Upon hearing the wonderful news that the 4th season of Sherlock will finally be aired in January, I felt it was (as a huge fan of the wavy haired detective) an appropriate time to offer my two cents on how they should the delicate issue of the return of Sherlock’s greatest nemesis: Professor Moriarty!
Now if you haven’t seen any of Sherlock (seriously, what are you doing with your life?), then I would advise you to get caught up before reading this or any other similar articles because fair warning — there will be spoilers ahead!
'No, That’s Impossible!'
As I’m sure most of you will know, Moriarty who is played by the delightfully disturbing Andrew Scott, met his doom (rather prematurely in my opinion) when he pointed his gun into the roof of his mouth and blew his own brains out. Or did he? No! He did. Although there have been countless fan theories which have attempted to explain how he could have possibly survived in any way other than spirit, the notion that Moriarty is still alive and well and somehow managed to successfully fake his own death right in front of Sherlock himself and then proceeded to wait a few years before finally announcing his return is frankly preposterous even by the show’s lofty standards.
Sherlock even said at the end of “The Abominable Bride,” the one-off Christmas special: “Of course he’s dead, he blew his own brains out, no one survives that.” I believe this line was a feeble attempt made by the creators in the hopes of quashing any fan-made conspiracies that Moriarty was still alive before they could reach their keyboards. Oh, how they underestimated the power of the internet.
So you may be wondering, if I don’t believe that Moriarty is still alive then how could I expect him to return for another season? Well the answer lies within the aforementioned Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride.” This truly excellent one-off special takes place during the Victorian Era where a noticeably slicker Sherlock and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson are tasked with solving the case of a woman who was seen to have shot herself in the head (*cough Moriarty cough*) who then later returns that evening to shoot her husband and disappear into the fog.
We later learn however that all of this has actually taken place within Sherlock’s “Mind Palace.” What’s really interesting is that the revelation comes from his biggest foe — Moriarty. As soon as Sherlock realizes that he is indeed dreaming and that the bad news is delivered by Moriarty himself, a harrowing look filled his expression (which had been seen before). To me, this proves that the wide-eyed weirdo has left an indelible mark on Sherlock’s psyche. He even says as much in a beautifully shot scene under a waterfall when he chillingly proclaims: “You once called you’re brain a hard drive, well say hello to the virus.” This whole sequence, where Sherlock once again goes toe-to-toe with his greatest adversary, was for me the best part of “The Abominable Bride,” and undoubtedly one of the best segments in any Sherlock episode.
But what now? As previously stated, this all took place inside Sherlock’s mind and the episode ended with him finally waking up to the news that Moriarty is back (sort of). Instead of trying to find some sort of loophole where they can say: “Hey look! He was actually alive all along, gotcha!" My preference would be for the creators to build and expand on a potentially rich and fascinating story arc where Sherlock continues to see his nemesis everywhere he goes, haunting him to the brink of insanity. Just think about it: We’ve already had Moriarty vs. Holmes in the flesh. How amazing would it be to conclude with Moriarty vs. Holmes II in the mind?
What makes me so excited about the premise of psychological warfare is how good it can be when executed correctly. Just look at other forms of media which have adopted similar techniques with great success. Take the mind blowing Season 5 finale of House for example, or the relationship between Elliot and his father in Mr Robot. Or my personal favorite: Rocksteady’s brilliant use of the Joker in Batman Arkham Knight. All three of these examples benefited greatly from using the dead to torment the living and there's no reason why the talented team behind Sherlock cannot implement similar techniques to great effect.
Upon hearing the news that Andrew Scott would be reprising his role as Moriarty in some capacity, I was left feeling mixed. Because while it never gets old witnessing the dastardly professor and Sherlock do battle, I am still somewhat worried as to how they will handle his return, as there are not only many ways it can go right (but also many ways it can go very, very wrong). You already know which route I would take.
So, do you like or agree with the potential direction for one of fiction's greatest rivalries? Or do you utterly dislike and suddenly hate my guts? Either way let me know your thoughts down in the comments below. This has been MT for Agents of S.H.E.D. and as always, thanks for reading!