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

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