The Reichenbach Fall
|"The Reichenbach Fall"|
Titlescreen of the episode showing Turner's 1804 painting of the Reichenbach Falls.
|Episode no.||Series 2
|Directed by||Toby Haynes|
|Written by||Stephen Thompson|
|Produced by||Elaine Cameron|
|Featured music||David Arnold
|Cinematography by||Fabian Wagner|
|Editing by||Tim Porter|
|Original air date||15 January 2012|
|Running time||88 minutes|
|List of Sherlock episodes|
"The Reichenbach Fall" is the third and final episode of the second series of the BBC television series Sherlock. It was written by Stephen Thompson and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson, and Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty.
Inspired by "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the episode follows Moriarty's plot to discredit and kill Sherlock Holmes. The title alludes to the Reichenbach Falls, the location where Sherlock and Moriarty supposedly fall to their deaths in the original story.
The episode was first broadcast on BBC One and BBC One HD on 15 January 2012. It attracted 9.78 million viewers, and critical reaction to the episode was positive.
John Watson is in his first meeting with his therapist for eighteen months. Struggling to explain his visit, he eventually chokes out the words, "My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead." The episode flashes back to three months earlier, with Sherlock receiving plaudits and gifts from various people for whom he has solved cases, along with much unwanted media attention, especially for his recovery of a Turner painting of Reichenbach Falls.
Meanwhile, Moriarty proceeds to break into the case where the Crown Jewels are kept, while simultaneously opening the vault at the Bank of England and unlocking all the cells at Pentonville Prison via his mobile phone. Before smashing the Crown Jewels' case, he writes the words "Get Sherlock" on the outside, to be seen by the security cameras. He then allows himself to be caught wearing the jewels and sitting on the throne.
Sherlock is called to testify at Moriarty's trial. Though Sherlock explains that Moriarty is a criminal mastermind, Moriarty has threatened the families of the jurors. After being acquitted, Moriarty visits Sherlock and tells him, "I owe you". Meanwhile, John is summoned to see Mycroft, who explains that some professional assassins have moved into flats on Baker Street and asks him to watch out for Sherlock.
Sherlock and John investigate the kidnapping of the children of the British Ambassador to the U.S., Max Bruhl, part of a plot by Moriarty to make others suspect that Sherlock has been staging all his cases himself. He has traumatised the girl so she is terrified of Sherlock when seeing him, causing Sergeant Donovan to suspect Sherlock. A reluctant Lestrade is forced to arrest Sherlock, but Sherlock escapes with John handcuffed to him as his 'hostage'. They realise Moriarty's "Get Sherlock" has convinced the criminal underworld that Moriarty has given Sherlock the computer code he used to pull off his triple heist, a code that can bypass all security systems.
Sherlock and John break into the house of a journalist poised to publish an exposé on Sherlock. There, they find that Moriarty has developed a fake identity, Richard Brook (or Rich Brook, "Reichen Bach" in German), an actor whom Sherlock supposedly paid to pose as a master criminal. Now a wanted man with his media image on the verge of plummeting, Sherlock launches a final gambit. Leaving John, Sherlock contacts Molly at the hospital, where he confesses that contrary to what she herself believes, she does matter to him, and that he's always trusted her. There he reveals his vulnerability to Molly, confirming her earlier "deduction" that he was "not okay", that he's going to die and asks her if she's willing to help, telling her that he "needs her". John goes to the Diogenes Club to question Mycroft and learns that Mycroft divulged Sherlock's personal information during interrogations of Moriarty. Meanwhile, Sherlock deduces that the anti-security program was encoded in the tapping of Moriarty's finger during his earlier visit.
John finds Sherlock at the Bart's lab but leaves again after hearing Mrs Hudson has been shot. Sherlock texts Moriarty, who meets him on the roof of the hospital to resolve what the criminal calls their "final problem". Sherlock claims that, with the code, he can erase Richard Brook electronically. Moriarty reveals that there is no code, he just bribed security men, and that Sherlock must commit suicide or Moriarty's assassins will kill John, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade. Sherlock realises that Moriarty has a fail-safe and can call the killings off. Sherlock then convinces Moriarty that he is willing to do anything to make him activate the fail-safe; after acknowledging that he and Sherlock are alike, Moriarty tells Sherlock "As long as I am alive, you can save your friends," then commits suicide by shooting himself in the mouth, thereby denying Sherlock knowledge of the abort codes and the ability to prove that Moriarty does exist.
With no way to use the fail-safe, Sherlock calls John, who is rushing back from 221B Baker Street after realising the report about Mrs Hudson was a ruse. Claiming that he was always a fake and explaining this last phone call is his "note", Sherlock apparently throws himself from the roof of St Bartholomew's Hospital as John looks on from the street, thereby ensuring that Moriarty's true identity dies with him. After being knocked to the ground by a cyclist, John stumbles over to watch, in a daze, as Sherlock's bloody body is carried away by hospital staff.
