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Headscratchers / Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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  • I know it follows how it goes down usually in the books and other works but when Sherlock pulls Moriarty down the falls with him, of note is that Watson enters the balcony as Sherlock has Moriarty in a hold, apart from causing an adaptional variance (for once), what was stopping him holding Moriarty for a few seconds so Watson could take him down, remember watson was a soldier, who is behind Moriarty, the only excuse I can find is that if Moriarty survives he may be able to hurt Mr and Mrs Watson, so Sherlock Takes a Third Option.
    • Frankly, I think the explanation from the novels still works. Seeing Watson reminds Holmes that Moriarty is willing to harm his loved ones just to get to him, and has agents throughout Britain (hell, throughout Europe). If Holmes is believed dead, there's nobody to get back at for Moriarty's death, so he's simply playing the long game until he can be sure Moriarty's network is sufficiently dismantled. The only reason we don't get this information explicitly in the film is because Watson assumes the role of the viewpoint character from that point, and he hasn't pieced it all together.
  • In "The Game of Shadows", where is Moriarty's sleeve-gun? You'd think he'd pull it at least once...
    • Because he considers Holmes a Worthy Opponent, and wouldn't use such an underhanded method to defeat him. Plus, he has Moran to do all his dirty work now.
  • The assassination in the Hotel de Triomphe makes no sense. Moriarty hires the best marksman in Europe to shoot a man from an almost impossible distance... and then decides to blow up the hotel to hide evidence of the shooting? The bomb was plenty strong enough to be lethal - as we saw, it killed everyone in the room easily. Combining a shooting and a bombing doesn't reduce the amount of evidence, it increases it. Was there any logic to that scene beyond "Give Sherlock more to deduce?"
    • Because the entire reason why Moriarty is such a threatening villain is due to his attention to detail and his need to be absolutely thorough. Just like with Dr. Hoffmanstahl, Moran was essentially a backup plan to guarantee that the target was eliminated if the bomb didn't work out. Plus, he probably didn't trust just using explosives, since he would have known that Lord Blackwood tried the same thing on Holmes and failed.
    • There is a possibility that the bombing might fail to kill the target. Moriarty was simply doubling up on his killing to make sure that his target went down.
    • Also keep in mind that for Moriarty, its not just about his criminal empire or starting World War I. For Moriarty, its the game of shadows he and Holmes are playing. He could have easily - very easily - had Moran set up outside the university and just shot Holmes in the face when he showed up to the university to chat. But Moriarty wanted to play his game with Holmes and match wits with him. He deliberately left little clues to draw Holmes on.
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    • It's just one more example of Moriarty's Magnificent Bastard tendencies. Not only did he outmaneuver Holmes (by leaving a trail of false breadcrumbs to trick him into going to the opera instead of the hotel), he had a backup plan in case Holmes caught on. Think about it. If Holmes had immediately deduced the truth and gone to the hotel to stop the bomb, he would've stopped the bomb, but Moran would still be on the roof to assassinate Meinhard. Holmes can't be in two places at once, so either way, Moriarty wins.
    • While all the previous are possible motives, the reason is already explained by Holmes: he is pinning down the murders as the work of anarchists, and their weapon of choice used to be explosives (if fact, Franz Ferdinand was gunned down just after a previous bombing failed to kill him); also, the bomb will dissimulate that the intended target was only one, and thus, that the motives were not political. At last, the "additional evidence" will be all but lost for the nonexistant forensic methods of the era.
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    • Also, don't forget that Moriarty wants to both take over Meinhard's gun manufacturing business and escalate the tensions in Europe into a World War. So the bomb serves a dual purpose for him: it will cover the assassination, and make the French think the Germans have retaliated the previous bombing in Germany.
  • As an aside, if Moriarty wants to secretly take over the world's companies, it's probably not a smart idea to give the people he kills rings with his monogram engraved on them surely?
    • I thought it was just a family ring that Holmes used to identify the victim, and then simply deduced his relationship to Moriarty.
    • It says clearly in the film, the ring had the victim's (Meinhard's) monogram (rather expected for a Victorian Age industrialist of possible aristocratic background).
