Tick-tock, tick-tock: one step forward, two steps back?

Hey, remember the camera spinning trick in TAB? 

Clockwise, once:

Then, counterclockwise, twice.

Sure, it implies that certain amount of time has passed between these events. But why different rotations? And it’s… so…… out of place within the overall aesthetic of the episode. It’s been bothering me since the day TAB aired.

But first thing first, a disclaimer: there might’ve been discussions about this already, especially with all the “Back” tweets during setlock and Mark’s comment last night – so if this is redundant, my apology.

Anyway, read on if you like.

Because clockwise = time moving forward; counterclockwise = time moving backward. 


Before the first clockwise rotation, Holmes and Watson were in the iconic train scene. The feature of interest, for me, is when Holmes said “… You may, however, rest assured there are no ghosts in this world… save those we make for ourselves.” [x]

In between the spinnings we have the confrontation scene with Sir Eustace. About the five pips. The conversation between Holmes and Watson outside afterward, once again, touched on the topic of the ghost of the past “We all have a past, Watson. Ghosts – they are the shadows that define our every sunny day. Sir Eustace knows he’s a marked man. There’s something more than murder he fears. He believes he is to be dragged to Hell by the risen corpse of the late Mrs. Ricoletti.” [x]

After the counterclockwise spin – the Great Sex Talks™ between Holmes and Watson. But they were interrupted by a sudden appearance/recollection of Redbeard.

So, in short: ghost we make ourselves (clockwise forward) the shadows that define our every sunny day (counterclockwise backward) the ghost of the past. Looking at Sherlock’s journey thus far, we know somehow Moriarty became the manifestation of the ghost Sherlock made for himself; a ghost from the past. Every sunny day, which I’m guessing referring the days Sherlock spent with John, throughout the entire series to date. And the last time we heard about Redbeard? HLV. 

If we superimpose the rotation mechanics over 3 seasons of Sherlock + TAB, we have:

scenario 1: HLV → clockwise forward = TAB → counterclockwise backward twice = TRF

scenario 2: HLV → clockwise forward = TAB → everything’s in Sherlock’s head and he’s still on that damn plane → back to HLV as time forward nulled → counterclockwise backward twice = TGG

Yes, I can hear the collective groan already. I know I know, this is quite a stretch and just one of the many ways to interpret a spinning camera trick. But messing with the timeline is part of the Sherlockian experience – I don’t believe Mofftiss would spare us the pain and agony of playing the game. And then there’s still the unreliable narrator – who’s the storyteller here exactly?

I was reminded of a quote from the legendary filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard just the other day:

“Of course a story should have a beginning, middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order.”