Moriarty: I Owe You

IOU means Iodine, Oxygen, Uranium? And what does it imply?

Sherlock mutters “IOU” while analyzing the glycerol molecule in Bart’s lab (right before we are shown the chemical structure of glycerol). When asked about it, he claims it’s “nothing, a mental note.” It’s not like Sherlock to mutter random, irrelevant things out of the blue, so I choose to believe that Sherlock is having an “Aha!” moment here. What if IOU refers to chemical elements – iodine, oxygen, and uranium?

And what if, like in “The Blind Banker”, each symbol is a number? The atomic numbers for iodine, oxygen, and uranium are 53, 8, and 92.

53-8-92 is probably something really, really simple. In “The Blind Banker,” the key to the cipher was in a book – London A to Z.

In this episode, there’s also a book – Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Moriarty leaves it at the crime scene, knowing full well that Sherlock will find it.

Grimm’s fairy tale # 53
Little Snow-White
The Evil Queen makes three attempts to kill Snow White, just like Moriarty makes three attempts to kill Sherlock (the first two being the poisoned pill and the Semtex jacket in the pool). On the last attempt, both villains bring an apple to their intended victim. The Evil Queen orders the huntsman to bring her Snow White’s heart. Moriarty also promises to burn the heart out of Sherlock. To make sure Sherlock will be shown the security tape, Moriarty writes “Get Sherlock” in mirror writing and then poses for the security cameras wearing the Queen’s crown jewels and mantle. After his acquittal, he comes to Sherlock’s home, proclaims himself “a good old-fashioned villain,” drinks from a cup with a crown on it, carves “IOU” into an apple, and tells Sherlock to learn to like riddles. Sherlock takes the apple and studies the three letters, looking intrigued. Maybe this scene is not the “arts and crafts with apples” time. Maybe what Moriarty is doing here is leaving a clue for Sherlock (just like he later sends breadcrumbs to 221B as a clue). It makes sense if you think about it – in a way, their final problem is “who in this land is the fairest of all.”

Grimm’s fairy tale # 8
The Strange Musician
Also translated as The Strange Violinist and The Wonderful Violinist in some editions.This fairy tale is about a violinist looking for a companion. The violinist’s music attracts three wild beasts. He outsmarts them, and they attempt to kill him in revenge. One of those beasts is a fox. Moriarty is wearing a fox pin on his tie when he comes over to 221B to give Sherlock the “IOU” riddle. Sherlock is the violinist, obviously.

Grimm’s fairy tale #92
The King of the Golden Mountain
It’s the story of a boy who becomes king by passing a series of trials and killing his competition (there‘s also an evil queen, a demon who solves people’s problems for a price, and a merchant who unwittingly sells his only son to that demon). Moriarty puts on the crown and sits on the throne in the Tower of London. When they meet at 221B, he takes a tea cup with a crown on it and boasts to Sherlock that “the man with the key is king.”

"Every fairy tale needs a good old fashioned villain."


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