Recap / Sherlock S 02 E 02 The Hounds Of Baskerville

"It's odd, isn't it? Strange choice of words. Archaic. It's why I took the case. 'Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.' Why say 'hound'?"
Sherlock Holmes

The 21st century take on possibly the most famous work in the Holmes canon - The Hound of the Baskervilles.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Molly is not seen or mentioned at all.
  • Affably Evil: Dr Frankland is very polite and friendly despite being a murderer involved in highly unethical scientific experiments.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: After Sherlock has been especially difficult for days on end:
    Lestrade: I suppose he likes having the same faces back together. It appeals to his... his...
    Watson: [very snarkily] Aspergers?
  • Arc Words: "Liberty" and "In", not to mention the eponymous hound.
  • Badass Boast:
    Dr Frankland: I'd love to tell you, but then of course I'd have to kill you.
    Sherlock: That would be tremendously ambitious of you.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Sherlock and John manage to use two consecutively. They sneak their way onto the Baskerville base and have a look around. First Sherlock pretends to be Mycroft to get them onto the base with an ID he "acquired" long before, just in case; then John uses his ID showing his rank of Captain to get "the full tour" from the corporal who challenges their being there.
  • Beard of Evil: Subverted with the Major.
  • Busman's Holiday: Lestrade is sent down by Mycroft to check on Sherlock, but also is on holiday. He gets roped into the case. John addresses him as "Greg", much to Sherlock's confusion.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • They mention a minefield at the beginning of the episode. It's not a matter of if someone gets blown up, it's when.
    • A seemingly random e-mail Sherlock gets from a little girl asking to find her missing pet rabbit.
    • The vegetarian pub owners ordering from a butcher. John finds the receipt in the first ten minutes; it's not important till the second act.
  • Chewing the Scenery: John, unsurprisingly, does this in the lab when Sherlock finds him, with John having thought the hound was trapped in there with him.
    Sherlock: It's all right. It's OK now.
    John: NO, IT'S NOT! IT'S NOT OK! I saw it, I was wrong!
  • Conspicuous CGI: The titular Hound.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Before they're about to go into Baskerville for a second time, Sherlock tells John he'll have to go look for the hound on his own and says, "Could be dangerous". These are the same words he texted to John to get him to agree to help in "A Study In Pink".
    • When John corrects Sherlock over his bad 'timing' in gloating over the case in front of his emotionally devastated client, Sherlock responds, "Not good?" This harks back to the first episode, in which Sherlock asked John the same question to understand that he had just said something that most normal human beings would consider too insensitive.
  • Cryptid Episode
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Baskerville facility.
  • First-Name Basis: An odd example with good old Maggie.
  • Gaslighting: Frankland has been drugging Henry in order to discredit him as a witness to his father's death.
  • Gender Flip: Dr Louise Mortimer. Corporal Lyons. Possibly Dr Stapleton depending on whether you think she's based on Jack or Beryl from the original (she doesn't quite fit either).
  • Going Cold Turkey: The reason for Sherlock's manic behaviour during the Cold Open.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Sherlock is badly shaken by his encounter with the "hound", almost to the point of tears. He later realises that his out-of-character reaction was partly due to being drugged.
  • Hollywood Spelling: Henry Knight tells Sherlock and John that he remembers "Liberty" and "In", without spelling out the latter. Averted earlier, when he does spell it out to his therapist.
    • Played with. While Henry doesn't spell it for Sherlock, Sherlock quickly remarks the saying "Liberty In Death"; when he enters his mental Wiki-Walk, his mind does go to "Liberty Inn" as a possibility but can't make any meaningful connections and thus discards it.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Said as a joke by Frankland when Sherlock asks what he does at Baskerville. It's more complicated than it looks at first, though: by the end of the episode, we learn that he has in fact personally killed at least one person who found out what he was doing.
