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At Last! How Sherlock Survived the Reichenbach Fall

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Jan 04, 2014 | 11:00am EST

Benedict Cumberbatch, SherlockBBC One

So here's how it went: Sherlock was actually attached to a bungee cord when he had his infamous fall. He stopped inches from the ground, and was able to crash through the window of the hospital where Molly stood waiting – and they shared a passionate kiss before he made quite the exit, his coat billowing behind him. The body on the ground? Moriarty's corpse, fitted with a perfect replica of Sherlock's face, blue contacts, and a good dousing of fake blood. Oh, and John? Hypnotized by Derren Brown, to allow Sherlock's crew enough time to get everything in place.

But alas, no, we were being trolled. Or rather, playfully poked fun at – I'm sure even that outlandish explanation of the mechanizations behind the fall was not quite as convoluted as other fan theories that have been circulating the Internet for almost two years now. Touché indeed, Mark Gatiss: it's a rather rude awakening when we find that Theory #1 came courtesy of Sherlock's favorite resident idiot, Philip Anderson (who, like John, has grown some spectacularly awful facial hair).

Midway through the episode, we're treated to Theory #2, which might be even more awesome than the first: Sherlock made his last call to John, as Moriarty giggled by his side, and a dummy wearing his coat took the fall. After it's done? Sherlock and Moriarty stare meaningfully into each other's eyes for what seems like hours before going in for a kiss.

Delightful, but at this point I started to lose faith that we would get an explanation at all. (Wouldn't that have been awful?). But no, we're finally treated to the full plan, and it was actually very close to some of the most common (and well-thought out) theories out there.

* Molly did provide the body. Moriarty had used a Sherlock lookalike and killed him, leaving him handily in the morgue for later staged deaths.

* The "Keep your eyes on me" really was a clue – assuring that John wouldn't see that just out of his eyesight, a large balloon was being inflated to catch Sherlock.

* Cherry on top: that rubber ball that was a key player in almost every single fan theory? Turned out to be exactly the clue we thought it was.

Despite a sense of vindication from fans who got it all right, I think Anderson spoke (and was indeed, meant to speak) for us all when he said, "Bit ... disappointed." Finding the truth after a year plus of outlandish theories was bound to be a deflating event. But Gatiss (who penned the episode) made up for what he knew would be something of a letdown by paying homage to the fans and their (our?) ever-vast imaginations.  Trolling at its very best.

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