The last thing SHERLOCK needs is one more character coming back to life. Resurrecting Andrew Scott's James Moriarty would be rather tedious. But while "Jim from IT" may have blown his brains out on the roof of St. Bart's, Sherlock's nemesis "Professor Moriarty" is not dead and gone. Who died on the roof of Saint Bart's?
The Two Moriartys
In the original Conan Doyle stories. (the "Canon") all the books and stories and utterances about him by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there were two Moriarty men. The first we meet in "The Final Problem" the story in which Doyle kills Sherlock Holmes through a fall into the abyss of the Reichenbach Falls during a struggle with Professor Moriarty. In this story, Moriarty's first name is not mentioned, though he is described and represented in illustration.
We also know that Professor Moriarty had a brother, Col. James Moriarty. It was his writings about Professor Moriarty that motivated Dr. Watson to publish the true story of Holmes' demise, and so set the record straight.
SHERLOCK is not only "based on" the Canon, it is an homage in the highest and best sense. From characters to dialogue to props, anyone reading the original stories finds a wealth of references. Some speeches of Doyle's Holmes remain almost intact, except one Holmes gleans information from a pocket watch and the other from a cell phone. One watch's owner is a dead brother; the other a living sister. Both, however, were drunks. We expect to find elements of the Canon in the show. We also expect to find changes from the original concept.
In the Canon, Watson lived with Sherlock for some time without knowing he had a brother. On the show, Sherlock has dealt with Moriarty for two seasons, without knowing he actually had been contacted by both siblings: James and "Professor" Moriarty. (Though the creators may not choose to make the second Moriarty a professor.)
What Do We Know for Sure...
... about the Moriarty we have not been formally introduced to? Sherlock says in "The Great Game:"
"He killed the old lady because she started to describe him. Just once, he put himself on the firing line... usually he must stay above it all. He organizes these things, but no one ever has direct contact."
What we know for sure about Moriarty is that anyone who has direct contact dies. And old blind woman for simply describing the voice she heard as so soft. Soft? Whatever words describe the voice of Scott's Moriarty, "soft" would hardly be one of them.
Is Moriarty going to kill the old woman for that and then simply stroll into view so that John and Sherlock can identify him on sight? And then not kill them both before they can relay the information to law enforcement, to Mycroft? The old lady was going to be killed no matter what she said to Sherlock, she would obviously have described the voice after her rescue. If it was Jim Moriarty speaking to the old woman and disguising his voice, it would serve him well to let her tell everyone he had such a soft voice, it would throw everyone off his trail.
Moriarty uses people as puppets, controls them, manipulates their words. The cabbie in "A Study in Pink" didn't know enough about Sherlock to describe his personality and psychology, Moriarty fed him those ideas. Will Moriarty, the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known, organizing all those criminal enterprises, actually be insane as Sherlock declares and Jim Moriarty affirms on the roof of Saint Bart's?
Moriarty's family and first name
This portion of the Wikipedia entry on Moriarty sums up the identity confusion:
The stories give a number of contradictory indications about the Professor's family. In his first appearance in "The Final Problem", Moriarty is only referred to as Professor Moriarty – no first name is mentioned. Watson does, however, refer to the name of another family member when he writes of "the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother." Later, in "The Adventure of the Empty House" Holmes refers once to Moriarty as "Professor James Moriarty". This is the only time Moriarty is given a first name, and oddly, it is the same as that of his brother. In The Valley of Fear (written after the preceding two stories, but set earlier), Holmes says of Professor Moriarty: "He is unmarried. His older brother is a station master in the west of England."
In Kim Newman's derivative work Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'ubervilles, Newman takes the confusion and runs with it to humorous effect, stating that Professor James Moriarty has two brothers, Colonel James Moriarty and Station Master James Moriarty. As a result, all conversations and even the narration become amusing and confusing, until the very end where the sad story behind the triple names is told.
|Chatting up Moriarty.|
It is tradition, inherent in the Canon, that Moriarty and his identity are obfuscated by Conan Doyle after almost ten years, simply forgetting he named the brother "James" when he first killed Holmes and Professor Moriarty to solve his final problem: how incredibly bored he was with the character and how burdened he felt by having to keep writing him.
But we have a new universe in SHERLOCK, one in the 21st century where Doyle never wrote detective stories about Holmes and Watson. And while our parallel universes have similarities, the gods who create ours are free to make of Moriarty what they will, as long as they are consistent with the New Holmesian Testament they created themselves. That includes only creating one Moriarty. But it seems less likely than following the Canon, considering what we can observe so far.
Next: Professor Moriarty: Out of the Shadows, part 1
Andrew Scott interview.
Andrew Scott: A pin-up who is hard to pin down