The Reichenbach Fall
Warning: I will be spoiling the hell out of the final episode of series 2 of Sherlock, The Reichenbach Fall. Do not read if you don’t want to know.
I loved the first series of Sherlock. I thought it was truly excellent TV, some of the finest I’d ever seen. I could not wait for the new series. Then...the first episode disappointed me and although I enjoyed the second one it left such a small impression on me that I actually forgot to write a review about it. When I settled down to watch the final episode, The Reichenbach Fall, it was with more than a small feeling of dread.
And you know what?
I think it’s one of the best things I have ever, ever seen.
From the opening, with John talking about Sherlock’s death, you don’t really get time to draw breath. This is definitely the most story-driven episode of the series, and it’s all the better for it. There’s a robbery of the Crown Jewels, a bank is broken into, a prison is broken out of, a trial, a confrontation in a flat, a kidnapping, an accusation, an arrest, a police chase, a confrontation in another flat, an escape, an elderly woman being shot, a confrontation on a rooftop, a suicide, a funeral. All in 90 minutes. It’s very exciting.
But as spectacular as the plot is, I don’t think it’s that which makes this episode so brilliant. It’s the characters and the way they react to the plot that makes it so gripping, that makes you feel so involved in what is going on. Not just Sherlock and John, even though as we’ve come to care for them so much over the past few hours it is quite emotional to see them going through hell, and even though Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are spectacular. It’s the supporting characters.
Andrew Scott as Moriarty is the best example. I adore him. I adored him for the ten minutes he was in the last episode of the last series, but he’s been giving a bit more screen time to play with here and he fills it marvellously. Him dancing round the room with the Crown Jewels in waving a fire extinguisher is an imagine that will stay with me for a long time.
He is completely believable as Moriarty, completely convincing as a man who is bored with the world and creates havoc just for fun, who is in turn consumed with hatred for, bored of and thankful to Sherlock. His bit on the TV whilst Sherlock is in the cab is a particular highlight. Just brilliant. I’m really, really sorry to have seen him go.
But then we get the delight that is Katherine Parkinson as Kitty Reilly, a journalist who wants the scoop on Sherlock and goes to Moriarty to get it. She’s such a repulsive character, almost grotesque, but is somehow so realistic. Between her, Vinette Robinson (who was deliciously nasty as the selfish, spiteful Sgt Sally Donovan) and how Moriarty’s plan to bring down Sherlock relied heavily on the fact that most people have the attitude of “It’s in the paper so it must be true”, it wasn’t a good night for the human race. It was a bit Black Mirror-esque, only a billion times more subtle.
Thankfully we have Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) and Lestrade (Rupert Graves) putting in performances as kind, fundamentally good people to balance things out. And, of course, the absolutely superb Loo Brealey as Molly Hooper. Really can’t say enough good things about Molly Hooper.
The action scenes are actiony, the sad scenes are sad, the dramatic scenes are dramatic, the funny scenes are funny. The tense bits between Moriarty and Sherlock are utterly breathtaking — beautifully written, beautifully acted, beautifully filmed. The final scene with Sherlock and John on the phone is heartbreaking and another demonstration of how perfect the casting was and how good the relationship is between the two.
In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about the whole episode was the very, very ending. With John walking away from the grave and Sherlock watching him. I’d read The Final Problem (nice continual references to that, by the way), know the Holmes stories and had seen the last Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film, so I knew that Sherlock was going to die-but-not-actually-die. Maybe that’s what spoilt it for me, I didn’t have the surprise. I just wanted to know how he’d survived, what Molly had done aside from call John.
But it was only a tiny, tiny niggle in a sea of “Oh my gosh this is BRILLIANT”. The Reichenbach Fall makes up for any previous disappointment. I just...loved it.
To find out more about Sherlock and watch The Reichenbach Fall, go to the show’s program page.