade's office and completely erased the statement of a woman having addressed the envelope and the reference to the Parker Pen.  But it was all left in.  And according to Gatiss, "It's not just a mistake."

Discerning the difference between a clue, an error and a red herring is almost impossible, so reasoning has to be always based on multiple factors.

The Final Problem of the Empty House

Wouldn't it be a big surprise for another Moriarty to suddenly show up?  Not to readers of the Canon.  From "The Final Problem," the story in which Doyle kills off Sherlock and Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Watson writes:
It was my intention to have stopped there, and to have said nothing of that event which has created a void in my life which the lapse of two years has done little to fill. My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother, and I have no choice but to lay the facts before the public exactly as they occurred.
The Canon says two years pass before Watson knows Moriarty has a brother.  It will have been almost two years between Series2:Episode3 (May 2012) and Series3:Episode1 (possibly December 2013-February 2014) of the BBC's Sherlock. James' brother or sister is going to show up right on time.   In the Canon, Sherlock Holmes reappears at the beginning of "The Empty House," in which the very last of Professor Moriarty's assassins is finally caught.
How the stuntman survives.  How Sherlock does, still a mystery.

The BBC has announced the title of S3:E1 is "The Empty Hearse," which leads to the expectation that Sherlock will re-enter the story early in the episode. The final problem for the next episode is still "staying alive."  How Sherlock managed it.  In the Canon, Sherlock explains his survival as soon as he reveals himself to Watson and the flat at 221B Baker Street has been maintained by Mrs. Hudson and paid for by Mycroft.

But the BBC Sherlock doesn't follow the Canon at all exactly and so what will threaten Sherlock may not be the last of Moriarty's henchmen, but the discovery of James' sibling.

It's time for the answer the real question: Why did Moriarty do what he did?  It was the question asked by Sherlock, by John, by Lestrade, asked over and over..  Sherlock asks on the phone in "The Great Game," at the flat after the trial.  On the roof where "Rich Brook" finally falls, Sherlock finds the answer:

Sherlock: "...I die in disgrace."
James:   "Well, of course, that's the point of this."

Why?  Why did the killer cabbie seem to hate Sherlock so much, why was his encounter so different from the first four people? (Tale of the Killer Cabbie.)  Why was James so angry when he got the call that stopped Sherlock blowing them all up at the pool?  Why is James extending a life he cannot bear to live, until he is positive Sherlock Holmes will die an ignominious death?

Only Professor Moriarty will have all the answers.  The Moriarty who killed Carl Powers, kept his shoes, invited Sherlock to dance, fascinated him with puzzles. This is about where Sherlock started, about why Mycroft had to be "mother" for his whole childhood, about what upset Mummy.

The book page image is  from The Science of Johnlock.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Reichenbach Fall 5

It's time.

Once John, who while "never the most luminous of people, but as a conductor of light is unbeatable," triggers Sherlock to connect Moriarty's rhythmic finger-tapping in the flat with the code, Sherlock is ready for the final confrontation.  He knows what he wants and knows how to get it.  He plans to survive and is aware he may not.  He hopes he will not have to take the fall, in any sense of the word.

Sherlock wants a confession, a recorded confession from Moriarty.  He wants James to believe he is the victor, knows he'll want to brag, want "... appreciation, applause, at long last a spotlight..."  The frailty of genius is, it needs an audience.  When Moriarty succeeds, he'll have no one even close to his intellect who can appreciate his genius. It's not a challenge to get him to explain.

No lack of electronics on the roof.
It's also not a challenge to have the roof bugged or even filmed.   Sherlock had time after he enlisted Molly's help for Mycroft's people to do whatever was necessary at Bart's once Sherlock knew Moriarty was planning his "suicide" and Sherlock chose the perfect spot to do it publicly.   The best outcome is to get Moriarty's confession, to figure out if and whom he has as hostage and manage to get them to safety.  Mirroring the situation in the Canon where Sherlock Holmes explains to Dr. Watson in "The Final Problem,"
"I have woven my net round him until now it is all ready to close ... and the professor, with all the principal members of his gang, will be in the hands of the police..."
.. Sherlock needs to make sure all of Moriarty's henchman are identified and neutralized. Doyle's Sherlock had to disappear for a while until all was ready.  Our Sherlock is hoping he won't have to disappear, to make the dangerous leap and play out a cruel game against his friends. But he won't know until he's on the roof.

Sherlock gets the confession easily.  James explains how he committed the crimes, that he sent people after Sherlock, that the computer code doesn't exist, that "the point of this" is to have Sherlock die in disgrace. Now Sherlock is done.  Except for finding out exactly how James is going to make him jump.  Then Moriarty confesses to attempted murder, he has set it up so that three people will die if Sherlock doesn't and he isn't going to call off the order.  This time, there will be no acquittal.

