Tag Archives: BBC

The Reichenbach Cliffhanger: how did Sherlock fake his own death?

Those of you who watched Sherlock, the BBC’s fabulous modern-day adaptation of Conan-Doyle’s deer-stalker wearing detective, may recognise the above title. Those of you who didn’t watch it, should do so. Watch all of it, watch it well, and watch it now. It should only take you 9 hours, then you can come back. Done it? Good. At the end of the final episode of series 2, ‘The Reichenback Fall’, Sherlock appears to cheat death as he jumps from the top of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital only to be seen alive and well in the final shot before the credits (at his own funeral, as it happens).


So how did he fake his own death so well? The extent to which my theories* are blindingly obvious is not clear to me, but on the off chance that some of my ponderings come as revelations to you lot, here goes. The timeline of events is as follows. Sherlock asks Molly (the girl in the Bart’s mortuary who Sherlock’s horrible to, remember?) to help him, and relies on her being in love with him to ensure that she a)is loyal and b) takes every effort to fulfil his plan and save his life. The first thing that she engineers is the call from the ‘paramedics’ to Watson that Mrs Hudson has been shot (which later turns out to be untrue). This is in order to remove Watson from Bart’s so that Sherlock can face Moriarty, and also so that Watson can participate (unknowingly) in another part of the plan.

Now, Sherlock meets Moriarty on the roof in order to convince him to shoot himself*. He then waits for Watson to return and calls him the second he gets out of the Taxi to deliver his ‘suicide note’. Before he tells Watson he is a fraud, he makes sure he remains standing exactly where the Taxi dropped him off. This is extremely important, because although the way the scene is shot by the director makes it seem as if John has a direct and unobstructed line of sight to Sherlock, this is not the case. There is a smallish red brick building between Watson and Bart’s, obscuring about the final quarter of Sherlock’s fall from the roof.
Red brick

The Taxi driver, who just so happens to be in Baker Street when Watson emerges from 221b is clearly in on the plan too. Not only does he stop at exactly the right place opposite Bart’s, he also appears to be arguing with somebody who wants a ride outside 221b, suggesting that he is refusing to take any fare other than Watson.

The ‘suicide note’ in which Sherlock confesses to being a fraud is also significant. It serves 2 purposes. Firstly, it is an attempt by Sherlock to minimise John’s grief at his death. Secondly, and more importantly, it is in order to ensure he is forgotten. The episode takes pains to show how Sherlock’s increasing fame is making it hard for him to remain an effective ‘private’ detective. His fame is also behind his downfall: so many officers eager to believe he’s a fraud due to a toxic combination of jealousy and embarrassment caused by Sherlock’s success. By instructing John to tell everyone in his life that he is a fraud, to let the newspapers know and remove any chance of him being seen as a martyr, he maximises the likelihood that he can fade away and be forgotten.

When Sherlock jumps, he can be seen to be a fair way out from the building, perpendicular to it.

As John begins to round the corner of the red brick building following Sherlock’s fall, we can momentarily see a red laundry truck next to Sherlock’s body, which is now parallel to Bart’s.

John is then knocked down by a cyclist. This is also planned by Sherlock, and executed by members of the homeless network that he employs in order to delay, disorientate and confuse Watson lest he catch on to what Sherlock has done. This disorientation can be shown not only by the director’s emphasis of John’s discombobulation, but also by the disjointed series of events as John is hit. In the frame as John is hit, the red laundry truck is missing, and a crowd of people have gathered around Sherlock’s body.
No truck crowd

However, after John is hit, and is struggling to get to his feet, we are shown a shot with the red truck clearly present, driving away from the spot where Sherlock fell, and the crowd of people just beginning to assemble.
Truck no crowd

So far then, my theory is that Sherlock jumped in to the laundry truck. Then it is my opinion that he burst a capsule of fake blood (supplied by Molly) on his head, took a pill to stop his heart (supplied by Molly, possibly taken whilst still on the roof), and either knocked himself out and jumped on the floor, or had the driver of the truck do it. This explains how he comes to be parallel to Bart’s, and also how he has no pulse when John checks it. There are no gaping head wounds, or any other wounds for that matter, which would not be expected after a fall on to concrete from such a great height (surely?!). The shot directly after the fall where Sherlock hits the floor parallel is, thus, slightly out of sequence.

The paramedics, possibly arranged by Molly, arrive eerily fast and whisk Sherlock away into Bart’s, where his heart is to be restarted, and then wrongly pronounced dead by a complicit Molly. Mission Accomplished**.

Most of my points can be reviewed here:

Excuse me now for a bit whilst I bask in my own smugness***.

*Other theories include Moriarty not really being dead either and gravity being a masonic conspiracy. Not that last one.

** One variant that I considered in an earlier version of my thesis is that the body is an elaborate and sophisticated cadaver supplied by Molly. Seems unlikely to me.

***Please continue the debate in the comment section if you have alternative pointers



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Hugo Chavez: dictator or democrat?

