(Spoiler Warning: If you are as averse to spoilers about "The Lying Detective" as Sherlock is to stupid people, get out from under these Reichenbach Falls before they burn the heart right out of you.)
Although some of us were not too impressed with the first episode of Sherlock's return after three years, the second episode has without a doubt renewed our faith in writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss to spin a good story and stay true to the characters while doing it.
This episode was packed full of Easter Eggs and cheeky nods, not to mention big reveals (there sure is an East Wind coming). So light up your thinking pipe and settle into your comfiest chair to examine five things you might have missed in Sherlock Season 4 "The Lying Detective":
5. The Lying Detective = The Dying Detective
This episode was without question based on the Arthur Conan Doyle story "The Adventure of the Dying Detective." The plot surrounds a seemingly deathly ill Sherlock Holmes as he expertly lays a trap for the murderous Culverton Smith. Throughout the story, Watson is kept in the dark about Holmes's condition, believing him to be seriously ill. However, in the end it is revealed that Sherlock merely feigned illness in order to convince Smith that he'd succeeded in poisoning him the way he'd poisoned his poor dead nephew.
The BBC's "The Lying Detective" (a clever rhyme, chaps!) mirrors Conan Doyle's story in both the name of the villain and the incapacitated Sherlock. However, the on-screen Sherlock goes one step further and actually enters a world of drug-induced delirium on his quest to catch the now "cereal" killer, Culverton Smith.
4. Who/What Is Sherrinford?
While some heavy hints were dropped in the first episode of the season ("The Six Thatchers") about the nature of who or what Sherrinford is, the big reveal at the end of "The Lying Detective" thew us a curveball; many of us expected the entrance of a third Holmes brother, but having him turn out to be a Holmes sister was a nice touch.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally toyed with the name Sherrinford for his mythic detective before eventually landing on Sherlock. However, the name resurfaced in William S. Baring-Gould's fictional biography Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, in which Sherrinford appears as the eldest Holmes brother.
However, since "The Lying Detective" confirmed the existence of a third Holmes sibling who says her name is Eurus, what does Sherrinford stand for? Joanna Robinson over at Vanity Fair suggests that it's the name of a mental facility in which Eurus was being kept, and I'm inclined to agree with her.
3. 'There's An East Wind Coming'
At the end of "The Lying Detective," Watson's Germanic therapist reveals herself to actually be Eurus, Sherlock and Mycroft's secret sister. In regard to her name, she says, "Silly name, isn't it? Greek. It means the East Wind." Hm, where have we heard about the East Wind before? That's right, Sherlock himself mentions it in the Season 3 finale episode, "His Last Vow," to Watson just before boarding the plane:
"The East Wind takes us all in the end. It's a story my brother told me when we were kids. The East Wind — this terrifying force that lays waste to all in its path. Seeks out the unworthy and plucks them from the Earth."
The East Wind is named again after Moriarty's tape surfaces and Sherlock's plane comes back to London, with Watson saying to Mary, "Well, if [Moriarty] is [back], he’d better wrap up warm. There’s an East Wind coming."
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This last bit is a direct quote taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story "His Last Bow," in which Sherlock says on the eve of the beginning of World War I:
"There's an east wind coming... such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast."
Clearly there's an East Wind by the name of Eurus is coming, and it's nature is destructive.
2. Sherlock's Birthday
Dedicated Sherlock Holmes fans have decided that January 6 is the birthday of our famed detective. Although Conan Doyle never specified, intrepid readers have come up with many a theory for the birthdate of Holmes, the most popular being that because Sherlock quotes Shakespeare's Twelfth Night twice (more than any other Shakespeare work), he must have been born on the twelfth night (January 6th). Christopher Morley, who founded The Baker Street Irregulars club in 1934, decided that he liked the theory and the date stuck.
Since the BBC's Sherlock episode aired on January 8th, Watson deducing that it was Sherlock's birthday was a nice little nod to the fans, and also worked to reintroduce The Woman (a.k.a. Irene Adler), Sherlock's maybe-sort-of-love-interest. In fact, this episode spelled lucky times in love for both Holmes brothers, with Mycroft smoothly (read: very awkwardly) scoring the phone number of Lady Smallwood. Mycroft, you minx!
1. Shakespeare's 'Henry V'
As stated above, Sherlock — both on the page and on screen — loves a Shakespeare quote. In "The Lying Detective" we were treated to Sherlock going all Henry V on us with his drug-addled recitation of the famous speech:
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!
Or close the wall up with our English dead.”
Henry V gives this rousing discourse to rally his men, inspiring them to try once more. And Sherlock definitely gives it his all once again!
Things to watch out for in the final episode:
- The number three: Sherlock asks why everyone always stops looking for clues after they've found three. Could we be missing something too? Is there a secret fourth episode?
- Twins: Sherlock says it's never twins — but is it this time? Sherlock and Eurus: Twins separated at birth?
What was your favorite Easter Egg in "The Lying Detective"?