The Most Dangerous Moment

Sherlock mounts the wall, shaking. Adrenaline?  Surely, but plenty of fear.  The "changeable" Moriarty could simply give him a shove and send him to his death.  Sherlock has to get James away from the wall so he doesn't see the preparations, doesn't watch Sherlock leap and survive or John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade will die.  Sherlock begs for a moment of privacy.  Moriarty gives it to him, surely less out of generosity than the desire to draw out his agony.   But Sherlock is waiting for a cue; and also, as always, working on the problem.

Moriarty only has him in check, and Sherlock finds an escape square.  "I don't have to die, as long as I've got you."  Once Moriarty is convinced that Sherlock will go to any lengths to get the information that will abort the assassins' mission, his path is clear: James finally gets to die.  He wanted to die before, to take Sherlock with him, he wanted to die by the pool.  But he owes Sherlock, he has a debt to repay before he can leave his tedious existence.  His only distraction will be gone, dead by his own hand.  Life unbearable again.  So he dies, confident that Sherlock's must, ineluctably, plunge to his death. 

Freaking out or giving signal?
Sherlock leaps away from Moriarty as he pulls the trigger and then has what seems to be a Sherlockian anxiety attack in the face of James' death.

Certainly Sherlock thought Moriarty would voluntarily call off the killers rather than be tortured and do it, anyway.  Moriarty would be arrested, Sherlock's friends saved, his reputation restored and he wouldn't have to risk his life falling from the roof of Saint Bart's.

Leaping away from Moriarty can be less horror at his act, than making sure there is a clear view for all that James pulled the trigger himself. Part of Sherlock's anxiety reaction afterwards could be theater for anyone watching the roof who is not Mycroft, but include his natural reaction to the situation: Now he has to jump. And his response  disguises the cue he needs to give to Mycroft's observers, that all is in place and the leap is imminent.

Sherlock is out of choices and out of time.  John will be back at any moment and he has to witness Sherlock's death.  Sherlock's final task, before what may be his last act on earth in the deathly fall with a cobbled-together survival plan that can easily fail, is to stand on the edge and convince the stalwart John Watson he is and has always been a fraud. Then he must fall, and prove to John he is a coward. 

"Love is a much more vicious motivator."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Reichenbach Fall 4

Seeking some space to think.
"Time  ...  Time to think."
Stephen Hawking to Jane Wilde
 in Hawking. (BBC 2004)

Sherlock, who needs to think to stay ahead of Moriarty, cannot go to his mind palace, he can't withdraw with a violin in his lap, and cannot sit and stare for a few hours while processing all the data. Now in full attack mode, Moriarty deprives Sherlock of time, driving him relentlessly with an overload of stimulation, unanticipated events and Moriarty's pernicious presence wherever Sherlock turns.

Moriarty is a master of timing.  He coordinated his penetration of the defenses of the bank, tower and prison using the music through his headphones,1 and now uses the regularity of police investigative procedure to be sure the rescued girl screams right on cue.   Moriarty tortures Sherlock in the cab, showing him exactly what is happening and just how powerless he is to stop it.  Next, Moriarty  needs the police to come for Sherlock just as the "Rich Brook" story breaks.  He wants Sherlock on the run with no haven, no friends, no time to think.  The only open path leads to Moriarty - whom Sherlock must seek out and face completely unprepared, beaten, alone, impotent.  Or so Moriarty thinks.

No Real Surprises

Sherlock is following his own agenda, however, and has several tasks at this point: setting himself up so  John will believe he is the liar he knows Moriarty will make him out to be.  Figuring out everything Moriarty has done, as well as how to protect everyone and get Moriarty at the same time. And Sherlock has to do it all while no one but Mycroft knows what he is doing. 

It was Mycroft and Sherlock who hatched the plan to have Moriarty burn Sherlock by trashing his reputation.  It's Sherlock who's known from the start that he will probably have to disappear, have to convince John he is a fraud for John's safety, and his own.  It isn't news to Sherlock Holmes that sometimes people assume he is the culprit.  He said that in the very first episode to John when he pulled out the pink case, back when he found the idea amusing.
Mug-shot worthy.
Now, Sherlock Holmes purposely tries to cast suspicion on himself.  He refuses to go with Lestrade, yet, he carefully points out that once an idea is planted in your brain, it's there permanently.  Then he accuses John of believing it, of suspecting him.  He plants the idea of doubt in John's mind.  There is no reason for Sherlock to not go with Lestrade considering he knows that  "standard procedure" is for the police to decide whether or not to arrest him, anyway, if he refuses.

