The following is a spoiler episode review of Sherlock: Series 2, Episode 3 – The Reichenbach Fall.
The Sherlock writing team took a lot of chances in series 2. Adapting The Hound of the Baskervilles was one, titling an episode The Reichenbach Fall was another. But none was bigger than what they chose to do to Sherlock Holmes in the series 2 finale.
Dr. John Watson is struggling to say what has happened to his best friend. Sherlock Holmes is dead – that is how the episode opens. Three months earlier, James Moriarty resurfaced to play one final game with our protagonists, this time out in the open. The press needs to turn on the famous Sherlock Holmes.
The episode gave us the strongest performance from Martin Freeman yet, as he had some really touching character moments. Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott both stood out as well, in what was the best episode of the entire show yet. The Reichenbach Fall is a masterpiece.
“This is the story of Sir Boast-a-lot.”
Sherlock’s demeanor has always been off-putting – some would even say repellent – it would be, and was, easy for Moriarty to turn everyone against him. It all starts in court. After having upset a journalist who wanted to test him, Sherlock becomes full of himself. He tells everyone in court what to do, invalidates himself as an expert on Moriarty inadvertently, and smugly points out who the members of the jury are. Classic Sherlock, as he is held in contempt of court – we all expected something like this could happen. Watson had warned him, and Moriarty knew what he would do as well. Moriarty is smart, and so is his plan for what comes next.
Richard Brook – a fake identity used to turn the media and the public against Sherlock – was a smart move by Moriarty. You can definitely see how people would believe everything he fed to them. You understand if people start to doubt our peculiar detective. It was only a matter of time before Donovan (Vinette Robinson) spoke up.
Sherlock has always been too smart for his own good, and Moriarty used it to turn his world upside down. The episode could only end the way it did to parallel the events of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem. The villain needs the hero, and the other way around, that is how a lot of brilliant villains are built. Batman needs the Joker. Sherlock needs Moriarty, or at least this very Joker-inspired version of James Moriarty.
They are alike and they need each other. If one goes down, then the other must as well. But Holmes survived and Moriarty did not. And thus James Moriarty challenged the writers of Sherlock to figure something out for the future of the show. Can Sherlock truly work without Moriarty? The show’s final problem.
-I’m Jeffrey Rex