On Sunday December 15th 2013, the pre-eminent mystery of modern nerd TV (with apologies to Agent Coulson and the good folk of Tahiti) will finally be resolved and an audience at the BFI in London will see The Empty Hearse, the first episode of Sherlock season 3. After a couple of years of guesswork, geekdom will finally find out how Sherlock survived The Reichenbach Fall.*
So I've simply got to step up and make a last ditch attempt at solving the big puzzle, right? I've been pretty good at working these things out before, and I'd like to think I can at least suss out part of this one.
What's been on my mind today is a comment from Steven Moffat. In brilliantly flame-fanning fashion, The Moff told The Radio Times, way back when, that everybody had missed one crucial piece of evidence:
I've been online and looked at all the theories and there's one clue that everyone's missed. It's something that Sherlock did that was very out of character, but which nobody has picked up on.
Well… let's start by trying to figure this out, shall we? What did Sherlock do in the episode that would be "very out of character"?
Perhaps it's the crying. You may recall the scene in which he's wet at the eyes, apparently from grief, fear, remorse or sadness – take your pick, but none of those seem particularly "in character" for Sherlock, at least when manifest as tears.
But you don't only find water in your eyes when you're sad; it could be an allergic reaction, or the side effect of a drug.
Cholinergic agonists cause eye watering but also a slowing of the heart rate, which may have been very useful for him.
And then there's Epinephrine, which will create adrenaline which can cause arrhythmia… though what Sherlock would want to do with an arrhythmic heart I don't know. Perhaps it's the tightened muscles he was after.
Personally, I think the squash ball has more to do with his heart. If you know David Berglas' pulse stopping magic act you'll know why, and maybe also why Sherlock tells John Watson that:
It's just a trick, a magic trick.
Though maybe it's not what Sherlock said to John that's so important.** Perhaps it's his apparently sentimental comments to Molly earlier in the episode. One such statement was full of potential for double meaning. He said:
You're wrong you know, you do count. You've always counted and I've always trusted you.
That's the clue, I think. He's not saying she matters, he's saying she numbers things.
Here's a theory: Sherlock took it for granted that Molly had accurately counted the number of bodies in the morgue, but when he stopped taking it on trust and did a recount of his own, he found an extra one – a body that he could use for his plan.
There's a lot to bring together here, and I'm not sure how it all meshes but in just a few hours, a lucky few hundred will know. Will they spill the beans on Twitter? Will full solutions end up on internet forums?
Oh, I'd be very, very surprised if they did not. I just hope it doesn't spoil the fun for anyone. Be wary of spoiler warnings, because this Sherlock solution is about to get real.
Anyway, I can't wait to see the surprises for myself come January 1st and the BBC One premiere.
*This title seems to be a possible clue. Reichenbach is Richard Brook, Moriarty's alias, so are we being told that it's his fall? Well, he wasn't on the roof by mistake, I'm sure.