WARNING: This is an in-depth review and discussion of SHERLOCK Series/Season 2. As the episodes have not yet aired in the United States, if you do not wish SPOILERS, do not read further.
Terry Wylis: Alas, the tears have been shed, the gasps uttered, and our hearts stomped on enough times to leave bruises. And the brilliant cast and crew of the BBC’s Sherlock deservedly praised. As the first entry in our new co-blog, we thought we’d summarize our thoughts on the series as a whole, and then address our own theories of how Sherlock managed to survive a 60+-foot dive off the roof of St. Bart’s hospital. Kettle’s boiled, T.D. McKinney. Pull a chair up to the fire.
TDM: Ta, love. It’s been great fun and now we suffer for another year or more waiting for our next fix. Horrible thing to do to addicts, isn’t it? Even my husband mentioned how boring Sunday seemed without a new Sherlock. Boring hardly touches it.
Terry: It’s a good thing they’re totally re-watchable. I pick up new layers and new tidbits every time. A real master work for Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I hope they continue for many seasons to come. LOL, once their leading men come home from all the globe-hopping.
TDM: Yeah, at least we’ll have other movies to watch while we’re waiting. It will be interesting to say the least.
Terry: Well, the whole of the UK and shortly everywhere but the United States is buzzing about how Sherlock Holmes could possibly have survived that plunge off St. Barts. Several theories, but Moftiss have debunked them all. The question is, are they bluffing? Or could elements of the various theories be right?
TDM: I feel like Lestrade during that press conference in A Study in Pink – “Wrong, wrong, wrong.” It’s rather annoying. We know Moftiss likes to mess with us, so it’s likely the will have some interesting twist to whatever they’ve done.
Terry: Let’s take a look at some of the elements from our favorite standpoint, that of the evidence we were given. For example, the body on the pavement. Actually Sherlock? And if so, is there evidence that some tricks were used to ensure his survival from a height of 62 feet 7 inches (supplied by the Barts Archives – thank you!)? I saw a couple of possibilities. You?
TDM: Visual evidence would indicate it was Sherlock Holmes. However, we do know there is at least one look-alike in the vicinity (witness testimony of kidnapped child Claudette). There is a possibility the body could have been that of the look-alike kidnapper. Conclusion: Open. More evidence needed. There are numerous ways Sherlock himself could have survived a fall from that height. I could name three that are feasible and even probable, and at least a dozen that are more improbable.
Terry: There’s one particular reason I believe it actually was him. Normally you wouldn’t see a doctor or paramedic rocking the victim of a fall like that, for the simple reason of exacerbating any possible spinal or neck injury. Yet it’s very clear he’s being rocked. The body is lying on its right side, the hand extended, and it’s that hand John takes a radial pulse from–one imagines a non-existent one, for at least the few seconds before someone pries John’s hand away. Is it possible to block a radial pulse without actually stopping the heart? A little Google journey, and I find that yeah, it is. And fairly easily. Some good pressure up in the armpit could do it. Maybe that squash ball he was playing with in the lab–something we’ve never seen Sherlock doing. Moftiss made a statement that everyone had missed a big out-of-character thing that was a clue.
TDM: I think we had confirmation of that from our favorite former assistant coroner in the UK, too, when he first mentioned it. * Kisses to JMG for being utterly brilliant in all ways * The speedy manner Sherlock was whisked away supports that, too. You don’t want to maintain that sort of pressure for too long, nor is it an easy thing to do. So, John only has a few seconds to confirm Sherlock’s death before he’s pulled away. Likewise, how quickly Sherlock’s “body” is removed from the scene. If he’s dead at the scene (or a dead body standing in for Sherlock), there’s no need to move him. But he’s taken away like there’s a chance of revival, except no one’s working on him. All kinds of suspicious. All things John would have noticed immediately if he weren’t incapacitated.
Terry: I did note several shades of the canon story The Dying Detective. I know there have been a lot of theories that Sherlock actually landed in the laundry truck and the body on the pavement was not him. I don’t buy it for a couple of reasons. Yes, John was disoriented after Sherlock landed. And yes, his eyes were fixed on Sherlock as Sherlock stood on the roof edge. But John followed every inch of that plunge, at least until the last ten or twelve feet when Sherlock vanished behind the ambulance center building that stood between them. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t notice if Sherlock’s plunge vector took him out the extra ten feet it would require to land in the laundry truck. Also, it’s too easy. I don’t see Moftiss resorting to easy.
