Sherlock: 203 “The Reichenbach Fall” Full Review
The Reichenbach Fall (Series 2, Episode 3)
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
This was an extraordinary ending to an extraordinary show. The series finale of this year’s Sherlock was one that had almost everything a TV show of this calibre should have; drama, humour, intensity, mystery and excitement to name but a few. What I liked most about this episode, apart from the climax, was the exploration of Sherlock’s personal relationships between himself and both Watson and Moriarty. What was also great about this episode was how it dealt with Sherlock’s ‘celebrity’ status and incidentally his attitude towards the media.
But first things first…how did he do it?
How did the best fictional detective on TV swan dive off a hospital rooftop in the middle of London in broad daylight, hit the concrete, bleed out and then be pronounced dead; survive? This will no doubt be one of the biggest talking points for 2012 for all of the millions who watched it. Personally, I think three of four pieces to the puzzle exist but I can’t think of a way to make them fit just yet. Something to do with things beginning with ‘M’: Moriarty, Molly, Mercury, Mycroft and (possibly) Masks.
I could go on for the rest of this piece explaining different theories, but instead I’d rather point you in the direction of a CultFix’s separate article, where you can join the discussion and play Sherlock yourself.
Whatever the explanation will be this episode had so much all the way up to this epic conclusion. The story for this episode was one that was as clever as Moriarty in its execution. Setting Sherlock up to be labelled as a fraud was a brilliant idea and seeing how this unravels through the influence of the media really brought Sir ACD’s sleuth into the 21st century. The ‘IOU’ symbol was a good brand for the episode and those of you with keen eyes may have spotted it lurking in the background – you can see it as graffiti on the wall when Sherlock and Watson are getting arrested.
A couple of things that let this episode down from being the 10/10 it should have been were some awkward bits of acting from Vinette Robinson (Sgt Donovan) and Katherine Parkinson (Kitty Reilly). Both of these came across as unconvincingly in their roles and gave the show a couple of hiccups. The scene at the journalist’s house when Moriarty returns from the shops was surprisingly intense, apart from Reilly strutting back and forth with the ‘evidence’ she has against Sherlock. Robinson as Sgt Donovan was overly aggressive and clumsy in her perception of Sherlock and just made it hard to believe a character like that would be able to convince her boss that 221b Baker Street needed investigating. Oh, and why was it necessary for the Chief Inspector to have such a thick Yorkshire accent? It made him sound like a character that should be found in the Woolpack on Emmerdale not in an intense London-based crime drama. This made it all the more satisfying when Watson gave him a bloody nose.
Over the last couple of week’s I’ve been full of praise for both Cumberbatch and Freeman and, at the risk of repeating myself, I have to say they were once again flawless in their roles. Particularly Freeman, even after the fall of Sherlock in the back of our minds we were still thinking that Sherlock cannot be dead but Freeman’s Watson does one of the toughest jobs in drawing out our emotion even though we know it’s in vein. The scenes in the psychiatrist’s chair, along with the monologue to an empty grave were both compelling and heartbreaking to witness. A nice touch in the closing was Watson’s military step away from the grave, a respectful salute to a fallen comrade. Freeman showed that he brings just as much to this show as Cumberbatch does and without the two together this wouldn’t be Sherlock.
As for the main man, well as usual Cumberbatch was awesome. Full of cockiness and blissful ignorance as Holmes he proves why there is so much hype surrounding him. In this episode he took his character further into the emotional spectrum and played him slightly more down to Earth in his scenes with Moriarty and Molly.
A lot of credit should go to Steve Thompson who wrote this episode because he did such a great job. The dialogue was sharp, punchy and original all the way through and made almost every scene enjoyable. Some of you may recall that Thompson penned the second episode, and in my opinion – weakest, episode of the first season, The Blind Banker. Fans of Doctor Who will also remember the The Curse of the Black Spot episode of the last series, which was decent enough but certainly not up to the usual Moffat standard.
Thompson has tackled one of the toughest episodes to write because the interactions between Sherlock and Moriarty, as well as Watson witnessing Holmes’ fall were key cornerstones to this story and could have easily caused the plot to crumble around it if the dialogue had been poor. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.
Scene of the Episode – The finale was one scene we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Before this though, Sherlock and Moriarty sharing a brew was very impressive. The dialogue between the two was perfect and showed just how imposing these actors are at bringing their literary characters to life.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.