You’d be excused for expecting the return of Morland Holmes to cause a lot of chaos. After all, Sherlock’s father has always been a dark cloud looming in the distance, so to expect rain when he rolls into town is totally understandable. But as we learn at the start of “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” Morland may not be bringing bad news or shady deals. Rather, he tells Sherlock that if he and Watson would like to be reinstated as consultants with the NYPD, he can make it happen.
Of course, Sherlock is hesitant because every deal with his father comes with some sort of hidden agenda. But maybe this time is different, as Morland expresses pride in his son and the operation he’s set up with Watson. Plus, he has great gratitude for Watson. “She saved my son’s life,” he says in a moment of vulnerability.
With that in the back of Sherlock’s mind, he seems poised to sit around and contemplate his next move. That is, until Watson comes to him with a new case for the FBI, what she’s calling a “trial run” of sorts with Agent Gary Burke. If they can prove themselves to be useful, perhaps they can join the FBI on more cases in the future. Either way, it’s work, and that’s what they do best.
And boy do they have quite the case to solve. The episode’s open sees a man going through an experiment ripped straight from A Clockwork Orange. While undergoing the experiment, the scientists doing the research are murdered, each shot point-blank. A number of hard drives are stolen along with the security footage, meaning there are very few leads in the case.
In order to figure out where to start, Holmes and Watson need to determine just what was stolen. It turns out that the experiment was part of a test for an algorithm that could potentially sway people’s thoughts and emotions. Or as Sherlock plainly calls it, brainwashing.
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While Holmes determines that the killer must have known the researchers, as it looks like they were invited into the room, he isn’t exactly pleased with how the FBI is treating their insights. He doesn’t like how little room they have to explore leads with the FBI refusing to let them off a tight leash. That’s hindering their investigation, or as Holmes puts it, “a murder investigation is not a three-legged race.”
Back at the brownstone Sherlock tells Watson about the deal his father has offered. He tells her all about how the deal is too good to be true but wants to ultimately make a decision as a team. Is it best for them to go back to the NYPD and hope Morland doesn’t ask for a favor in the future or to forge their own new path?
It’s a tough question, especially when your mind is occupied with tracking down a brainwashing algorithm that may have fallen into the hands of a Chinese spy. Dr. Zheng is the initial suspect, a man who worked closely with the team but could be a spy for the Chinese. As Holmes points out, the Chinese would be threatened by such a brainwashing technology but also potentially have their own use for it.
NEXT: Whatever makes you happy