Off-topic: Sherlock Season 4, Episode 3 – The Final Problem [SPOILERS]

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.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! 

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:

<Tombstone 1>
(1) I
(3) am
(5) lost
(17) Help
(19) me
<Tombstone 2>
(28) brother

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...

<Tombstone 2>
(9) Save
(15) My
(20) Life

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

<Tombstone 3>
(1) Before
(8) my
(18) Doom
(24) I
(26) am

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

<Tombstone 4>
(16) My
(17) soul
(18) seek
(22) my
(32) 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?

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