Sherlock week continues as we show you 10 moments of series 3 that you missed out on if you don’t read the Sherlock Holmes novels.
Back in December, we brought you 10 Sherlock references you missed because you don’t read the books, sharing the answers to references like Vatican Cameos and Mycroft’s diet. Since then, the world has been treated to the emotional rollercoaster of series 3 – and plenty more cheeky nods to canon that non-book readers probably didn’t understand.
Well, we here at Hypable think you should be reading the books. To show you what you’re missing out on, we’ve compiled a list of 10 nods to canon from the show’s third series. If you haven’t read Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, this will hopefully explain a few of those references that have always puzzled you, and encourage you to run to the library and grab the source material to help pass the excruciating wait for series 4.
“‘I have not introduced you yet,’ said Holmes. ‘This, gentlemen, is Colonel Sebastian Moran, once of Her Majesty’s Indian Army, and the best heavy game shot that our Eastern Empire has ever produced. I believe I am correct, Colonel, in saying that your bag of tigers still remains unrivalled?'”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Empty House”
With Moriarty seemingly dead at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall,” fans were fervently speculating about who the big new bad would be. When we found out that the series 3 opener would be called “The Empty Hearse,” many were sure we would be seeing Colonel Sebastian Moran – Moriarty’s right-hand man and notorious big game hunter.
However, when it was announced we’d instead get Charles Augustus Magnussen as the great detective’s latest adversary, we thought the Moran dream was over. And in a sense it was – as “The Empty Hearse” focused instead on an underground terrorism plot not entirely unlike V for Vendetta. But writer Mark Gatiss still left in a nod to the episode’s namesake story. The corrupt politician behind the deadly scheme is known as Lord Moran.
It would be nice if we could see the book version of the character, as his aggressive skill with a gun and ruthless quest for revenge would be an exciting dynamic to put Sherlock in – all the brains and deductive skills in the world can’t save you from a speeding bullet.
“There’s an east wind coming all the same, 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. But it’s God’s own wind none the less and a cleaner, better stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, “His Last Bow”
Throughout “His Last Vow,” Mycroft continually warns his younger brother that “an east wind is coming.” In saying this, the elder Holmes sibling is referring to Sherlock’s close shave with death at the hands of Mary. This is an homage to the warning repeated throughout “His Last Bow,” except in the Conan Doyle adventure the east wind is a warning of oncoming war.
Interpreted as British propaganda due to it’s setting just before the First World War and patriotic themes, the adventure is a spy story rather than murder mystery. Though the series finale doesn’t actually feature international conflict, this small reference to the last Sherlock Holmes story is an effective and atmospheric quote.
“Unfortunately, no. I confess that I am surprised and disappointed. I expected something definite by this time. Wiggins has just been up to report. He says that no trace can be found of the launch. It is a provoking check, for every hour is of importance.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Sign of Four”
In our last list, we told you how the homeless network were a contemporary take on the Baker Street Irregulars (Sherlock’s band of orphan children who would assist him on cases). We thought that was as far as the references would go, until Billy Wiggins jumped into the back of Mary’s car and made a few deductions of his own.
In the original stories, Wiggins is the ringleader of the Baker Street Irregulars and Sherlock’s first point of contact with his underground information network. He may have been found in a drug den, but the grown up street urchin can certainly hold his own when it comes to the powers of deduction.
It’s just a shame that his exit was a bit abrupt, as we’d certainly like to have seen more of the character. Hopefully, he’ll be back in series 4 to lead the homeless network in the true spirit of the novels.
“‘Well, sir, if it isn’t too great a liberty, I am a neighbour of yours, for you’ll find my little bookshop at the corner of Church Street, and very happy to see you, I am sure. Maybe you collect yourself, sir. Here’s BRITISH BIRDS, and CATULLUS, and THE HOLY WAR — a bargain, every one of them. With five volumes you could just fill that gap on that second shelf. It looks untidy, does it not, sir?'”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Empty House”
During the hilarious Doctor’s surgery sequence in “The Empty Hearse,” John accuses a patient of being his best friend in disguise. He wasn’t the only one suspecting Sherlock, as the porn-peddling Santa Claus was trying to sell some wares that rang true with one of the great detective’s previous excursions.
Though the series had Sherlock reveal his survival to John at a fancy restaurant, in the Conan Doyle equivalent of the story, he instead poses as a book collector. And he offers some of his tomes to Watson, namely books on bird-watching in Britain, Catullus and The Holy War – a direct parallel to the seedy DVDs on tree worship, British “birds” and nuns taking part in a kinky Holy War.
It was a nice touch from Mark Gatiss, and allows book readers to experience some of the suspense and tension that comes with not knowing what’s going to happen next.
“It was the monkey, not the professor, whom Roy attacked, just as it was the monkey who teased Roy.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Creeping Man”
“Monkey glands!” shouts Sherlock as he and new-recruit Molly try to solve a client’s case. It’s a random outburst, and we don’t blame you for being a bit confused if you haven’t read “The Creeping Man,” where the phrase originates from.
This Conan Doyle adventure bares more than a passing resemblance to Jekyll and Hyde, in which Professor Presbury drinks a potion to try and regain his youth – but he instead starts to develop ape like abilities. Sure, it’s one of the stranger Holmes adventures, so this is probably as close as we’ll ever get to seeing the adventure on screen, but it was a fitting and amusing homage to the underrated mystery nonetheless.