1:00 pm EST, February 4, 2014

‘Sherlock’ Series 4: Six stories we’d like to see

Sherlock series 3 may have wrapped up, but there’s plenty to speculate about! As part of our Sherlock week, Hypable picks six Holmes stories we’d like to see in series 4.

Though gripping in it’s own right, the hit BBC series is constantly being applauded by Arthur Conan Doyle fans for frequent references, nods, and adaptations of the original detective novels. Though it’s anyone’s guess exactly how Moriarty survived the roof of St. Barts, and what exactly he has up his sleeve for his adversary, we’ve taken the liberty of turning to the source material and selecting six stories we might see when the show finally returns. We’ll almost undoubtedly be wrong on all accounts (Damn you, Mofftiss!) but we hope our desperate speculation will at least help to soften the painful wait until Benedict Cumberbatch’s sleuth returns to our screens. So, here goes!

The Valley of Fear

Valley of Fear book cover

Published in serial form for The Strand Magazine between September 1914 and May 1915, ‘The Valley of Fear’ is the fourth and final Sherlock Holmes novel written by Doyle. The story is notable for Moriarty’s inclusion, set before ‘The Final Problem’.

Not many Sherlock fans know this, but Professor James Moriarty only actually features in two of the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories. His first – and canonically last – story “The Final Problem” has already been adapted for series 2’s “The Reichenbach Fall”. This leaves “The Valley of Fear” as not only the last Moriarty story the BBC series can draw on, but also the last full-length novel not to be turned into an episode (“A Study in Scarlet” became “A Study in Pink”, and “The Sign of Four” became “The Sign of Three”). With Moriarty back, this adventure seems like a great place to start.

The story would start with a montage of Sherlock desperately trying, but failing, to track down Moriarty after his mysterious television takeover. Then, as with the book, he would receive a coded warning from Porlock – an informant against the criminal mastermind. This leads the great detective to a mysterious murder involving a Deathly Hallows like tattoo, a sawn-off shotgun and some missing dumb-bells.

The answer to this puzzle involves a twenty year back-story going all the way to Chiacgo. This setting would be dynamic and a great change of scenery, particularly if the show is trying to appeal to a wider American fanbase. Or, of course, if the notoriously cheap BBC wants to do things a bit closer to home, they could take the titular “valley” and transport the action to the Welsh hills.

The Speckled Band
Noted as one of co-creator Steven Moffat’s favourite Holmes stories, “The Speckled Band” is brilliantly surreal and odd. Though referenced as “The Speckled Blond” blog in “A Scandal in Belgravia”, and certain plot elements borrowed in “The Sign of Three”, this short story still has plenty of content to be used in future episodes. Whether it be the garden of dangerous animals and gypsies or the very unique murder method, “The Speckled Band” would make a great case to keep Sherlock busy as he tried to track down Moriarty.

The Moriarty thread of “The Valley of Fear” is noticeably quiet, and this is probably the tactic that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat will take.John looking concerned
Look at the first three series of the show – the serial arc elements of the show (Moriarty in series one and two, Magnussen in series three) are teased in the first two episodes but only properly revealed in the finale. With Jim from IT’s impending revival, series 4 will probably see a wild goose chase as Sherlock tries to track down his arch enemy.

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While the case is going on, we’d probably see a more heavily pregnant Mary reaching steadily closer to her due date, and John trying to come to terms with looming fatherhood. Perhaps he’ll have to make a choice on whether or not to accompany Sherlock on his travels for the case, or stay with his wife and provide support via Skype.

“The Valley of Fear” is one of the great Sherlock Holmes adventures, and would be a perfect way to tease the return of everyone’s favourite maniac.

The House of Silk

House of Silk book cover

Published in November 2011 and written by Alex Rider author Anthony Horowitz, ‘The House of Silk’ is the first Sherlock Holmes story not written by Conan Doyle to be endorsed by the writer’s estate. Critically and commercially acclaimed, Horowitz is currently working on a sequel.

“The House of Silk” might be an unusual choice, because it’s not an Arthur Conan Doyle story, and yet it captures all of the spirit and wit of the original adventures while bringing a slightly more modern outlook than any other attempts have managed. What’s more, Mark Gatiss has not only expressed a love for the novel, but admitted that all Holmes stories are up for grabs when it comes to source material. Highly recommended if you haven’t already read it, “The House of Silk” provides one of the darkest and most mature adventures the Baker Street Boys have ever encountered.

