Students of the Unhallowed Arts
Episode 5 of The Irregulars begins in the past as we see Bea’s Mother Alice, teaming up with Watson and Sherlock to take out a murderous hypnotist. As they bow before the audience, we cut back to the present.
Here, Bea helps out Sherlock and gives him some tea to recover. Sherlock confirms that he’s the youngest person to be recruited to Scotland Yard. He got wrapped up in his first investigation regarding a man named Jonathan Hope.
He and John (Watson) agreed to set up an agency together but things soon changed. A darkness descended over London and this meant Sherlock needed to recruit a team of specialists to help him.
This brought him before Alice, whom Sherlock admits to Bea was completely captivating. As we soon see, this captivation goes deeper than that as he and Alice begin to kiss and form a real connection. Watson however, was not pleased by this development.
Well, it turns out the screaming we’ve been hearing about is directly linked to Alice’s nightmares and not actually torture. It seems like she may have a lot in common with Jessie too, given the girl is suffering from this same plight. Speaking of which, Bea finds Jess out in the street panicking and screaming after a bad dream. The corpses within her dreams murmured “circle” which is definitely a clue but quite how it fits into the larger narrative remains a mystery.
Back in our flashbacks, Alice’s nightmares continue to get worse, with the girl believing these are actually the key to solving their cases. These murders continue to get worse though, crescendoing into the final case the group all worked on together – The Case of the Collector.
On the back of this case, Alice gave birth to a child. Her nightmares seem to be hints toward executions from the 17th Century. Only, instead of whispers for a circle, these reference triangles. Sherlock thinks over what this triangle is in reference to and eventually figures it out. This triangle is linked to Tyburn Gallows.
The trio head off and find the Rip. With the trio approaching it, Sherlock tries in vain to grab Alice and pull her back but it’s no good. She’s sucked into the portal.
In the present, Billy starts to experience haunting visions of his own, hearing screaming out in the street while approaching a group of girls. Trying to block this out with alcohol, Spike sits with him and learns more about Billy’s past.
It turns out when he was at the workhouse he used to be beaten badly. One time he was kept in the infirmary for three weeks. It’ a pretty shocking revelation and one that sees Billy driven to exact revenge.
Out on his own, Billy follows Vic back from the workhouse. Only, Spike stops him. It turns out the story he mentioned before is not an isolated incident – Bea also suffered from that same shocking abuse.
Billy sneaks into Vic’s house and he confirms some damning home truths. It turns out he knows his name is Billy and his Mother didn’t actually die from childbirth. Instead, she was a prostitute who palmed him off. This completely catches Billy off-guard, especially on the back of everything he thought he knew, and drops the weapon to the ground. Stumbling back, he eventually turns and walks away.
Meanwhile, Sherlock finishes his story as Bea decides to give him another chance. Sherlock admits that this past decade has been hell but he’d do it again just to spend another moment with Alice.
Seeing Sherlock broken like this is enough for Bea to head back and see Leo. She looks at his body and the two eventually start kissing.
The Episode Review
The Irregulars returns for an episode that dwells mostly in the past as we see more of Sherlock and Alice’s turbulent years together. It’s best to go into this show pretending it’s some form of alternate reality because die-hard Sherlock fans are probably not going to be happy with this depiction of the fictional detective.
Seeing Sherlock broken and humiliated like this is certainly a different play on the character and it’s something that not everyone will take kindly to. However, this iteration actually works quite well in the context of the supernaturally charged story, although it would have perhaps been better without Holmes even being referenced.
In fact, this show feels like it could have benefited greatly from being its own thing as there’s certainly some nice ideas here but everything just hasn’t quite been cooked enough.
Seeing more of Billy’s past and how he grew up holding onto this lie is a pretty shocking moment and one that sees Billy’s reality come crashing down around him in the most devastating way possible.
Spike is still a bit of a disappointment though, reduced to comedy relief with not much beyond this part of his persona. Thankfully, these later episodes have actually done a good job fleshing out all these different characters and giving them some meaningful tasks to do.
Despite all that, the story leaves things wide open for the remaining 3 episodes to come and quite what will happen next remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, this conflict is far from over.