We love our puzzles at Next Level Escape, and there was something that caught our attention in the final episode of Sherlock Season 4. If you haven’t watched it yet, TURN BACK NOW. THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
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At the end of the episode “The Final Problem”, Sherlock realises there is a cipher using the dates on the gravestones. The numbers form a message from the words of the song Eurus sings. Puzzle fiend that I am, I wanted to go through Sherlock’s reasoning for myself. So my friend and I went through the scene, stopping at key frames to get the numbers Sherlock uses, as well as the words to the song, and numbering them as he did to follow the logic.
When we did, we discovered an interesting little omission in the puzzle, quite likely a mistake. But before we go into that, here’s all the information you get in the episode that you’ll need if you want to work it out for yourself.
Below are the full lyrics to Eurus’s song:
I that am lost, oh who will find me? Deep down below the old beech tree Help succor me, now the east winds blow Sixteen by six, brother, and under we go Be not afraid to walk in the shade, Save one, save all, come try! My steps - five by seven Life is closer to Heaven Look down, with dark gaze from on high... Before he was gone - right back over my hill Who now will find him? Why, nobody will Doom shall I bring to him, I that am queen Lost forever, nine by nineteen Without your love he'll be gone before Save pity for strangers, show love the door, My soul seek the shade of my willow's bloom Inside, brother mine Let Death make a room
And here are all the numbers from each of the tombstones that we’re shown (one line per tombstone), in the same order that we see the tombstones themselves:
1818 24 26 1617 1822 32 134 1719 28 9 1520
The final cipher message from Eurus to Sherlock, as shown in the episode:
I am lost, help me brother Save my life, before my doom I am lost without your love Save my soul, seek my room
From here on out, we’re going to show the full reasoning, so if you want to see if you can find the omission for yourself, stop now!
We used Sherlock’s arrangement of the verses and the tombstone numbers as shown in the episode, as there was nothing else we could use to discern the correct order of the tombstone dates or verses. Below is the correct order of the tombstone dates as you saw in the (literal!) screenshot above, as well as from previous frames. I’ve labelled them by tombstone for later reference.
(Tombstone 1) 134 1719 (Tombstone 2) 28 9 1520 (Tombstone 3) 1818 24 26 (Tombstone 4) 1617 1822 32
We then numbered the words in the verses as Sherlock did, and compared each verse to the numbers. It turned out that each tombstone did NOT equate with a single verse.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I that am lost, oh, who will find me? 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Deep down below the old beech tree 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Help succor me now the east winds blow 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 Sixteen by six, brother and under we go.
Taking the numbers in the order from above, we get:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Be not afraid to walk in the shade, 9 10 11 12 13 14 Save one, save all, come try! 15 16 17 18 19 My steps - five by seven 20 21 22 23 24 Life is closer to Heaven 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 Look down, with dark gaze from on high...
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Before he was gone - right back over my hill 10 12 12 13 14 Who now will find him? 15 16 17 Why, nobody will 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Doom shall I bring to him, I that am queen 28 29 30 31 32 Lost forever, nine by nineteen
Here’s where it gets odd, because the screenshot (and every single number we see on the tombstones) clearly shows that after 1818 24 26 comes 1617 1822 32, with nothing in between. So let’s try this on the next verse and you’ll see what’s wrong.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Without your love he'll be gone before 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Save pity for strangers, show love the door, 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 My soul seek the shade of my willow's bloom 25 26 27 Inside, brother mine 28 29 30 31 32 Let Death make a room
So, putting it all together, we get:
I am lost / Help me brother / Save my life / Before my doom / I am / My soul / Seek my room
As you can see, there are a number of words missing between “I am” and “My soul”, namely the words “lost without your love, save”.
The relevant numbers needed, then, are:
lost (28) / without (1) / your (2) / love (3) / save (8)
And looking at the screenshot, there is nothing obscured that can be used to explain away the missing numbers. Hmmm, Sherlock? What say you?
So, there’s our full working for the Sherlock gravestone cipher, and what we discovered. I’d love to get your thoughts this as well! Is it a glaring mistake in the episode, or something we missed?