Monday, February 18, 2013

Thoughts for the Brain - Sherlock


Apropos of nothing, except perhaps finding out the new series of Sherlock goes into production next month I decided to scan various online theories about the Final Problem, the Reichenbach Fall and how Sherlock escaped death. It also helps because it means after this little blurb comes a list… great.

The mechanics of Sherlock’s faked fall are still unclear, but there is a wonderful section in the middle of this post, which very convincingly unpicks the Final Problem and the origins of Jim Moriarty. It’s not spoiling much (because it’s really excellent detail) to say the headline is Jim Moriarty is the fake identity while Richard Brook is real. It also explains why Moriarty/Brook, a man with very high self-regard, ends up committing suicide on St Bart’s roof.
It’s worth emphasising that show like Sherlock would not have been made 15-20 years ago. It is a product of internet culture, the now instant pooling of popular expertise, and the DVD. Sherlock rewards repeated, detailed viewing and lateral thinking. Video cassettes could not offer the same level of viewer scrutiny. In McLuhanite terms, Sherlock is the medium of television warming up (we are talking here of the dialogue and visual tableau), changing from broad effect to fine detail. Nothing can be taken simply as random. The narrative however cools everything down. We see at the end Sherlock died yet is clearly alive (Schrodinger’s Detective).
The audience is invited to peer deeply at the detail of the show, the norm under modern mass culture, yet is compelled to fill in key narrative details as the story is left unexplained. In a whimsical way it is an example of the mass critical intellectualism engendered by capitalist culture. Whether they write about Sherlock or Doctor Who or David Bowie  or whatever, people are out there examining whole topics, illuminating subjects and doing it for free. The barriers between manual and intellectual labour have long since been removed. There is one enormous obstacle left, namely private property.
  
1. There are two Sherlocks We were all a bit confused when that little girl went mental upon seeing Sherlock in Sunday’s finale. Some people are suggesting that she was actually one of Moriarty’s youngest employees, or that she had been threatened with dire consequences like the jury before her, but some of you are convinced that Sherlock has a doppelganger. The fact that this lookalike apparently co-operated with Moriarty’s plans makes him even more of a mystery, yet it is possible that Holmes talked him round and persuaded him to commit suicide on his behalf.
Likelihood – 2/10 

2. A Sherlock Mask on Moriarty’s Body.
This theory fits in nicely with the idea that the name Rich Brook (Moriarty’s alias) is loosely German for Reichenback and as such the title of the episode falls into place, yet there are plenty of unanswered questions. Most theories hold the delay between Dr Watson seeing Sherlock fall and him reaching the body as crucial, but this one utilises the gap between the point when the Napoleon of crime shot himself and Watson arrived upon the scene. The bus that drove past after Cumberbatch threw down his phone could have been the point when Holmes pushed his dead adversary over in his place, yet it doesn’t explain why the person falling seemed to be alive on the way down.
This theory fits in nicely with the idea that the name Rich Brook (Moriarty’s alias) is loosely German for Reichenback and as such the title of the episode falls into place, yet there are plenty of unanswered questions. Most theories hold the delay between Dr Watson seeing Sherlock fall and him reaching the body as crucial, but this one utilises the gap between the point when the Napoleon of crime shot himself and Watson arrived upon the scene. The bus that drove past after Cumberbatch threw down his phone could have been the point when Holmes pushed his dead adversary over in his place, yet it doesn’t explain why the person falling seemed to be alive on the way down.
Likelihood – 5/10 

