Sherlock: Planning The Reichenback Fall (Theory)

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With the onset of Season 3 of Sherlock, one wonders if we will get a straightforward answer as to how Sherlock survived his fall at the end of Season 2. In order to not spoil anything for those who have not yet started Season 3, this theory will use only the footage from the end of the Season 2 finale, “The Reichenbach Fall”.

Disclaimer: Yes, I have seen the first episode of Season. This is the theory me and my friends developed over a year ago. I am only now posting it because this blog is fairly new and I thought there was more time before Sherlock returned. Also, a special thanks to Alex Rabinovich for being the one to first spot the garbage truck, which is the focal point of this entire theory.

Setting The Scene: 

Molly initially asks Sherlock whats wrong and never waivers in offering to help him.

Molly initially asks Sherlock whats wrong and never waivers in offering to help him.

Throughout “The Reichenbach Fall”, we find Sherlock’s constantly on the defensive as Moriarty turns the media against him. When Sherlock finally realizes what’s going on, he knows that the only thing left for Moriarty to do is to kill him. If Sherlock dies, then all the lies would seem like fact and would follow Sherlock to the grave. It is then that he goes to see Molly Hooper for help. He knows what’s going to happen, but he doesn’t know when or how. It just needs to happen. So, he decides to set the date for his own execution.

"Come and play. Barts Hospital rooftop - SH"

Sherlock texts Moriarty a place to meet: “Come and play. Barts Hospital rooftop – SH”

Meanwhile, John gets a call that Mrs Hudson has been shot. Sherlock acts rather coldly to the news. My theory is that the call was planted – perhaps set up by Molly. He looks at John answering the call almost as if he expected it to ring any moment. Sure you look at someone when there phone rings for a second, but Sherlock lingers to see John’s reaction to what he’s about to be told. This also explains why Sherlock later gets the text from Moriarty saying “I’m waiting …”. Sherlock had to make sure John was out of the way, before he could meet Moriarty on the roof.

Sherlock eyes linger on John to notice his reaction to the incoming call

Sherlock eyes linger on John to notice his reaction to the incoming call

With the meeting place set and John gone for the time being, Sherlock heads off to the roof knowing his acting must be key. He’s discovered the ‘lines of code’ that could unravel Moriarty’s plan, but if he knows this can save him, why go and talk about it when he can just use them? Sherlock knows the program code won’t save him – if it even exist at all. That rooftop will be the scene of his death, but he must convince Moriarty that he believes the code exists. He must put his belief behind something that doesn’t exist so Moriarty can take it away and seemingly crush him.

The Roof: 

While on the roof, Sherlock plays Moriarty’s game and lets him think he’s won. As Sherlock is told that his only choice is to commit suicide – which he had already foreseen – we see Sherlock look over the edge and see a bunch of buses and people down below. Molly is nowhere to be found, so he must stall. Sherlock asks for a “moment of privacy” – hoping that Molly will arrive. When Sherlock starts laughing, it could be because Molly has finally arrived and/or because he needs to get Moriarty out of the way first.

A wary, frightened look down is actually Sherlock seeing whether or not Mary is in position yet.

A wary, frightened look down is actually Sherlock seeing whether or not Mary is in position yet.

Sherlock struts around Moriarty painting the picture that Moriarty himself can save Sherlock. Sherlock knows Moriarty is obsessed with him. If he wanted him dead, he could have had Sherlock killed ages ago. No, Moriarty wants to ruin him and make him feel he’s lost. So the only way to destroy Sherlock’s latest glimmer of hope, is for Moriarty to kill himself. This works for Moriarty for two reasons:

  1. People know Sherlock has it in for Richard Brook since he ‘let Sherlock’s secret out’, so no one would hold it past Sherlock to kill Richard and then kill himself. It adds to the story.
  2. Moriarty knows without Sherlock around, life would be boring. Why do you think Moriarty had a gun on him in the first place? If he wanted to shoot Sherlock he could have done it long ago and Sherlock murdered wouldn’t fit his story that he’s created.

“No, you’re not ordinary. You’re me … Thank you Sherlock Holmes. Bless you.” – Moriarty

The Fall:

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With Moriarty dead and Mary seemingly in position, there’s nothing else left to do but talk to John. When John first gets to the scene, Sherlock tells him to walk back to where the cab let him off and stay there. Once the camera pans back we find that there is actually a divider of some sorts – like a small building – in-between the road where the cab left John off and the hospital. This will obscure John’s sight for the final split seconds of the fall.

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Look at the two photos above. Sherlock jumped from the ledge and fell all the way down facing away from the building (perpendicular). The body shown on the ground is parallel to the building. Also note how close the body of Sherlock is to the side of the building. When you look again at the jump, he is much farther away from the building. So what does it all mean? How did he survive? What was the plan?

Sherlock jumped and – being hidden by the divider – landed in the garbage truck. Once in there he dumped a look-alike body out of it. Now where’d the look-alike come from? Remember that little girl earlier in the episode who screamed when Sherlock entered the room? This could have been done with the aid of a mask. Sherlock could have found that mask and had Molly put it on a cadaver – which as a Medical Examiner she’d have ample access to. Spill a little fake blood and boom, instant fake scene. This would also explain why the body is parallel despite sherlock falling perpendicular all the way down. Of course speed would be paramount in this portion of the plan.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.36.15 PMNow look at the above 2 photos. Again note how close to the building Sherlock seemed to have landed. More importantly, when Sherlock first hits, there is no one around. Remember earlier when there are buses and people? They’re not around anymore. Perfect setting for faking something. Also, as the first responders get to the scene, the garbage truck pulls away. If someone just hit the ground so close to you, you’d get out of your truck. Unless you were trafficking the real Sherlock away from the scene.

As for John getting hit by the bike, I don’t think that was part of the plan. If you notice, by time John’s hit, the ‘body’ has already hit the ground. So buying some extra time wasn’t really needed. But hey, maybe he was in on it too. Either way, not absolutely necessary. The first responders could have been in on it to, but again, not what we’re focusing on here.

Why Not Tell John:

As Sherlock’s closest friend, John MUST believe Sherlock is dead. If anyone was suspected of lying about Sherlock’s death, it would be John. No one would think to ask Molly, the woman Sherlock hardly seemed to notice. As the man who seemingly knew Sherlock best, John couldn’t know of the plan.

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So that’s the theory my friends and I have subscribed to. It’s clever, but not outlandish. Will we get an answer, who knows? Sherlock is currently airing in Britain, but will return to the US on January 19th, airing on PBS.

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