Lately we've been treated to a whole horde of scumbags trying to tell us that crime isn't crime, almost like it's a trending fad. Is this new? Oh, heck, no! Criminals and their close friends and family are always trying to tell you that their crimes aren't such a big deal. It's what they do -- even in Sherlock Holmes's day.
John H. Watson's best friend died at the hands of Professor Moriarty in May of 1891. He's spent a year and a half grieving, and then, what happens in the late autumn of 1893?
Colonel James Moriarty starts some crap in the public prints claiming the greatest criminal kingpin London has ever known was just an innocent professor who was wrongly ruined by Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
We don't know the details of Colonel Moriarty's letters to the newspapers, or even if "Colonel James Moriarty" was real and not Colonel Sebastian Moran posing as a Moriarty brother. But we do know that John H. Watson was angry enough at the false portrayal of the events at Reichenbach Falls that he picked up his pen to write a story he did not want to write.
Penning "The Final Problem" was reliving a time Watson did not want to relive, a year and a half later, after he had attempted to move on, and worse yet, was probably dealing with his wife's health issues (or a pregnancy taking a turn?) that would result in a notable bereavement. And yet, this Colonel James Moriarty forced his hand by trying to change history by rewriting the events of Holmes and Moriarty's mutual demise.
Nobody wants to dwell on the damage that a criminal act causes. Victims don't want to revisit their worst times. But when the prospect of future crime is enhanced by those associated with the criminal trying to whitewash their crimes? Good men, like John Watson, do what they have to do.
We can't be sure just what Colonel James Moriarty or Colonel Sebastian Moran had up their sleeves if they were able to whitewash Professor Moriarty's crime. Did they want to revive his criminal empire, and needed to change public opinion to get specific connections open to them again? And was that goal the thing that truly brought Sherlock Holmes back to London to deal with it eventually?
But the first line of defense against whatever criminality that brother Moriarty and/or brother-in-crime Moran had planned? John H. Watson, wearily putting the truth into The Strand Magazine for all of London and the rest of the world to see, doing what he could in honor of his late friend.
Criminals are always going to try to keep their criminal options open, by trying to distort the truth wherever they can. It was true in Watson's time, and it's true today. And while we all wish for a Sherlock Holmes to put a solid lid on matters, sometimes, all we can do is be like Watson and call out the truth.
Because "The Final Problem" might not be the thing that happens at the waterfall. It might just be dealing with the aftermath, and stopping the villains from rewriting history so they can do it again, or worse.