“A 20-year-old disappearance. A monstrous hound. Wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Literally climbing the walls—or at least the furniture—for lack of a case (it’s positively been minutes since his last one!) Sherlock is bored /nonplussed/ repelled /intrigued by the scenario Henry Knight presents to him: 20 years earlier, Henry’s father was mauled to death by a “gigantic hound” at a place called Dewar’s Hollow. Henry, just a little boy at the time, saw the whole thing happen. Now he’s gone back to visit the site—on the advice of his therapist, no less—and he’s seen the hound again. If he’s to unravel this mystery and come to terms with his childhood trauma, he’ll need more than a shrink to help him: he’ll need Sherlock Holmes.
Upon a nanosecond’s reflection, Sherlock agrees to take the case, and before you can say “weekend in the country,” he and Watson are off to the wilds of Dartmoor in the picturesque county of Devon.
Once upon a time, the actual Hound of the Baskervilles might have been inspired by folklore and legend. This time, the creature is the manifestation of locals’ concerns and conjectures about the nearby Baskerville chemical and biological weapons research center. (And, let’s face it, those places are a heck of a lot scarier than any distant howling on the moors.) Exactly what the teams of government-funded scientists are doing behind the barbed wire fences and minefields that surround Baskerville is anyone’s guess. But whatever it is; it’s not good.
The episode maintains a fine level of spookiness throughout, creating a mood so tense that the lights going on can be just as terrifying as the lights going off.
Russell Tovey plays the distraught Henry Knight. You’ll recognize him. He pops up in lots of things, from Miss Marple to Doctor Who to Being Human, in which he plays a werewolf. Seems like his characters never have an easy time of things, and this is no exception.
Rupert Graves does a quick, but memorable turn as Inspector Greg (who knew?) Lestrade, looking tanned and fit.
And in this episode particularly, special mention must be made of Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. While most of the attention and praise for Sherlock tends to fall on Benedict Cumberbatch and his cheekbones—both of which are worthy of note—Martin Freeman consistently demonstrates his skill as an actor with the merest glance, gesture, or grimace. Who better to represent us mere mortals? Smart, confident, capable, and stubborn, as Watson he willingly gives Sherlock respect and expects the same in return. And Sherlock, being a genius, knows enough to comply.
To describe the episode in more detail would be to reveal spoilers, and that I won’t do. But I will say this: It seems to me that a pivotal clue is based on a misperception by the series creators. That would be an unusual misstep, so I’m curious to hear from anyone else who noticed an incongruity. (NO SPOILERS PLEASE!)
Also read Lyndsay Faye’s views on The Hounds of Baskerville episode.
Next week: The conclusion of Sherlock season 2, “The Reichenbach Fall.”
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.