Eve, the apple, the snake & the fall
In the Garden of Eden Eve was immortal. She felt no pain, all her needs were met. Her life had no ups, no downs, none of the things that we would associate with being alive; with having a human life. She was on the side of the angels, God’s side,
Was her life even real?
Was she just staying alive? Sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it?
Along comes the snake and offers her an apple,
…a fall from grace. The devil wants Eve. He finds her interesting. He is interested in her,
Eve eats the apple. But, she does not fall from grace. So Satan owes her a fall,
After that her life becomes real. Real life as we know it,
Real life includes, ‘pain, heartbreak, loss… death’.
Before Sherlock meets John, his life is devoid of meaningful relationships. As John illustrates at Angelo’s, Sherlock’s life is, 'not real’, because he keeps himself from getting involved.
John is put in Sherlock’s path via coincidence. Yet, Mycroft stresses to him in TSoT that there’s no such thing. If we see Moriarty as the Devil, one who controls and machinates, one with whom people make deals to get what they want, then we can speculate that Mike Stamford, either literally or subtextually, was put in John and Sherlock’s paths to bring them together. This is the snake giving Eve the apple. The green apple that’s part of John’s breakfast in the beginning of ASiP, it represents him. The snake on his mug represents Moriarty. He puts the temptation in Sherlock’s path.
The apple comes from the tree of knowledge. In this case the knowledge is that of love and sex. 'To know’, in the Bible, literally means, 'to have sex with’. John represents the knowledge of getting involved, emotionally and sexually.
Sherlock eats this apple when he falls for John at the end of ASiP. And yet, he remains metaphorically, 'chaste’, by denying his feelings. He has eaten the apple and yet, he has not been expelled from the Garden of Eden. In Series 1 and 2, he successfully keeps at bay the consequences of falling in love. He ate the apple but did not pay the price. This is why Moriarty, 'owes him a fall’, because he ate the apple and was not expelled. He circumvented the consequences by his own denial but Moriarty catches up to him.
The apple that Moriarty carves in TRF is symbolic of that debt. It is not the apple that Sherlock is to eat, for he’s already eaten John’s apple. It’s a reminder of that apple, that Sherlock ate and did not pay for.
Sherlock’s fall is the price he pays for eating the apple in ASiP. Moriarty discredits his life’s work as a symbol of confronting him on his life being inauthentic. He is saying a version of what John was saying at Angelo’s: your life is not real, you’re a fake. But, it’s not the same thing, exactly. John was saying, 'without taking emotional risks, you’re not really living’, whereas Moriarty is saying, 'you already ate the apple and you’re acting like you didn’t. You think you can love but risk nothing, pay no price. You are wrong. And you’re a fake for pretending you’re not in love’. In this way, Moriarty is right, Sherlock is a fake and his whole life is fake.
Have you ever heard the phrase, 'shit just got real’? Shit getting real means things getting bad, getting hard, it means, 'the plot thickens’. In Series 3 we see shit get very real for John and Sherlock. None of the former comforts of Series 1 and 2 remain. There is no more stasis, no more, 'stayin’ alive’. Sherlock’s life has literally become real after the fall. Just like how Eve was not really alive, not really human the way that we think of as human and it’s only once she is expelled from the Garden and falls from grace that her real, hard life begins, so, too, with Sherlock.
At the beginning of TEH we immediately see just how, 'real’, things have gotten for Sherlock, as he’s literally a captive being tortured. After the fall, the exit from Eden, his life will never be anything but real.
To me, 'the final problem’, is mortality (look at how similar the words, 'mortality’, and, 'Moriarty’, are). The final thing that happens in life is always death. The issue for Eve is, if she chooses (human) life by eating the apple that also means choosing death, as it’s a part of life. The final problem is, 'to be or not to be’, as represented by Billy the skull and the skull painting at Baker St. But, in this context, it’s about choosing a life like Eve’s in the garden of eden, which is basically not a life or choosing temptation and choosing to live a life and then die. So, 'death’, here is also code for, 'life’, because the two are not offered separately. Eve chooses between an eternal non-life and a life of necessary dichotomies.
When John was put in Sherlock’s life, he fell but he did not choose to do so. It was chosen for him. For this reason, I think, he had a legitimate claim to refusing to leave the Garden of Eden. He had not chosen and afterwards had chosen to live as he had before, ignoring that he’d eaten the apple. I think by renouncing the good, he had rationalised that he could avoid the bad. i.e. if he had fallen in love but chosen not to enjoy it, not to become John’s boyfriend, then why should he suffer? If he’s giving up the good, he shouldn’t have to pay with the bad. Except that his life in Series 1 and 2 was secretly filled with silent pleasures. Sharing his life with John, eating breakfast with him, solving cases together, reading his blog, these things had brought him immense pleasure and just not admitting it did not amount to forfeiting it. This is why Moriarty comes to collect his suffering, because it is what he’s been avoiding, it is what is due.
In TRF, he finally chooses to accept the consequence of his eating the apple. Even if he had felt disconnected from the choice originally and had shied away from it or attempted to obscure it, now he must assume responsibility for it.