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Cult Recap

'Sherlock': 'The Hounds of Baskerville' recap

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Sherlock in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC

Season 2, episode 2 | Aired Thursday, Jan 5 2012 at 17:01 GMT on BBC One

A nicotine-deprived Sherlock is itching for a new case - his best offer of late was the mystery of a missing rabbit that glowed in the dark! However, new client Henry (guest star Russell Tovey) pays the great detective a visit, bringing with him a news report on Dartmoor's Baskerville chemical and biological weapons research centre.

Henry's father was slaughtered in front of him as a child and he's convinced that a monster brewed in the Baskerville lab did the deed. Returning to the site the previous night, Henry discovered a set of mysterious pawprints. "They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" he bellows.

Intrigued, Sherlock travels to Dartmoor with John, spotting a Baskerville testing site near the site of Henry's father's death - Dewer's Hollow - that is protected by landmines. Meanwhile, Henry speaks with his glamorous therapist Louise Mortimer about his recurring nightmares - the words "liberty" and "in" keep flashing before his eyes...

As night falls, Sherlock and John visit Baskerville, using an all-access pass that Sherlock once pinched from Mycroft. John also plays his part, uses his own military credentials to guarantee them a full tour of the facility.

Baskerville's an animal testing facility - used to develop vaccines and other medical treatments, but also chemical and biological weapons. The detective duo meet scientist Dr. Stapleton - quite coincidentally, she's the mother of the young girl who contacted Sherlock about her missing, fluorescent rabbit. Now Sherlock knows that Stapleton has been conducting genetic experiments on animals…

Soon, our heroes are confronted by the volatile Major Barrymore, who's enraged by their "bureaucratic" interference. Sherlock's security credentials are even called into question, but another scientist, Dr Franklin, claims to know Mycroft and backs up Sherlock's ruse.

Henry in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC

Sherlock and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC



Turns out Franklin is a fan of Sherlock's work - and John's blog - and was also pals with Henry Knight's late father. After their brush with danger at Baskerville, Sherlock and John visit Henry at home and he tells them about the two words from his dreams - Liberty and In...

Sherlock has a plan - he wants to take Henry out onto the moor at night and use him as bait for the hound. But on their trip, John becomes separated from his friends and spots a flashing light on the horizon - someone uses morse code to spell out a sequence of letters, U M Q R A.

But soon after, John hears the howling of the hound, and Sherlock has an even closer encounter as the beast rears up before him. But afterwards, the detective insists that he saw nothing...

John shares the 'U M Q R A' message with his partner, but Sherlock's distracted, emotional, even afraid - he finally admits that he saw the hound, but he's unsettled by the fear he feels and rejects John's efforts to help.

Spotting the flashing light for a second time, John heads out to explore the moors, but stumbles upon an altogether different kind of canine activity - dogging!

At Sherlock's request, John turns his attentions to Henry's therapist Louise Mortimer - the pair share a flirty drink as they chat about Baskerville and the hound, but Dr Franklin ruins the mood when he exposes John as a professional investigator...

Sherlock and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC

Henry in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC



After some brooding on the moors, Sherlock pays Henry another visit - he's curious as to why his client uses the rather archaic term "hound" to describe the beast supposedly prowling across Devon...

Reuniting with John, Sherlock has recovered from his bout of the frights and is back on his game - he begins to suspect that 'H O U N D' may not be a word at all, but an acronym...

Sherlock's surprised to run into Lestrade, who he suspects has been sent to Dartmoor by Mycroft. Meanwhile, John reveals a clue he discovered earlier - inside the inn where he and Sherlock are staying is a receipt for a large delivery of meat, even though the bar and restaurant is strictly vegetarian.

The innkeeper admits that he briefly kept a wild dog - disguising it as the famous hound to drum up tourism. However, he insists that the creature's been put down, and in any case, it bears little resemblance to the monstrous creature that Sherlock and Henry encountered...

Returning to Baskerville - this time with official clearance, thanks to Mycroft - Sherlock questions Barrymore, while John conducts a search of the premises. Stumbling into a lab, his senses are bombarded by floodlights and a blaring alarm...

Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC

Sherlock in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC



Suddenly John's plunged into darkness and can hear the sound of a creature's low growl. Terrified, John takes refuge in a cage, but when Sherlock finds him moments later, there's no sign of the hound. "You have been drugged," he concludes . "We have all been drugged."

