Holmes/Watson BBC2

Sherlock s02e03

Discussed behind the cut.

So! Reichenbach Falls and the early name-drop of "The Final Problem" and we all know what kind of territory we're in. Sherlock Holmes will be perceived to die; Watson will mourn him; Holmes will eventually return.

Comic moment: that trial scene reminded me of nothing less than the trial scene at the end of The Pink Panther, where Inspector Clouseau is made out to be the notorious Phantom, the jewel thief he has been doggedly pursuing for ages. The annoying professional policemen at the first crime scene in "Study" are here, paying off their petty grudges by accusing Holmes of staging the crimes he solves. They, of course, weren't in the lab to watch him work. Lestrade doesn't buy it, but his hand is forced.

I loved the direction throughout. Must make a note of who did that work.

Now to the problem of Moriarty. The actor… Sigh. I see what they were going for, but this Absence of Gravitas problem bothered me every time I saw him on screen. He had no heft. Crazy, yeah, great, but what was he after? Psychotic or simply crazy-cakes villains are not interesting.

Q: Why'd he do it?
A: Because he's craaaaazy!

Not satisfying.

Moriarty is insane and he knows it, but he's sort of … What's it with his rooftop suicide? Pure nihilism? He's defeated Mycroft (easily, apparently, what a bloody idiot) and now he's defeated Sherlock and he has nobody else to play with. The final problem: how does one avoid death? To refer to something unrelated: He won't live. But who does? Moriarty will continue living but without anything fun to do. Commit suicide and know that Holmes is defeated? In the ACD story, Moriarty goes to that final struggle on the falls knowing himself cornered. He grapples with Holmes in desperation. This Moriarty seemed anything but defeated. Was it really just a life is meaningless, why bother moment? He didn't want to live to see his schemes pan out? Invent new ones?

I am left wondering WTF. Your theories?

So. The mystery that remains to us to solve over the break is how he staged his suicide. I presume we have all the clues; if we don't then Moffat & Gatiss are cheating and that's no fair. Molly was of course involved. Watson was deliberately distracted from the sidewalk by Holmes and by the convenient bicyclist, but that's a real body on the sidewalk. Watson was in shock, but he held its wrist in his hand looking for a pulse. The paramedics were there too: no fooling them. How much of a question of identification was there? No DNA checks, no fingerprinting?

Good old Lestrade. Rupert Graves, whose Jolyon was the best thing about that limp & dripping Granada TV Forsyte adaptation, is a pleasure as always, though he's never given much of a role in any of these scripts.

Molly gets her due. She was Sherlock's friend before Watson was and he trusts her. He cannot trust Watson, because it's Watson's life he has to save through trickery. Watson, steady dependable loyal Watson, who stays true even after the end.

Martin Freeman's acting in the graveyard scene: so restrained, so meticulous. The little hints of military discipline when his emotions threaten to overwhelm him, so nice. He straightens up and turns precisely and marches away. Where was that scene set, by the way? It looked like I should have recognized it.

Why doesn't Mycroft help? Perhaps he does. In ACD he knows about Sigerson the violinist all along. What a dork he was. Can has the Mycroft & Molly show? He's a civil servant. She's a mortuary attendant. Together, they fight crime. No? Sigh.

In conclusion, Martin Freeman is a wonderful actor.
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I don't think Moriarty is dead. Why? Because they made such a big deal about the both of them being the same. Sherlock went into that encounter knowing he was going to have to fake his death, why not Moriarty? Granted, I have no idea how that could be faked, but I didn't buy the deaths at all.

Martin Freeman is indeed a wonderful actor for all the reasons you point out!
My thoughts on Moriarty are two-fold. I'm not 100% sure he's dead (I think he might've done a fake death think himself, and may return next season), but if he is, it might just be because he'll never surpass what he did right then. He's pulled one over on Mycroft, on Sherlock, on the government, on the press, and on the entire underworld itself. All of them believed the lie he fed them--that there was a keycode, that there never was a Jim Moriarty, etc.--and so he's basically beated everyone on the planet. How is he ever going to top that? I guess he can't, so he decides not to bother with the boredom that will follow, and decides to f*ck Sherlock over one last time for sh*ts and giggles. Ergo the shooting of himself, and the forcing of Sherlock's hand.

That's kind of my thinking on the matter now, although it took me a couple of hours to synthesize everything. Immediately following the episode, I didn't get it either, and I was just as confused and dubious about it as you.

And yeah, how *did* Sherlock stage his death? I mean, he looked pretty dead--there was blood everywhere. Although I'm thinking Molly is really, really involved somehow, and that Sherlock took a page from Irene Adler's book... whatever that page may be. I think there might be something in the fact that we didn't actually see Sherlock hit the ground, maybe? That might just be cinematography, but it might have something to do with it. In the last few yards of his fall, we don't see anything. But who knows?

And yeah, Martin Freeman was pretty amazing for the reasons you detailed above. :)
I agree, Moriarty seems capricious and unpredictable in a poorly characterized sort of way (see TV Tropes re: his accent). The scene on the rooftop had me half-convinced he was just making stuff up on the fly. I've never really understood him.

