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Episode 3.1, "The Empty Hearse"


Undead Medic

What Did You Think Of "The Empty Hearse"?  

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Could it have been all in the subtext?  Sherlock did make that comment when Mycroft set the Operation Games buzzer off in trying to get the heart "Can't handle a broken heart, how very telling."

 

 Then not long after Sherlock proposes deducing the hat.

 

I'm sure it must be in the subtext, which is why I'm missing it. But you have a point about Sherlock's comment; it can't be coincidental that he says that right before the deduction game, and then Mycroft's comment about not being lonely follows. I'll have to pay attention to that next time I watch it.

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From all we know by now about The Reichenbach Fall, it does seem as if the main person to be fooled was John. I am very far from sure that this was the author's intention, but the way in which what I saw and heard makes the most sense is if it was staged first and foremost for John Watson's "benefit".

 

The reason I don't think this was intentional is that it raises a big unanswerable question of WHY? Why on earth go to all that trouble to convince your best (and, as you believe at the time, only) friend that you are killing yourself after it was exposed that you are a fraud?

 

Since my brain will not be stopped when it comes to desperate attempts at making sense of things in some way, it has come up with a theory that runs something along these lines:

 

Mycroft from the very first is pretty skeptical about John's friendship with his brother. After all, he could make him "worse than ever". Sherlock at first thinks he doesn't give a damn about anybody in the world except himself, so having a flatmate and colleague is nothing but a bonus in the way of a free PA. Until Moriarty threatens to kill him, at which point Sherlock realizes that he now has a considerable weak spot, a "pressure point", as Magnussen later calls it. When Moriarty shows up again, Sherlock and Mycroft decide that, since caring is not an advantage and being alone means protection to them, Sherlock has to get rid of John before he can get involved with Moriarty's network and face the villain himself. So they deliberately cook up a plan that will not only make Moriarty believe he has won "the game" and so open up and become careless, but that will also put John out of the picture completely. That would also explain why Mycroft had people ready to stop the sniper aiming at John, but not those who would have killed Mrs Hudson and Lestrade, because the Holmes boys had not taken into account that Sherlock cared for more than one person by now - and luckily Molly was overlooked by Moriarty himself, as well.

 

Because I don't like Mycroft and it would fit right in with my impression of him as a cruel heartless piece of arrogance, I tend to fully believe Sherlock when he told John it was mainly "Mycroft's idea". I bet it was. God forbid the little brother should get "involved" with anybody outside the Holmes family. The only thing that doesn't fit with that theory is that it is Mycroft who brings Sherlock back to London and asks in a rather accusing voice if Sherlock has ever bothered to "prepare" John for his reappearance. So maybe it was Sherlock's idea, after all. Or maybe I am completely wrong - very likely.

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Another question for interpretation: By the end of Sherlock and Mycroft's "deduction game", Mycroft says that the owner of the hat was not necessarily isolated - maybe he just didn't mind being different. Then this happens:

Sherlock: "Exactly."

Mycroft: "I'm sorry?"

Sherlock: "He's different, so what? Why would he mind? You're quite right." (Puts on hat.) "Why would anyone mind?"

Mycroft (looks startled): "I'm not lonely, Sherlock."

 

My question is: How did the conversation shift to being about Mycroft? Sherlock puts on the hat, so it seems to me that if anyone, he's talking about himself. I just don't get the shift that happens there :)

 

Sherlock has, by application of the Socratic method, just lead Mycroft into stating that being different doesn't necessarily mean being isolated, and I think "Exactly" was his "Gotcha!"  Mycroft seems to interpret it that way.

  

I assume the whole world had to believe Sherlock to be dead in order to fool Moriarty's network - for the purpose of Sherlock to 1) track them down without their knowledge, and/or 2) keep them from going after John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade subsequently.

But why jump off a roof?

 

... If they weren't watching, why not just announce the news that Sherlock was dead? Mycroft could have made up any cause of death, without having to go through such a complicated and risky scenario.

Moriarty didn't want Sherlock merely dead, he wanted him discredited -- so it had to be suicide, and I suppose public suicide would be even more defaming -- though now I'm wondering why they didn't arrange for news coverage -- a shot of the body being carted off would have been a nice touch (dunno if the BBC would actually show such a thing, but the tabloids would surely eat it up).