  • Insistent Terminology: One of the reasons Sherlock takes the case is that Henry refers to the thing that attacked his father as a "hound". It is a hound. Of sorts. Sherlock also refers to it as a hound, but John sticks to calling it a dog, until the night he reports the sight. "It was the hound!"
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Double-subverted. Frankland was ultimately responsible for the death of Henry's father, and got away with it because even though Henry witnessed it, Henry was drugged by the Project Hound drug and rationalized it into thinking it was the hound to cope with the trauma. When Henry finally learned and accepted the truth about the hound and his father's murder twenty years later, he furiously tried to attack Frankland before being stopped by Lestrade. Frankland then attempted to escape through the Grimpen Minefield and, predictably, ended up getting blown up.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: In the comments for the blog write-up of this case.
    Bill Murray: It sounds as if the dog's bark was worse than its bite!
    Mike Stamford: It's certainly given me paws for thought.
    Bill Murray: Surely this is just a Shaggy Dog Story.
    Sherlock: John, fetch me my revolver.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": Dr Frankland dies this way, having unwisely decided to enter the Grimpen Minefield while trying to escape.
  • Literal Metaphor: After Sherlock gains entrance to a secret military facility by using Mycroft's stolen ID, Watson observes that Mycroft's name "literally opens doors".
  • Mythology Gag:
    • "Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" is one of the most famous lines from the original novel.
    • Sherlock's waffling about whether he will go to Dartmoor or send John to investigate is a wink at the fact that, in the Conan Doyle version, Holmes does send Watson down to Baskerville Hall in his place. Sort of.
    • Major Barrymore sports a thick dark beard, in spite of the fact that it's against army regulations. This is because the original character's most distinguishing physical characteristic was a black beard.
    • In the original novel, the lights in the moor at night lead Watson to the escaped convict Selden. In this case, a Mr. Selden is the cause of the flashing lights, but not quite in the way that John expected.
    • The tour guide who claims to have seen the hound is named Fletcher — presumably in reference to Bertram Fletcher Robinson, who originally gave Conan Doyle the idea for a ghostly hound.
    • Holmes' reference to Watson as a "conductor of light" occurs in the original Hound of the Baskervilles. "Murder — refined, cold-blooded murder" is also lifted straight from the novel.
    • The glowing bunnies are a nod to the original hound, which was painted with phosphorus to appear supernatural.
    • The Grimpen Minefield is, of course, wordplay on the Grimpen Mire. The villains in both stories die trying to flee through it.
    • Henry Knight's name is a play on the knight, Sir Henry Baskerville, from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Many of the other names are taken more or less straight from the original, including the surname of the original villain.
    • Sherlock harpooning a pig carcass to solve a case comes straight from "Black Peter".
    • When Sherlock is having his nicotine freak-out in the beginning, one of the places he looks for his hidden stash is in the toe of an old Persian slipper. This is where he keeps his pipe tobacco in the original stories (Watson mentions it in "The Musgrave Ritual").
    • Sherlock's frustrated "I need something stronger than tea! Something 7% stronger..." is a reference to his famous cocaine habit in The Sign of Four, where he injected a 7% solution.
    • Sherlock's remark about his mind being "like an engine racing out of control, a rocket tearing itself to pieces on the launch pad" when he doesn't have work echoes "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge," where the original Holmes says "My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built."
    • Sherlock spots the horse-racing section of a paper rolled up in the back pocket of a potential eyewitness. When the man is not forthcoming with his information, he pretends to have bet John that the man couldn't produce proof, and the man immediately gets very talkative. The original Holmes pulls the exact same stunt in "The Blue Carbuncle".
    • "Once you've ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true," is a favourite Holmes Catch Phrase employed in several of the original stories.
    • Sherlock's remark that emotion is like "grit on the lens, a fly in the ointment", is a reference to the line "Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his" (From "A Scandal in Bohemia").
    • Sherlock describes Lestrade as being "brown as a nut" (meaning his tan). This is a phrase used in A Study in Scarlet, although there it was Stamford describing Watson.
