Moriarty the Patriot
Episode 9

by Rebecca Silverman,

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Moriarty the Patriot ?

If you're looking for literary Easter eggs, part two of “A Study in S” has you covered. This episode has two very good ones, with the latter really being more of a nod to the original Sherlock Holmes tale, A Study in Scarlet. As John Watson comments that he'll never want for diary material living with Holmes, we see a shot of his journal with the opening page of A Study in Scarlet written down in Watson's handwriting. That's the kind of detail that makes tributes and reimaginings like Moriarty the Patriot so much fun, a big wink and nod to the source that allows the show to exist in the first place. But the first literary reference is one which shows that someone (or hopefully a lot of someones) working on the story has done their Victorian literature homework, because the name of the pub John rests in while Sherlock hares off doing Sherlock things is called the Little Dorrit.

As you may be aware, Little Dorrit is the name of a novel by Charles Dickens. It was serialized between 1855 and 1857, with the compiled volumes being published directly after serialization in 1857. Although it's perhaps not as well known as, for example, Great Expectations or Oliver Twist, that makes it even more impressive in the context of the show. That's because, among other things, the novel has a plotline that directly looks at the way that the British class system creates social inequality, largely regarded as a satire of the way that British governmental institutions fail the people. Specifically, it looked at the debtors' prison system, wherein someone is thrown into jail until they have paid off their debt – which, of course, they can't do, because they're in jail, unable to work. It's the sort of thing Moriarty would take aim at himself, and we could even see him sympathizing with the eponymous heroine of the novel, because Amy “Little” Dorrit is born in debtors' prison and spends most of her life going back and forth to it to help her father. This only changes when her dad is discovered to be the lost heir to a fortune. (The novel also has its fair share of murderers and other criminals.) It's a particularly apt reference to make in this show and that the staff didn't just go with A Tale of Two Cities (the more obvious choice with its greater fame and French Revolution themes) and call it a day is a good sign.

This episode also introduces the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street urchins (which usually means orphaned kids living on the streets) who help Holmes out in his investigations. (You may also be familiar with their Japanese counterparts The Boy Detectives Club, who do the same for Akechi Kogoro in Edogawa Rampo's detective novels.) While they definitely came into play in the original A Study in Scarlet and two other Holmes stories before vanishing from the books, they stand to be especially interesting here, because Moriarty and Louis were street urchins themselves before Louis' illness forced them to seek help at the orphanage. Fred, Moran's associate, appears to have been a street urchin as well, so now that Holmes has passed Moriarty's secret audition for the role of great detective, it will be worth keeping an eye out for parallels between the Irregulars, Fred, and the younger Moriarty brothers. Will the Irregulars turn double-agents? That feels like a possibility, especially given that they disappear from the Holmes canon after 1893's The Adventure of the Crooked Man.

The episode itself continues what part one started not just in the sense that it finishes the story, but also in how it is a pastiche of the actual 1887 tale and the “real” continuity of the show. The murderer remains [hansom] cab driver Jefferson Hope, Gregson is still aghast that Holmes solved the crime, and it marks Holmes and Watson's partnership. But it also more clearly establishes Moriarty as the brains behind absolutely everything in the canonical Holmes stories and Sherlock as his possibly unaware pawn. That Sherlock knows that someone's out there pulling the strings behind Hope and Parkour Granny doesn't seem to deter Moriarty in the least – he appears confident that he can keep the detective dancing to his tune.

Reichenbach Falls would seem to indicate that he's wrong. But of course, that's only in the version that John Watson writes.


Moriarty the Patriot is currently streaming on Funimation.

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