  • In the flashback of Colonel Moran shooting Meinhard, his rifle is a steampunkish modification of a Martini-Henry .450/577 rifle. The specific shape of the falling-block breech is shown when he chambers the round, and also the tall and complex rear sight, specific for guns firing black powder, whose bullet trajectory is very arched, rainbow-like. The British Army had already adopted the modern smokeless powder .303 ammo in 1889, and modern shooters can attest the superior accuracy of the round. Why would the best marksman in Britain strive himself with an older and less accurate gun?
    • The war he fought in was about 11 years done by the time of the film, so he likely had used the Martini-Henry during his service and was used to the ballistics of the round and the feel of the weapon. He still required a high-quality sight, a tripod, and a wind gauge to make the shot.
  • How did Dr. Watson load the cannon before firing it at the searchlight tower? 11-12 inch caliber shells weigh many hundreds of pounds. If the writers had intended to make it already loaded, this would make Moriarty more stupid than Forrest Gump himself. Guns are not kept loaded, even if the ammo is stored in the same place as the gun, for safety reasons - people may smoke around, a spark from a chimney or some machinery may land on it...
    • For all we know, there might've been some sort of mechanism specifically to make it easier to load the cannon. In fact, that might've been why it was there in the first place. They also had the earmuffs nearby, along with the bags of what seems to be gunpowder, so clearly it was actively being used. Moriarty is a guy who considers everyone disposable, including having Moran shoot his own guard that very scene. He presumably doesn't care much about workplace safety.
    • Possibly it'd been set up for a test firing scheduled for first thing in the morning, and some lackadaisical employee loaded it?
    • You can actually see a shell suspended in a hoist (which was also the way those guns were loaded historically since, yes, those shells are incredibly heavy) so most likely he swung the hoist in front of the breach, rammed the shell home (large masses are surprisingly easy to move if you do not have to keep up the energy to keep them suspended) and then cranked the gun in position.
  • Also, the plan to assassinate Holmes and Watson in the train to Brighton was a waste of resources - dress the Mooks in Army uniforms, smuggle hundreds of pounds of weapons and ammo on board, fire a Maxim machine gun like Rambo while not aiming. A bomb under the carriage would be cheaper and safer.
    • The attempt on Watson's life is largely intended as a diversion for Holmes; it thus needs to be something Holmes can actually fight. That its also loud, noisy, and hilariously over-engineered only plays further into its actual role as a diversion.
    • fire a Maxim machine gun like Rambo while not aiming. He was aiming. However, there's this thing about machine guns: suppressing fire only needs to go in the general area of the target to keep it pinned down, and the other soldier had grenades which he was prepping to throw into the train car.
    • Moriarty, having planned so well, likely wanted total assurance that the assassination would work. It started with a simple stabbing in the dark by the lone porter, moved up to gunfire (Holmes was the first to attack the "soldiers", which would make it look like they were defending the car from an assailant and the Watsons were caught in the crossfire), then finally to a machine gun and grenades. Had any of the other passengers become concerned over the ridiculous amount of gunfire going on, all evidence would point to Holmes and Watson having started a gunfight aboard the train.
  • Hunting men running between trees in the morning fog with siege howitzers and mortars will never work. Nobody has invented yet a tack-driver scoped cannon, even less in the early 1890s. You may hit something, but not your intended target.
    • Radios were invented about thirty years early, and Moriarty made it a priority to get one of them for himself. Who's to say they haven't invented scoped cannons early in this setting?
      • Irony, dear Watson. To put it more clearly, a large howitzer firing indirectly is not a tack-driver sniper rifle and can't be accurately aimed to a target so small and so mobile as a running man. Even the huge Gatling machine gun firing in the factory yard (based on a Real Life British Gatling model from the late 1870s) was a volley weapon, unable to hit a man-sized target and made to be fired only at large troop formations.
    • The most important factor in any firefight is rate of fire. The more metal you get downrange, the better your chances of hitting your target.