Chavez’ natural constituency: the poor and the youth

(All pictures are from a rally in Petare, Caracas, as Chavez campaigned for the October 2012 presidential elections and celebrated his 58th birthday on 28 July 2012. All photos by YVKE Mundial.)

I have a strong interest in the politics of Venezuela because I am fascinated by the ongoing political transformation that has been occurring since 1999, the so-called ‘Bolivarian Revolution’. It is the country which I know the most about other than the UK and the USA. As a result of my curiosity about the country I am increasingly able to spot the shocking lies which are routinely thrown around by western officials, the right wing press and, shamefully, even the BBC. The process of becoming aware of these widespread misconceptions has opened my eyes to how little we understand about non-western countries, the reality of post-colonial relations, how easily lies about non-western countries propagate, and has led me to be increasingly self-critical about my own assumptions about the world.

So, to answer the question posed in the title: Democrat. Democrat is emphatically the answer to this question. It really annoys me that it’s even necessary to write a post explaining why because the accusation that he’s a dictator is simply not credible.

Chavez (on the right, in blue with the red beret) is mobbed by a crowd in Petare, Caracas

The upcoming elections in October at which Chavez is expected to win another 6 year term, will be Venezuela’s 15th election since Chavez became President in 1999, including Presidential elections, referendums, local elections and parliamentary ones. All have been declared free and fair including by international bodies such as the EU and Organisation of American States. Just last month, Jennifer McCoy, director at the Carter Center (that’s an American NGO, of all things!), described Venezuela’s electronic voting system as one of the most reliable in the world. At the coming elections, the Union of South American Nations will amongst the 200 international observers.

Jubilant supporters climb on railings to get a better view of a rally

So he is elected president on three separate occasions in free and fair elections, his people still support him in overwhelming numbers and yet he’s an evil autocratic dictator? Unbelievable. If anyone still doubts his commitment to the democratic process, I would point out that when he lost the 2007 constitutional referendum, he accepted the results. There have been other accusations leveled at him, including the revocation of opposition media licenses, intimidation, and political interference in the judiciary, but each of these are as baseless as the first accusation. Let’s not quibble about this: calling him a dictator is a lie. The public is being routinely lied to. But then again, if you follow politics closely enough you will realise that it’s not all that uncommon that outrageous distortions of the truth go unchallenged by our lacklustre media which seems to think that separating truth from deceit is not their job. Indeed, it is far easier to lie about foreign countries because we have very little depth of knowledge and no frame of reference with which to discern what would otherwise be obvious falsehood.

The slander of the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is most casually and viciously used in the right wing press. This should not come as a huge surprise since Chavez is a leftist socialist (not, I should add, a Marxist) whose coalition of supporting parties led by The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) contains a minority of Communists, Marxists and revolutionary leftists. And if the reactionaries at the Telegraph are allergic to socialists/feminists/greens, they go into full frothing at the mouth anaphylaxis whenever Communists are mentioned. Using the Telegraph as an example then, Chavez has been described in its venerable pages as; ‘President-for-Life Chavez’; ‘calorifically challenged Venezuelan Marxist bully boy’; ‘loonie-left demagogue’;  ‘tin-pot tyrant Hugo Chavez’; ‘Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tedious Mini-Me in Latin America’; ‘the Butcher of Caracas’ and so on and so forth until the words begin to lose meaning (as if calling him a ‘butcher’ bore any relation to reality in the first place…).

Chavez is often seen campaigning in the Barrios on the back of a flatbed truck

However it’s not just recognised right wing organisations like the Telegraph that make this kind of assertion. Our dearly beloved BBC is a very rare beast indeed: a genuinely trusted news source. It trades almost entirely on their reputation for ‘journalistic standards’ and you’re meant to respect and revere the words of their reporters because, unlike nakedly ideological sources like the Daily Mail, the BBC’s reporters have the weight of their organisation’s ‘ethics’ behind them. However, as this graph shows, the BBC’s reporting has also taken unjustifiable liberties with the facts.

The graph above compares the number of articles describing Chavez as either ‘totalitarian’, ‘authoritarian’, a ‘dictator’, ‘tyrant’, or ‘autocrat’, with the number of articles that refer to ‘election wins’ or ‘elected’ (the words ‘landslide’ and ‘victory’ were also included). Given that one is verifiable fact and the other is extremely dubious speculation, the references are clearly utterly disproportionate. They also once compared him to Hitler. Just sayin’.

You might rightly ask, then, what the fuck is going on? How come these distortions are being made by the BBC? There is an argument that the inaccuracy of the BBC’s reporting results from the fact that BBC journalists, themselves being from a particular middle class background, end up living in well-to-do parts of Caracas. From this point of view, they simply don’t see the reality of the situation. If so, it would confirm Charles Hardy’s claim that we tend to be given ‘the perspective of an international correspondent… who works in a downtown office building of an opposition newspaper and lives in an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood’.

The reality of media manipulation in this country is a very complicated thing indeed which I am working on explaining in a future post. For now, however, let me say this: Viva Chavez!

(more on the BBC and the upcoming elections can be found here http://www.newsunspun.org/article/choosing-sides-the-bbcs-coverage-of-the-venezuelan-election-race )

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