Season 2 Episode 3

The Reichenbach Fall

Aired Unknown Jan 15, 2012 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
499 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Moriarty embarks upon what may be the crime of the century, but breaking into H.M.P. Pentonville, the Tower of London, and the Bank of England is only the start. Sherlock must discover what his greatest foe is up to and stop him, but his reputation, and even his life, come under threat.


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  • This Sherlock is no more! It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its Maker.

    Every fairy tale needs a good old-fashioned villain, Andrew Scott's Jim Moriarty informs Sherlock Holmes early on in "The Reichenbach Fall". It's an intriguing quote, but doesn't reflect their situation. No beautiful princess needs to be rescued, and no dragons are blocking the way. Neither is Moriarty a witch, nor an evil stepmother. This story is the psychological showdown of two geniuses and it's as good as television gets.

    The reason for that is clear: Andrew Scott. Of the six episodes of Sherlock, the three in which he was provided with dialogue were outstanding, while of the other three, only one was. You could ascribe that to chance, but there is no denying that the confrontations between him and Benedict Cumberbatch are the very best thing this programme has to offer. In "The Reichenbach Fall", the consulting criminal and the consulting detective meet on several occasions, each of those scenes trumping the precedent with regard to its entertainment value. At the Old Bailey, the two share subtle grins, as Sherlock lectures the prosecuting barrister in properly questioning witnesses; during teatime in 221B Baker Street, they chat about Johann Sebastian Bach, how adorable ordinary people are, and how Moriarty could potentially throw the entire world into disarray; and on a taxi TV screen, 'Jimbo' Moriarty addresses 'Boffin' Holmes in his most certifiable appearance yet, cheerfully telling the story of Sir Boast-a-lot.

    But then, there's the rooftop scene. Nearly ten minutes long and without a deus ex machina intervening, it's one of the cleverest and most engrossing head-to-heads between hero and villain in the history of moving pictures. For a long while, the two parties just talk although 'talk' is quite an understatement in that sentence, seeing as Scott is equipped with right about the best dialogue an actor could ever wish for and that Cumberbatch is truly sensational when leading his nemesis into believing to have the upper hand. Though once Moriarty suddenly shoots himself in a twist more shocking than all the hounds of Baskerville combined, it's more than words flowing on the top of St Barts. Now, Sherlock's got his go at kicking the bucket, something he elegantly does by plummeting off the building and confirming what Moriarty had previously said about him: he's on the side of the angels.

    As a result of that fatal hop, Sherlock shows its dramatic side, and especially Martin Freeman plays a pivotal part in that turning out well, giving one of the best acting performances of his career when experiencing Sherlock's suicide, talking to his psychiatrist, and addressing his deceased friend via tombstone. Of course, the programme's protagonist isn't actually dead the outcome of Arthur Conan Doyle's source material and the fact that the BBC has renewed their biggest accomplishment in years for a third series strongly suggest that. However, it still feels like a bizarre decision by screenwriter Stephen Thompson to prematurely solve the 'mystery' by showing the consulting detective alive and well at the end of this episode already. Someone should mail this man the link to the Wikipedia entry on cliffhangers.

    I'm not driven up the wall by that, however, and Thompson has done an otherwise exquisitely fine job at devising "The Reichenbach Fall", combining humour and suspense and giving a specific purpose to every single scene. In my opinion, this is the best Sherlock instalment up to that point, and even if the third series unexpectedly made a muck of delineating its eponym's faked suicide, my stance on this wouldn't change a bit.

    My detective scribblings:

    In a twist worthy of a Conan Doyle novella, Mr Sherlock Holmes was yesterday revealed to be an expert witness at the trial of 'Jim' Moriarty. - The fictional newspaper articles couldn't possibly get any better than that.

    Sherlock claiming to never have liked riddles is in a bit of a contrast to his profession, isn't it? Unsolved cases are a sort of riddles, if you ask me.

    Some excellent soundtrack choices at the beginning of this episode: firstly, the classical music playing while Moriarty stages his break-ins and then, a wonderful jazz song by Nina Simone in the moments before the trial.

    In this episode more than ever, Mycroft shows a lot of disagreeable character traits indirectly contributing to his brother's supposed death, for example. But the final straw is really him reading The Sun. Also: there just has to be some way in which he is connected to Sherlock surviving that jump, since he is on the good side of characters after all.

