Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stayin' Alive

I don't remember hearing Sherlock's ringtone. I vote for "Hit The Road, Jack"

I've just finished watching season two of Sherlock. It's one of the three series in my life that I've managed to watch with dedication and probably the only book inspired TV item which I've enjoyed as much as the book and is definitely not ordinary. The stories pull elements of the original stuff written by ACD but the writers put in some extra stuff by themselves which makes it a lot more addictive. The ACD ending is usually only an intermediate point in the story which twists and turns to a completely different end altogether. The lead character does sound familiar with his personality issues and his deep-down-inside-goodness and his excellence at what he does but to be fair any other sort of lead character would make it a little reality TVish. The other reason I put Sherlock Holmes much above all the other crime solvers between and including Poirot and The Famous Five is the fact that his stories do not revolve around a chase sequence and/or a secret picture and/or blatant clues and/or sheer bravery. Some assumptions and balance of probability do go into Holmes' deductions, one may argue back though. But that's not the point of the article.

The point - the final episode of season two is based on The Final Problem. Unlike ACD's version the TV version shows Moriarty shooting himself and Sherlock jumping off the terrace of a hospital. Like ACD's version Sherlock is alive and healthy and somehow faked his death. There is a lot of speculation about how he did it and I thought I'd so a little investigation of my own too which involved watching the last few minutes again. The interesting things I notice are listed below in chronological order:

1. One of the theories that someone told me about is that Sherlock jumped onto some sort of a garbage truck parked there (discussed more in point 5). Notice that the pavement is quite wide. if I were planning to just drop (Not jump. Important.) off this terrace and expect to land beyond the pavement then I wouldn't do it without a batmanesque hand glider underneath that coat of mine. If you are amongst the more visually gifted with a good grasp on your kinematics then try to imagine a tall and thin man with a good head of hair follow a mildly parabolic, mostly vertical, trajectory from this rooftop to beyond the edge of that curb. If you aren't in that group then work really hard at your twelfth boards.

2. I don't know for sure but if someone shoots himself through the back of his head shouldn't there be splatters of blood and pieces of skull and brain lying about? Sherlock claims that he can recognise a real gun from a fake and a man who can identify a pilot by his left thumb would be hard to fool with fake blood and a fish face too. Or is it just a case of lazy camerawork?

3. Another one for the visually gifted with a G.G.O.T.K.. You can see our man's reflection in that window towards the bottom of the picture, second from left. Incorporate the viewing angle and now try and imagine how far Holmes is from the building already. Batman hang glider out, Spring heeled Jack's thigh muscles in.

4. A man's in the middle of a jump to death which would save his friends from evil snipers yet he's graceful enough to execute a mid-air ninety degrees flip and land parallel to the road instead of perpendicular to it. Another explanation I've been told is that he fell on that garbage truck (upper-left) and then rolled off like an egg on a cold winter morning on a kitchen slab. Shouldn't he be closer to the edge of the pavement then? Either that or he is +1/2 spin and needs to roll twice to be convincing. And whether the garbage truck is involved somehow or not, it's very strange when it purrs off just after a man jumped to his death a couple of feet away. Why was it there anyway? I don't see any garbage that needs collection.

5. In real life when bicycles bump into people the bicyclist falls and the obstructing bystander loses his balance and is left a bit shaken. In such a scenario it is not fitting for an army man to topple over like a tipsy bowling pin and then have a concussion on top of that while the bicyclist pedals away unconcerned, just like the cold garbage truck driver.

6. I think the show is also being racist. See that chick casually strolling into the scene from the right? She's like, "Someone killed himself? Happens all the time where I come from. What else is new?". Or is she a Moriarty sleuth paid to make sure that Holmes is dead. Or is she too sad about Whitney Houston to care about random white dude? The possibilities are infinite.

7. So the doctor towards the head might just be feeling the pulse on the neck and trying to revive a grievously injured man by shaking his shoulder. Perfectly okay medical procedure in any emergency. What's the other chap feeling his legs for?

8.This hospital probably does not have security guards which is why there are nurses cordoning people off. They are probably interns though, still in training, given that their strategy comprises of standing close together and doing the Macarena.

9. At the bottom edge of the sniper's lens you can see the pavement. The safety net disguised as a garbage truck could probably be viewed from where the sniper was sitting. I would trust a sniper to realise that Sherlock jumped on to bags of trash and shoot Watson's head off right now. I also find the placement of the sniper slightly weird too but I'm not sure how this area is laid out so I shan't go into more details.

10. I'm unable to read that small block of text at the bottom though so I might be wrongfully pointing out mistakes here but why does The Sun put "SUICIDE OF FAKE GENIUS" that way and doesn't mention that Moriarty (of Crown Jewels break-in fame, etc.) was also found dead on the terrace that the fake genius jumped off? Catching someone with their second lover is the other headline so there can't be that many important things happening in England.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the third season. You shall find me in front of the screen probably scoffing at the explanation of the death and then gradually weaning myself away from it as the series, like all other series, gets disappointing and is eventually replaced. It's awfully nice of the TV people to allow us some time to read between good shows.

Update on 14 Jan 2014 based on Season 3, Episode 1:The Empty Hearse

The explanation to Anderson is not the explanation. Anderson hints at it himself when he realises that if Sherlock had actually pulled it off, then Anderson wouldn't have been told how it happened.

As soon as Sherlock lands, he runs away and the look-alike corpse is planted just to give John the impression that Sherlock is on the floor. And then John gets knocked out so that the Sherlock looking corpse can be replaced with Sherlock himself and then some window dressing. Seems a bit redundant.

The look-alike corpse is slid out of the window, perpendicular to the building, and falls parallel to the building. Sherlock lands perpendicular to the building when he lands on the airbag and comes back and lands parallel. Tut tut, Sherlock.

I thought the garbage truck would have been to conceal the look-alike corpse. The camerawork suggests John can see the head just sticking out from behind the truck so the corpse isn't completely hidden.

And then the garbage truck's location instantaneously changes. The corpse seems to stay in the same place with respect to the benches but the truck has gone up a couple of metres. The truck is shown to have started moving a few seconds later.

Anderson also points out how Sherlock couldn't have been sure of John's exact location. I assume he refers to the cab stopping where it did. And by the looks of it, the cab would probably have crossed a big blue suspicious looking airbag just as it turned into Bart's.

"I still don't understand." And in case you missed it, there's what happens at the end of S03E03.


  1. you did not find the doctors (+the stupid interns) arriving at the scene that fast a lil strange?

  2. I had thought of that but then figured that they were probably out on a sutt break or something. And maybe doctors are quickly responsive in England and patients don't have to fill forms to get admitted. Still doesn't rule it out completely though.

  3. Nice post about the episode. Have to watch the second season soon in May..

    Being an avid Sherlockian, I am eager to see how "The Final Problem" has been adapted by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat...

    Thanks for stoking my interest :)

  4. So your views about the explanation now?

  5. Just curious. What are the other two shows?