*MAJOR SPOILERS* The Reichenbach Fall

The third and final episode of the second season of Sherlock is easily one of the best (and most intense) pieces of Television I’ve watched in a very long time. The ending of the episode had a mind-blowing confrontation and left us all with a mystery people are going to be talking about for a year — which is the interminable wait before they finally decide to give us the next season.

So anyway, everyone has a theory as to how it was done. Including me. My theory doesn’t seem to have be being talked about in online forums, so I thought I’d post it here as a matter of record so that I can do a big-ass “I told you so!” or a slightly more muted “oh well it was still cool” depending on how things turn out.

For god’s sake don’t read any further unless you’ve seen the episode in question!

If you’re reading this, and haven’t seen the show, you’re honestly about to ruin it for yourself. Seriously, go watch it first.

Seriously, go.



No, really, go!


Here we go.

Sherlock Holmes jumped to his death from the hospital roof in front of John Watson and other witnesses. Smashing into the ground with a quite resounding thump. How how came he to be standing in in front of his own gravestone, happy as can be, in the final shot of the episode?

I’ve seen speculation about him jumping and landing on a truck before hitting the ground, or drugging himself to make his heartbeat slow, all kinds of things, but I still like my theory better.

Stephen Moffat is on record saying that there’s a clue everyone missed. I think the clue is the entire previous episode.

I propose that Sherlock poisoned John Watson with the H.O.U.N.D. drug that makes people hallucinate what they fear and have been suggested to see. And that it was somehow Moriarty’s body that took the fall.

My reasoning:

  • Holmes realises with a start that Moriarty’s intent is to make him kill himself (“There’s only one thing he needs to do to complete his game and thats….”), the drops everything he’s doing and immediately goes to see Molly, and tells her that he thinks he’s going to die. She asks what he needs, but we don’t get to hear what he asks of her.
  • The poison works by making you see what you’re afraid of seeing, “fear and stimulus” were the words used, and “you saw what you were expected to see, because I told you”. Sherlock’s exact words to John in the previous episode. Back to the hospital roof and the final phonecall: Sherlock spells out to john exactly what to see: he says the call is his “suicide” note, he’s standing on the roof. He agitates John further by telling him he was a fake all along. Fear and stimulus.
  • So John has been absolutely primed to see exactly what he fears, and all he needs is a dose of the drug. I think the bicyclist who crashed into him dosed him with it. He was slammed into the ground and concussed and drugged. He saw Sherlock’s body on the ground because it was what he had been told to see.
  • Sherlock’s body was whisked away very quickly. Many people saw the body, but none of them knew who he was. He jumped off the roof of the pathology building at the hospital. So the body would be under the care of the pathologist almost right away.
  • The pathologist, of course, being Molly.

The thing that’s obvious is that Molly was instrumental in him faking his death. But the how is the interesting question. My theory is that it wasn’t Sherlock who fell, but Moriarty’s body, and the only witnesses who could have known otherwise were Watson, who was drugged, concussed, and hallucinating his fears, and Molly, who was the pathologist and could both identify (falsely) the body and come up with an excuse why other people couldn’t see it later.

The only real whole in my theory is that we actually see Sherlock jump, and it’s clearly Sherlock falling, as opposed to a static dead body. I’m only right if that turns out to be artistic license by the filmmakers — showing John’s perception of what happened rather than what actually did.

So what do people think? Comment here rather than on Facebook or somewhere where people could accidentally be spoiled.

Oh, one other thing I noticed, there’s a high pitched tinnitus-like noise when people are hallucinating under the influence of the drug in the previous episode. The same noise is squealing away the second John gets hit by the bicyclist. Coincidence?

2 thoughts on “*MAJOR SPOILERS* The Reichenbach Fall

  1. How do you think Sherlock dealt with the assassins Moriarty said he had watching Watson, Lestrade and Mrs Hudson, who would only stand down if they saw Sherlock fall? I doubt he could have dosed them with the HOUND drug; he had no idea where they were.

    WE knew they existed; we were shown them. Sherlock had no way of knowing whether they did or not. So how did he convince them it was him falling from the building, and not Moriarty?

  2. I got the impression that the cyclist was making sure Watson didn’t reach the body too soon (and notice either that it wasn’t Sherlock, or he aten’t dead); being dazed and in shock would be enough without the drug.

    Besides, the H.O.U.N.D. drug was an aerosol.

    Watching it we were both reminded of an episode of Jonathan Creek with a similar faked suicide. It’s notable that he positions Watson very carefully to be able to see him jump, but not see him *land*. _Anything_ could have happened between Sherlock leaping and Watson seeing the body being taken away. And we know from the Irene Adler episode that Sherlock can fake a body well enough to fool Mycroft.

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