Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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

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