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New York Comic Con Elementary panel: Will Natalie Dormer return? 9 things we learned

Plus: Will Natalie Dormer be back to play Moriarty?

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Jeff Neira/CBS

Fans crowded into the Hammerstein Ballroom for Elementary‘s New York Comic Con panel Friday afternoon, during which executive producer Rob Doherty and stars Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, and John Noble teased quite a few details about the upcoming season of the drama based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective series. Below, a roundup of the most fascinating things we learned: 

1. Sherlock could presumably relapse again. At the end of the third season, Sherlock (Miller) hit rock bottom, ending his sobriety and assaulting another man. It might not be a one-time thing, Miller said. “A problem like that doesn’t ever go away in someone’s life,” he explained. “Drug addiction is something that can be handled … but the problem itself isn’t ever going to go away. It’s a storyline you can always go back to … It’s not a huge nemesis that is dealt with and then done with.” 

2. With Sherlock in the dumps, Watson will have to face a changed relationshp dynamic. Lucy Liu, who plays Sherlock’s sober-companion-turned-crime-solving-partner Joan Watson, told the audience that their relationship will develop “on a much deeper manner.” “I think the main thing is to billboard the fact that their relationship has developed outside the sober companionship,” she said.

3. John Noble joins the cast as Sherlock’s enigmatic, estranged father Morland Holmes, and that will introduce plenty of tension between the trio. Noble first thanked the crowd when they cheered him on for joining the show, then spoke of the way Morland parented Sherlock. “It’s not so uncommon that a genius child is eccentric, you know?” he said, waving his hand in Miller’s direction. Miller, for his part, revealed Sherlock will be having a tougher time than Morland at accepting their reunion. “It’s interesting just having [Sherlock] be annoyed and flustered,” he said to laughter from the crowd. “I think he’s expecting more reaction to his disdain for his father … but it doesn’t go anywhere for him, Morland never really takes the bait, so he’s pretty frustrated.” 

4. Joan shares a complex history with Morland. It won’t be easy seeing Joan connect with a Holmes other than Sherlock, but viewers should also pay attention to each character’s internal struggles, not just their relationship dynamics. “People’s personalities start to change,” Liu explained of having a key character enter the story. “It’s subtle and important.” 

5. Doherty has asked Natalie Dormer to return to the show. Dormer played fan-favorite Moriarty, the former lover and nemesis to Sherlock, who once believed she was dead. Of course, the actress is quite busy, with both Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games to handle, as well as a film she’s writing and producing, according to Doherty, which is why they haven’t locked down Dormer for a future episode but hopes to have her return. “Natalie has proven to be as elusive as Moriarty,” Doherty joked. “Actually, we had the opportunity to talk a few weeks ago, to discuss a few possible scenarios for a return… but it presents obviously some logistical problems for us. But we’ll stay in touch and see what we can cook up.” Added Miller: “We shoot this show all year anyway, so when [Dormer] stops working, we’ll still be working.” Hey, there’s still hope!

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6. Lucy Liu will direct an episode this season. Liu has been making her way into directing over the past few years, and she’ll continue to do so with Elementary later this year, for episode 22. “It’s a wonderful thing to see someone begin to fulfill their dreams and ambitions and progress,” Miller said of having Liu direct him in scenes, explaining that Liu’s background in acting helps her understand his and the other actors’ mindsets. “The care that she takes over that aspect of it … is very important to Lucy.” 

7. John Noble just gets estranged father characters. When a fan asked Noble how he managed to portray estranged fathers so well in his career (Noble previously played Walter Bishop on Fringe and Denethor in Lord of the Rings), Noble laughed. “I guess the question is, what prepared me for the first one [in film]?” he said. “I’m not estranged from my children but there’s something deep within me for that … Fundamentally underneath, there is hopefully an unconditional love that will surface by the end.” He also spoke about how often he disquieted strangers because of his signature imposing look. “I get in trouble for staring at people,” Noble said. “I’ll be sitting in a restaurant with my wife and get completely tuned in to a conversation on the other side of the restaurant.”

8. Jonny Lee Miller thinks his acting has gotten better since Hackers. A fan asked Miller what he’s learned since starring in the 1995 film, and luckily, the actor has just gone to a 20th anniversary celebration of the drama and rewatched his performance. “Hopefully, I’m just better than I was then,” he told a roaring audience. 

9. Miller’s favorite scene to shoot was the one in which he discovered Irene/Moriarty was still alive; Liu’s was when Watson revealed her father was schizophrenic. “That was sort of the most intense feeling, because I have no experience of finding out someone I thought was dead is alive,” Miller said. “Usually it’s something you can plug in from your own life, but that was really intense for me.” Similarly, Liu said she had no idea what to do with the script that called for her to reflect on Watson’s schizophrenic and homeless father, but worried more about how to convey the drama to the audience. “It isn’t so much that I didn’t have a reference point,” she explained. “It was more that you have to tell the audience because they don’t know anything about it and you’re telling someone about it to make sure that you are connected to it and at the same time, you’re not hysterical.”

Elementary returns Nov. 5 on CBS.

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