    Sherlock having to kill himself in this episode obviously sets him thinking. For an easy way out, he should have just listened to the useful advice Inspector Lestrade gave to those worrying about the cabbie/suicide assistant getting to them in the pilot: Don't commit suicide.

    Best quote: any random sentence uttered by Moriarty.moreless
  • Sherlock survives

    I agree pau13z view of the ending is great but it doesn't explain the reason why the daughter of the ambassador cried when seeing sherlock.

    My view of the ending is same with pau13z but with little change

    Kidnapper wore a mask (or something) of sherlock making the kids feel sherlock is the kidnapper and hence the crying.

    Jim moriarty died

    Sherlock pushed Jim of the building wearing the same mask making everyone feel sherlock suicided and therefore explaing the pulse issue and john couldn't check sherlock properly because of the homeless network preventing him to get proper checking.

  • A clever title goes here!

    best best best !!!!! <3
  • 2x03 - A ball of hurty awesome

    I'm always super pleased when a show can get me to turn on waterworks, and this episode perfect for that alone. The hits just kept coming. Such an awesome episode.
  • Absolutely Great British Series so far!!!!

    The Best Brits series ever so far....

    Moffat & Gatiss has managed and creatively brought and transformed Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to the modern times without compromising all the important elements i.e characters and story line. It clearly shows Sherlock Holmes is timeless story.. One of the interesting elements featured in the series was the "word bubbles" where the words were floating around for the audiences to see to show what Sherlock was thinking and during the mobile phone's texting was brilliant and it has brought the audiences deeper in the story...I might be wrong, but I do think that this is the first time any series do so, so far.

    Cumberbatch & Freeman are great in this series particular in The Reichenbach Fall. Both of them have shown and acted with great depth emotionally. Both of them have successfully portrayed both Sherlock and Watson of how deep and close their friendship are. What a great chemistry! Although I already know that Sherlock has faked his death from the books, but it does'nt stop me from crying particularly in the first scene in the therapist's office where Watson had a hard time to express his sadness of losing Sherlock and in the graveyard scene... Kudos also to Andrew Scott (Jim Moriarty) for excellent portrayal of Sherlock's archenemy. What surprising was Gatiss's portrayal as Mycroft. I wldn't know if Gatiss has acted in previous drama or movie but it great portrayal nonetheless as he is also the one of the main brain behind this excellent series.

    **sigh** It would be a long wait for the 3rd season in 2013 to come... I sure hope Sherlock will win BIG in the coming Emmys....

Katherine Parkinson

Katherine Parkinson

Kitty Riley

Guest Star

Vinette Robinson

Vinette Robinson

Sgt Sally Donovan

Guest Star

Tanya Moodie

Tanya Moodie


Guest Star

Una Stubbs

Una Stubbs

Mrs Hudson

Recurring Role

Andrew Scott (II)

Andrew Scott (II)

Jim Moriarty

Recurring Role

Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss

Mycroft Holmes

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • When John first sees Sherlock's body, there is a large truck with red and yellow markings blocking part of his view. The truck vanishes completely when John is hit by the biker and Sherlock can now be seen surrounded by several people. In the overhead shot of Sherlock, the truck can be seen driving off and people are only just now beginning to rush to Sherlock.

    • The "Sherlock's a Fake!" article that Kitty shows John consists of the same couple of paragraphs repeated three times across the four columns.

    • The article entitled "Jewel Thief on Trial at Bailey" repeats one of the sections twice: "Irish born Moriarty...trial of the century" is followed again by "Irish born Moriarty..."

    • Trivia: The opening dialogue establishes that 18 months have passed since the events of "A Study in Pink," matching the real-life time that has elapsed.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Lestrade: Well, we got him. And there's one person that we have to thank for giving us the decisive leads. With all his customary diplomacy and tact.
      John: Sarcasm.
      Sherlock: Yes.

    • John: Remember...
      Sherlock: Yes.
      John: Remember...
      Sherlock: Yes.
      John: Remember what they told you. Don't try to be clever...
      Sherlock: No.
      John: And please, just keep it simple and brief.
      Sherlock: Confidence, star witness, come across as intelligent.
      John: Intelligent, yes. Let's give "smart ass" a wide berth.
      Sherlock: I'll just be myself.
      John: Are you listening to me?!?

