| "The Reichenbach Fall"
Series 2, Episode 3
|Air Date||15 January, 2012|
|Viewers||9.78 million |
|Previous||"The Hounds of Baskerville"|
|Next||"Many Happy Returns"|
- "Alone is what I have. Alone protects me."
- ―Sherlock Holmes
Jim Moriarty possesses the greatest criminal mind that the world has ever seen. Sherlock and John knew he would not stay hidden for long. But even they never guessed the sheer scale and audacity of the crime that would propel Moriarty back into the headlines. The crime of the century. The Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison – all sprung open on the same day, as if by magic! But Moriarty's plans do not stop there...
Sherlock locks horns with his old enemy in one final problem that tests loyalty and courage to their very limits. Sherlock must fight for his reputation, his sanity and his life. But is he all he claims to be?
The episode opens with John Watson in his first meeting with his therapist for eighteen months. He struggles to explain the reason for the impromptu visit, but eventually chokes out the words, "My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead". The episode then 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.
Meanwhile, Moriarty has been freed from Mycroft's prison and proceeds to break into the Tower of London, 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" in reverse 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. Sherlock explains to the court that Moriarty is a criminal mastermind, a criminal for hire. During the trial Moriarty does not speak a word and does not even mount a defence. Even though he did not mount a defence against the charges and the Judge himself recommends Moriarty be found guilty, Moriarty is acquitted due to having threatened each of the families of the jury. After being acquitted, Moriarty visits Sherlock at his home and explains that he has plans for Sherlock. Meanwhile, John is summoned to see Mycroft, who explains that a number of professional assassins have moved into flats on 221B Baker Street, and asks him to watch out for Sherlock.
Sherlock and John investigate a kidnapping, which is a carefully orchestrated plot by Moriarty to implicate that Sherlock has been staging all of his cases himself. Lestrade arrests Sherlock, but Sherlock escapes with John. They also 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, and that it can bypass all security systems. A trail of bodies follow Sherlock as professional assassins fight over access to him.
They break into the house of a journalist poised to publish an expose on Sherlock. There, they discover that Moriarty has developed a fake identity, Richard Brook, who is supposedly an actor that Sherlock paid to pretend to be a master criminal. Now a wanted man with the papers ready to print the expose, based on Richard Brook's testimony, Sherlock launches a final gambit. Leaving John, Sherlock contacts Molly at the hospital, and, responding to an earlier conversation they had, admits he needs her help. John goes to Mycroft's office to question him, 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 Barts lab, but leaves again after hearing Mrs Hudson has been shot. Sherlock texts Moriarty, who meets him on the roof of the hospital, and claims that with the code he can erase Richard Brook electronically. Moriarty reveals that there is no code as the tapping is really a Bach tune and that Sherlock must commit suicide to complete his plan. Ready to do so, since otherwise Moriarty's assassins will kill John, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade, Sherlock realises that Moriarty has some sort of fail-safe and can call the killings off. Sherlock then convinces Moriarty that he would be willing to do anything to make him activate the fail-safe, so Moriarty kills himself after acknowledging commonality between him and Sherlock.
With no way to use the fail-safe, Sherlock calls John, who is rushing back from 221B Baker Street, after having found the report of Mrs Hudson's shooting false. Claiming that he was always a fake and explaining that this last phone call is his "note", Sherlock throws himself from the roof of St. Bartholomew's as John looks on from the street. After being knocked to the floor by a cyclist, John watches as Sherlock's crumpled and bloody body is carried away by hospital staff.
The episode returns to Watson's meeting with his therapist, but he is unable to open up. Later he visits Sherlock's grave with Mrs Hudson. While standing in front of his gravestone, he reaffirms his faith in Sherlock, and begs him not to be dead. From the shadows, Sherlock looks on silently as John walks away.
- "Because I owe you a fall, Sherlock. I. Owe. You."
- ―Jim Moriarty
- "I was so alone, and I owe you so much."
- ―Dr John Watson
I.O.U. is a recurring theme during this episode. It is spoken aloud by several characters, including Jim Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes, and John Watson and is also seen appearing in the background. It refers to Moriarty's promise to Sherlock that he will make him "fall".
The "I O U" motif appears in physical form three times during the episode. The first is in an apple that Moriarty carves and leaves at Baker Street, the second is spray-painted in three windows across from New Scotland Yard offices, and the third is graffitied on the street outside the 221 Baker St. street address. They are threats pertaining to certain individuals connected to those three locations, as Moriarty reveals on the roof of St. Bartholomew's Hospital at the end of "The Reichenbach Fall".
The last time the motif appears in the episode is at the end, during the graveside scene. John Watson says, "I was so alone, and I owe you so much."
- 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 to Mrs Hudson mirrors his return to the inn in the original story, in order to attend a dying Englishwoman.
- The filming of the visit of Moriarty to Baker Street pays tribute to William Gillette's 1899 play, Sherlock Holmes and the 1945 film The Woman in Green.
- The kids' disappearance in the priory school is a reference to "The Adventure of the Priory School".
- Douglas Wilmer, who plays the cranky old man in the Diogenes Club, played Sherlock Holmes in a series of BBC television shows in the 1960s.
- When talking about Henry Fishguard, Watson asks Sherlock, "So, did you talk to him for a really long time?" To which Sherlock replies, "Oh, Henry Fishguard never committed suicide." This is a reference to the first episode, "A Study in Pink", specifically the modus operandi of Jeff Hope.
- Sherlock Holmes – Benedict Cumberbatch
- Dr John Watson – Martin Freeman
- Mrs Hudson – Una Stubbs
- DI Greg Lestrade – Rupert Graves
- Mycroft Holmes – Mark Gatiss
- Jim Moriarty – Andrew Scott
- Molly Hooper – Louise Brealey
- Kitty Riley – Katherine Parkinson
- Sgt Sally Donovan – Vinette Robinson
- Philip Anderson – Jonathan Aris
- Ella Thompson – Tanya Moodie
- Chief Superintendent – Tony Pitts
- Prosecuting Barrister – Jaye Griffiths
- Defence Barrister – Ian Hallard
- Judge – Malcolm Rennie
- Claudie Bruhl – Sydney Wade
- Max Bruhl – Edward Holtom
- Bank Director – Paul Leonard
- Prison Governor – Christopher Hunter
- Prison Warder – Tony Way
- Miss Mackenzie – Lorraine Hilton
- Reporter 1 – Samantha-Holly Bennett
- Reporter 2 – Peter Basham
- Reporter 3 – Rebecca Noble
- Gallery Director – Robert Benfield
- Clerk of the Court – Ifan Huw Dafydd
- Father – Michael Mueller
- Assassin – Pano Masti
- Diogenes Gent – Douglas Wilmer
- According to the newspaper in the promo for this episode Moriarty left graffiti at the scenes of his crimes saying "Get Sherlock".
- After this episode fans created the "I believe in Sherlock" campaign.
- Nina Simone's song, "Sinnerman", features in this episode.