The Final Problem

The Final ProblemThe Final Problem

There’s a man following me around. Oh, you’re just paranoid. No, really. There is a man following me around. Paranoid, I told you. The next thing you know your friend is dead because there really was a man following them around.

Sherlock visits John unexpectedly one evening. Mary is away and not much is going on with John. Sherlock hasn’t been to see John in the recent months. Sherlock has been very busy with cases of all sorts. He has managed to get quite a bit of money from his cases, but has found out something sinister.

There is a man in England who causes crime to happen. He’s very smart. He’s a math whiz. He used to be a professor. He has been educated. His name is Moriarty. Moriarty can sponsor crime and seemingly never get caught. Sherlock has found his trail and is following it, but he also knows that Moriarty is crafty and knows that Sherlock is following him. Sherlock now has enough evidence to get Moriarty, but they mustn’t strike too soon. Sherlock asks John if he wants to go on a vacation to the rest of Europe. John says he can.

Sherlock then tells John about what has happened to him recently. Moriarty showed up at Baker Street. Sherlock would not give into his demands. As a result, someone threw a brick at Sherlock, someone tried to run over Sherlock, and then someone hit Sherlock. These incidents in no way can be connected back to Moriarty, but Sherlock knows that is who it is. Sherlock refuses to stay with John for the evening, but gives him specific instructions about getting on the train. He must take this cab and not that cab. He must go on foot here. He must use this road and must get in this train car.

John makes it to the station, but Sherlock is nowhere in sight, but a confused Italian man has followed John into his train car, the confused Italian man turns out to be Sherlock. The train starts off, but not before Sherlock catches an eye of Moriarty in the crowd. They do some train switching later on and finally make it to Europe. There they learn that Moriarty’s crime ring has been caught, but not Moriarty. Sherlock assumes Moriarty is on his trail.

They go to a nice hotel in Sweden near a place called Reichenbach Falls. They are encouraged to go and see the waterfall for themselves. They make a journey to the waterfall. Sherlock has become somewhat listful and is saying that he very well might have done something with his life after all. An errand boy runs down the duo and says that a woman back at the hotel desperately needs an English doctor so John goes back. At the hotel, he finds that the manager did not write the not. The manager says it must have been the other Englishman who checked in.

John goes back to the falls, but finds nothing. Sherlock isn’t there. His walking stick is there, but Sherlock isn’t there. No one else is there either. Looking closer, he sees two tracks of footprints, go to the edge of the railing, and then, disappear. He knows Sherlock went over with Moriarty. There is no way to recover a body. John looks around again and finds Sherlock’s cigarette case on a rock. Inside of the case is a note. Sherlock tells John that he knows he can get rid of Moriarty, but in the process, he too has to go. He says he’s already arranged everything.

That is the last John sees of Sherlock. Sherlock was indeed successful at destroying Moriarty’s crime ring.

The Final ProblemObservations

We’ve seen the movies; we’ve watched the television shows, we know that Sherlock is not dead. He’s going to show up later, but John doesn’t know that yet.

I’m actually surprised at how accurate the RDJ Sherlock movies were concerning this story.

Many of the places in this story have already been mentioned in other Sherlock stories so I don’t really want to get into explaining whether they’re real or not, because we already know that most of them are or aren’t. Some of the foreign places might be questionable, but many of the names are recognizable.

Let’s talk about Reichenbach Falls. They’re real! It’s a real place. You can go there and visit. It’s in Switzerland, just as the story says. The story goes that Arthur was visiting the area and had never heard of the falls, so a friend took him there to let him see. Arthur liked it so much that he set a story there. These days you can go and see the falls, but the pathways mentioned in the story aren’t accessible anymore and have become dangerous. You can get near the falls, but not as close as Sherlock and Moriarty got, they got way too close anyway. Nobody wants to get that close.

This story just isn’t as exciting as some of the other stories. It’s kind of sad. If we had been reading these stories serially back in the day, we would probably be quite upset after reading this. We didn’t know that Arthur would write more stories or bring Sherlock back. This story was really meant to be a farewell to Sherlock, but Arthur changed his mind apparently. It’s definitely not as upbeat or intriguing as some of the other stories.

The Final ProblemThemes

What’s that saying? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That’s from Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan to be exact; I hate that movie. Coincidence or not, but Benedict Cumberbatch, a modern-day Sherlock, played Khan in the newest Star Trek re-make. All of this is just a coincidence actually. I’m going to use that phrase because it fits with the point I’m trying to make. It’s not some giant Star Trek/Sherlock Holmes conspiracy theory.

Sherlock is not a jerk. He’s not. Some of his portrayals lead viewers to believe he’s an utter not really nice person, but he’s got a heart. He’s got a soft-spot in his heart for young women. He has a soft spot in his heart for people who are victims of crime. He’s actually a more considerate person than one would readily believe. He’s a self-sacrificing person in fact.

In this story he was able to take down an entire crime ring, but he had to die in the process, supposedly. That was the only way he could best Moriarty. That was the only way he could put an end to him. So why do it? Why care? Why should we care if there is some jerk who makes crime happen?

Well, you should care because it could happen to you. You should care because it could happen to your family. Your house being robbed isn’t exactly a nice thing to deal with, but it’s not the end of the world. Robbery isn’t the only type of crime though. We have to consider murder. We have to consider rape. We have to consider human trafficking, drug running, and extortion. This story doesn’t go into detail about what kind of crimes Moriarty was sponsoring, but we can imagine. I’m sure it wasn’t as simple as rigging a few horse races. Some really bad stuff was probably happening because of Moriarty. Remember, these Moriarty henchmen had no problem trying to kill Sherlock, on at least four separate occasions. They weren’t playing nice and they weren’t afraid to kill.

Sherlock was preventing not only theft, but murder and rape and any other terrible crime you can think of. To Sherlock, that was a noble cause to sacrifice his life for. He knew John would be upset so he left a note. He laid down his life for John and for all of London, maybe all of England. If that doesn’t make you a good person, I don’t know what does. Sherlock clearly illustrates the point, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Live long and prosper.

*insert weird Vulcan hand thing here*

The only problem with Sherlock’s sacrifice is that there will be another Moriarty. Another villain will rise up through the muck and take his place. When that happens, who is going to solve that crime? Not Sherlock Holmes, he’s dead, God rest his soul.

Let’s all have a few moments of silence for the pretend death of a pretend detective……..

….ok, that’s enough, more Sherlock to come!


Do you want to go on a vacation with me? I hear Reichenbach Falls is really nice this time of year. We can lean over the railing really far and see if we get vertigo.

crime ring, falls off a waterfall, john watson, moriarty, reichenbach falls, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, The Final Problem, The Final Problem sherlock holmes, The Final Problem sir arthur conan doyle, waterfall
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes


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