TDM: Oh, they’ll do easy. They just won’t make it easy on us! Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if that laundry truck didn’t haul away some of the evidence. Nor if it had a part in making for a safe landing. There had to be a safety net. Literally. And a way to get it out of the way quickly.
Terry: No doubt. In fact, a net or a firefighters’ jump blanket makes sense on a number of levels. Sherlock dives off the building and his body is perpendicular to the building — but when we see a body land on the pavement, it’s parallel to the building. An air bag of some kind would take too long to deflate and put away – but a jump blanket would be like a trampoline – he landed face down, but the momentum (and the holders of said net manipulating it) could easily have taken him back and to the side so he hit the ground parallel to the building.
And I noticed something else when I paused the video (LOL, numerous times and in numerous places): Sherlock was wearing a black suit and that dark purple shirt, and The Coat, of course. But as he’s falling, there’s a clear flash of white around his waist, and it’s not his skin — so it can’t be simply the shirt coming untucked. Perhaps a little padding to guard against rib damage in the jostling around?
TDM: Could be. We know in reality, Benedict Cumberbatch was attached to wires and so that was part of the harness. But in the Sherlock world, padding works. I think it’s a good theory that fits the available evidence.
Terry: Why, thank you! 😀 The blanket/net is easily rolled up and stuffed into the laundry truck – wouldn’t even have had to be the back – just the passenger seat, which is right next to the sidewalk as the truck’s parked. It would take all of 10-20 seconds. And the blood splatter pattern by Sherlock’s head is weird.
TDM: More like someone dumped a bucket of blood and he lay down in it and then they pour a bit more over him, hm? There’s a lot of it and no brain matter, so serious head trauma but not. Sherlock’s hair is soaked in blood on one side where it lies in the blood, of course, but again, no sign of a cracked skull.
There is also no sign of facial damage. No sign of a broken nose, cheeks, or chin. None of the extensive sort of damage you’d expect if he’d landed on his face as he would have from the trajectory of his fall. Had he turned his head at the last moments and landed on the side as shown, there would have been visible injuries to his skull, resulting in at least some damage you could see. Certainly one of those glorious cheekbones would have suffered. And though his eyes are open, there is no blood in his eyes. And yes, we know way too much about what dead bodies are supposed to look like. We can supply some links for those interested in the forensics of this at the end of our little party.
Terry: Hey, I don’t mind our readers knowing we’ve spent more than one evening deciphering a crime scene in the search for a story or just to hone our skills. But I agree with you about the evidence not matching what we’re being led to believe. There’s blood on the upper part of his lip, but none at the corner — from the angle he was lying at, blood pouring from his mouth would have pooled in the corner and run down to the pavement at the corner of his mouth. The only blood on the left side of his face is coming from his left ear – leading us to believe further the skull fracture theory — and that could easily have been poured there. It just occurred to me that Molly could have easily drawn a pint of blood from Sherlock to use for this very purpose, so the DNA would match.
A fully coherent John Watson might have picked out some of all this, even if he didn’t catch it all. But concussed — slightly at least — and already in shock over having just watched his best friend leap off a building, a crowd of people pushing in and pulling him away, plus the terrible finality of the phone conversation he’d just had…Yes, I can see him missing a lot of the minutiae and letting his shattered and foggy brain come to the conclusion Sherlock needed him to. So we have a decent working theory not quite in line with what we’ve seen elsewhere.
TDM: You and I have dissected enough real crime scenes to know a case of staging when we see it. So, yeah. Evidence points to that really being Sherlock on the ground pretending to be dead. The medical personnel and all those concerned, helpful people are part of Sherlock’s homeless network. A lot of knowledge and access supplied by Dr. Molly Hooper. End result, one very dead Sherlock Holmes.
Terry: And one rather shattered John Watson. I have to admit, that’s where my main curiosity for Series 3 lies. How Sherlock plans to make his reappearance without getting a real broken jaw from John punching him out.
TDM: Let’s hope he has good reflexes.
Terry: I think the tea’s gone cold, so we’ll wrap it up for this week. Again, well-deserved kudos to the creators, cast and crew of Sherlock — “Brilliant” is too mundane a word now. We may have to make up a new one. Have you got those links, T.D.?
TDM: I do. Forensics fun. Not for the faint of heart, since this deals with real investigations into real deaths. But some very interesting facts on death by falling. And here you thought the body parts in the crisper were odd…