Also, Watson in the cemetery totally had me flashing back to Star Trek II. :)
I loved the direction too and this

The little hints of military discipline when his emotions threaten to overwhelm him, so nice.

Exactly!!!! Such a nice touch. Loved the details.
A few thoughts.

I didn't buy the frame-up idea and I hated Watson for not pointing out the glaring holes like "If you really researched by background, you would have known I had a sister and not a brother, wouldn't you?" Watson is a victim, like Lestrade and Mycroft, of the need to make everyone else bizarrely dumb in order to make out Sherlock to be incredibly smart despite being written by people who are only moderately so.

Sherlock declining to go to Mycroft for help was also bizarre and annoyingly inconsistent. They seem to get along just fine until the moment when it becomes inconvenient to the plot, and then they're suddenly back to being estranged.

I really liked the writing for Moriarty, and was disappointed that the actor couldn't carry it off. The "final problem" is meant to be how does a person like that derive satisfaction from life. The solution is supposed to be that you keep finding bigger and bigger distractions until you meet your match - and Moriarty met his and Sherlock didn't meet his. I was very impressed with the writing and annoyed that the acting didn't carry it.

I never believed that Moriarty was ever really very threatening, and that and how dumb I thought his scheme was ruined the dramatic tension for me. He worked a lot better in his first series appearances, in which he's Keyser Soze, not the Joker.
When John first comes up to the body on the ground, his sight is blurry, and so too is the camera shot. I thought I saw Moriarty's face rather than Sherlock's the first time, but then the next time they showed the face of the body, it had more Sherlock features and the ice blue eyes (Moriarty's are a green/brown). It's worth a look again. Also, there was blood coming from the head, which led me to believe that Sherlock staged his death by throwing Moriarty's body off the roof, since he had blown the top of his head off.

With all the evidence John had, being grieved, hurt, and in a state of shock, it's not surprising if he put Sherlock's face on the body. As far as the paramedics and bystanders were concerned, they're also in a state. The body would be covered and brought into St Bartholomew's Hospital, bodies could be swapped for identification, and the deception finalized on Molly's end.

So goes my theory anyway.
Finally saw this series. Very disappointed in #3, Moriarty was badly written, and worse acted.

My theory: Sherlock got some of the aerosol from episode 2 (from his brother?), the cyclist used it on Watson who then saw what he was expecting to see. So that probably was Moriarty's body, not Sherlock's.
Yeah, the aerosol takes care of fooling Watson, doesn't it? Throw Moriarty's body off the edge and you get a satisfyingly fresh corpse, too.
I actually thought this episode was much better, certainly more engrossing, than ASiB or THoB. Both of those eps were good, but they felt scattered and overcomplicated sometimes.

I was nervous about RF because the writer was responsible for one of the worst, IMO, DW episodes I've seen (the one with the pirate ship this past season). But I thought that despite spanning months, this story was tighter and less weighed down with miscellany than the others. I thought the emotional impact was right on, compelling and touching without being overdramatic. And if you're starting with "The Final Problem"--hell, if you're starting with anything ACD wrote--not being overdramatic is quite an achievement.

Plot-wise? I don't think Moriarty's dead a bit. I think the turn-up is going to be that Richard Brook actually was an actor, and Moriarty is still out there pulling the strings. Insane or not, nobody forces their archenemy's death by committing suicide first. If he was going to do that, he could have skipped the season and let Sherlock shoot the bomb in the pool.

ETA: if that actually was Moriarty who shot himself, I will be massively disappointed and agree with everything you said. :) Crazy don't cut it.

I'm peeved with Mycroft for being an idiot, but I think he must know Sherlock's alive. Mycroft has shown remarkable talent for faking violent deaths this season ("flight of the dead" in ASiB). What I really want to know: (1) if Mycroft had Moriarty, when, and (2) why did he let Moriarty go?

Miscellany: Molly is actually awesome, Lestrade is beautifully conflicted and why don't we see more of him, and the writer gets MASSIVE points for meta re: recreating the Holmes canon, which I will glee over at a later date. And finally, Martin Freeman is indeed incredible. Whenever the next season of Sherlock airs, it's OK--either it will be before The Hobbit, or we'll have the Hobbit to tide us over!!

And ETA again: "He won't live. But who does?" Are you paraphrasing Blade Runner? Saw that (for the first time, geek cred FAIL) this weekend. Followed it up with Never Let Me Go (read: "we won't live, but who does?") and then this. Apparently this is my week for AAAANGST.

Edited at 2012-01-18 05:14 am (UTC)
It's interesting how I come out of this impressed to hell and back by Freeman, not by Cumberbatch. It feels like Holmes's actor has the easier job here and throughout. If I think about what BC is doing with the part, I'm more impressed. And certainly I completely believe him as a modern Holmes. But he doesn't rivet me the way even Mark Gatiss does as Mycroft. And Freeman just knocked my socks off in "Scarlet" and in every one since.

I am indeed paraphrasing Blade Runner. Death is inevitable, I was thinking, so ... either you take the optimistic view and enjoy what you can (ending of BR) or you take Moriarty's approach: blow your brains out. The Final Problem is how to avoid death. You can't. Blam.

I don't get Moriarty. Don't. Somebody needs to explain him to me. Or I have to rewatch it all looking for insight. I dunno.