Villains aren’t exactly hard to come by on a series like Sherlock, but when the good ones show up, they don’t necessarily stick around for very long. Just ask Moriarty or Charles Magnussen. But while Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have come across all sorts of unsavory types in their escapades, many of whom have been known to take the idea of human life far less seriously than others, they’ve apparently never come across anyone quite like Culverton Smith, the antagonist set to make his debut in the second episode of Sherlock season 4.
Titled ‘The Lying Detective’, the episode presumably picks up where the premiere left off – with Sherlock being frozen out of John’s life but doing whatever he can to get back in. If that’s the case, then the… well, case of the week may offer Sherlock the solution to his Watson problem. Beyond what purpose Culverton’s arrival may serve in bringing the Holmes-Watson relationship back together, there’s the question of just what’s going on, and why this new villain is as dangerous and evil as co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat say he is. While a new trailer doesn’t do much to answer these questions, it does feature a lot of Toby Jones cackling maniacally, so you can rest assured that the new character is as evil as advertised.
The new trailer is fairly short, and doesn’t offer much in the way of details on the actual storyline of the episode itself, but it’s safe to say there will be some elements from the source material by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like last night’s ‘The Six Thatchers’, ‘The Lying Detective’ features a modified title based on one of Doyle’s short stories. This time, the original tale was called ‘The Adventure of the Dying Detective’. But before you go wondering if Gatiss and Moffat will deviate too much from the original story, it is good to know that a Dr. Culverton Smith does in fact play a prominent role.
Of course, given the contemporary setting of the Benedict Cumberbatch-led series, there are plenty of departures Sherlock can take in bringing the tale into the 21st century. For one thing, Sherlock’s current addiction – his phone – will likely factor in somehow, but given some of the eerie imagery featured in the promo, it’s a good bet the horrors of modern medicine will be able to go toe-to-toe with its early 20th century counterpart. In fact, given the appearance of a line of physicians decked out in surgical masks – which smacks vaguely of something you might see on an episode of Doctor Who – it would seem ‘The Lying Detective’ is planning to deliver one of the more unsettling episodes in recent memory.
Whether it does so or not remains to be seen, but Sherlock could not have done better in casting Jones. The character actor has been popping up in pop-cultural favorites for years now, from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games to the first two Captain America films. Jones even has a role in the upcoming Jurassic World sequel. And while his profile in blockbuster films is on the rise, the actor has made plenty of smaller films memorable too, like last year’s Anthropoid and the 2012 suspense film Berberian Sound Studio.
There is no telling what’s in store for Sherlock and Watson come Sunday night, but by the look (and sound) of things, nothing good will come from meeting Culverton Smith.
Sherlock season 4 continues this Sunday with ‘The Lying Detective’ @9pm on PBS.