      • This. It wasn't about efficiency, merely ensuring that they could be killed. Moran had them pull out all the stops and use literally every weapon they had, including an obscenely large cannon, under the impression that eventually something would hit them.
  • Holmes was told that Irene was killed by a rare—and apparently extremely aggressive—form of tuberculosis. Did he forget that when he sentimentally sniffed the handkerchief stained with the fluid that she had coughed up?
    • And the man who told him how she died was Moriarty (who is pretty much walking around with a giant "DON'T TRUST ANYTHING THIS JACKASS SAYS" sign on his head), and there is literally no form of tuberculosis that kills that quickly. Even the worst XDR TB strain in history, detected in South Africa in HIV-positive patients, still took more than 2 weeks from diagnosis to death. It is quite obvious that she was poisoned with a toxin that simulates tuberculosis effects, and Holmes would know this.
    • Moriarty wasn't telling Holmes how she died. He was telling him how it would look to the authorities that she died. He knows that she was poisoned, and Holmes knows that she was poisoned, but as far as the authorities will ever know, she caught TB and died. It's basically an example of Cut Himself Shaving.
  • At the end of the movie, the fake red book that Sherlock used to replace Moriarty's said something along the lines of 'Be careful what you fish for.' written in it, along with a little flip-book animation of a fish eating a fisherman. However, Moriarty made the fish metaphor while Sherlock was being tortured, meaning it would of been impossible for Sherlock to make the animation while tortured and then slip it into Moriarty's pocket that quickly.
    • But the same song was playing earlier when Holmes visited Moriarty in his office, and the two of them briefly discussed it. While it was less overt, the fish metaphor was already implied during that scene.
    • Just watched the scene again, and Holmes actually prompts Moriarty to use the metaphor—Holmes asks if Moriarty is familiar with Schubert; Moriarty replies that his favorite work of his is "The Trout," and proceeds to quote from it. Holmes has done a lot of study on Moriarty, so it's plausible he knew "The Trout" was his favorite and planned his deception accordingly.
  • Paul Anderson gives a fine performance as Sebastian Moran but shouldn't a 19th century British Army (ex-)colonel come across as a bit posher? His version of Moran seems like more an ex-NCO. For that matter he also seems a little on the young side - Dr. Watson and he fought in the same war (the Second Anglo-Afghan War) which had already been over for eleven years by the year the movie is set and Watson implies he was a colonel then.
    • Moran is from an aristocratic background, but he was always a bit of a rough and tumble gent.
    • According to his description in the book, Moran once chased a tiger up a drainpipe and was obliged to leave the army for doing something that should have gotten him dishonorably discharged, if not for his distinguished record. I always pictured Moran as someone who doesn't give a damn about his family name.
    • In The Adventure Of The Empty House, Colonel Moran's birth year is given as 1840, thus making him 51 years old by the time of the film and older than Holmes and Watson (Holmes had been born in 1854). His appearance (as described in the short story) does not fully match the film: he should have looked older, bulkier, devoid of beard, with large, Nietzsche-like, mustache.
  • Holmes and Watson waltzing. Was such a thing acceptable back then? I found it rather odd that no one in the room seemed to bat an eye at the sight of two men dancing together.
    • Well, it is Switzerland, after all. I am not quite sure on the actual protocols governing dancing, but as far as I recall, no one would have given a damn, because they assumed that either, it was some sort of joke, or just that it was none of their business. Also, I would assume that at an event like this, there was no overabundance of women willing (and able) to dance, and since they seem to have some sort of formation, I seems at least somewhat reasonable to fill in the gaps in the formation with whoever's willing to do so.
    • It's often illogical what passed for acceptable public display of affection, especially throughout history. I don't know about dancing, specifically, but consider this example: in Victorian England, two men walking hand in hand in the streets was a perfectly normal sight - in fact, you can see Holmes and Watson doing it in the Granada series - despite the fact that there were still some serious laws against homosexuality.
      • That's assuming handholding equals romantic relationship. We associate handholding with romantic relationships nowadays unless it is obviously not the case. Apparently they didn't see that as homosexual. Not everything is related to sex.
