Having just rewatched The Reichenbach Fall, I am madly excited by the prospect of Series 3 of Sherlock (BBC1, 9pm, New Year's Day), not least because we will get the solution (we're told it's satisfying) to the greatest TV conundrum since Richard Whiteley revealed one with a Q and no U in it.
Theories have abounded, though I have to admit that I haven't gone looking for any of them. Here at any rate is my shot in the dark as to how Sherlock survived his fall from the roof of St Bart's Hospital.
Here are the facts:
1. John got a phone call saying Mrs Hudson had been shot, when she hadn’t been. This caused him to leave St Bart’s, but he would inevitably return within a broadly predictable period of time – the length of a return cab journey to and from 221b Baker Street.
2. Sherlock picked the location on the roof of St Bart’s. He may have guessed that he was going to be required to jump off the roof, or not. That is unclear, but he certainly chose that location.
3. Moriarty is definitely dead. His brains are all over the roof. If you look closely, there’s actually a little piece of brain. The rule of Sherlock is always trust your senses, and we saw his brains on the masonry, so he is dead. Dead. Finished. Extinct. A former-Andrew Scott. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s run down the curtain and joined the criminal fraternity invisible. This is a late nemesis.
4. Sherlock definitely jumped. John saw him.
5. We definitely see a body hit the floor. Obviously, there are issues about what’s broadcastable and so on, but it doesn’t look like it’s hit the floor at a particularly fast speed.
6. When we first see “the cadaver” (marvellous word), it is partly obscured by a rubbish truck that is quite full with rubbish.
7. Before he can get to the body, John is hit by a cyclist. Afterwards, he is dazed and confused.
8. The cadaver on the floor is definitely dead.
9. Sherlock is definitely alive.
So, here’s my theory:
If Sherlock had jumped from that height and hit the ground he would be dead. He did jump from that height, and is alive. Ergo, he did not hit the ground.
The obvious option would be the rubbish truck. There doesn’t seem to be any other option for anything intercepting him with suitable cushioning to prevent him from dying. He must have landed in there.
Did he get lucky? No. I reckon Sherlock must have worked out that Moriarty wanted him to commit suicide to complete his story, and so he has this all set up, including exact timings. He would have found out what time the bins are usually collected, or there is another option which I’ll return to later.
That explains how he might have survived the fall, but not how we saw “Sherlock” dead upon the ground. Molly’s help is enlisted, and working, as she does, in the morgue, she will have access to cadavers. Find one that fits the symptoms of a severe trauma from a heavy fall, make it up to look like Sherlock and you’ll fool most, but not John. Surely not?
John can’t have been seeing straight. He saw what he feared he would see. When have we heard that before? Why, in The Hounds of Baskerville of course, with the gas that causes terrifying, suggestible hallucinations. So, give John some of that and he will see the dead Sherlock he fears he will. How would that be administered? By the cyclist – only option.
NO WAY. No way Sherlock could have organised that collision between cyclist and Watson. Apart from with the homeless network. That he could have done. He could also have arranged a similar thing with the rubbish truck. Because Sherlock picked the location, we can safely assume that he is in control of the environment to a reasonable degree.
Here’s the problem. Witnesses. Moriarty pointed out that there’s a crowd. People are milling around, buses are going past, and people rush to the body very quickly. It would be an unreasonable degree of control if it’s suggested that he controls all the people going past St Bart’s. So, how does the cadaver get there? Because at no point can that body be Sherlock’s. If it were, he would be very dead, which he isn’t, so it can’t be him.
So, how does Molly get the cadaver out onto the floor and how do people not notice that Sherlock actually landed in the truck? Molly must have dropped the cadaver from a lesser height – third or second floor, something like that. Then, it’s a magic trick. You see the body fall, you see a body hit the ground. Suggestion, distraction – it may well be seen, but it is not perceived.
Ok – even I’m not convinced by that last bit, but I can’t see any other way.