Using Stapleton's lab equipment, Sherlock attempts to confirm his theory that the sugar in Henry's kitchen has been laced with a hallucinogenic, but he can find no trace of a narcotic...

Frustrated, Sherlock retreats into his 'mind palace' and finally hits upon the solution, correctly deducing that 'H.O.U.N.D.' was a project at a CIA facility in Liberty, Indiana (or 'Liberty, In.'). Accessing confidential files, he learns that the project - started up in the '80s - developed a new drug, intended to be used as a weapon to disorientate the enemy...

However, prolonged exposure to the drug drove test subjects into a homicidal rage. The entire project was abandoned, but someone has started it up again - it's Baskerville scientist Bob Franklin, revealed as one of the original scientists who worked on 'H.O.U.N.D.'.

Just then, John receives a call from Louise Mortimer, who reveals that Henry has finally lost his mind and is stalking the moors with a gun. Racing to Dewer's Hollow, Sherlock and John track the deranged young man down and forced him to recall what really happened on the night of his father's death...

Henry in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC

Sherlock and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles

© BBC



Henry's father was killed not by a devilish hound, but by a man wearing a sinister-looking gas mask and clothing emblazoned with the logo 'H.O.U.N.D. - Liberty, In.'

"There never was any monster," insists Sherlock, but suddenly a horrible roar fills the air - the beast! Sherlock and his friends are hallucinating again - the detective even thinks that he spots his arch-nemesis Moriarty on the horizon, but it's really just the traitorous Bob Franklin...

"It's the fog! The drug - it's in the fog!" exclaims Sherlock, while Lestrade arrives on the scene just in time to shoot the hound dead. In the aftermath, Sherlock explains that Dewer's Hollow is a "chemical minefield" - pressurised gas was shot up from the ground, dosing Henry each time he visited. With Henry unstable and delirious, his credibility was damaged, meaning his father's death and the dubious experiments at Baskerville could be covered up...

Franklin makes a break for it, but runs straight into the actual mine-field and triggers one of the devices, blowing himself sky-high. The following day, it's revealed that the innkeeper lied about having his dog put down - it was indeed his canine that the drugged Sherlock, John and the others had perceived as the terrifying beast...

John also discovers that it was the callous Sherlock who trapped him in the Baskerville lab - the terrifying noises made by the 'hound' were actually just sound effects played in by Sherlock, as he attempted to test his theory that the hallucinogenic drugs had been planted in Henry's sugar...

A flustered John forgives his friend for his behaviour, but there's another twist in this tale - Mycroft has Jim Moriarty held captive in a government facility, but mysteriously decides to release him. The psychotic Jim has covered his cell with a single world, scrawled onto the walls hundreds of times - 'Sherlock'.

Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sherlock
The Game is On!
• 'The Hounds of Baskerville' is an excellent instalment of Sherlock - fun, moody and, at times, genuinely scary. After last year's excellent series premiere 'A Study in Pink', the second episode 'The Blind Banker' was something of a letdown, so it's good to see 'Hounds' keeping the standard up after the fantastic 'A Scandal in Belgravia'.
• As ever, the work of Conan Doyle is given a thoroughly modern twist - the hound's ghastly appearance being attributed to hallucinogenic drugs is a smart move, as the idea of a "mutant super-dog" is just a little too sci-fi for this show.
• However, the master stroke in Gatiss's script is the reveal of the drugs being released through the fog. It's a genius play on audience expectations - so used are we to seeing creepy fog-strewn moors in previous adaptations of 'Hound' that we don't even question the mist on Dartmoor until the final scenes.
• There's a few other changes made to Conan Doyle's 1902 novel - Mycroft's recurring role, the appearance of Moriarty - but they all work to give this second series of Sherlock a strong linking narrative. It's a wise decision to link these disparate Holmes tales together for a modern television audience.
• The final realisation of the hound is also impressive - it's always a smart move to merely hint at something terrifying and let the viewer's imagination do the rest, and here the dark and spooky visuals compliment the Mill's excellent CGI work.
• As for our leads, Benedict Cumberbatch is predictably brilliant as a rather less brazen, fearful Sherlock, and while Watson may not take centre stage as he does in the original novel, Martin Freeman still gets a decent chunk of the action and delivers the good as per usual.

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