 

As for why specifically jump off a roof -- sorry, but I suspect that's a canon approximation (what with the nearest waterfall presumably being the little ornamental one in Regent's Park).

 

... we have Sherlock's statement to Molly after they saw the train guy.  It is then he tells her that ... she was instrumental in saving his life that day.  ... they needed a body which would be a piece of cake for her. But that doesn't have a whole lot to do with actually saving his life, does it?

Agreed. I liked my theory better, that most of the people on the sidewalk were Molly's colleagues from the hospital (though I do agree that the Homeless Network would be far less likely to spill the beans). She may have been able to give him some pointers on how to survive the plunge (based on cases she'd seen where people didn't). She presumably had Moriarty's body removed from the roof. She presumably signed Sherlock's death certificate. But I agree, that spare body didn't have much to do with anything. OK, maybe she taught him the ball trick.  She clearly liberated some expired blood from the hospital supplies. Anything she did to help fool Moriarty's network would have saved him from being killed by them.

 

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Oh -- one more contribution from Molly -- she mentions in "Last Vow" that her bedroom is one of Sherlock's bolt holes.  Maybe that's where he hid out until he left the country.

 

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Another question for interpretation: By the end of Sherlock and Mycroft's "deduction game", Mycroft says that the owner of the hat was not necessarily isolated - maybe he just didn't mind being different. Then this happens:

Sherlock: "Exactly."

Mycroft: "I'm sorry?"

Sherlock: "He's different, so what? Why would he mind? You're quite right." (Puts on hat.) "Why would anyone mind?"

Mycroft (looks startled): "I'm not lonely, Sherlock."

 

My question is: How did the conversation shift to being about Mycroft? Sherlock puts on the hat, so it seems to me that if anyone, he's talking about himself. I just don't get the shift that happens there :)

 

Sherlock has, by application of the Socratic method, just lead Mycroft into stating that being different doesn't necessarily mean being isolated, and I think "Exactly" was his "Gotcha!"  Mycroft seems to interpret it that way.

 

 

So... Sherlock is talking about them both, but whereas Sherlock doesn't mind being different, Mycroft does...?

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I know Jim wanted Sherlock to commit suicide, but how did Sherlock and Mycroft plan that a fake suicide would work, with him standing there watching? And why would his network care whether it was suicide, murder, accidental death or natural causes, as long as Sherlock was dead?

 

Now I come to think of it, what was Sherlock hoping to achieve by meeting Jim on the roof? As far as I remember, Holmes met Moriarty at the top of the waterfall with the clear intention of getting rid of him. Did Sherlock intend something similar - a fight ending with Jim going over the edge? And if that was not the outcome he wanted, what did he actually want to happen?

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I know Jim wanted Sherlock to commit suicide, but how did Sherlock and Mycroft plan that a fake suicide would work, with him standing there watching?

 

Precisely! Of course, according to Sherlock, "Lazarus" was only one plan out of 13 (and I'm guessing not exactly the plan of choice), but still, he admits he did not expect Moriarty to kill himself, so I have absolutely no idea how else he was planning to keep him from looking over the edge while he fell and see the landing on the airbag etc.

 

What was Sherlock hoping to achieve? I've always assumed he wanted to get a confession out of Moriarty and have him tell him how he got into the Tower, the bank and the prison. At least that part seems to have worked.

 

Oh, I just noticed: Isn't it a nice little touch that Sherlock told Moriarty he was "prepared to burn" and then in the next series, we see him literally rushing into a fire? I know that was not what Sherlock meant (how could he, he can't see the future as far as I know), but it's a fun detail, hm?

 

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Sherlock has, by application of the Socratic method, just lead Mycroft into stating that being different doesn't necessarily mean being isolated, and I think "Exactly" was his "Gotcha!"  Mycroft seems to interpret it that way.

 

So... Sherlock is talking about them both, but whereas Sherlock doesn't mind being different, Mycroft does...?

 

I think it's more like -- Sherlock has learned to appreciate not being isolated, whereas Mycroft assumes that's the normal state of affairs for someone as brilliant as himself.

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Sherlock has, by application of the Socratic method, just lead Mycroft into stating that being different doesn't necessarily mean being isolated, and I think "Exactly" was his "Gotcha!"  Mycroft seems to interpret it that way.

