TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall”
April 17, 2012 6 Comments
I had to do it! I’ve been waiting to finish off Sherlock (so to speak), in part because life has been busy, and in part because it would mean a lengthy wait for season three before my next Sherlock fix. But I just had to watch “The Reichenbach Fall” before it official airs on PBS in May.
Once again, I don’t do a full recap, but turn back now if you haven’t seen the episode and want to avoid any surprises. I do talk about the ending.
“The Hounds of Baskerville” was a little bit o’ horror, all about the wolves. This time around we’re back to good old-fashioned newfangled detecting. The starting question?
THERAPIST: What happened, John?
We flash back a few months and see a Sherlock for whom success is becoming mundane, boring, practically an embarrassment…
…until Andrew Scott returns as Moriarty, utterly unrealistic as an actual person, but the very epitome of what we imagine when we think of fictional psychopaths. I wasn’t sure that I’d find him to be pure reprehensible evil, but then he makes his entrance like a tourist, chomping on his gum, and my hatred is instant.
Moriarty does make for a deliciously malicious enemy…
MORIARTY: Falling’s just like flying only there’s a more permanent destination.
…and he knows it. Moriarty has a meta-awareness of the role that he plays, for Sherlock and for us.
MORIARTY: Every fairy tale needs a good old-fashioned villain. You need me, or you’re nothing. Because we’re just alike, you and I. Except you’re boring. You’re on the side of the angels.
Moriarty is like a Bond villain in all his campy triumph.
Sherlock and John are still together, and their banter is as smooth and satisfying as ever.
JOHN: Don’t do that.
SHERLOCK: Do what?
JOHN: The look.
JOHN: You’re doing the look again.
SHERLOCK: Well, I can’t see it, can I? It’s my face.
JOHN: Yes, and it’s your thing. You’re doing a “we both know what’s really going on here” face.
SHERLOCK: We do.
JOHN: No. I don’t. Which is why I find the face so annoying.
Part of the fun of the episode is how Sherlock and John actually get even more attached than before.
It’s not just Moriarty that Sherlock has to face, as the media presents a threat as well.
KITTY: Sooner or later you’re going to need someone on your side. Someone to set the record straight.
As much as I love how willing Andrew Scott is willing to ham up his portrayal of Moriarty, I do think they build him up a bit too much, almost to the point of him having superpowers. Mycroft says that the key code can open “any door.” Really? What about ones protected by, you know, a good old-fashioned lock and key? Although it’s a good argument against centralizing everything on computers in the way that Google desires.
And it’s interesting that a man like Sherlock who has such poor interpersonal skills makes a habit on building his cases based on psychology.
SHERLOCK: This little boy, this particular little boy — who reads all of those spy books — what would he do?
Of course, the show is also about Sherlock’s own psychology.
LESTRADE: Anything you can do to –
SHERLOCK: — not be myself.
LESTRADE: — Yeah. Might be helpful.
Still, I found myself suspicious of the police suspicion of Sherlock. This crucial plot twist depended on them thinking that Sherlock was an idiot enough to victimize some children, and then present himself to those very victims with the police present. I could believe that they consider him a criminal mastermind, but it’s hard to buy them considering him a criminal idiot. It’s also hard for this plot point to work as we, the viewing audience, are so completely on Sherlock’s side.
On the other hand, it’s clever to suggest that all of the crimes have been invented because of course they have all of the signs of being invented perfect crimes — because they’re been invented for a TV show. The greater reality of the TV show works perfectly within the more circumscribed reality of the TV show.
Moriarty could be saying these words to us…
MORIARTY: I knew you’d fall for it. That’s your weakness. You always want everything to be clever.
I actually don’t need Sherlock to fit together perfectly. It’s about the plot turns, sure, but for me it’s even more about the cinematography and the character chemistry. I’m curious about how Sherlock faked his fall, but as with most crimes that have been invented backwards, it’s not actually possible for us to figure it out. I’m even more curious about what will happen in the next series emotionally. What’s going to happen in the core relationship of the show, between Sherlock and John?
JOHN: There’s just one more thing, one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don’t be dead. Would you do that, just for me? Just stop it. Stop this.
The BBC first aired Season 2, Episode 3 of Sherlock on January 15, 2012.
TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Hounds of Baskerville” (Season 2, Episode 2)
Slouching Toward Thatcham: Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall review
Panic: How Sherlock Faked His Death
sarahtheotaku: How did he do it? My Sherlock theory.
LibriCritic: Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall