This article contains Enola Holmes 2 spoilers.
The biggest revelation in Enola Holmes 2 isn’t just all about the post-credits scene connecting the old-school Holmes canon to Nancy Springer’s books. Yes, there is a surprising cameo at the end, one which will make all sorts of Sherlockian fans happy. But before that happens, in the movie’s big denouement, we get another very famous Sherlock Holmes character. But this time, this specific person is disguised as another character entirely.
The Enola Holmes 2 Easter Egg That Changes Everything
For most of the second Enola Holmes film, both Sherlock and Enola (Henry Cavill and Millie Bobby Brown) are battling a mystery of corruption. Enola is concerned with the very real event of the Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888 while Sherlock is after a money laundering scheme orchestrated by a mysterious villain named “Moriarty.” As we learn midway through the film, these two events are linked. While Enola and Sherlock reveal the corruption of Superintendent Grail (David Thewlis), it turns out the mastermind of everything has been there the entire time.
Played brilliantly by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Miss Mira Troy, the assistant to Lord McIntyre (Tim McMullen) is really known by another name… Moriarty!
This detail is the second double identity Easter egg in the film. Sarah Chapman’s (Hannah Dodd) disguise as “Cicely” is a reference to the second Nancy Springer book, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, in which Enola tries to solve the disappearance of a character named “Lady Cecily Alistair.” Although Enola Holmes 2 differs substantially from the second Enola Holmes book, this easter egg does connect the two in an interesting way. This is also true of the revelation about Mira Troy really being Moriarty. Both connect the canon of the Netflix film with the canon of the original stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 19th and early 20th century.
Although Moriarty looms large in the imagination of various fans of Sherlock Holmes, the arch-nemesis only appeared in two canonical Holmes stories, “The Final Problem” (1893) and then in the novel The Valley of Fear (1915), which was also a prequel. Essentially, even in his first appearance, Moriarty was retroactively revealed to have been in the shadows all along. In real life, this is because Doyle wanted to create a villain that could defeat Holmes, mostly so Doyle could kill off Holmes and stop writing the stories.
So nearly all adaptations of Moriarty—from the Andrew Scott version in the BBC’s Sherlock to Jared Harris’s interpretation in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows—tend to be better than the source material. And more often than not, Moriarty can also be an alias for another character. Natalie Dormer’s Jamie Moriarty in Elementary was (spoiler alert!) originally presented as another Holmes character entirely, Irene Adler. So while Sharon Duncan-Brewster’s female Moriarty is certainly new for this Victorian time period in a Sherlock Holmes film, she’s not the first female Moriarty onscreen.
Still, this new Moriarty in Enola Holmes 2 connects more directly to the feminist themes of the Nancy Springer novels: Women in Victorian England were not afforded the same rights as men, and they were also often ignored. In the case of Enola, she weaponizes some of the sexism to become an unseen detective, to use the fact that men might not take her seriously to her advantage.
And now this version of Moriarty is doing exactly the same thing. This means, of all the cinematic and TV versions of this Holmes supervillain, the new Sharon Duncan-Brewster Moriarty might be the one we’re rooting for the most, particularly against the ever arrogant detective of 221B Baker Street.
It raises the question, just what will Moriarty’s rivalry with Sherlock, or Enola, be like going forward?
Enola Holmes 2 is streaming now on Netflix.