As promised, here’s my current theory on how Sherlock survived the fall. I’m calling it The Pink Suitcase Theory.
I warn you in advance that it cannot be proven. Not at all. So if you continue reading and then respond with, “Pfft. You can’t prove that. I think it was obviously a clone from Baskerville,” expect a very stern glare from me via the interwebs. Not that I will tell you about it as I’m glaring, but you’ll feel it. Oh, you’ll feel it.
Also note that this theory is
- not comprehensive. When I say it’s about how he survived the fall, I mean it’s literally just about the jumping off the building bit.
- based on the assumption that it was really Sherlock up there, and he really jumped off of St. Bart’s. If you do not think that is the case, we can discuss that issue further in a later post. In the meantime I will summarize my counter-argument with the following:
First a little background, since I am learning very quickly that some people still need to do the prerequisites before signing up for Reichenbach Speculation 102. (This is not a bad thing. We can’t all be Moffats with unlimited time to read all the theories ever.)
The second screenshot in the photoset is Sherlock once he’s asked Jim for a moment of privacy. He looks down at the ground. But it’s probably not an “oh no, that’s a long way down” look. It’s more likely because Sherlock has a bunch of lovely assistants on the ground, and he’s making sure that everything’s in place for his magic trick.
The third screenshot shows John’s view of the proceedings. Sherlock has intentionally placed John behind another building so that he can’t see anything that happens at street level over where Sherlock is.
Phonecall, goodbye, and Sherlock falls. The next thing we (and John) know is that he’s lying on the sidewalk.
This part is why some people think it couldn’t have possibly been Sherlock himself falling from the building. You don’t jump from a building that high and land on the sidewalk without being seriously injured at minimum.
Let’s throw that scenario out right now. Sherlock didn’t just jump down and smack directly into the ground.
This implies that something happened between the shots of Sherlock falling and Sherlock hitting the ground, even though they were edited back-to-back in the episode.
If you watch the footage carefully, it does seem like there’s something missing between the two shots. When Sherlock falls, his body is positioned one way relative to the building. When he lands, his body seems to have rotated 90 degrees from what you’d expect based on the last frame of falling. I’m certainly not an expert in humans falling from extreme heights, but it also seems to me that the landing is a bit “soft” for someone who just fell several stories. When I watch that shot, I feel like he dropped from something lower than the roof. (And no, I don’t think any of this is down to bad editing, continuity, or stuntwork.)
The most popular theory going right now is that Sherlock jumped into a laundry truck that conveniently (i.e., by Sherlock’s arrangement) happened to be parked right in front of the hospital. See the first and sixth images in the photoset for pictures of the truck and its load of nice, soft laundry. (Some people are calling it a garbage truck. I’m going with laundry truck because it’s at a hospital and everything in it is the color of hospital linens or scrubs.)
Yay, that works. He falls into the laundry truck and then jumps down onto the ground. Except… look at the sides of that truck. Did he fall into the laundry, and then scramble out of there like a spider monkey? And if he did, why does his body seem to hit from the opposite direction in the landing shot? And look at the distance betwwen building and truck in the first image in the photoset—did he really pull off jumping all the way there without actually jumping? Sure, he leans back slightly before falling, but it’s not like he takes a running start. Digital Hoarder did a nice post with the distances worked out, and pointed out that this would actually be a really challenging/impossible feat to pull off.
I will admit that if we get to Series 3 and they tell us Sherlock did manage to jump into that truck, my reaction will probably be something like LOL MAGIC TV DETECTIVE. And I will move on with my life. Because Sherlock Holmes does impossible things sometimes, and this show has issues with science sometimes. (Remember how many science-minded fans pointed out that using a microscope for the sugar in Baskerville was kind of nonsense?) All the same, I would prefer it if the answer made at least a tiny bit of sense.
So now we’re to the part where you’ll either like what I’m about to say or call me crazy and get annoyed that this took up so much space in your dash. (I apologize for that either way, actually. If anyone knows how to force Tumblr to accept a Read More in photosets, please send me an ask about it.)
Remember the big break in the case from A Study in Pink? Sherlock looked around the room and asked where the pink suitcase was. Because of course there was a pink suitcase.
What if there’s a pink suitcase this time? Something our master criminals who make the show have carefully edited out, but of course had to be there because of everything else we can see.
There’s a laundry truck parked in front of a hospital. Why do laundry trucks park outside of hospitals? To pick up or drop off laundry. So isn’t there the slightest chance that Sherlock didn’t have to aim for the laundry truck at all? Instead, he aimed for the bin of laundry his team had in the right place at the right time.
The upside? This theory could explain how Sherlock broke his fall without having to make some crazy physics-defying leap. It lets there be a somewhat inconspicuous object in place to catch him—it’s not like he could tell the Homeless Network to bring a trampoline. It would also explain why it looked like he was falling from a much lower height in the shot where he hit the ground. And if the laundry truck blocked Moriarty’s assassin from having a direct view of the laundry bin (which it seems like it possibly could have, based on the angle of view in the final screenshot of the photoset), this idea is even better than falling into a laundry truck with see-through sides in terms of putting on the show for his sake.
The downside? It’s still a dangerous fall, and the idea that a bin of laundry is enough to stop Sherlock from dying may still be too TV-logic for some people. And like I said from the start, I can’t prove it. Because that’s the whole point of a pink suitcase. There is no sign of a laundry bin in the episode. When you watch it, there is no indication that there ever was a laundry bin or that there was any way they moved one out of there quickly enough. (Getting it in wasn’t an issue—they had the entire length of the phone conversation to move one into place.) I came up with the idea, and even I think it seems kind of improbable.
Except I feel like I’ve eliminated the impossible… so improbable’s starting to sound good.