After a week of fevered conjecture about how Sherlock miraculously survived his apparently fatal fall from the roof of Barts Hospital, Steven Moffat has said: ‘There is a clue everybody’s missed. So many people theorising about Sherlock’s death online – and they missed it.’
Well, having scoured the blogosphere, YouTube, Twitter feeds and pub gossip, we now have what we believe is the definitive story of the Great Detective’s survival – including the clue that Moffat thinks everyone has missed. As Bobby Vee once sung, it’s just a rubber ball.
Sherlock says his last goodbyes, chucks away his iPhone and jumps off the roof. He doesn’t splatter on the pavement, though; he drops safely onto the sacks of rubbish in the back of the lorry parked nearby.
John Watson sees the fall but misses the landing because his view is obscured by the low building in front of him. Sherlock jumps out of the truck, which drives away, and he spread-eagles himself onto the sidewalk while members of his Homeless Network cluster around him.
John misses the truck leaving, Sherlock’s sprawl, and the crowd assembling because he’s been shoved to the ground by the cyclist (another member of the Network).
While the doctor is delayed, one of the Homeless Network chucks blood all over Sherlock’s head and the slabs around him. John finally stumbles over to his fallen friend, disorientated and distraught, and despite the best efforts of the crowd, he takes his friend’s wrist and checks for a pulse.
He doesn’t find one, though, because – and this is the clue that we missed before – Sherlock has placed the rubber ball with which he has been fiddling for most of the episode in the crook of his armpit.
Why? Because with the ball pressed between the arm and the body, the blood flow is cut off and no pulse is detectable. Numb with grief, John allows himself to be moved away. Paramedics appear with a gurney – not from an ambulance, though, but from inside Barts – and they wheel the sleuth off into the hospital.
Molly forges the autopsy, Mycroft sorts out any legal problems with the coroner, and Sherlock Holmes is declared dead.
Now, we may have got it wrong all over again. There might yet be room for lifelike Sherlock masks, toxic H.O.U.N.D. injections, multiple corpses and goodness knows what else in the resolution to the most talked-about on-screen ‘death’ since Mr Burns was shot in The Simpsons. (There’s every chance that Moriarty survived being shot just as C. Montgomery did, but that’s not important right now.)
For the moment, we’re hopeful that this is the solution; and although Sue Vertue has poured cold water on her husband’s remarks about seeing new episodes of Sherlock before the end of the year, we’re also hopeful it won’t be too long before we find out if we’re – if you pardon the pun – on the ball.
What’s your theory? Let us know below…
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