"Sherlock" closed its second season with an ending worthy of a twisted fairy tale. Sherlock learned his cleverness was no match for Moriarty's irrational mind when the evil genius shot himself. Sherlock realized the importance of his friends, but tested Watson's fragile mind by faking his own death. The perfect blend of suspense, sentimentality, humor, and action made this a fitting finale. Although the episode worked well on its own, it also creates enough cliffhangers to make the wait for Season 3 seem like an eternity.
From the "Partita No. 1" misdirection to Moriarty's playlist for mischief, music played an especially important role in this episode. As part of his ostentatious soundtrack, the disco-era hit song "Stayin' Alive" showed a stark contrast to Sherlock's silent mind palace. The song choice gained unanticipated poignancy with the death of Bee Gees co-founder Robin Gibb. His longtime battle with cancer ended the same day "The Reichenbach Fall" aired on American television.
The detective showed the most vulnerability and emotional range in this episode as he struggled against Moriarty, tried to save his friends, and said goodbye to Watson. The slight quiver in his voice spoke volumes. Moriarty only targeted three people, but Sherlock emphasized Molly during his farewell phone call. Was he trying to give Watson a hint about his fake suicide?
Rain fell during Watson's grief-filled opening and closing scenes, but his palpable anguish was enough to set the sorrowful mood as he dealt with the apparent death of his friend. Their friendship was stronger in this episode, but Watson was also less tolerant of Sherlock's signature harshness and insensitivity. How will he handle the return of Sherlock after grieving for months?
Hanna-Barbera's Dick Dastardly occasionally came to mind when watching Moriarty, but that was undoubtedly due to a childhood love of "Wacky Races." The wild personality changes and exaggerated emotions fed Moriarty's mythology while emphasizing the contrast between the world's greatest consulting criminal and the world's greatest consulting detective. His unpredictability and erratic behavior also left room for an impostor or twin to emerge next season.
Unlike Sherlock's other detractors, Sergeant Donovan showed an immature attitude with name-calling and frustrated sighs worthy of a teen girl interacting with an annoying little brother. Her resentment that a mere civilian took charge of her cases and commandeered crime scenes could explain their relationship, but the two could also have a more personal connection. Was there a grand conflict or betrayal that led to her series-long suspicion of Sherlock?
Riley and Molly
Irene Adler's damsel in distress plot disappointed some fans, but the finale included strong women who challenged Sherlock's unflappable facade. Riley's confidence and perfect dose of snarkiness made her a strong addition to the show. Molly also showed strength when she called Sherlock on his poorly concealed sadness. She stood up to him and her newfound boldness won his respect. Is she the lynchpin to Sherlock's rooftop theatrics and fake suicide?
The press turned on Sherlock, but there is one thing that rivals the public's apparent love of scandal and personal ruin: a good comeback story. Will reporters pursue him or let Sherlock quietly return to Baker Street? There is plenty of time to speculate because Season 3 does not begin filming until 2013.
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