    • Prosecuting Barrister: How would you describe this man, his character?
      Sherlock: First mistake. James Moriarty isn't a man at all. He's a spider. Spider at the center of a web. Criminal web with a thousand threads and he knows precisely how each and every single one of them dances.

    • Sherlock: How long have I known (Moriarty)? Not really your best line of inquiry. We met twice, five minutes in total, I pulled a gun, he tried to blow me up. I felt we had a special something.

    • John: Don't do that.
      Sherlock: Do what?
      John: The look.
      Sherlock: Look?
      John: You're doing the look again.
      Sherlock: I can't see it, can I? (John points to a mirror) It's my face.
      John: Yes, and it's doing a thing. You're doing a, "We both know what's really going on here" face.
      Sherlock: But we do.
      John: No. I don't, which is why I find the face so annoying.

    • Moriarty: It's going to start very soon, Sherlock. The fall. But don't be scared. Falling's just like flying except there's a more permanent destination.

    • Sherlock: Linseed oil.
      Anderson: Not much use. Doesn't lead us to the kidnapper.
      Sherlock: Brilliant, Anderson.
      Anderson: Really?
      Sherlock: Yes. Brilliant impression of an idiot.

    • Sherlock: I need your help. It's one of your boyfriends, we're trying to track him down. He's a bit naughty.
      John: It's Moriarty.
      Sherlock: Of course it's Moriarty.
      Molly: Um, Jim wasn't even my boyfriend. We went out three times. I ended it...
      Sherlock: Yes, and then he stole the Crown Jewels, broke into the Bank of England, and organized a prison break at Pentonville. For the sake of law and order, I suggest you avoid all future attempts at a relationship, Molly.

    • Lestrade: Now remember, she's in shock and she's seven years old, so anything you can do to...
      Sherlock: Not be myself?
      Lestrade: Yeah. That'd be helpful.

    • John: No, I know you're for real.
      Sherlock: One hundred percent?
      John: Nobody could fake being such an annoying dick all the time.

    • Sherlock: Molly, I think I'm going to die.
      Molly: What do you need?
      Sherlock: If I wasn't everything that you think I am, everything that I think I am, would you still want to help me?
      Molly: What do you need?
      Sherlock: You.

    • John: She's dying, Sherlock. Let's go.
      Sherlock: You go, I'm busy.
      John: Busy?
      Sherlock: Thinking, I need to think.
      John: You need to... doesn't she mean anything to you? You once half-killed a man because he laid a finger on her.
      Sherlock: She's my landlady.
      John: She's dying... you machine. Sod this. Sod this, you stay here if you want, on your own.
      Sherlock: Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.
      John: Nope. Friends protect people.

    • Moriarty : (to Sherlock) All my life I've been searching for distractions, and you were the best distraction, and now I don't even have you. Because I've beaten you. And you know what? In the end it was easy. It was easy. Now I got to go back to playing with the ordinary people. And it turns out you're ordinary, just like all of them. Oh well.

    • Moriarty: You think you can make me stop the order? You think you can make me do that?
      Sherlock: Yes. So do you
      Moriarty: Sherlock, your big brother and all the king's horses couldn't make me do a thing I didn't want to.
      Sherlock: Yes, but I'm not my brother, remember? I am you, prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won't do. You want me to shake hands with you in Hell, I shall not disappoint you.
      Moriarty: No. You talk big. No. You're ordinary. You're ordinary, you're on the side of the angels.
      Sherlock: Oh, I may be on the side of the angels. But don't think for one second that I am one of them.

    • John: Hmm, you--you told me once that you weren't a hero. Umm, there were times I didn't even think you were a human, but let me tell you this. You were the best man, the most human human being that I've ever known, and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie. And so there. I was so alone, and I owe you so much. Oh, please, there's one more thing, one more thing. One more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don't be dead. Would you do that just for me, just stop it? Stop this.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Moriarty: Sherlock, your big brother and all the king's horses couldn't make me do a thing I didn't want to.
      Referencing the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" where "All the king's horses and all the king's men / Couldn't put Humpty together again." They represent the height of impossibility.