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"Students of the Unhallowed Arts" is the fifth episode of season one of The Irregulars. It first aired on Netflix on 26 March 2021.

Summary[]

Bea discovers more about her mother's long-ago connection to Sherlock and Watson, while Billy contemplates revenge after a brutal reminder of his past.

Plot[]

Fifteen years ago, Watson and Alice Cook (Bea and Jessie's mother) rescue the actress Patricia Colman Jones from a mob hypnotized to kill her. They are investigating a series of attacks on West End performers. Alice touches one of the assailants with her psychic powers and realizes Sherlock Holmes is in danger. Holmes, meanwhile, is across town watching a performance by a singer named Linda Langtree. Her singing hypnotizes the audience. She calls Holmes on stage, gives him a long hairpin, and orders him to kill himself. Watson and Alice burst in to stop him, but Holmes reveals that he had wax in his ears all along and jabs Langtree with a sedative. The three three take a bow as the audience applauds.

Bea helps Sherlock sober up

Bea helped Sherlock sober up.

In the present, Bea settles an inebriated Holmes in a dingy room to recover. Holmes thanks her for helping him (and not taking him back to 221B), but Bea says she only wants information about her mother and the Rip. Holmes tries to impress her by deducing the type of tea that she has served him, but fails. Bea goes downstairs to check on Leo, who is still recovering from his jump from the palace balcony. He admits that there are people looking for him. Bea returns to Holmes, who tries to justify his mistake with the tea and tells her he was once quite famous for his abilities of deduction. He reveals that he met Watson when they became housemates during Holmes' investigation of the case of Jefferson Hope. They formed an agency together, but things changed when strange supernatural occurrences began happening. Realizing they needed special assistance, Holmes recruited Alice on Mycroft's recommendation.

Bea rushes to the cellar to tell Jessie that Holmes is talking about their mother. However, Jessie decides not to join her. She explains that the Linen Man told her she could find the sources of the Rip in her nightmares, and so she is trying to fall asleep. On the street, Billy watches Bea leave. Spike convinces him to try meeting another girl, but as he walks over to introduce himself to some girls a man bumps into him. Billy is disturbed when he recognizes the man and tries to follow him, but loses him in the crowd.

Upstairs, Sherlock shows Bea a tattoo on his ankle with the initials of "The Irregulars". Alice had got the same tattoo, but Watson had refused. He continues with his story. After solving the Langtree hypnotism case, Holmes celebrates his success with Watson and the police. He begins to explain how he solved the case, but this irritates Alice, who leaves the room. Holmes follows her into the hall, where she confronts him about his arrogance. She says that while people enjoy his deductions because they create the illusion of an orderly world, they are on the brink of something chaotic and without reason. Watson enters just as they kiss. Bea is disturbed to hear Holmes claim that he and her mother loved each other. She confronts him about the evidence Mrs Hudson gave of Alice screaming. However, he says that the screaming was not a result of their experiments, which Alice took part in willingly, but of her nightmares.

Bea tells Jessie to fight

Jessie told Jessie to go talk to Sherlock.

Meanwhile, Jessie enters into a nightmare to look for the Rip. She finds herself in a dark cavern filled with bones. She is attacked by decayed corpses, who keep repeating the world "circle", but manages to escape by pressing the moth on her wrist. She wakes up on the street with Bea crouching over her. Jessie tells Bea she doesn't want to ever go back into the nightmares again, and Bea tells her she might not have to. She tells Bea that their mother had nightmare just like her, and asks her to come talk to to Sherlock. However, Jessie is reluctant to do so and leaves.

In the pub, Spike finds Billy drinking. Billy admits that the man he saw earlier, Vic Collins, was the master of the workhouse he, Bea, and Jessie were in. He explains that Collins used to beat him brutally, and says that he hopes someone kills him. Spike is concerned that Billy is planning something and warns him about the consequences of killing. Downstairs, Bea walks in on Leo dressing, and he is ashamed of her seeing his bruises. They share a quiet moment together and dance, but it ends awkwardly and Bea leaves.

Holmes continues his story. Alice continues trying to find the Rip in her dreams, but is increasingly disturbed by her nightmares. She tries to convince Holmes not to take a new case from Inspector Gregson, saying that it is taking too high a toll on all of them. However, Holmes insists his work is necessary. Gregson shows them several men whose body parts were stolen the previous night. Strangely, all of their wounds have healed completely. Watson notices an unusual residue on the limb, and Alice finds a vial of green liquid. Holmes analyzes the contents and determines it is an herbal mixture containing the incredibly rare plant Snowdonia hawkweed. Watson also asks Holmes to take a break and rest, but Holmes insists the hawkweed is the crucial clue to solving the case. He asks Watson to take the mixture to the Royal Botanical Gardens and find out where the plant could have come from.

To Holmes’ shock, when Watson returns he reports that the head botanist, Edith Dubois, determined that what Holmes thought was hawkweed was merely tarragon. Holmes cannot believe he made a mistake, as without the hawkweed they have no other clues to go off of. Watson tries to convince him to go to a pub like old times, but Holmes insists he has to watch Alice. At this point, back in the present Holmes begins having severe withdrawal symptoms and asks Bea to get him some drugs. Bea refuses and demands to know what was wrong with her mother, but Holmes says he won’t tell her anything else unless she gets him the drugs.