The episode returns to John's therapy session, where he is unable to open up. Mycroft is shown reading the tabloid newspaper The Sun with a front page headline "Suicide of Fake Genius." Later, John visits Sherlock's grave with Mrs Hudson. There, he reaffirms his faith in Sherlock and begs him not to be dead. However, as he walks away, Sherlock looks on from the shadows before also walking away.
The episode's climactic scene is based on the short story "The Final Problem", in which Holmes and Moriarty square off. Watson's leaving Holmes to attend Mrs Hudson mirrors his return to the inn in the original story, in order to attend a dying Englishwoman.
The song Moriarty plays while breaking into the Tower of London is the overture from Gioachino Rossini's La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie). A subtle reference is made to this throughout the episode; the letters that Moriarty leaves for John and Sherlock are sealed with a red wax impression bearing the image of a magpie.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2012)|
Some sequences set at the Tower of London were filmed at Cardiff Castle. Other locations used in this episode include Newport Cemetery, Tredegar House and Cardiff City Hall, as well as other areas around Cardiff including Broadway and Cardiff Bay.
Broadcast and reception
BARB overnight figures suggested that the episode was watched by 7.9 million viewers representing a 30% overall audience share, slightly down on the first (8.8 million) and second (8.2 million) episodes of the series. Final consolidated ratings rose to 9.78. The episode also became the second most-watched programme of 2012 on the online BBC iPlayer as of May, with over 1.9 million requests.
As with the preceding two episodes in the second series, critical reaction to the episode was largely positive. The Guardian's Sam Wollaston praised Steve Thompson's writing, particularly how the episode was, at times "faithful to Sir ACD's The Final Problem, then it will wander, taking in mobile phone technology and computer hacking ... But it doesn't feel like cheating; more like an open relationship, agreed by both parties." Wollaston comments that this episode explores relationships, particularly in contrast to the spookiness of the previous episode ("The Hounds of Baskerville"), calling Cumberbatch's and Freeman's performances "moving at times".
Sarah Crompton, for The Daily Telegraph, said Cumberbatch was "riding the wave of what has been a triumph". Generally praising the series, Crompton suggests that "writer Stephen Thompson had been left a little too much to his own devices ... The result was a bit wordy – though some of the words were wonderful." Commenting upon the cliffhanger ending, The Independent's Tom Sutcliffe says "Moffat and his colleagues have written themselves into a hell of a hole with regards to the next series. If they don't explain, there may be riots." Chris Tilly, who reviewed the episode for IGN, gave it a score of 10/10, calling it "The grandstanding conclusion to the brilliant BBC series, packed to the rafters with smart dialogue, audacious plotting, stylish direction and some truly wonderful performances."
The episode's cliffhanger led to speculation on forums, social networking sites and in newspaper articles about its resolution. Theories included the use of a mask, a squash ball, a lorry or Moriarty's body, the dummy seen in Sherlock's flat at the beginning of the episode, the psychotropic drugs featured in The Hounds of Baskerville, the participation of Sherlock's homeless network, and a cadaver supplied by Molly. However, in an interview with The Guardian, Moffat claims "there is a clue everybody's missed ... So many people theorising about Sherlock's death online – and they missed it!" Part of the resolution had already been filmed alongside the rest of the episode.
The British Board of Film Classification has awarded the episode a 12 certificate for "moderate violence and gore". The episode was released with the remainder of the second series in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 23 January 2012.
- Wollaston, Sam (15 January 2012). "TV review: Sherlock – Call the Midwife – Hugh's Hungry Boys". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Crompton, Sarah (15 January 2012). "Sherlock: final episode, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat on Moriarty". BBC Online. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- "Sherlock cult following to boost tourism in South Wales". Wales Online. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Marszal, Andrew (16 January 2012). "Sherlock finale another ratings triumph". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
- "Sherlock episode with naked Lara Pulver most watched show on BBC iPlayer". The Daily Telegraph. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "Sherlock to return for third series". BBC News. Jan 16 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Sutcliffe, Tom (16 January 2012). "The Weekend's Viewing: Call the Midwife, Sun, BBC1 Sherlock, Sun, BBC1". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall Review". IGN. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- Frost, Vicky (16 January 2012). "Sherlock's 'death': your theories". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Jeffries, Stuart (20 January 2012). "'There is a clue everybody's missed': Sherlock writer Steven Moffat interviewed". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- "SHERLOCK – THE REICHENBACH FALL". British Board of Film Classification. 12 December 2011.
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