Moriarty the Patriot (or Yuukoku no Moriarty in Japanese) is a retelling of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes series with a twist. Most notably, the series is presented from the perspective of Holmes’ famous nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Episodes 8 and 9 have seen the first true clash of wits between these two titans of mystery titled “A Study in ‘S'”. Episode 9 contained the conclusion of this initial battle with a powerful scene where Holmes reveals his true character. Needless to say, spoilers ahead.
After a dryly humorous scene where Sherlock reveals how he discovered the identity of the killer, Holmes and Watson have a chat with the murderer. This conversation happens in a graveyard, a location that has already seen tremendous action in the series so far. The murderer passes Holmes a gun and makes him an offer: kill me and find out who the mastermind behind this scheme is.
It’s an interesting offer. The killer reveals that he is already dying and estimates his time will soon be up. He also informs Holmes that the mastermind behind the operation has arranged for a witness to come forward and confirm the identity of the murderer. This alone would not be enticing, but Holmes has clearly been chasing after the puppet master with strong curiosity.
As Holmes considers the offer the other elements of the scene emphasize the gravity of the decision. The characters and background take on a washed-out brown tint. Mist shrouds the area. And most effectively, the music features a wavering violin in a piece that may as well be from a horror movie. The accompanying image of a crow with glowing red eyes serves to heighten the tension even further.
When Holmes makes his decision and reaches for the gun, Watson tries to stop him; however, Holmes retorts “Why? There is nothing but benefit for both him and me here.”
The music stops and, with Watson’s gun aimed for his head, Holmes pulls the trigger. Birds flee the scene and a spray of feathers dot the sky as the echo of the shot rings. The colors change back to normal, everything is silent, and the true target of Holmes’ shot is revealed: the ground between the murderer’s feet.
Holmes laughs as the music begins an inspiring accompaniment and reveals how he really feels about the offer. Finding out the identity of the mastermind now in such a way would ruin the spirit of the mystery. “Mysteries aren’t mysteries unless you solve them yourself!”. He also calls the murderer a ‘stupid sod’ for making this offer, which is great.
Holmes shows that his desire to solve this mystery is bound by an internal set of rules. He doesn’t blindly run towards his goal. Instead, he imposes restrictions on himself. What’s even more impressive is that he has the willpower to adhere to his rules, even in the face of an immediate answer.
This provides a sharp contrast to many other characters we’ve seen so far. Alfred Moriarty who was willing to assist in killing his own parents in the pursuit of equality among classes. The college staff member who blackmailed families after getting their children addicted to opium. Moriarty’s clients and their willingness to commit murder. All of these people stopped at nothing to get what they wanted. But Holmes is different.
Moriarty reveals that testing this distinction was the cause of this scheme at the close of the episode. The fact that Holmes has that restraint, that he abides by his own rules, makes him the “worthy” foil for Moriarty’s grand scheme to change the country.
The way that Holmes reveals his true character in a scene scored with perfect musical punctuation that contained so many layers of meaning is a testament to the thought and effort put into this series. I’m certain this is not the last we will see of such well-crafted scenes, and I, for one, can’t wait for more clashes between these two great minds in the episodes to come.
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Images from Funimation.