The intricate plot begins with the “Flat cap case”, involving missing paintings and a gang of Irish robbers. Enlisting the help of John, Lestrade and his Baker Street Irregulars (the Homeless Network), the great detective embarks on a case full of twists that eventually reveals a corruption scandal at the center of the British government. Though alluded to in “His Last Vow,” we never actually saw Sherlock go up against the government and, by default, his brother Mycroft. This dynamic would make for some riveting character drama, especially if used to build upon the development of the Holmes siblings we saw in series 3.

Moriarty would still be present as well, though for once he would aid his nemesis by donning a disguise. Repelling even the master of crime, Moriarty gives John a vital clue to bring down the mysterious “House of Silk”.

Red Headed League
The Musgrave Ritual may be a bit old fashioned to pin a whole episode of the show on, but the story’s central puzzle (a riddle) would make a fine subplot, or part of an existing case. Originally leading to the location of several royal artefacts, if used in tandem with the twisting plot of “The House of Silk”, the riddle could instead lead Sherlock to the titular organisation’s headquarters, or simply a red herring.

“The House of Silk” involves some very dark material, some of which might have to be toned down for broadcast. Moriarty on stairs However, there’s still room for plenty of gothic scares – especially at the false denouement when Sherlock and John find themselves trapped in a terrifying travelling circus with a fatal conclusion.

Without wanting to ruin the final act, those of you who have read the novel will know that the House of Silk’s crimes raise some serious and pertinent questions for father-to-be John Watson. What kind of world will Mary and John be bringing the baby into? There’s some gritty plots to work with here, but once the darkness has cleared we could see Watson Jr. finally being brought into the world – just as Moriarty steps out of the shadows and readies a deadly scheme…

“The House of Silk” is a ripping yarn with lots of food for thought, and provides the high stakes mystery that the BBC series thrives from.

The Second Stain

Second Stain book cover

First published in The Strand Magazine in December 1904, ‘The Adventure of the Second Stain’ is one of thirteen stories included in ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ collection. Writer Arthur Conan Doyle listed the short story as his eighth favourite Holmes adventure.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s eighth favourite Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Second Stain” is the type of high-stakes case that the show excels at. When a Lord, the Secretary of State and the British Prime Minister come to Baker Street in person, the high-functioning sociopath launches a hunt for an important document which, if found, could lead to war. With the threat of international conflict creating a palpable fear, this story would set the series 4 finale off in the explosive way we’ve become accustomed to.

In the original adventure, the sleuth tracks down spies to try and find the thief. Of course, this particular crime has all of the makings of a previous acquaintance – ‘The Woman.’ Though she made an incredibly brief cameo in “The Sign of Three”, a full Irene Adler return has long been clamoured for by Sherlock fans, and the creators have always said she would return if their was a suitable story opportunity. This is one, if we’re ever going to get such an opportunity. Besides, now Mary’s a part of the Baker Street fold, she could provide a suitable foil to the sex orientated sass that Lara Pulver’s controversial take on the character brings.

Moriarty’s been lurking for too long, and he would (breaking from the original story) eventually be revealed as the document thief – with a public announcement detailing his intention to leak the highly sensitive information for the world to see. There’s only one man who can stop him – Sherlock. The game is back on!

Red Headed League
“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” is one of the most notoriously bizarre adventures of the series, but it’s ridiculousness is part of its’ charm. Concocted as a way of keeping a pawn broker out of his shop, the fictional organisation (a group seemingly established to unite those with ginger hair) pays Jabez Wilson a substantial weekly wage to copy the dictionary – while they dig underneath his business to break into a neighbouring bank vault. It would be a brilliant plot point anywhere, but would fit naturally with the missing document in “The Second Stain.” It’s just a shame John shaved his upper-lip hair – The Moustached League would have been a fun little excursion.

When it comes to the plot content of the series 4 finale, it will undoubtedly be as unpredictable as we’ve come to expect. Sherlock with gun
However, we’d anticipate a nail-biting race against time and plenty of shocks. Moriarty’s endgame would probably involve plenty of threat for John, his wife, and newborn baby – as well as the rest of the Sherlock ensemble. If Irene Adler were to make a return, we could expect her to repent for her previous collaborations with Moriarty by taking him on, and probably meeting her end.

As well as a solution to the mystery of Moriarty’s survival (how exactly does someone live through a bullet through the head?), we’ll get a heart-stopping cliff hanger that will leave us screaming and crying for another two years. Then, the cycle will repeat for series 5.

All of these predictions will almost certainly be wrong, and in fact, there’s a very real chance that Moriarty might not be alive at all. His “comeback” video in the series 3 finale could easily be part of a scheme he started before his death, and continued by a surviving confidant (Sebastian Moran, anyone?). Until then, all we can do is do what the Sherlock fandom does best – wait!

What would you like to see in series 4?

Find more great articles like this one at our ‘Sherlock’ celebration.

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