Yet, he doesn't leave, doesn't fade away into the dark before anyone can consider him a fugitive.  Even though John gets a warning call from Lestrade, Sherlock waits until the police come back, calmly puts his scarf and coat on. He told Lestrade he wouldn't play Moriarty's game of seeing him photographed while taken for questioning, but now he seems content to be led away in handcuffs. It's hard to become a fugitive until you've been arrested.

No one has greater love than this, 
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 
 John 15:13

It's one thing to throw yourself on a grenade, over in a second, lives saved, die as a hero.  It's a very different thing to lay down your entire life: reputation, relationships,  the only work that gives your life meaning, to be trampled into garbage for the sake of friends or even strangers who will be the very ones to vilify you.  It's a different thing to risk sacrificing your future, even if you survive, and also risk a death which deprives you of any chance to redeem yourself.

As soon as Sherlock sees the paper with the "Rich Brook" name, he knows his time is almost up. But he still doesn't have all the information. If Moriarty did leave something in his visit to the flat, Sherlock has to know exactly what it is. He also has to know how Moriarty plans to kill him, once the paper comes out. He needs to devise a way to win and survive. So, he keeps playing Moriarty's game, setting himself up to look guilty, making James think he has total control.

Outside Kitty Riley's flat, Sherlock finally he understands how he must die.  It's textbook Moriarty: murder by apparent suicide.  Sherlock escaped death the first time because John intervened and shot the killer cabbie. The difference between that time and this time is, now Sherlock will make sure he is alone with Moriarty and his snipers. The other difference is: Sherlock wants to live.

The Reichenbach Fall 5

1 from the overture to La Gazza Ladra ("The Thieving Magpie.") by Rossini - here on You Tube starting about 4:23

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Reichenbach Fall 3

Giving John time to see the Sun.
Irene Adler in a rhinestone thong couldn't look more out of place inside the Diogenes Club than a copy of The Sun on a polished end table next to Mycroft's chair under a lamp.  He couldn't have done more to get John to notice it without a blinking neon arrow.   Mycroft's disclaimer a minute later "But that's not why I asked you here," is obfuscation, it was exactly why he asked John there, in part.

Sherlock will immediately notice international professional assassins who move into the neighborhood "twenty feet from the front door."  It's quite likely Sherlock told Mycroft about them, perhaps needing his help to identify them, or at least get more information than he has. There is also the possibility, with mobile phone communications being so easily monitored, that Sherlock and Mycroft are keeping any direct contact between themselves to a minimum, and really do have to send messages through John Watson, who can't be told he is serving as the telegraph line. 

In any case, Mycroft confirms that John doesn't make the "rich brook/reichenbach" connection, but does know about the killers.  Sherlock can't be the one to tell John or he blows his carefully cultivated for James Moriarty's benefit ordinary person facade.  Like an actor who is always "on," Sherlock is spending 24 hours a day in character in order to convince the almost preternaturally intuitive Moriarty that he is still relatively clueless and believes the master criminal was only advertising his wares at the trial.
Sherlock: sickle-shaped.

"He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes."
from The Youth Who went Forth to Learn What Fear Was - Grimms' Fairytales

We know Sherlock finds a surveillance camera at the top of the built-in bookshelf behind him.  We don't know who is watching or when it was placed there.  We don't know how many there are.  When James shows up at 221B, Sherlock doesn't engage in any witty repartee as he did by the pool, apparently moments from death.  Here, in the relative safety of his flat, Sherlock gives away little and gathers in as much as possible.  He asks the critical question, "What is it all for?"  And Moriarty answers him truthfully, "I want to solve the problem. Our problem. The final problem."

James was wrong when he said he and Sherlock are "just alike."  He doesn't know they no longer share the Final Problem of life's unbearable tedium.  Sherlock changed.  Sherlock has friends he cares for, who care for him. He has a future to look forward to, a brother reconciled with.   And James isn't the only one with revenge on his mind. Sherlock has Carl Powers, an old blind woman and 11 other people who deserve justice.  But James doesn't know about the change.   And James, himself, cannot be released, solve his problem of staying alive until he pays Sherlock what he thinks he owes him,  until Sherlock is obliterated.

The Reichenbach Fall 4

The Reichenbach Fall 2

Waiting for an invitation.
Why isn't this man screaming?

It might seem to a casual observer that Sherlock has no case at the moment which is why he's analyzing a 260+ year-old  reported suicide.1  But in fact, he is working on the biggest case of his life: finally resolving the James Moriarty issue.  As outlined previously, Mycroft and Sherlock baited the hook, now they wait for Moriarty to take it, beginning what Sherlock knows to be the most dangerous adventure of his career.

