Sherlock Television

Sherlock Rewatch S2E2: The Hounds of Baskerville

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Photo Source: topsy.one

Welcome back to this emotional rewatch journey! Admit it, we
Sherlockians are just like John—we crave the action.

To this day, “The Hounds of Baskerville” is definitely one
of my top favourite episodes of Sherlock. The suspense/action is, of course, a
major reason for this, but I also think the change of setting—dark and
sometimes creepy small town, rather than the streets of London—also plays a big
role in this. Like every Sherlock episode, it’s just an exceptionally well-told
story.

The episode begins in the Baker Street flat, and Sherlock is
going through some tough nicotine withdrawals. (At this point he kind of
resembles us, during the wait for Season 4…) He’s craving a case, and so far
the only one he’s got to go on is a request of a young girl who wants his help
finding her rabbit, Bluebell, who glowed “like a fairy,” and mysteriously
disappeared.

(Side note: Let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that
this moment spawned the creation of this beautiful gif:

Like A Fairy GIF
GIF Source: http://www.reddit.com

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again: I love this
fandom.)

Sherlock is relieved when a potential client arrives—a young
man by the name of Henry Knight, from Dartmoor, who claims to have witnessed
his father being killed by a “giant hound” 20 years ago. He’s clearly
emotionally scarred by this (I mean, who wouldn’t be?), especially after he
revisited the location of the incident the previous night, where he says he saw
the hound again.

Sherlock and John decide to travel to Dartmoor to
investigate this case. They arrive in the small town and realize “the hound” is
a local legend, resulting in a lot of tourist trade for the town. The town is
also the home of Baskerville, a MOD research base known for some questionable
animal research/experiments. They decide to enter the base, and use Mycroft’s
credentials to get through their security. They don’t explore for long,
however, as these credentials trigger a security alarm. Dr Bob Frankland, one
of Baskerville’s research scientists, vouches for their fake identity to allow
them to get out, and later tells them he’s a big fan of their blogs, and offers
to help in their investigation, as he was friends with Henry’s father.

Sherlock and John visit Henry’s home, and he tells them he
has been seeing the words “liberty” and “in” in his dreams/flashbacks. Hoping
to shed some light on the mystery, Sherlock decides they must take Henry to the
hollow, to “lure” the hound in. (Not exactly the friendliest approach, but hey,
proof is kind of essential to this case.) On the way, John separates from the
group after seeing flashing lights in the distance, appearing to flash a
message in Morse code: U M Q R A. It turns out to be completely unrelated to
their case—sorry John, better luck next time—and he continues back towards the
hollow, where Sherlock and Henry both reveal they’d just seen the hound. Both
are very traumatized by this, and Sherlock acts out angrily towards John when
they arrive at the inn. While there, John interviews Louise Mortimer, Henry’s
therapist, but Frankland himself shows up, drunk, cutting the rather unsuccessful
interview short. (Relatable moment; “we all have that one drunk friend…”)

The next morning, who should show up but Lestrade, who
claims to be “on vacation;” in other words, big brother Mycroft sent him to
keep an eye on Sherlock. He assists the two in their investigation after John
finds a suspicious receipt in the inn’s restaurant: a receipt for a large order
of meat…for a restaurant that happens to be vegetarian. The two innkeepers
confess that they owned a dog that they kept in the hollow, playing the legend
of “the hound,” to increase the town’s tourist traffic. They sadly reveal that
they also recently had the dog euthanized.

This isn’t enough proof for Sherlock, so he and John return
to Baskerville to further investigate. (Thanks again to Mycroft for the
credentials.) They search the facilities separately, and John gets stuck in the
lab, where he is terrified to hear, then see, the hound. He hides in a large
cage, and calls Sherlock, who arrives soon after to save him. (As a rewatcher,
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this scene; Sherlock, you sneaky thing…)
Sherlock explains that the hound is only an imaginary figure, caused by
chemically-induced hallucinations; he believes the chemical was in the sugar he
put into John’s tea that morning. (And the best friend award goes to…anyone but Sherlock.)

Sherlock scours his mind palace for the words “liberty” and “in,”
and eventually determines them to mean “Liberty, Indiana,” the location of
Project H.O.U.N.D., a CIA experiment in hallucinatory chemical weapons. The
project was abandoned years ago, but it would seem that one of the participants
was secretly continuing the research: Baskerville’s own Dr Frankland.

John gets a phone call from Louise, who tells him Henry has
left his home with a gun. Sherlock, John, and Lestrade find Henry in the
hollow, about to commit suicide. Trying to talk him out of it, Sherlock
explains that Henry’s dad was, in fact, killed by a man—Dr Frankland—who wore a
gas mask and a shirt that said “H.O.U.N.D., Liberty, In.” at the time, and
young Henry was unable to cope with this, so his mind forced him to believe it
was a “hound.”

And then…the hound shows up. Huge and red-eyed, as described
by Henry previously. Sherlock realizes that the hallucinatory chemical is in
the fog, explaining why they can all see the hound (or rather, the lying
innkeepers’ dog), and why Henry saw it in his previous visits to the hollow. John
manages to shoot the hound, just as Dr Frankland arrives on the scene. An
angered (and for good reason!) Henry tries to attack him, but he flees, getting
caught and ultimately killed in the Baskerville minefield.

(Mandatory “you may now stop holding your breath and inhale”
moment of a Sherlock episode.)

The next morning, John questions why he thought he saw the “hound”
in the lab if there wasn’t any fog in the building; Sherlock shrugs it off as “leaky
pipes.” John then realizes that Sherlock, in true/inconsiderate fashion, trapped
him in the Baskerville lab to test this theory. (There goes another best friend
award…) He also realizes, smugly, that for once, Sherlock was initially wrong
about something—the chemical was not
in the sugar. (SCORE +1 for John, -1 for Sherlock…)

Sassy John Watson GIF
GIF Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com

And because we can’t end this without some sort of
cliffhanger, the episode ends with Mycroft allowing our favourite consulting
criminal, Moriarty, to be released from a cell, in which “Sherlock” is written
all over the walls. (He’s just an extremely obsessive fangirl, okay? Cut the
guy some slack. It happens to the best of us.)

Chills. Every single time.

Thanks again for reading this edition of our Sherlock
rewatch! See you next week…you know what’s coming next, right? Prepare the
tissues and blankets, because it’s gonna be a rough one.

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