“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
Spoiler denoting aside, Sherlock Holmes jumped off a rooftop last night and died in a draw-droppingly good episode of Sherlock written by Steve Thompson. There. If you read on anyway, despite the warnings, at least now you know straight away rather than slowly ruining the end for yourself over the course of a few paragraphs. On to business.
Sherlock Holmes jumped off a rooftop last night, and somehow survived. So just how did he do it?
My theory, and from what I have gathered others too, is that some kind of sleight-of-hand has occurred. But at which point? What do we know?
- Sherlock specifically instructed John on where to stand. In fact, he was adamant and protested when John tried to move closer.
- John saw Sherlock step off the rooftop and fall through the air. John watches with his own eyes as Sherlock plummets toward the ground.
- However, John could not see the final impact. It was just out of his view. He had to turn a corner to see the body at ground level.
- A body resembling Sherlock, that is dead (or fake), hit the pavement, bled and was seen by John and others. Dead, that is, from the fall, or prior to the incident.
- Before John first came to the hospital (specifically the lab) and before Sherlock met Moriarty on the rooftop, Sherlock spoke to Molly and said “I need you”. Molly stated she “didn’t count” to Sherlock earlier in the episode. Moriarty, despite having used her in the previous series, is also likely to have overlooked her like Sherlock often does. Thus, Molly was not one of three people Moriarty’s people were watching.
- Molly is an autopsy technician and works in the morgue. She has access to plenty of dead bodies and it is also possible, being that she handles bodies for the local police, that she could falsify an autopsy of a body.
- At the time of Sherlock’s fall, a truck full of rubbish bags was parked on the roadside by the impact point which then pulled away. Again, could this be more than a coincidence?
- As John moved to get close to the body, a passing cyclist knocked him over. Was this orchestrated? Surely the rider could see John in front of him long before he hit him.
- When near the body, a distressed John was restrained by the crowd. Did John get a proper look at Sherlock’s “corpse”? He was clearly in shock and may not have been in his most observant state.
- The body was then taken away by paramedics and Sherlock was later pronounced dead (off screen). We do not know by whom Holmes was pronounced dead, though it is not a huge leap in logic to assume that Molly (who conducts autopsies for Lestrade’s police force) would have conducted the autopsy, considering Lestrade’s team were the investigators in Sherlock’s supposed crime-fixing spree.
Now let us eliminate the impossible:
- Sherlock somehow survived falling from a tall building and impacting on the pavement. Impossible. Nobody could survive that fall, especially with the added hard surface of the pavement below and no cushioning effect.
- It was Sherlock’s body on the pavement, Sherlock is dead. Impossible, due to the above statement. We see Sherlock alive and brooding in the last scene, therefore he cannot have died.
- It was not Sherlock who stepped off of the roof. Impossible. We know it is Sherlock, because he speaks to John on the phone and John sees him step off. If it were a cadaver then no phone call could have taken place – “Dead men tell no tales.”
What do we gain from this elimination? One fact: It was Sherlock who stepped off the building but not Sherlock who hit the pavement.
Conclusion: Somehow Sherlock A.) landed on something aside from the pavement that cushioned his fall and B.) managed to arrange for a body with his likeness to hit the pavement in almost the same instant.
And here, friends, the speculation begins:
How did he do it? Did he ask Molly to synchronise the fall of another body that looks like him with his own, masking his escape and creating the illusion that it is him? If so, how did he make another body look like him? We know Moriarty made the kidnapped children scared of Sherlock earlier in the episode – is there a Sherlock mask or duplicate who was neatly disposed of (until Sherlock tracked it down) that the great detective found and used? Has some plastic surgery taken place on a cadaver of Molly’s? If so then how are the alterations not visible and how did they do such a perfect job? What is the significance of “IOU”? It is seen throughout, but never really explained – though it could just be meant in the normal sense, Sherlock doesn’t seem to think so. This is evidenced by the fact he’s repeating it over and over again when he thinks nobody is watching – except Molly. He later says to Molly “I need you”. Is he saying “You” or “U”? Food for thought.
Personally, this is what I think: Sherlock fell into the truck with the rubbish bags. At the same time, another body had been dropped (perhaps from a window out of John’s view) to coincide with Sherlock’s landing to mask it. Then the truck drove away, unnoticed in the commotion and panic caused by the alleged dead body of the detective falling from the sky; just the effect any other suicide jumper’s body would have on a group of people. Finally John, who is already in shock before being knocked over by the cyclist and dazed further, assumes Sherlock to be dead after seeing the body and taking his pulse – despite the fact he has only seen Sherlock fall but not actually hit the concrete.
It’s just a theory, but that’s the fun of speculation. All we can do now is wait… for the return of Sherlock Holmes. Lets hope we don’t have to wait too long!
If you have any theories of your own, or any holes to poke in my own I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!