Well, I watched Sherlock and initially I was so very cross with both Moffat and Gatiss (although Gatiss is credited as the writer on this I have no doubt that Moffat had his two pence worth) so very, very cross. For about a day anyway.
Why? If you’ve watched the episode I expect you have a very good idea, if not then why the hell are you wasting time reading this? Go and watch The Empty Hearse and when you’re done, we can talk. As I mentioned in my blog: here I’ve spent two years considering the possible how’s, as have countless other fans. Two years discussing theories with like-minded friends, reading internet blogs, scanning interviews with the co-creators looking for hints and clues. I explained how I didn’t want to turn my phone on in case someone had texted or tweeted (namely my sister, she’s favourited on Twitter which means her Tweets come through to my phone automatically) ‘the solution’. Hell I didn’t even want to leave the house just in case the surprise was ruined. At the time I was certain there was a solution and that we would be told, after all Steven Moffat himself said “there’s a clue everybody’s missed” and when we see it we’ll kick ourselves. I was so certain that answers would be provided that I blogged ‘my’ solutions so that I could lay claim to any that were proved correct.
The problem is there are no answers. Yeah there were plenty of possible solutions and I have no doubt that some of them are pretty close to what Gatiss and Moffat planned, but not one of them was unquestionably ‘the one’. The only things I can say are an absolute given are that Molly Hooper and Sherlock’s homeless network was involved, partly because Sherlock reveals this information to Watson, the only person he would tell the truth to, and because it makes complete sense. The Reichenbach Fall ends with Sherlock’s funeral, therefore it is a given that there must be either a body or at least a death certificate confirming Sherlock’s death. Without a genuine body or proof of actual death someone would need to engage the services of a coroner, Sherlock asks for Molly’s help and, in The Empty Hearse, thanks her for what she did for him, therefore Molly must have provided a stand in body or a false death certificate. With regards to the involvement of the homeless network, as I, and many others discussed; in order to distract and confuse Watson into thinking Sherlock was really dead he would need a number of people to run interference. But that is where my certainty ends.
I still can’t say for sure if he faked the fall or the body. Incidentally, there are, according to Sherlock, thirteen possibilities and although we see some of them played out we are not told which one he actually used in the end. I have no doubt there are also thirteen extremely plausible theories posted on blogs and forums. I read a Tweet which applauded Gatiss for trolling the fans; I also read an article in The Guardian (http://gu.com/p/3yhm7) that criticised the episode for being too fan led. I agree with the first and disagree with the second. Every so called theory was a hat tip to the countless fan discussions, partly poking fun, partly in respect. Therefore it enabled long-time fans to feel appreciated while allowing new fans to laugh, partly at the outlandish theories – the kiss was my favourite – and partly at the obsessive nature of some fans. Initially my only criticism was that we didn’t really get closure.
Nor, do I believe, will we, and after some thought I don’t think we should. There is, as Moffat stated, a clue and it is indeed tiny and when I twigged what I think he meant, I did metaphorically kick myself. In fact, I think there are three clear ‘clues’, there may be more and to be honest I might be completely off the mark but here’s what I think: You see he did tell us in the final episode, well, Sherlock told us. In the phone call Sherlock tells John, “it’s a trick, it’s just a magic trick”, the phrase is repeated in several flashbacks throughout the episode. When Sherlock reveals how he did it to Anderson, Anderson finds the explanation “a bit disappointing”, later realising that Sherlock probably wouldn’t have told him the truth anyway. And that, my friends, is quite simply it. It’s a magic trick and the thing about magic tricks? You’re not supposed to know how they’re done. Had we been told then some fans would have been disappointed because not one solution would make everybody happy, and as Anderson says, they were never going to tell us the truth anyway. Ultimately it is John who I think makes Gatiss and Moffat’s intentions clear, throughout the episode he is insistent that it is not the how that is important but the why, and after that the what – why did you not tell me and what the hell do we do now?