Elsewhere, Billy follows Vic Collins to his house. Spike catches him and tries to convince him to drop his plan for revenge. However, Billy admits that the beatings he had told Spike about had actually happened to Bea, and Billy feels guilt because he couldn’t protect her. He angrily pushes Spike to the ground and tells him that he is big enough to do something about it now.

Sherlock tells Bea his story

Sherlock told Bea his story while she told him she would give him drugs.

Back at Baker Street, Bea brings Holmes a packet of drugs and he continues his story. As Bea suspected, Holmes confirms that Alice was pregnant with Jessie, and that he was the father. Jessie meets with Holmes, but tells him she doesn’t want anything to do with him. She only asks what here mother saw in her nightmares; Holmes replies she saw executioners, hanged bodies, and triangles.

In the past, Alice wakes up after a nightmare and tries to convince Sherlock to leave London before a disaster happens. However, Holmes admits that he wants the fame of being the one to save the world. Alice, however, reminds him that he has her and the two girls now, and convinces Holmes to leave with her for Suffolk. Watson confronts Holmes as he is packing, telling him that Alice has changed him. Sherlock replies that he can’t stay with John forever. However, Watson then reveals that he thinks he knows how to find the Rip, grabbing Sherlock’s attention. Watson explains that the barrier is thinnest in places of mass death, and Alice seeing executioners indicates a site of execution. He had been withholding this information from Holmes until he had figured out the exact spot, hoping to impress him. Holmes immediately realizes the triangle refers to the shape of the infamous Tyburn Gallows. Despite Holmes’ reluctance, Watson persuades him to bring Alice to the site. Bea and Jessie are disgusted that Holmes convinced Alice to go.

Back in the past, Holmes, Watson, and Alice arrive at the former gallows site in Hyde Park. Alice senses the Rip, and entrusts Bea and Jessie to Sherlock. As Alice closes the Rip, it begins to pull her in. Sherlock attempts to rescue her, but finds he isn’t strong enough. He asks John to help, but Watson instead grabs him. His grip on Alice fails, and Alice is pulled into the Rip and vanishes as it closes.

In the present, Jessie storms out of the room. Bea vents her anger at Holmes for letting them think their mother went mad and drowned, and for abandoning them. Holmes tries to apologize but she rejects his offer of help. Holmes tells her that he made many mistakes, but what happened with the Rip wasn’t his fault. He tells her that he has been suspicious for years how Watson found out about the Rip. As Bea leaves, he asks her for the drugs, but to Holmes’ fury Bea reveals the packet contains only sugar.

Billy visits Vic

Billy paid Vic a visit, but was surprised when the latter revealed he knew a lot about him.

Across town, Billy breaks into Vic Collins’ house. He confronts Collins, who is both unafraid of him and unrepentant for his past cruelty. Collins reveals that he remembers Billy. He tells Billy that the story he was told about his mother dying in childbirth and his father being a soldier who was killed in the Crimea was a lie. In fact, Billy's mother was a Glaswegian prostitute who left many of her children in the workhouse, and his father was one her clients who never knew he existed. Billy initially refuses to believe him, but is shaken when Collins tells him his name and details of his life in the workhouse. Billy flees the house as Collins threatens him.

Back at the Duck and Quiver, Bea and Jessie talk about their meeting with Holmes. Bea apologizes for pushing Jessie to meet him, and expresses her disgust for him. However, Jessie admits that she doesn’t feel anything about her father. She thanks Bea for always being there for her and loving her as a child, and tells her not to waste her energy hating Sherlock. Bea tells Jessie that she agrees with Holmes on one thing - she suspects Watson is actually behind everything, and intends to prove it.

Bea comforts Leo

Bea comforted Leo, telling him he should not be ashamed of his body.

Bea brings Holmes some more tea, and sees that he has sobered up a bit. Holmes apologizes again, and insists he loved her mother. Holmes again attempts to guess the type of tea Bea served. He guesses incorrectly, but Bea humors him by pretending he gave the right answer. Bea returns to the cellar, where she asks to see Leo’s bruises. She tells Leo not to be ashamed of his body or hide anything more from her, and the two have sex.

Cast[]

Main cast[]

Guest stars[]

  • Cassie Clare as Linda Langtree
  • Alex Ferns as Vic Collins
  • Olivia Grant as Patricia Colman Jones
  • Tim Key as Inspector Gregson

Trivia[]

  • The character of Patricia Colman Jones makes a cameo appearance in this episode after a larger role in "Ipsissimus".
  • Holmes's reference to meeting Watson during the Jefferson Hope case refers to their meeting in A Study in Scarlet, the first of Conan Doyle's canonical Holmes works. Inspector Gregson is also a character from the novel.
  • Watson's reference to an Inspector Le Villard presumably refers to François le Villard, a detective who is mentioned to have consulted with Holmes in the canon novel The Sign of the Four.

References[]

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