From the Canon, Watson on Holmes, "The Hound of the Baskervilles:"
"Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will.  For two hours the strange business in which we had been involved appeared to be forgotten, and he was entirely absorbed in the pictures of the modern Belgian masters."

Once upon a time...
Our 21st Century Sherlock has done what is possible for the moment, given Moriarty the perfect weapon with which to "burn him," and now waits for him to make a move. Sherlock may very much wish to answer the text signal his phone keeps sending, but he is waiting for John.  He is working, he is "being Sherlock" for Watson, whom he knows can't resist picking up the phone when it signals again, and for anyone who might be surveilling the flat.

Moriarty must believe that his actions are unanticipated by Sherlock.  It's John who makes the announcement to a Sherlock who seems too absorbed in his researches to brook trivial distractions.

"He's back," John tells Sherlock, handing him his mobile.  

Working the press.
Sherlock Shoots Himself in the Foot

Sherlock has never been less himself than in "The Reichenbach Fall."  His lack of affect even in private, his careful and constant control, walking into a gaggle of reporters head up on the way to a police car to go to court, alienating a reporter as personally and contemptuously as possible, offending the judge in the most important trial at which he has ever given testimony so egregiously that he is thrown out of court.  It seems as if he is bent on giving Moriarty every advantage.

Sherlock predicts there will be no defense and  expects Moriarty to be acquitted.  The question is: does he want him to be?  Sherlock is waiting for the verdict, even repeating the judge's jury instruction, obviously hugely invested in the outcome.
Fates entwined.

If Moriarty is locked up for some time, life can go back to what passes for normal at 221B Baker Street.  The Most Dangerous Game can  be scrapped, or so it seems.  But criminal bosses run their empires from behind prison walls, have many at their disposal to carry out their instructions. More than one version of the  killer cabbie exists in the world and all of them can be set after Sherlock Holmes.    Moriarty's  criminal enterprises will not abate;  his incarceration  serves no purpose.

Sherlock doesn't  know why Moriarty had himself arrested, what his greater plan is.  But Sherlock has always known, since he and Mycroft began planning to take James down once and for all,  that sooner or later it will come down to the two of them in a battle of wits from which only one will walk away.   So, while a guilty verdict would be ultimately worthless, it would at least spare Sherlock the dangerous task he has set himself, for a while.  This may cause him to be ambivalent about what he hopes will happen.

The Sherlock assault.
Nevertheless, when John calls with the verdict, Sherlock acts quickly and decisively: he makes tea.  Moriarty has had his turn, now it's Sherlock's move.  Time for him to listen, question, observe and discern what he can about Moriarty's game.  Once he has data, he and Mycroft can try to anticipate James' next move and figure out his ultimate plan to kill Sherlock.  Like Harry and Voldemort, neither can live while the other survives.  

How dumb do we think the Holmes boys are?

It's difficult, what with the writers making John Watson too dumb to be a doctor, to presume they will consistently write the characters as they have created them.  But Mycroft and Sherlock are possessed of extraordinary intellectual abilities and, as viewers knowing the end, how much do we think Sherlock believed of Moriarty's fairy tale? How much do we think Mycroft believed of it, having access to classified information?

On the roof, James calls Sherlock a "doofus" for believing there could be a simple computer code that would "unlock any door," break into any system.  James may have convinced his "clients" it existed and that Sherlock had it, but if there can be no such code, if only an ordinary doofus would believe it, do we really buy that Sherlock Holmes did?  Or Mycroft could have with all those government resources at his disposal?  Even for a second?

Is it possible Sherlock Homes didn't recognize Partita No. 1 for violin2 from Moriarty beating out the rhythm.  (Incidentally, one has to address the problem that there are not enough rests in the piece to be able to mistake it for binary code. There may be something like two full and one half rest in the entire score.)  Be that bit of disturbing reality as it may, the fact is, Sherlock's job here is to figure out not only what  James was doing with his fingers, but why he did it.  Moriarty is far too dangerous and clever to leave anything unknown or to chance before the ineluctable final showdown.   

The Reichenbach Fall 3

1 See Bow Street Runners  
2 It's possible James Moriarty was referring to BWV825, Partita No.1 in B-flat Major for keyboard from what's known as the "German Suites."  But that wouldn't lend itself to binary code, either, except perhaps on the lower staff in a few sections, but this raises the issue of expressing a half-rest in binary code

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Reichenbach Fall 1

Mycroft knows what he is about to release into the world: Sherlock Holmes' destruction.  He has purposefully sent the evil that would obliterate  Sherlock, the brother he has protected for most of his life, in order to stop more deaths  of innocents. Mycroft must trust Sherlock to stay one step ahead in understanding, while appearing three steps behind to Moriarty.  Mycroft has to be ready to act instantly at Sherlock's call, without knowing what he'll be called on to do and not act until Sherlock tells him.  Moriarty cannot know that the Holmes boys work together. 