    • The hallucinogenic fear gas is reminiscent of "The Devil's Foot", as is Sherlock's experiment with it, although in this case the results are merely emotionally traumatising rather than life-threatening.
    • While suffering from the hallucinogen, Holmes sees Moriarty for a moment. Something similar happens in the Jeremy Brett adaptation of "The Devil's Foot".
    • Sherlock's experiment on Watson also recalls a remark of Stamford's in A Study in Scarlet that he could imagine Holmes "giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry...".
    • Sherlock being asked to find a little girl's lost pet rabbit on the English moors is a reference to "Silver Blaze", where a client hired Holmes and Watson to find his lost racehorse on the English moors. Note that the pet rabbit's name is "Bluebell", which is a fairly common name for racehorses.
  • Not His Sled: The character with the original villain's name turns out to be a Red Herring who eventually helps Sherlock and John to solve the case, while the real villain has the name of an innocent bystander from the original novel.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The sequence in which John is trapped in a lab with an apparently escaped hound.
    • As well as the flood lights in front of Henry's house, and whatever the hell he's seeing in them.
  • Only Friend: Sherlock points this out to John, clarifying his assertion the night before that he "doesn't have friends":
    Sherlock: Listen, what I said before, John, I meant it. I don't have friends. I've just got one.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When Sherlock, in the midst of Going Cold Turkey, declares he will take on the case of Bluebell, a missing rabbit, John immediately gets up and gives him a packet of cigarettes.
    • John is also weirded out when Sherlock makes coffee for him. He's right to be.
    • Sherlock reacting with fear to the Hound, when he normally stays very distant from emotional responses. He notices himself that this is OOC behavior, and deduces that he's been drugged.
  • Red Herring:
    • The Morse code John notices. It turns out to lead to a dogging site instead of anything relevant to the case, though it does at least provide Sherlock with a genuinely helpful Eureka Moment.
    • Dr Stapleton, especially for those familiar with the original novel. They're involved in genetic experimentation on animals of dubious legality, but are otherwise innocent — and her counterpart in the original turned out to be the killer.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Moriarty's cell. Out of which Mycroft lets him.
  • Scenery Porn: This episode sure makes (non-British) viewers want to visit Dartmoor.
  • Separated by a Common Language: One character refers to his "cell" as opposed to a "mobile". This is an important plot point.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Holmes' idea that H.O.U.N.D. is in the sugar comes straight from the Second Doctor episode "The Moonbase" in which the Cybermen's virus was in the crew's sugar.
    • The screaming monkeys in the lab coupled with the insane aggression of those exposed to H.O.U.N.D for too long are possibly a reference to 28 Days Later.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Grimpen Minefield and Dr Frankland's fate.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: While under the effects of a hallucinogenic chemical Henry watched his father being murdered by a scientist; the 'hound' was something his mind invented from surrounding clues to cope with the trauma.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish": "Maggie". He could have at least added random numbers or something...
    • Not only that, but picking a line of sight password is one of the WORST things you could do.
    • And the password isn't long enough to meet government security standards anyway.
    • The choice of words, given Maggie's real life support for people like Augusto Pinochet, could be a Take That against governments all too willing to perform, accept or cover hideous acts.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: This is the only episode in the first two seasons with absolutely no connection to Moriarty and his machinations, and the only one to take place largely outside of London.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In this episode, Sherlock has gone from violently defending Mrs Hudson and showing a lot of affection for her to cruelly telling her a man she's involved with is a bigamist and threatening her with a harpoon- all because John won't tell him where his emergency cigarette stash is. John is so horrified by his behaviour that he shouts at him and then, when she has tearfully retreated, orders him to go downstairs and apologise to Mrs Hudson.
    • Then again, the previous episode implied that Sherlock hates people being mean to Mrs Hudson, because only he gets to do that.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The experimental drug acted as a fear stimulus that ended overwhelming and killing the test subjects.