Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall – Dork Review

Sherlock: The Reichenbach FallLadies and gentlemen, it seems like only yesterday that series two of Sherlock started. Well, in fact it was two weeks ago, but it’s still been too brief a visit with the great detective. Already, it’s time for the finale, in which our hero faces his greatest challenge yet: a mobile phone app.

Well, looking back at the show so far, it was inevitable. So, can our hero navigate the iTunes removal process?

The Final Middle Episode Problem

As mentioned last week, I worried that this finale was coming from the writer of last year’s disappointing middle episode, but happily this is a massive improvement. There’s a lot of plot crammed in, it’s breathlessly fast at times – an impressive achievement when you’re working in a ninety minute time slot.

By the time Moriarty had slapped his fifth or sixth big twist on Sherlock, I was feeling as fatigued as the man himself. Did his epic masterplan make any sense or was it reliant on coincidence? Perhaps, but the adrenaline rush was palpable, and the emotional scenes towards the end provided enough weight to stop it all being silly. Just.

As ever, this was helped by some great performances by the reliable Cumberbatch/Freeman duo, especially in the closing moments,  not to mention Andrew Scott as Moriarty, who is still weirdly compelling. I’d been waiting for Molly to have her moment as more than just a joke girly, and sure enough, there it was. Took long enough.

Graduation Day At The Joker School Of Villainy

And now, inevitably, we come to the “but”. I said above that the episode manages not to be “too silly”, but I also can’t deny that the silliness is pretty endemic. In this episode, Sherlock sheds most of its pretentions towards serious crime drama and launches headlong into comic book melodrama.

Moriarty’s motivation? Well, he tries hard to dress it up, but it still comes down to “I’m just really evil”, this man is an honours graduate of the Joker School Of Villainy. Andrew Scott is clearly enjoying himself immensely, but some of the melodramatic dialogues between him and Sherlock get a bit much, especially since they’ve scaled back the jokes dramatically to amp up the emotion.

Still, it’s a finale with a real sense of emotion and scale, definitely a big ending, loved the way they pitched the cliffhanger, but those who feel recent Sherlock episodes have gone too far towards making him a superhero (see also: last week’s Mind Palace scene) may find this one even more difficult.

Nonetheless, fans should enjoy the tension. Check the episode on iPlayer (like you haven’t already) and let us know how you found it.

More Sherlock on Dork Adore | Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia – Dork Review

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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  1. says

    The difficulty with Moriarty’s motivation (or seeming lack thereof) is considerably more complex now than it would have been at the time of Conan Doyle’s writing: outside of Iago, as far as I am aware there are no explicitly motiveless villains from literature (even Satan, who was merely greedy for more power). Moffat noted in a Times interview this week that in his opinion, all subsequent “super”villains have been modelled on Moriarty.

    What would have appeared horrifying for its otherness in Conan Doyle’s time instead appears humorously melodramatic, now that our influences are coloured by comic book villains.

    After all, what else is the Joker if not another Moriarty or Iago?

    • says

      Yeah, they gave him a conventional “Power + Money” motivation in the recent movie sequel, and although that may be less in the spirit of the books, I will admit it did make him seem a bit more grounded, and they still sold the rivalry with Sherlock. I don’t pretend to be down with the source material, but it is a hard needle to thread.
      Even The Master, who is a bit of a ranting supervillain, usually has the vague motive of world domination.

      • says

        The whole point of the series is that Sherlock doesn’t do cases for the normal motivation, being abnormal, he has different needs and wants. So Moriarty, his alter ego, doesn’t perform crime just for the sake of money/power.  It might seem over the top to some, but I could honestly see a man just doing this because he’s bored, trying to move to the next level.

        It’s like Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, Bean the biggest genius of all time, didn’t care to win, because he realized that winning didn’t always teach you everything, and that winning was sometimes boring.

  2. says

    I finally got to watch this last night (a WHOLE night and day of waiting! Awful), and I loved it. I had to put down my knitting I was so gripped.
    I kind of love the “I’m just so evil and clever” motivation. You have to suspend disbelief anyway, so why not suspend it over something interesting rather than boring old money/power.
    I thought it was beautifully acted by everyone. I’d like to pat Martin Freeman on the head.

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