Sherlock Series 3: Two Theories on [Redacted]



Suffice it to say, Sunday’s Sherlock Series 3 finale left my head spinning. I wasn’t shouting at my television so much as I silently disappeared into a maddening spiral o’theories, and I’m going to assume that you didn’t fare much better, since, after all, you’re reading this entry in hope to gain some enlightenment.

Fair warning: You probably won’t find any here. Or anywhere else for that matter. Blame Moffat.

Originally, this was going to be a longer post offering a collection of all the various theories out there, but in the essence of time and sanity, I’m going to adhere to the two that stick out most in my mind. Everything else I’ve read seems far too elaborate and convoluted to be addressed here, anyway.

1. Moriarty pulled a “Fight Club”

Before you ask, no, I’m not suggesting that Moriarty and Sherlock are alter egos of one another — although that would be epic. Instead, I’m referring to the end of Fight Club, where rather than blowing his brains out, Jack/Tyler shoots himself through the cheek. It’s entirely convincing, and he looks like death after doing so, but soon rights himself and carries on.

Is it possible that Moriarty and Sherlock are so alike that they actually succeeded at faking suicide at each other? And Moriarty is only returning in full force upon discovering that he’d been bested?


A variation of this theory is that Moriarty had a more elaborate rig set up to create the illusion of blowing his brains out, but I’ll side with Occam’s Razor on this one.

Supporting evidence: The soccer (football?) game that cuts off right before Max Headroom, I’m sorry — MORIARTY — takes over the airwaves. This is reaching, admittedly, but in the brief moments of the game, the player misses a crucial shot at the goal. Did Moriarty miss his crucial shot as well? And what was done with his body post-mortem? The issue is never addressed.

Damning evidence: Sherlock is a master detective. Wouldn’t he know a kill shot when he sees one?

2. Moriarty is physically dead, but his legacy lives on

This theory strikes me as the most likely, that is to say, the most realistic. To draw a comparison with another film, Moriarty’s death and subsequent “return” evokes the arc of Ra’s Al Ghul over the course of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Ra’s was truly well and dead by the end of the first film, but come the third entry, his legacy is running strong by means of his protégés, granting him a form of immortality.

Is Moriarty’s resurrection merely an illusion being perpetuated by a remaining member of his extensive “network”? Could it be the notably absent Sebastian Moran?

As an aside, one theory I’m not buying into is the whole Mary Morstan > Mary Mor[st]an > Mary Moran charade that’s going around. Her character has secrets that remain buried, but it doesn’t make narrative sense to drag John through the mud over this woman twice. I’m not saying it’s impossible, only highly unlikely. Also, she’s canon (minus the whole expert assassin thing. Eek.).

A variation of this theory has Sherlock and/or Mycroft planting the video as a means to avoid Sherlock’s MI6 involvement, which Mycroft believes will result in his brother’s death. This angle doesn’t hold much water, however, when you consider the frustration Sherlock displays when Mycroft tells him his exile is over.

Supporting evidence: Moriarty’s “Did you miss me?” viral video turns his face into the Nutcracker, where only his bottom lip down to his chin is animated. This suggests that someone has merely done some clever editing to a Moriarty headshot. Why not just film a legit, non-looping video if you’re still among the living?

Damning evidence: In the end-credits scene, Moriarty, in the flesh, turns to the camera and says the words “Miss me?” breaking the fourth wall and suggesting that Moriarty is truly alive.

moriartyMiss me?

Yes, as a matter of fact, we did.

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