3. Mycroft Was In On It
Mycroft Holmes is certainly a cold fish, but we thought the reaction to his brother’s demise was dislocated even by his standards. He even looked a bit bored during the scene in which he read about Sherlock’s death in the newspaper. If you also consider the way he completely sold his brother out to his most deadly enemy, something doesn’t quite fit. Maybe Sherlock realised that his death would be inevitable as the scandal rose and enlisted Mycroft to help him out by planting an idea in Moriarty’s mind. But what? And how?
Mycroft Holmes is certainly a cold fish, but we thought the reaction to his brother’s demise was dislocated even by his standards. He even looked a bit bored during the scene in which he read about Sherlock’s death in the newspaper. If you also consider the way he completely sold his brother out to his most deadly enemy, something doesn’t quite fit. Maybe Sherlock realised that his death would be inevitable as the scandal rose and enlisted Mycroft to help him out by planting an idea in Moriarty’s mind. But what? And how?
Likelihood – 7/10


4. Molly By far the most popular theory is that the often-sidelined Molly helped Sherlock fake his own death. There are two cast iron pieces of evidence for this. First of all, she had a stack of corpses at her disposal and could have fixed any autopsy. Secondly, Sherlock called her back and told her that she was important just before his death. The second part of that conversation should explain everything when it’s revealed. Also she fancied his pants off and would have done anything for him. That’s actually four reasons now we think about it..
Likelihood – 9/10 

5. Sherlock was the bloke on the bike. How exactly this would work is unclear, but a large proportion of the internet community are determined that Holmes was actually the bloke on the bike who bumped into Watson, delaying him from getting to the body. The question of how he got down from the roof break-neck speed (you know what we mean) is another puzzler. Hmm..
Likelihood – 2/10 

6. Dummy from their room If you watch the episode again, there are countless references that appear for mere seconds, but could be crucial in the final mystery and one such prop is the mannequin hanging from a noose in Sherlock’s flat. When you remember that it was Holmes who suggested that he and Moriarty meet on the roof of St Barts, it becomes clear that he could have prepared the location in advance with all manner of tools to kid us. Much is also being made of the rubbish truck which was seen hanging around just before his fall and the fact that Sherlock wanted Doctor Watson to “stay exactly where he was!” Obviously his location was vital if he was to believe that Holmes was dead. Maybe Sherlock dropped into the rubbish truck as the bus passed and then Watson saw the dummy falling. Sherlock then swapped places with the dummy as the bike hit Watson. Yet if Sherlock jumped before the dummy – who pushed it off the roof?
Likelihood – 6/10

7. All people on the pavement – including cyclist – were Sherlock’s people If any body-swap/de-masking/dummy-replacement took place then Holmes would almost certainly have needed help from those pedestrians, who could have aided him while delaying Watson from getting to the scene. Why would he trust a load of people and not Dr Watson though? Possibly because he knew that if the Doctor believed him dead then everyone else would as well. Some boffins have also pointed to the squash ball that Homes was playing with and suggested that he could have used the ‘Squash ball in the Armpit’ trick to disguise his pulse from Watson. Points for cleverness.
Likelihood – 7/10 

8. Baskerville Drug administered to Watson This theory suggests that Holmes administered the drug from the previous episode to Watson and put the idea of him killing himself in his head. As such Watson was hallucinating when he saw Sherlock fall. Plausible, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that Moffat, Gattiss & Co would consider it the height of laziness to use the same ploy in two separate episodes. For that reason, probably a non-starter.
Likelihood – 1/10 

9. Scotoma Scotoma essentially refers to the power of suggestion and the affect it can have over what a person thinks they have seen. Related to the previous theory, many have suggested that when the Beeb give us the big reveal in 2013, it will actually transpire that someone completely different was standing on top of St Barts and we mis-saw him. There are two ways of doing this; with skillful filming and clever editing or by simply showing us the correct thing and then telling us we were mistaken at a later date.
Likelihood – 6/10 

10. Moriarty Is Not Dead We really hope this one’s true – how good was Andrew Scott? Anyone who has read the books will know that the idea of one of Holmes or Moriarty striking such a winning blow (ie. killing the other) was unlikely to happen, as Conan-Doyle emphasised how closely matched they were. Essentially they were both struggling for an edge, so if Holmes can return from beyond the grave, why not his arch-enemy?
Likelihood – 5/10

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