 

So... Sherlock is talking about them both, but whereas Sherlock doesn't mind being different, Mycroft does...?

 

I think it's more like -- Sherlock has learned to appreciate not being isolated, whereas Mycroft assumes that's the normal state of affairs for someone as brilliant as himself.

 

That has become one of my all time favorite scenes. (I've always loved duels!) I liked it from the first, but it took a few watchings before it really sank in what was going on. The way Sherlock leads Mycroft on, then springs the trap ... and the music swells to a glorious little flourish. It's perfect.

 

Notice how Mycroft strikes back in the next episode ... (parry, thrust, riposte!)

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Sherlock has, by application of the Socratic method, just lead Mycroft into stating that being different doesn't necessarily mean being isolated, and I think "Exactly" was his "Gotcha!"  Mycroft seems to interpret it that way.

 

So... Sherlock is talking about them both, but whereas Sherlock doesn't mind being different, Mycroft does...?

 

I think it's more like -- Sherlock has learned to appreciate not being isolated, whereas Mycroft assumes that's the normal state of affairs for someone as brilliant as himself.

 

That has become one of my all time favorite scenes. (I've always loved duels!) I liked it from the first, but it took a few watchings before it really sank in what was going on. The way Sherlock leads Mycroft on, then springs the trap ... and the music swells to a glorious little flourish. It's perfect.

 

Notice how Mycroft strikes back in the next episode ... (parry, thrust, riposte!)

 

 

Oh yes - and that scene from TSoT has become one of my favorites. Sherlock breaks my heart when he says: "I'm not a child anymore, Mycroft" - as well as when he says: "Involved, I'm not involved." Oh Sherlock...

 

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Back to the "duel" - did you notice the little wink from Sherlock to Mrs. Hudson after the exchange?  Adorable.

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Indeed ;) They are so sweet together here! Also when Mrs. Hudson says: "I can't believe it, I just can't believe it. Him, sitting in his chair again!" and Sherlock smiles. He's definitely happy to have his landlady fuss over him again :D

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And I luv her giggle at the end. She gets it too! :)

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This episode apparently didn't hit New Zealand until less than a week ago (Saturday the 8th).  Here's columnist Chris Philpott's take on it.  (To overabbreviate, he "felt the explanation of Sherlock's survival was far less satisfying overall than the story that took place around it.")

 

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I tend to agree with Chris Philpott. And poor people, by the way! :-) They may live in one of the world's most beautiful countries, but waiting that long for Sherlock to return must have been torture ;-)

 

What I love the most about this episode, though, is the depth of John's pain. It's realistic and shows just how much Sherlock means to him. Despite me feeling as angry with Sherlock as John is here, I actually love the painful sadness of The Empty Hearse. It's befitting after the events of Reichenbach. I was not expecting to also laugh as much as I did, though - I think I laughed more during this than The Sign of Three. It really was an emotional rollercoaster; at times exasperating, moving, anger-provoking, amusing.

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Something that occurred to me today (and if this isn't a new idea, but something I read here and then promptly forgot about it, my apologies :unsure:) ... Sherlock's explanation to Anderson, that was videotaped, right? I think that might be the key to which parts are true.

 

Remember, Sherlock's prickly and proud. There's little chance as is that he'd share what he no doubt still considers a weakness on some level (emotional attachment) with Anderson, and once the camera is in play that chance drops to approximately zero. So while the technical and/or organisational details (Molly getting the replacement corpse, the air cushion, the Irregulars as bystanders) might well be true, no chance that he'd ever tell the truth about his panic up there or about his tears as he was saying goodbye to John. Remember, *we* saw this, but Anderson didn't. So that whole "Mycroft and me organized this weeks in advance and everything was planned down to the last detail" spiel could well be his way of saving face and playing it cool, when in reality he did some desperate quick planning and/or improvisation.

 

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Good point; Sherlock came off as his "usual" arrogant self in that explanation, and it's unlikely that Anderson or we as audience would get to hear him tell exactly what he was feeling during the Reichenbach events. However, his audacious behavior in the restaurant and the lack of deep remorse make me think he didn't feel as upset about leaving John as most of us would. He really is somewhat emotionally handicapped, even though he shines at times.

