Hint: If you’ve read the novels, you might be able to deduce what’s going on, too.
It’s nearly here!
Fans of Sherlock, the modern day take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s world famous detective stories, are eagerly awaiting the return of the show, which set to return this festive season (or thereabouts – we haven’t been given a solid air date yet) for a standalone special episode.
Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the world’s most famous crimefighting duo (sorry, Batman and Robin), is known for its very contemporary take on Holmes and Watson. In this special, though, they’ll be switching cell phones for gas lamps and moustaches for slightly curlier moustaches as the show leaps back in time to show the popular characters in a more traditional Victorian setting.
The latest Sherlock trailer, which debuted last week, has given us a few glimpses into what we can expect from the special – although it does so subtly, leaving viewers to deduce just what will be in store.
So, very much in the spirit of Sherlock, here are a few of the clues, references and easter eggs that we’ve gleaned from the trailer, and some predictions as to what they might mean for the Sherlock special.
“The stage is set, the curtain rises, we’re ready to begin.”
The trailer begins with Sherlock, dressed in Victorian garb, introducing the trailer through a play metaphor. Could this be clever word-play making reference to part of the crime that unfolds in the episode?
Next we see shots of Victorian London, with famous architecture such as St. Paul’s Cathedral on display. Clearly the special episode will glamorize 19th century London the same way that Sherlock usually shows off the beauty of 21st century London.
“You promised to keep him safe!”
A woman screams at Sherlock, clearly distraught – it’s clear that he’s just as tragically confident in his own abilities as Modern Sherlock. We see a chase through a fancy old English house, with someone running through a hedge maze and up some steps in the dark. This is followed by a misty scene of early morning in the English countryside.
It’s possible that the episode will borrow from the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. The show’s already given us a modern take on the classic Sherlock Holmes adventure, but with another visit to the English countryside, we might see some of the same themes returning.
Some voiceover from Sherlock talks about ghosts – it would make sense if rumors of a haunting draw Sherlock and Watson to investigate a crime, as the show’s version of Sherlock is often bored by crimes that don’t have some weird unexplained element to them.
We get a quick glimpse as some people in black hoods which look an awful lot like Death Eaters or members of the Ku Klux Klan. One of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips, featured the Ku Klux Klan as villains, so it’s possible that the episode will draw on elements from that story.
Parts of The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips were used in ‘”The Great Game,” the third episode of the first season of Sherlock, but there’s still plenty to borrow from, and the show’s made a habit of picking and choosing different bits of classic Sherlock Holmes stories for various episodes.
It’s unlikely that the episode will feature the Ku Klux Klan for several reasons – firstly, the costumes are a different color. Secondly, while Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories typically featured a lot of groups who were in the news a lot at the time, the BBC’s Sherlock has usually avoided relying on them.
The first episode of Sherlock, for example, “A Study in Pink,” borrows a lot from the classic story A Study in Scarlet but stops short of including the murderous Mormon cowboy conspiracy which was the plot of the Conan Doyle’s story.
It’s far more likely that the black hooded figures will form some kind of unique fictional cult group, rather than rely on groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the Illuminati, especially considering that the Illuminati featured heavily in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr.
Whatever’s up, Sherlock refers to the mystery as “war” which has “martyrs,” so there’s a strong chance that there’s some kind of conspiracy underfoot. This may in some way connect to why both Watson and Holmes are spotted at various times in the trailer brandishing guns.
Familiar Faces and Self-Referential Dialogue
Next we see a few quick shots of some of the supporting characters from the world of Sherlock in Victorian garb, including Mrs. Hudson, who featured heavily in an earlier trailer, alongside Watson’s wife Mary Morstan, and Inspector LeStrade, who is sporting the most enormous mutton chops. To round things off, in case viewers were worried that the Victorian episode will stray too far from typical episodes of Sherlock, we hear two lines of familiar dialogue.
Sherlock says, to an unknown person, “The name’s Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B Baker Street,” which is exactly the same line that he said to Watson during their first meeting before storming off to solve a crime of some kind.
At the very end of the trailer, Watson tells Holmes to “Wear the damn hat,” while thrusting him a deer stalker, again a reference to a line said in an earlier episode.
While the rest of the trailer appears to be fully accurate to its Victorian setting, these two lines of dialogue are a little out of place, and suggest that the episode might have a slight contemporary element to it, rather than just sticking with appropriate language and behavior from the 1800s.
The trailer ends with Holmes and Watson walking through a door with a beautiful stained glass window that depicts a silhouette of a hound – it’s exactly the same design as was seen on the original printed copies of The Hound of the Baskervilles, which leads more strength to the theory that elements of Baskervilles will appear in the episode.
So What Can We Expect?
Judging from the trailer, the special episode of Sherlock will be a mostly (but not entirely) faithful period piece, set in Victorian London and on the estate of an old country house. There’ll be ghosts, a shadowy conspiracy, and appearances from all out favorite Sherlock characters.
As the story isn’t tied to existing Sherlock canon, it might play around with character motivations and backgrounds a bit, and there’s no guarantee that everyone will survive the episode, as showrunner Steven Moffatt has a great love for killing the same characters over and over in different time periods. Sherlock’s already “died” once, and Rory and Clara from Doctor Who (also currently overseen by Moffatt) have had a habit of dying repeatedly in different historical eras.
Whatever happens, it ought to be a lot of fun. Sherlock episodes don’t come along very often, so when one shows up, you can guarantee it’ll be worth watching.
Have you spotted anything else from the trailer that needs to be mentioned? What are your predictions for the upcoming Sherlock special? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.