    • Back then, the notion that two lifelong male bachelors (or friends) living together to a ripe old age wouldn't even draw attention. The notion that two men living together to a ripe old age being gay wasn't even a problem until the sexual revolution started where everyone started to see sex everywhere and in everything. The only caveat back then that something "fishy" was going on would be to see an older man living with a younger man who wasn't his son or couldn't pay his own way. That's how the Cleveland Street scandal started. Clearly, Holmes being a consulting detective and Watson having his own medical practice would not draw suspicion. Remember, this was still late 19th Century England where people and families still lived in the same house for generations just to save money.
      • For that matter, Holmes and Irene walked down a busy street holding hands when he was in his homeless-old-Chinese-man costume, and nobody booed and hissed about that, despite how it might've outraged both race and class bigots to see a richly-dressed white woman paired up with an Asian street bum.
  • Holmes explicitly says he deduced Moriarty would take the train to Berlin via Heilbronn from Gare du Nord after feeding the pigeons in the Jardin de Tuileries, since it should have been the closest of the seven mainline stations in Paris, 10 minutes away. However, the station is much farther from Jardin de Tuileries, a few good miles to the northeast, and it would take a lot more time to reach it even by modern automobile, while trains to Alsace and further beyond German border would be taken from Gare de l'Est (which is and has been since 1849 the terminus of the Paris-Strasbourg railway and it's near Gare du Nord). The only station which was directly in front of Jardin de Tuileries and reachable by a bridge over the Seine was Gare d'Orsay (nowadays hosting the Musée d'Orsay), which did not open until 1900 and hosted only southbound trains via Orléans.
  • What's the explanation for Holmes' survival at the end? It's not like in the The Adventure Of The Empty House, where it's revealed that only Moriarty went over the waterfall; we explicitly see both of them fall.
    • It's implied that Holmes stole Mycroft's oxygen device. As for surviving the fall, see Soft Water on the main page.
      • It's possible that Holmes made Moriarty take the worst of the fall ie. making sure he hits the water first, which would ensure he really dies from the enormous damage falling into ice-cold water from that height would inflict, and suffer less damage and a softer fall himself.
  • Why did the Cossack attach a line to Sherlock Holmes? Was he expecting to be thrown out the window?
    • There are some styles of fighting, usually for sport, that involve the fighters being tied together. Maybe it's just the Cossack's style.
  • Whatever happened to the radio device that Moriarty stole from Blackwood? One would think such a blatant sequel hook would get followed up on in some fashion.
    • I would assume that it was replicated and used for the bombs.
  • When the duo see Renee's drawings, Watson says "What's that, blood?". I know it's nitpicking, but surely a doctor and war veteran knows dried blood when he sees it? Or can it occasionally be pink?
    • Dried blood can be any number of shade, from dingy brown to vivid red to almost purple, depending on a number of things.
      • Really? I've never seen, heard or read of dried blood being so light in colour. Do you know where I could read more about this?
  • During the train battle, why didn't Holmes and Watson just jump out of the train with Mrs. Watson?
    • I suppose they had to ensure that their would-be assassins were neutralized. If they had all left, the soldiers could have stopped the train and searched on foot, complicating matters for both sides. Another reason might be that the timing would only safely allow for one body to go through the door at the right time, as opposed to all three.
    • Besides that, there's the matter that Holmes doesn't want off the train, he wants himself (and Watson) on it to go after Moriarty. But more importantly than that, recall that he says he "timed it perfectly" when he tossed Mary out. Apparently there was a very small window in which it was safe to jump out of the train, which was long, long past by the time Watson was finished screaming "Did you kill my wife?!"
  • Why are the Gypsies speaking French? Shouldn't they be speaking Romani?
    • Believe it or not, people often know how to speak the language of the country they live in. Besides, Simza DOES sing softly in Romani while craddling Holmes on the train.
  • Random question: other than the Naked People Are Funny trope, why in God's name would Mycroft be naked when he has Mary in his house? He made it clear close to the end of that scene that he is a confirmed bachelor (and, more likely than not, gay) but seriously— why would he go around naked, in his own house, in the Victorian era, with a newly married woman staying there as his guest?
