How Sherlock Did It - “It’s a Trick, It’s Just a Magic Trick”

****** Major ‘Sherlock’ Spoilers ahead, so tread carefully… ******

I greatly enjoyed the final episode of series 2 of ‘Sherlock last Sunday night.  I also enjoy that the writers gleefully left us with a little conundrum.  How did Sherlock apparently jump to his death and not die, despite Watson witnessing the entire event?

Lots of you have theorised and, with an hour to waste, I thought I would theorise myself, with the help of a YouTube extract which shows the jump sequence.

Since I first wrote this, they've taken that YouTube extract down so I've adjusted things a bit here. Find your own clip and have a look at it, if you want to.

What I’d like to do is tell you how I think it’s done. Then, finally, as a writer, I want to suggest one finesse that might not turn up in episode 1 of series 3 but I think I would use it, if I could.

Here we go.

Sherlock does jump off the roof but the main clue to how he does it comes when he says “it’s a trick, it’s just a magic trick” cos, guys, that’s exactly what it is.

One of the keys to a magic trick is to have the audience positioned exactly where you need them so that the illusion works.  It’s all about the positioning here.  Sherlock positions Watson with great care, “Turn around," he says, "and walk back where you came from”  Watson obliges and is told to ‘Stop There’ because now he is in position.

Only now does Sherlock tell Watson that he is, indeed,  up on the roof.

Here’s the thing…

There is now a low level building between Sherlock and Watson. Watson can see Sherlock but, critically, he cannot see the ground beneath him.  We see Watson’s point of view on this.  He starts to walk forward again but Sherlock tells him to, “stay exactly where you are.”

With the positioning arranged, the rest is easy-peasy.

There is a truck in the street beneath Sherlock.  We see it quite clearly just after the jump as Watson comes around the corner of the lower building, just before the bike hits him.  It was great that the filmmakers left us this shot, so we could work it out.  We see the truck drive off shortly after.

The crunch of something hitting the street with nobody else in view, may prove to be the most disingenuous shot in the sequence.  The speed at which Watson runs forward and glimpses the body in the street suggests that Sherlock stays in the truck and drives away.  The body in the street is then somebody else, not Moriarity, I think.  He is placed there by the team of medical people/actors which have been pre-arranged to place the body once Watson is in position and cannot see.

Disorientated by the bike crash, Watson runs in, pushes through, checks the body’s pulse and sees that it is dead.  We don’t really see Sherlock’s face clearly here.  The assistants remove the corpse on a stretcher and viola, the deed is done.

That’s my theory. It may not be right but I think it works well.


I would add one other finesse, if it were me writing it.  Perhaps they have.  Doesn’t Watson seem more ‘slurry’ than he would be, even with the bicycle crash and the grief and the shock?  I would have it that he was administered with a good dose of the same drug that was used in the previous Baskerville episode.  The one that heightened suggestibility.  Perhaps is was administered by the cyclist or perhaps much earlier.  That, above all else, may be why Sherlock needed, out of character, to ask for some help this time around.

Nerdy, I know, but I had fun doing this. 

1 comment:

Anaël ROGER said...

It's clear that the body which hit the ground is not Sherlock. When he jumps (and in the air), his body is perpendicular to the pavement. So, if Sherlock drops to the ground, his body should be in the same axe. The body which hit the ground is parallel to the pavement...