You can’t help but be disappointed that both series of Sherlock to date have consisted of just three episodes. They have been of such a high quality, that you’re left wanting more. But it would be unfair on everyone involved to complain. Each episode is 90 minutes long, with a beginning, middle and an end. They could have been split into smaller episodes, stretching out over three or four weeks, but that would be a lot less satisfying, and leave the writers having to create cliff-hangers from stories that really don’t have any.
So now we come to the third and final episode of series 2 of Sherlock, and Sherlock’s nemesis Moriarty is back. His name has always been in the air when Sherlock has solved a case, but before now, the pair has only briefly come face-to-face, with Moriarty holding the upper hand following that exchange.
As we know, he promised Sherlock that he would burn him, and now is that time. The episode begins with Moriarty getting himself arrested on purpose. He wants to be put on trial after breaking in to a case containing the crown jewels, while simultaneously opening the vault at the Bank of England, and opening the doors to the cells at Pentonville Prison. Sherlock is called to give evidence in the trial, but can’t help but be himself, belittling the lawyers, and reading the jury. He gets jailed for contempt of court, and is at home when Moriarty walks free.
Sherlock knows this is going to happen, and he also knows that Moriarty is coming to see him. When Moriarty arrives, the two spar with each other, but Moriarty is confident he has the upper hand. His arrest was an advert for what he does; allowing people around the world to see what he is capable of. Moriarty tells Sherlock that there is a ‘final problem’ coming, and that Sherlock is set for a fall.
There’s little doubt that Moriarty represents Sherlock’s ultimate test. Andrew Scott is superb as Sherlock’s greatest challenge, a dangerous and reckless foe, but at the same time, entirely in control of his actions and the game he is playing with Sherlock. He’s been the man behind everything Sherlock has worked on, always edging him towards what may or may not be their final confrontation. Moriarty’s quest is to discredit Sherlock, to make the world believe that he is a fraud, and he’s carefully planned out a series of events that will lead people to question if Sherlock really is who he appears to be.
The Reichenbach Fall is an excellent end to the second series. Moriarty is a true test for Sherlock, never allowing Sherlock to get the upper hand, and making everyone, from John Watson to Inspector Lestrade, question their allegiances to Sherlock.
Sherlock is brilliant television. The writing is excellent, the cast is superb, and the direction and production value gives it a very cinematic feel. There may only have been three episodes in series two, but they’ve all been excellent. What happens next is anyone’s guess.