How did Sherlock Holmes fake his death? The “Sherlock” Season 3 premiere, “The Empty Hearse,” has the strange answer. And it could have involved masks, a bungee cord and hypnotist Derren Brown.
Except that this is not the whole story.
The premiere actually opens with an explanation for everything. Detective Inspector Lestrade is getting the story from his disgraced detective friend. It’s presented as a crazy hypothesis — but since the show doesn’t offer any other explanation for awhile, we had to go with it at first.
Here’s how Sherlock did it — in the theory:
1. Mycroft’s minions carry off Moriarty’s body.
2. Out of sight, they put on a fancy Sherlock mask and other disguising items.
3. Sherlock leaps off the building, but he’s attached to a bungee cord and doesn’t die.
4. Down on the street, Watson is distracted by a bike crashing into him.
5. Sherlock bounces up to a window, where Molly waits. Bursting through, he gives her a kiss and walks away.
6. Watson gets up but is waylaid by hypnotist Derren Brown, who knocks him out again.
7. By the time Watson reaches the crime scene, the body is disguised and surrounded by people in-the-know.
Sure, a fangirl seen later in the episode posits that Sherlock and Moriarty through a dummy off the roof before kissing, but the first explanation seems like what the show wants.
That’s the case for the first hour of the episode anyway. After that, Sherlock Holmes explains the whole thing in his own words. There are no hypnotists involved, although the disgraced detective is the one to hear the story.
Here’s Sherlock’s own explanation:
1. There was an airbag below the building. John’s specific position meant that he couldn’t see anything important.
2. Sherlock jumped just when Watson was looking at him.
3. When the bicycle knocked down John, Mycroft’s people switched a dead body (thrown out the window by Molly) with the living Sherlock — now covered in fake blood.
4. Using the rubber ball, Sherlock cut off his pulse momentarily.
5. No masks were needed — Molly found the body of a look-alike (the man Moriarty had used to impersonate Holmes in Season 2) and used that as the double.
Since this is a slightly redundant explanation — why use a body double if Sherlock was jumping back in — it’s possible that one part of this story could still be a lie. Still, that’s what “Sherlock” gives us.
Is this what you expected? Did you guess any of the plan ahead of time?