“The Hounds of Baskerville,” Sherlock’s second episode reinterprets one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most notable Holmes’ tales, weaving old and contemporary together into something entirely new and thrilling.
The second episode revolves around Henry Knight, a troubled young man who comes to Sherlock for help after memories of him witnessing his father’s murder as a young boy, start plaguing his dreams. Henry claims a gigantic hound that escaped from Baskerville Military Laboratory Base was the thing that killed his father and after an encounter in the woods near the same location of his father’s death, he believes the rabid animal is still roaming the woods poised to strike and claim another life.
Sherlock and Watson travel Devon to the Hound’s lair – Dewer Hollow aka “Devil’s Hollow” to investigate the supposed sightings of the beast, but as the mystery starts to unravels Sherlock is forced to face something he has never confronted before…doubt. Doubt of not only his mind, but his senses which he needs to heavily rely on if he plans on solving this case, before their client, Henry loses his mind and succumbs to the beast of Baskerville.
This present-day adaption is penned by Mark Gatiss and he does a marvelous job reinventing the storyline to fit nicely in modern times while still keeping the very essence of the original―horror, a vital characteristic within the plotline. Additionally, Gatiss refers to the original by cleverly using character names and snippets of dialogue, to further enhance the episode, while still keeping the overall the dialogue new and exciting. Plus the usually dose of humor (such as Watson mentioning Sherlock’s mysterious cheekbones and his popup collar) nicely balances out the chilling aspects. Furthermore the episode has the right amount of suspense, leaving viewers on their edge of the seats, certainly contributing to the horror element. The direction of the episode nicely creates a realm where the fear comes from what’s rather heard and subconsciously implied, than rather what is visually seen. However, I felt the CGI effects weakened the horrifying atmosphere once it was revealed what the supposed animal looked like. The CGI effects could have been done without.
Unlike “A Scandal in Belgravia” this episode is certainly a Sherlock and Watson story. Where Watson was underutilized in the first episode here, Watson is at the forefront playing an integral role not only for the mystery’s sake, but Sherlock’s as well. We see that Sherlock has come to rely on Watson not only as friend ( the only friend as Sherlock states) to him navigate the murky waters of “acceptable behavior” and pull him back into reality when he goes off into his own world. Furthermore, Watson acts as a confidant and a moral compass in situations when Sherlock needs to be right and instead of doing the right thing.
It is obvious in this season there is a constant underlying notion of Sherlock is becoming more self-aware of his emotions. We see in “A Scandal of Belgravia” that comes to understand what love and to be loved is as well as the other emotions that associated such as confusion, elation, happiness and sometimes heartbreak. In “Baskerville” what is interesting, Sherlock is not coming to turns with feeling an emotion because of someone else, but because it is him who is producing this emotion, a very unlikely reaction, doubt. For me this is the strongest emotion Sherlock can come across, because he never once had to distrust his own senses, his own mind before. What makes Sherlock, Sherlock, is his mind. It’s the way he reasons and deduces not only crimes, but life itself. By Sherlock experiencing doubt, he confronted a terrifying aspect in which he lost a sense of self and identity and for Sherlock that was most singular petrifying experiences of his life. It is obvious that Sherlock is continually evolving, become more “humanized” for a lack of a better word. Even Gatiss pokes fun at this notion, when Watson calls Sherlock “Spock” when he is trying to rationalize what he saw and what he feels and Benedict does a brilliant job of portraying the character with ease and charm.
Benedict has breathed new life into a character that has been played several times over. The character is constantly growing with each new episode that could only be depicted by an actor that truly understands the internal workings and struggles of a mind such as the one Sherlock has. Benedict not only interprets the superb writing of Gatiss and Moffat and brings the dialogue to life, but he creates a genuine portrayal that at times people can relate too. He can also illustrate the way Sherlock mind’s work which is arguably a hard task to pull off, but to do so intriguing realistic way proves that Benedict is the only one who can play the character like no other. The same thing can be said for Martin Freeman’s depiction of Dr. John Watson, especially in this episode. We see Dr. Watson more than Sherlock’s sidekick, we finally see him as a soldier, a man of action, and a man people can rely on. Martin separates his depiction from others, by presenting Watson as his own man. He doesn’t depend on Sherlock to help him along; Watson is just as capable to assist in an investigation as much so as Lestrade and Sherlock.
In all, “The Hounds of Baskerville” is a fast-paced, funny, suspenseful, thrilling episode with quick-witted dialogue that seems to get better with each new installment. The characters are wonderfully written and the guest actors such as Russell Tovey (Henry Knight) are perfectly casted bringing another level of top-notch performances. And with all ‘Sherlock’ episodes, the ending is what always keeps the viewers’ guessing and leaving them thrown for a loop. I won’t mention what happens at the end, because all the episodes need to be watch, whatever the writers have planned is for sure to leave us on the edge of our seats. ‘Baskerville’ is a brilliant episode with all of the great qualities of its predecessor “A Scandal in Belgravia,” that holds up as its own reinventing a classic that is just as good as the original.