 

I feel certain that he and Mycroft couldn't have planned every single detail in advance, but parts of the "operation" - yes.

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They presumably thought / hoped they had all their bases covered, but -- what was it, thirteen scenarios? -- well, any relatively small number of plans would surely omit quite a number of possibilities.  Sherlock presumably had to improvise to some extent, even though one of the basic plans did fit fairly well.

 

Good point about the camera, Martina.  I had noticed it sitting there and idly wondered what it was for -- and now that you mention it, I believe that scene started off with a flash of colored light, which was presumably the camera getting its bearings.  Of course, Sherlock's not about to spill his guts to Anderson anyhow, but on film -- no flaming way!

 

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I usually admire the interesting transitions between scenes in this show -- for example, (at the beginning of "Scandal") the way they switched from one client to the next by having Sherlock walk in front of the camera.

 

But there's one transition in this episode that bugs me every time I watch it.  After Anderson finishes telling Lestrade his latest theory, they buy beverages from a food truck and toast their departed friend Sherlock.  As the scene dissolves, the bottoms of their paper cups linger and morph into John Watson's eyes at the cemetery.

 

It's clever of course, but strikes me as kind of frivolous, more appropriate for the transition to a humorous scene, rather than to such a somber one.

 

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However, his audacious behavior in the restaurant and the lack of deep remorse make me think he didn't feel as upset about leaving John as most of us would. He really is somewhat emotionally handicapped, even though he shines at times.

 

   I agree full heartedly that Sherlock did start out very confident and smug, but then when he starts to get the full blast of John's surprise and then obvious anger and hurt, at least to me, I get the sense that Sherlock isn't feeling so cocky but rather crest fallen and uncomfortable. He even has tears in his eyes as he tries to make a joke of the mustache. He seems to realize that suddenly he is out of his depth with John and he doesn't know how to react and even try to make it better.

 

He does try in the various scenes afterwards, comes to the conclusion that it has all been woefully inadequate as he can relate to Mrs. Hudson later on.

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I think he underestimated John's feelings for him. Up to TSoT he didn't even know that he was John's best friend so he obviously didn't expect his reaction to be that emotional. 

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Oh, I agree that Sherlock becomes nervous and even anxious. His behavior in the restaurant (once John has noticed him) and the defeated look on his face when John and Mary drive away in a cab both demonstrate as much. I believe he really thinks he's lost John's friendship. Evidence of this: "Tried talking to him, he made his position quite clear", "Not really in the picture anymore", and the surprise in his voice when John shows up in 221b the day after Sherlock pulled him out of the fire. And then the way he looks away when John asks him if his parents also knew. Yes, there are lots of little things showing his distress.

 

Great, now I'm getting emotional again.

 

 

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I usually admire the interesting transitions between scenes in this show -- for example, (at the beginning of "Scandal") the way they switched from one client to the next by having Sherlock walk in front of the camera.

 

But there's one transition in this episode that bugs me every time I watch it.  After Anderson finishes telling Lestrade his latest theory, they buy beverages from a food truck and toast their departed friend Sherlock.  As the scene dissolves, the bottoms of their paper cups linger and morph into John Watson's eyes at the cemetery.

 

It's clever of course, but strikes me as kind of frivolous, more appropriate for the transition to a humorous scene, rather than to such a somber one.

 

Agreed. They are normally really good with the transitions - I also love it when Sherlock and Mycroft talk over the phone in TSoT, Sherlock paces back and forth, and with each turning the camera shifts between him and Mycroft. But the paper cups morphing into John's eyes I felt was a bit too much on the clever/self-indulgent side; like they put it there just for the fun of it. Which is fine, when we're supposed to be dazzled by the brilliance of such effects, but not fitting for the sadness portrayed in John's face.

 

It didn't bother me horribly - it didn't ruin the scene for me - but I did notice that it felt out of place.

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I read somewhere "on the internet" the other day, in an interview with Moffat, that he meant Shelock's emotion on the rooftop to be all fake and just part of the act to convince John. I could slap myself now for not having saved the link to that, because now I can't find it any more. But I thought it was interesting, because it solves one of the biggest riddles of series 2 for me and I must say, I kind of suspected it.

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