Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Reverse Darth

Okay, it's early morning on May 5th, and the social media topics from yesterday are still swirling around the waking brain. As always, there was a certain little battle playing out on May 4th for the true blue Sherlockian: "May the Fourth Be With You Day" (a.k.a. Star Wars Day) versus the "historical" Reichenbach Falls Day.

While the former was just chosen fairly recently (Hey, forty years is "recent" in Sherlock fan time!), Reichenbach Day has been with us since "The Final Problem" was published in 1893. Sure, we didn't call it "Reichenbach Day" but "The Day Sherlock Holmes Died" has been with us since Sherlock Holmes "Died." (Boy, am I putting quotation marks around a lot of things this morning!)

The events of that fateful day are well known to us in both of their versions: The one in which Sherlock Holmes was thought by John Watson to have died, and the one where Sherlock Holmes knew he lived. In both, Holmes and the great criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty face off in final battle atop the Swiss waterfall. In the one we knew in 1893, both plunge over the cliff to their deaths. In the 1903 "What Really Happened" version, however, we learned that a Japanese wrestling technique called Baritsu enabled Sherlock Holmes to slip out of Moriarty's grasp and only the Professor went over the falls.

So, what does that have to do with the Star Wars movies, other than sharing a date due to a pun?

Well, nothing really. Unless your brain does an early morning mash-up.

I don't think Star Wars is at all based upon "The Final Problem," but it does like to do one thing that the earlier tale did: Drop enemies from large precipices to their death. It happens a few times in the series, but the first, and most prominent, occurs in The Empire Strikes Back, where our hero and his great nemesis face off and those shocking immortal words are uttered: "No, I am your father."

See how a morning brain might mash this up?

While we always have wondered why Moriarty, the great criminal mastermind, decided to hand-to-hand wrestle with Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland, rather than shooting him -- or better yet, have his personal sniper Moran shoot him, maybe he, like Darth Vader was holding back for paternal reasons, as he revealed to Sherlock Holmes, "No, I am your father."

But when Sherlock responded with "No, that's not true. That's impossible!" he wasn't the one who was beaten, bruised, and hanging on by one hand. And he wasn't the one whose let go (maybe just because Sherlock wouldn't help pull him up, rather than a conscious choice to fall and hope for the best).

Suddenly, Sherlock Holmes wandering the world in search of his true identity and coming to terms with Moriarty's words makes a lot more sense than him hiding out from Sebastian Moran for years and years.

Did Holmes and Moriarty pull a "Reverse Darth Vader" at the falls? Did Sherlock Holmes later find out that Irene Adler was really his sister? And does anybody really need an Emperor character and a bunch of Ewoks in their story, which would have to be the Andaman Islanders in the case of Sherlock Holmes? And do Star Wars Day and Reichenbach Day occur on the same day for a cosmic reason, to guide us to the hidden truth of Moriarty's role in Sherlock's life?

So many questions, because somebody back in 1979 made a pun!

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