As James Moriarty said, "I am so changeable!" Whatever plan Sherlock puts into place may have to be changed at the very last moment. Sherlock walked away from the pool by sheer luck of a phone call and defeated Irene Adler at the last moment because Moriarty made a mistake of ego and she made one of sentiment.

In "A Study in Pink," when Sherlock assumes Harry is a man, he errs.  "It's always something," he admits, frustrated.  In "The Hounds of Baskerville" Sherlock was wrong, he made a mistake.  He promised John it wouldn't happen again.    This time, there can't be "something." There is no room for error.

At the Abyss

Sherlock, alone at the abyss.
In "The Final Problem," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes by shoving him off a cliff at the end of a path that ended in a sheer wall.  There was nowhere else to go but back the way he came, or into the abyss of the Reichenbach Falls, as classically illustrated by Sidney Paget in Strand Magazine.   In the December 1893 story, Sherlock Holmes falls and takes Moriarty with him, the ultimate act of self-sacrifice to defeat evil for the sake of others.

In the 21st century SHERLOCK, the journey to the Falls has already happened in the first five episodes.   Our Sherlock Holmes, when the story begins in "The Reichenbach Fall," has already arrived.

Paget's Moriarty in 1893.
In the Canon, Sherlock Holmes spends three months trying to get evidence to convict Professor Moriarty in a court of law. In that reality, when the story begins, all of his criminal associates have been identified and Moriarty finally can be arrested, but not for a few days.  And so, Sherlock must hide out because Moriarty has discovered that Sherlock Holmes knows about him.  Moriarty is trying to have him killed, or kill Sherlock, himself.  In Doyle's time, the authorities  need the testimony of Sherlock Homes to convict Professor Moriarty.

In our century, the game is afoot and Sherlock is stalking.

Or luring.

Moriarty must believe he is making all the moves and Sherlock must manipulate things to his advantage as much and as subtly as possible.  So Sherlock, who always shunned personal publicity, turns himself into a tabloid media star. He accepts accolades and gifts, submits himself  to publicity photos and video cameras.

What can be more out of character for Sherlock Holmes than seeking publicity and accepting gestures of gratitude?  But he does it, not once but over and over, Sherlock Holmes ends up in front of the cameras, with John Watson coaching him through it.  He not only manages a smile when he is given his own "Sherlock hat," he actually dons it for the cameras, and poses, still smiling. 

He is planting the seeds of his own destruction.  Mycroft plans; Sherlock acts. Instead of having to deal with some plan of Moriarty's they cannot anticipate, Mycroft provides James Moriarty a prop gun to shoot Sherlock Holmes with.  

This could be why Sherlock said he "negotiated" the 24-hour full access to Baskerville: He traded his permission for Mycroft to tell James Moriarty about Sherlock's personal life as preparation for putting this plan into place when Moriarty has to be released.1   In return,  Sherlock got one last Moriarty-free puzzle to solve, a huge modern multi-floor laboratory full of toys to play with, a distraction from what he knows he'll be facing.

Mycroft wants Moriarty going after Sherlock's reputation, wants time for the game to play out so he can locate all of his operatives. Otherwise, Moriarty, who has "vanished" according to the newspapers, will start another game with Sherlock, one in which they won't know the rules, or even be sure Moriarty is behind it until it's very late in the game.  He needs to be lured out of hiding again, into a game of Mycroft's devising and Sherlock's execution. 

Whether the press is being manipulated by Mycroft or jumped on the stories on their own, it's certainly working: Sherlock is being used secretly by Scotland Yard, has become the nation's sweetheart, and planted evidence as part of a grand master plan.

But all of this wasn't built from scratch.  Planting the idea in Moriarty's mind to destroy Sherlock this way has it's roots in newspaper stories about Holmes and Watson generated by John's blog and the iconic "Hat-man" picture in "A Scandal in Belgravia" taken outside the theater after "The Navel Treatment" case:

 So, the police "fear" Sherlock, won't "confirm the veracity" of John's blog and the duo have a "salacious" homelife.  And that was six months before Sherlock turned himself into a publicity-seeking prat of a Reichenbach hero.  Now all he has to do is wait.

The Reichenbach Fall 2

1 See The Most Dangerous Game for more on Baskerville