We all saw him jump, but there’s little doubt that he’s alive by the end of the episode, watching Watson mourn his passing at his own funeral. So how did he Sherlock survive the Reichenbach Fall?

Before we look at the possible explanation, let’s quickly go over some less likely alternatives:

1. Watson thought he saw Sherlock fall to his death because the clever detective administered him with the fear toxin from the secret research base in “The Hounds Of Baskervilles.”

2. Watson didn’t jump at all and instead threw Moriarty’s ‘dead’ body from the roof, where it was switched with a Sherlock lookalike after hitting the ground. This would involve the help of Molly, Mycroft or the Homeless Network.

Now here’s what we think happened:

  • Before meeting Moriarty on the roof, we see Sherlock ask Molly for her help.
  • Being a medical professional, she would be able to help falsify his death, especially if Mycroft is also in on the ruse.

Sherlock, who seems genuinely shocked by Moriarty’s ‘suicude’, puts his plan into action. We believe it could well consist of the following steps:

  • He gives an emotional goodbye to Watson so that the good doctor believes Sherlock is going to jump to his death — essentially planting an unkillable idea in his mind (a concept foreshadowed earlier in the episode).
  • He ensures that Watson stands a certain distance away from thee building, so that he doesn’t make it to the landing spot in time to see everything.
  • Sherlock jumps from the building onto a pre-arranged truck (above) filled with ‘rubbish bags’ (presumably containing something to break his fall).
  • Molly/Mycroft then apply blood to his face before he lies down on the ground, the truck still obscuring the full extent of the ruse.
  • While this is happening (remember, we’re dealing with seconds here), a biker hired by Sherlock intentionally bumps into Watson, knocking him to the ground where he hits his head and becomes disorientated — his narrative is now unreliable, as he’s missed at least a 5-10 seconds. That’s all Sherlock needs.
  • The truck conveniently drives away with Molly/Mycroft having performed their part of the ruse.
  • Disorientated, Watson makes his way over to Sherlock’s ‘dead body’, where a crowd of Sherlock-arranged passers by (The Homeless Network) have already gathered.
  • The combination of the crowd’s reaction and Watson’s disorientation means he doesn’t perform a proper check for Sherlock’s pulse and succumbs to the unkillable idea that Sherlock is dead.
  • Sherlock is carted away extremely quickly by ‘paramedics’ hired by Sherlock (Molly/Mycroft would be able to falsify his death report).
  • Watson, and crucially, the assassins, believe that Sherlock is dead.

But of course, he isn’t dead — just his legend (for now)..

There’s some wiggle-room in there for Sherlock to have been carried away in the truck after making the jump, with Molly/Mycroft rolling a dead corpse onto the ground where he would have landed. This corpse would presumably be the Sherlock lookalike that Moriarty hired to kidnap the kids, or someone altered to look like Sherlock, of which there’s already a precedent when Irene Adler faked her death by using a body double, so it’s not impossible that Sherlock could have done something similar, with the aid of Molly/Mycroft.

Whether there was any of that fear toxin used within this ruse is up for debate. I’m not sure it’s necessary, but it could have been used on Watson and/or the assassins to further fool/distract them.

I also think it’s important to note that even at the funeral, Watson has a nagging belief (hope) that Sherlock isn’t dead. Perhaps in the subconscious recesses of his mind the actual narrative of events is trying to break through?

Now, all of that could be way off the mark, and we accept that one or two aspects of the explanation might be a bit of a reach. We also recognize that there are one or two other curious moments that might come into play (Sherlock throwing his phone on the roof before jumping, Moriarty’s supposed suicide, etc), so there’s plenty of room for anyone to refute or build on this possible explanation. In the meantime, what a cracking finale it was, eh?

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