    • There are many possibilities. Maybe he was reading in the bath when a thought struck him, and he went to find his secretary and give dictation, and then realised it was time for a spot of breakfast, and then Mrs Watson appeared to of course he couldn't then leave the room, because that would have been impolite, and my but it's drafty in here, I'll have to have the servants look into that...
    • Or, more than likely, Mycroft just doesn't give a damn. He is fully cognizant of the fact that Mary has no interest in him and that he has no interest in her and that there's no one around but servants who aren't going to say a word. So he went around naked because he felt like it and to him it was perfectly rational.
    • To add, Mycroft like his brother is a wee bit eccentric.
    • Nudists trace the roots of their lifestyle back to Victorian times. Mycroft's old enough that he probably swam naked when he was a kid, as swimsuits weren't invented until the 1860s; if he enjoyed swimming as a lad, he may simply have retained the habit of nudity when convenient.
    • Also, Mycroft is an anti-social loner who spends nearly all of his time cloistered up in his house with no company or in the Diogenes Club, which specifically caters to people who hate talking to people. The odds of him ever having a young married woman in his home before that point are slim to nil. In other words, No Social Skills.
  • Is Irene officially dead? So far, there's no Word of God or confirmation in the movie.
    • Uh, she falls over, slumps to the floor, and gets left there in the middle of the restaurant, and Moriarty talks about how her death looked to the police. While they could pull some sort of "She was just sleeping" if they really wanted to, you have effectively seen the body.
      • For all we know, though, Moriarty and/or Moran might've simply imprisoned her as a means of contingency for the future.
      • For all we know, Moriarty told Holmes that just to get at him.
      • Imprisoning someone like Irene (already a tricky proposition for someone who's essentially Catwoman) on the off chance she might be used for bargaining purposes later (after already telling Holmes she was dead) is illogical, and if Moriarty were going to do it there were plenty of good times for him to drop that bombshell. Again, while it's theoretically possible she's alive and will pop up in a later sequel, it would frankly be a little silly. Until she shows up again alive, it's most logical and reasonable to assume she's dead.
  • How exactly does gaining access to Moriarty's bank accounts let Scotland Yard bankrupt him? Last I checked, Holmes doesn't have any hard evidence of Moriarty's crimes, and Holmes' relationship with Inspector Lestrade is shaky at best. Moriarty, on the other hand, is a professor at a prestigious university, a distinguished author, and a personal friend of the Prime Minister. Even Her Majesty's Secret Service was unwilling to move against him when warned of an assassination plot. Are they really just going to take Holmes' word for it? Holmes himself seems to imply what he's doing is completely illegal: "The most formidable criminal mind in Europe has just had all his money stolen by perhaps the most inept inspector in the history of Scotland Yard."
    • No one was willing to move against Moriarty before because there was no evidence to tie him to any wrongdoing. Since Holmes has now provided the evidence that Moriarty is involved up to his ears in wrongdoing, presumably Moriarty's old connections are going to be less likely to intervene on his behalf (and thus risk potentially implicating themselves in dealings with a suspected criminal), so the police can act to bring him down. What the police are doing is seizing his assets; since it's illegal to profit from criminal activity, and it can be safely assumed that much of Moriarty's wealth comes from illegal activities (and he presumably has way more money than even a prestigious academic and author would have without something a bit fishy going on), they're seizing his assets so that he can't use them until such a time it is determined which, if any, of his assets have been obtained legally and which have been obtained through criminal activities. It's a perfectly legal act; Holmes is merely taunting Moriarty, who prides himself on being a criminal genius, by informing him that his wealth has been taken from him by a less-than-exceptional police inspector.
      • I am not even sure Holmes has provided any evidence. But for Moriarty's name to protect his wealth, it would need to be tied to his name. Which is not a given since his arms deals seem to be at least semi-conspirative.
      • Of course he provided evidence: The notebook. It keeps track of his money, where it came from and which dummy companies and middlemen it came through.

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