Watson often gets the short end of the stick when hanging out with Sherlock Holmes, especially while played by David Burke, which is a shame because I rather like Burke’s portrayal. However, this one opens with Watson bellowing to Holmes as they enter a military base. He is portrayed well, mining some of that military background we all know about from his time in Afghanistan. It’s a nice change to the normal routine. Convinced to take a case regarding a murdered Colonel, Holmes has to unravel what happened that lead to the death, who did it, and why. And was the colonel’s unconscious wife really responsible?
When Colonel Barclay is found dead in a locked room with his wife unconscious mere feet away, the evidence seems to point to a marital dispute gone wrong. The staff heard the fighting until there was silence and the apparent murder weapon is a stick that no one can identify. Barclay is found dead with a truly terrifying look on his face, and a laceration at the back of the neck.
It seems Conan Doyle was convinced love was at the heart of most crimes, and perhaps he’s right, but with just 5 episodes so far, it seems to take pride of place for the motive. Colonel Barclay is a very jealous man and is convinced his wife is in love with someone else, but the truth is, she’s a good wife. However, one night while helping the downtrodden of the town, she finds an old love interest, believed dead some 30 years. When she discovers that her husband arranged his “death” all those years ago, she goes home, beside herself with rage, intent on confronting Barclay. Her former lover shows up and scares the Colonel into a heart attack which actually kills him before he hits the ground; there never was an altercation. The frightened former lover leaves through a window and, in a panic, takes the door key with him, creating the mystery of the locked room murder.
Holmes listens to the stories of each member of the staff and eventually concludes that there was someone else in the room. Footprints lead away from the house and the smaller footprints, of a rodent, show him that there was something else in the room. If one expected a murder akin to the Rue Morgue, think again. The only mistake is that Henry Wood came back to the house to see Nancy and witnessed the argument. What Henry had going for him is shockingly wicked eyes that caused the Colonel to have a heart attack and die.
“Elementary, my dear Holmes!” Watson turns the cliched line on Sherlock, but as non-fans may not be aware, the line was never actually spoken by Holmes to Watson. Also on display is Holmes’ typical disregard of women. His demeanor with one of the staff is so cold as to be rude, and when he’s speaking to her, he seems to go out of his way to try to throw her off, slapping down a particularly gruesome paper covered in blood. To her credit, the young lady never cracks!
The episode features a surprising amount of blood as Wood tells his story. Wood is played by Norman Jones who Doctor Who fans may remember as Hieronymus from The Masque of the Mandragora. His eyes are perfect for the moment when he appears at the doorway during the marital dispute. I can see why Barclay has a heart attack and his wife passes out. Holmes again shows mercy to the principle suspect indicating he suffered enough at the hands of his former friend. This is the second time where Holmes shows a softer side with the would-be criminal and I begin to speculate on the many facets of Holmes that I admire. I actually mean that in a positive way, believe it or not. Speaking of Holmes, Brett nails the performance adding so many little touches to the character, like the quick-smile or the slightest move of the eyes. He was a master and to watch his performance is to watch a true artist at his craft. Immensely enjoyable even when the story is a bit slow. ML