**Big spoiler alert**
As everyone in the UK knows, unless they have been living under a rock, at the end of BBC’s Sherlock the detective appears to jump to his death from the roof of St Bart’s hospital. We see him lying on the pavement in a pool of blood as a devastated John feels for a pulse which isn’t there. Then, in the final frame, we see Sherlock alive and well, watching as his faithful friend talks to his gravestone.
All week theories have been circulating everywhere from the usual chat-rooms, fan sites and twitter to the national press including the broadsheets. Not since JR got shot in Dallas has a programme had this level of impact on the general public. It is a testament to the creative genius of the creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, that such a cliff-hanger has inspired the imagination of the nation – and got them all talking about Sherlock Holmes.
And to add fuel to the fire of speculation, Moffat has revealed that fans have ‘missed a vital clue’ – which has made us all turn to BBC iplayer, Sky Plus etc and watch the whole thing again in the hope of being the one to solve the mystery, a mystery worthy of the great detective himself.
This really is television at its best, encouraging us to take what was on the screen and give it life in our real world by talking about it, theorising and sharing.
Moffat revealed that the clue was something Sherlock did which was very out of character.
The Mail on Sunday published a double-page spread detailing the main theories. Their favourite theory, and indeed one that I think holds much truth, is that pathologist Molly Hooper helped Sherlock by using her job to fake medical records, post-mortem certificates and even provide a body to be put in Sherlock’s grave.
As he jumps from the pathology unit, she could also have arranged for the medical team to surround him so quickly on the pavement, apply fake blood and even stop his heart. Sherlock admits to her that he needs help – could this be the uncharacteristic behaviour Moffat was referring too?
A rubbish truck is seen outside the hospital and it is suggested that Sherlock lands in it then uses the delay caused by the cyclist knocking down John to get in position on the pavement. The fact that Sherlock is very insistent that John remains in a certain position while saying his goodbyes adds weight to the theory because from where he stands, John cannot see the ground immediately below the roof. But what about the pulse? Well, my favourite theory on this is that Sherlock applies the squash-ball in the armpit trick to hide it. We do see him playing with a blue squash-ball earlier on in the episode. This has to be relevant, surely?
The use of a dummy has also been suggested – especially as Sherlock has a dummy hanging in their rooms towards the start of the episode which he was using to disprove a suicide, coincidently. And in the original Empty House, Holmes uses a life-like dummy to fool Colonel Moran so this could be a link. But it’s too obvious and simplistic for my liking.
Also suggested is that a hallucinogenic drug is used, such as the one in the previous episode – Hounds of Baskerville. Was the whole thing a figment of John’s imagination which he would then convincingly tell to the world via his blog and be believed by all? But I doubt that the writers would use the same explanation twice in this way, they are far too clever for that.
What about Mycroft? Well, he tells John that he revealed secrets to Moriarty about his brother which Moriarty then uses when constructing Sherlock’s downfall. I’m sure there is more to this, it doesn’t ring true to me and I’m sure that Mycroft has used his vast brain, connections and power to help in the fake death. In the original stories, Mycroft is the only person whom Holmes takes into his confidence, corresponding with him during the great hiatus and leaving him to manage all his affaires and preserve the rooms at Baker Street. Perhaps, here again, Mycroft is the only one who knows the whole truth.
Could it have been Moriarty who actually fell off the roof? The Mail puts forward the argument that Moriarty made himself look like Sherlock when he kidnapped the children earlier in the episode, causing the little girl to scream when she sees Sherlock for the first time. Might he have used a mask to do this? And if so, could Sherlock have obtained it, put it onto Moriarty’s dead body on the roof and pushed it off? Personally, I doubt this very much but absolutely think that the reaction of the child will have some relevance. Did Moriarty employ an actor who looked like Sherlock to do the kidnapping and dispose of him? Could Sherlock have found the body and used it in his fake suicide? This theory sounded really good in my head but I’m not so sure now I’ve seen it in black and white.
There may well be some significance in the fact that on the roof Moriarty says something like ‘You are me and I am you’. This may suggest, and back up the theory, that what we think is the body of Sherlock is actually Moriarty.
And what of the uncharacteristic behaviour? All I can think of is the obvious stuff which everyone else has already come up with. On the roof Sherlock drops his iphone, he shakes Moriarty’s hand, and also cries when saying goodbye to John. All things which strike me as out of character but I can’t see how this helps solve the problem. The final problem. Like my little joke there?
Phew, well, I suppose it is time to sum up what I think. And herein lays the problem. I just don’t know what to think. I’ve watched the episode three times now, spent my Sunday afternoon with my finger on the pause button and trawling the internet (yes I am that sad) but still don’t have any fixed ideas about how Sherlock Holmes faked his own suicide. All I can say is that, in my opinion, the squash ball, Molly and Mycroft all have something to do with it. Oh and obviously the bike crashing into John was planned. But what I can’t do is pull all these theories together and come up with a definitive answer. Just have to wait for series three.
Please do use the comments box below to add any theories of your own; if you can put me out of my misery I will be most grateful. And I can get on with my life . . .
- Related stories:
- Rat, Wedding and Bow – three little words, one big mystery
- BBC’s Sherlock – a televisual feast for the mind and eye
- Another triumph for the Sherlock team with the Hounds of Baskerville
- BBC Sherlock’s A Scandal in Belgravia – simply wow
My novel Barefoot on Baker Street has now been published. Here are some of the ways you can purchase it.