I started re-watching Sherlock, and once again I am trying to figure out how Sherlock survived in The Reichenbach Fall. So, first I laid out some key elements, and then throughout this post I am going to examine each and detail what role they played in Sherlock faking his death. Finally, I will discuss Sherlock’s physical fall.
- The Cyclist
- Homeless network
- Tennis Ball
- The Phone
Molly: This one should be pretty clear. During the episode, Sherlock has a scene with only Molly in which he tells her that he thinks he is going to die. She asks him what he needs, and all he says is “you”. This, I think, is a clear indicator that Molly played a large role in his scheme. Namely, she was probably the person to “identify” Sherlock and declare him dead, considering she works with cadavers in the first place. Furthermore, she would have been able to let Sherlock out without being noticed because of that same reason. I am also willing to bet that Sherlock’s “funeral” was a closed-coffin one, so Molly probably put another body in Sherlock’s place.
The Cyclist: When John is rushing over to the building after Sherlock jumps, he is knocked over by a cyclist. I think that this was done on purpose, and that the cyclist was probably a member of Sherlock’s Homeless Network. The main function of this cyclist was to deliberately delay John in approaching Sherlock’s body. This delay, I believe, was necessary for Sherlock’s plan to succeed (I will outline more of this in the next element). I also believe that John being dazed after being knocked over was also key.
Homeless Network: We all know that Sherlock has worked with the homeless before in order to find out information. I think that the pedestrians, and quite possibly the medical staff, were a part of his Homeless Network and made it hard for John to get close to Sherlock’s body. It could very well have been clear that he wasn’t dead and only severely injured, but by a) the cyclist knocking John over, and b) the others making it hard to approach the body, John didn’t really have enough time to “examine” the body properly.
Tennis Ball: Earlier in the episode, we see Sherlock playing with a tennis ball and then pocketing it. I have actually researched this, and apparently if you place a tennis ball in your armpit and then squeeze, you can stop the pulse in your wrist. I think that Sherlock could have done this, and maybe during the limited time that John was by his body, wouldn’t have felt a pulse and started panicking more. Thus, he would not have noticed any other signs of life.
Mycroft: Somehow, I find that his calmness when reading the paper about Sherlock’s death was just too calm. After all, he was the one who offered John money to spy on Sherlock. I think that he does indeed care about Sherlock, and therefore would have been at least somewhat upset by the news. The next thing: “He is the British Government when he’s not too busy being the British Secret Services or the CIA on a freelance basis” according to one Sherlock Holmes. Now, a man this smart, who can hack into payphones to call John and whatnot…I find it HIGHLY unlikely that he was fooled by Moriarty’s scheme and most likely fed some false information about Sherlock out. I also suspect that, if the pedestrians weren’t part of Sherlock’s Homeless Network, they were probably some people who worked for Mycroft. One thing I am almost sure of is that he was involved in some capacity.
The final key element in my theory has to be prefaced by this quote from Steven Moffat: “I’ve been online and looked at all the theories and there’s one clue that everyone’s missed. It’s something that Sherlock did that was very out of character, but which nobody has picked up on.”
With that said, I present the final element accompanied by visual evidence.
The Phone: This isn’t something I picked up on until I re-watched parts of the episode before/during the writing of this piece. Throughout the time that Moriarty and Sherlock are on the roof talking, Sherlock deliberately crosses his hands behind his back at a number of different points, like so:
There is then a shot with not only his hands crossed, but also a phone in them. I think that it could quite possibly be recording the conversation.
At the very least, it has to be in use. I think the phone is the clue to what Sherlock did that was out of character: he called John.
Sherlock prefers to text. He says this in the first episode of the series, and it’s pretty clear throughout the series. So I think that calling John was definitely out of character. He could have easily sent him a text and sent him somewhere else, told him to meet him somewhere. But he didn’t. I also think that maybe Sherlock recorded the phone conversation with John. The reason? He says to John that “This is my letter”. I think he could have been referring to the phone itself, with the recordings of Moriarty and then the conversation with John. And before you think that it was destroyed in the fall:
Sherlock throws it away before he jumps. So it’s not broken.
The Fall: I don’t think there was a body double replacing Sherlock on the pavement. I do think that he actually jumped off the roof and was the person on the pavement. However, I think that he probably fell on something and then got himself on the ground. It could be the rubbish truck that drove off shortly after, or something else. He could have, theoretically, gotten some of Moriarty’s blood to smear on his face too, because we don’t see him with any scars during the graveyard scene. It’s either that, or Molly patched him up extremely well. BUT, that is not my focus here. I do not believe there was a body switch because I don’t think Sherlock knew that Moriarty would make him jump, nor did he know about the assassins until he was told. Therefore, he would not have known exactly how to fake his death. That’s why I believe he would have simply told Molly that she needed to confirm his death even though he wouldn’t be dead. Moving on from that, the main reason I think Sherlock fell on something first is because of the visual evidence in the following pictures.
Sherlock jumps perpendicular to the building and somehow ends up parallel to it, even before people rush to him. I highly doubt that he flailed so much in the air that he changed his orientation to parallel. That is why I think he landed on something else, possibly enough to cause serious injuries, before ultimately getting onto the ground.
There are probably elements that I have missed, but I think that my ultimate conclusion is that this is the best fake death that I have ever heard of/ that has been done.
What are your thoughts about the Fall? Excited for the new series and the big reveal on how Sherlock faked his death?