Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer TV Rewind: Sherlock 2.02: "The Hounds of Baskerville"

“A twenty-year old disappearance? A monstrous hound? I wouldn’t miss this for the world!”

As you can probably guess from the title, this episode of “Sherlock” is based on “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” I thought this was an interesting modern twist on the concept, with conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure. It was quite a creepy episode, with lots of very dark imagery. It’s episodes like this where the worlds of “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” intersect. After a decent, creepy episode like this you’d think Mark Gatiss could write a good episode of “Doctor Who,” but I think his reputation in the Whoinverse will be forever marred by “Victory of the Daleks.” That episode featured multi-colored Daleks, or, as I like to call them, the iDaleks. Anyway, another aspect of this episode that made it worthwhile, was that it really tested both Sherlock and Watson. Both were questioning everything they were seeing and believing, which made the investigation more difficult than usual. It also made their relationship a bit strained, but of course all is well in that department by the end of the episode.

The episode opens right up with the creepy imagery. We see a kid running across Dartmoor at night. There re flashes of him being afraid of a big, dog-like creature until he is stopped by a creepy old lady. Then we flash forward to the boy, Henry, now grown up and played by the awesome Russell Tovey (George the Werewolf in “Being Human”). I have visited Dartmoor myself way back in 1992, and it definitely is a desolate, kind of creepy place. It’s kind of beautiful too, though, which I’m not sure this episode captures. Although eight-year-old me mostly cared about seeing the wild ponies that roam the Moor. The only somewhat credibly haunted house I’ve ever visited was in Devonshire, too, for what that’s worth. It’s called A door there opened all on its own while we were on a tour. Creepy stuff.

Anyway, in London, Sherlock is all angsty again. This time, it’s because he’s trying to quit smoking and he doesn’t have a case. Just in the nick of time, before Sherlock throws a complete fit, Henry shows up at Baker Street. He shows Sherlock and Watson video of him talking about the Hound he saw and the nearby top secret Baskerville military facility. Baskerville seems to be sort of the British version of Area 51. Henry also says that his father was murdered by the Hound. Sherlock deduces that something specific must have happened to lead Henry to go back to the Moor on that particular night. It turns out that Henry’s therapist told him to go back, and when Russell did indeed go back, he saw the footprints of a gigantic, dog-like creature. Sherlock’s now interested enough to want to take the case. We then see a quick shot of Henry talking to his therapist, where he says he keeps seeing flashes of the words “liberty” and “in.”

Sherlock and Watson make their way to Dartmoor. First they talk to some guys at a pub, who direct them to another man who claims to have seen the hound. This other man is sitting outside with a “see the hound” sign. Nothing wrong with trying to profit from creepiness, I suppose. The next step of the investigation is to actually see the Baskerville facility. Luckily, Sherlock has a pretty easy way to accomplish this. He’s got Mycroft’s ID card, and Mycroft can get into pretty much any government facility he wants. So Mycroft’s ID gets them in, and Watson’s military experience makes the ruse plausible. Watson has a little fun pulling rank on a hapless Baskerville soldier. Inside they meet a female scientist who works with rabbits, and Sherlock instantly connects this to an e-mail he received from a little girl about her glow-in-the-dark rabbit, Bluebell, who went missing. Soon enough, the higher-ups realize that Sherlock and Watson probably aren’t who they say they are, but they are saved by a scientist named Dr. Franklin who tells the base commander that Sherlock is definitely Mycroft. Dr. Franklin then introduces himself and gives Sherlock and Watson his cell number, but he doesn’t really give them any information about what’s going on at Baskerville.

Sherlock, Watson, and Henry then go out on the Moor at night to do some more investigation, and Watson gets separated from the rest of the group. He sees a strange light blinking on a far-off hill, and he tries to translate the blinks into Morse code. Elsewhere, Sherlock and Henry seem to see the Hound, but Sherlock doesn’t want to admit it right away- he’s too rational. The group reunites back at the pub, and after Henry leaves, Sherlock and Watson have a long conversation, in which Sherlock finally admits he saw the Hound. Things get a bit frosty when Watson doesn’t really believe Sherlock. Watson decides to investigate the blinking light he saw, but it’s a dead end. All he succeeds in finding is the town’s make-out area. Apparently one of the couples had been inadvertently turning their car lights on and off. After this disappointment, Watson gets a call from Sherlock that Henry’s therapist is at the pub. Watson doesn’t really want to go back, but Sherlock lures him by texting a photo of the therapist.

At Henry’s house, Henry is just trying to relax a bit, but the lights keep turning on and off outside. This begins to agitate Henry, and then to top it all off, Henry thinks he sees the Hound again. Over at the pub, Watson tries to put some moves on the therapist, but Dr. Franklin ruins that by revealing to her that Watson and Sherlock are actually private investigators (and he makes some innuendo about them being romantically involved as well). The next morning, Watson and Sherlock go to the pub to find that Lastrade is now in town. He’s going to help them with the investigation. Lastrade proves to be helpful pretty quickly. He gets the pub owners to admit that they’ve been sending a big dog out on the Moor to drum up the Hound myth. That dog is not what Sherlock saw when he was out on the Moor, though. The boys need to investigate Baskerville a bit more, so Sherlock places a call to Mycroft.

Mycroft gets Sherlock and Watson back into the facility, and they get separated as they’re snooping around. Somehow Watson gets locked in a lab, and a really creepy alarm goes off. The lights also go off. Watson is convinced that the Hound is nearby (he hears it), and he backs himself into an animal cage and calls Sherlock manages to rescue him just as it looks like the Hound is about to attack. Sherlock informs Watson that they’ve all been drugged, and that’s why they’re seeing the Hound. They head back to the lab of the female scientist with the rabbits. Sherlock checks the sugar he’s been taking in his coffee for the drug, but the sugar is completely normal, and he gets very frustrated. He decides to go to his “Mind Palace” to puzzle this one out. He ends up making a connection to Project H.O.U.N.D. in Liberty, Indiana. The Project involved the making of a drug that would render military opponents paranoid and docile. The drug didn’t work as planned, though- it made the subjects go insane. Dr. Franklin was part of the Project (Sherlock figured out he spent time in the States when he said “cell phone” instead of “mobile”), and he’s obsessed with seeing the work through.

Meanwhile, Henry completely freaks out and tries to shoot his therapist, thinking the Hound is in the room. He realizes what’s happening before he actually shoots, thankfully, but he runs off, really upset about what he almost did. The team finds him out on the Moor, and he’s about to blow his head off because he thinks he’s too much of a danger to others. As they’re trying to talk Henry down, the Hound approaches. Sherlock realizes that the drug which has been making them hallucinate the Hound is actually in the fog that has been rolling across the Moor. He also realizes that it was Dr. Franklin, not the Hound, who killed Henry’s father all those years ago. Watson shoots the “Hound,” and as he’s trying to get away, Dr. Franklin blows himself up on a mine (the mines are to keep the public away from Baskerville). At the very end of the episode, somebody inside Baskerville releases Moriarty from a holding cell. So I guess we know who will be giving our detectives a run for their money in the final installment.

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