This article contains some Enola Holmes 2 spoilers.
“It appears the game has found its feet again.” Enola Holmes’ riff on one of her brother’s most famous catchphrases is a succinct metaphor for Netflix’s reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes mythos. It’s familiar, a little ungainly, but cheerfully cute with its self-aware wink to the audience. And so it is that the game is very much finding its feet, or something like that, in the Enola Holmes franchise.
Based on the Nancy Springer young adult book series, and featuring Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown both as star and producer, the Enola Holmes movies have been a smash with Netflix subscribers and an excellent bit of whimsy to showcase Brown’s charisma and Henry Cavill’s determination to star in nearly every franchise, with the Superman actor appearing here as a decidedly ripped Sherlock Holmes. However, up until the ending of Enola Holmes 2, many of the pieces of Sherlock lore were not yet in place: Sherlock was a lonely bachelor living in squalor at 221B Baker Street, Enola had yet to establish herself as her own publicly renowned detective; and neither had truly faced a great arch-nemesis.
This month’s second installment changes all that. And it’s left us with some interesting directions to take the story going forward.
Our Dear Dr. Watson
A good place to start is with how the post-credits scene teased fans: the introduction of Himesh Patel as Dr. Watson. In what’s a bit of clever misdirection, the final scene of Enola Holmes 2 centers on Sherlock preparing for his tea time appointment with Enola, who he’d recently invited to live with him at 221B Baker Street and become his partner in criminal detection. Enola politely declined, of course, wanting to be her own woman. However, she did use the opportunity of a thawing relationship with her brother to play matchmaker, setting him up to meet Dr. Watson as a prospective flatmate.
The rest, my dear Watson, is history. It’s also a great setup for adventures to come. For starters, the casting of Patel (Yesterday, Tenet) provides a decidedly different perspective on Watson, the wearied war hero from colonial India. Now, Watson is of Indian descent himself. Exploring that in a mystery that interconnects with the British Empire’s (mis)adventures on foreign soil could give a different perspective on the Victorian Age’s most popular heroes. This feels apiece with themes in the first two Enola Holmes films.
Also while the second movie largely ignored Springer’s source material novels, it should be noted the mystery of the author’s third Enola book, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, centers on the disappearance of Dr. Watson. As it turns out, Sherlock’s companion has been kidnapped and committed to a mental asylum. The game’s afoot!
Enola vs. Moriarty
Still, these are Enola Holmes mysteries, not Sherlock ones. So what about Enola’s own adventure… and perhaps her own nemesis? Enola Holmes 2 surprised viewers when kindly Ms. Mira Troy (Sharon Duncan-Brewster of Dune fame) was revealed to actually be the emerging Prince of Crime, Moriarty. Or perhaps that should be princess?
As a Black English woman living at the tail-end of the 19th century, no one suspects the taciturn Ms. Troy, consigned by society to a subservient position and living, of also being a criminal mastermind. This is their folly, but not Enola’s. She sees the contempt hidden behind Ms. Troy’s smile for her “betters.” But she also saw some level of admiration from the evil genius at the end of the movie. Moriarty reveals herself to be a bit of an egomaniac, like previous incarnations. But she also concedes Enola and Sherlock were worthy adversaries with whom she had some fun.
Who says the party needs to stop? Now that Moriarty is unmasked, her inevitable escape poses a chance for her and Enola to match wits out in the open.
Evolve Enola and Lord Tewkesbury’s Romance
If we’re being honest, the love story between Enola Holmes and young Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Patridge) was the weakest element of Enola Holmes 2. While their meet-cute in the first film, leading to her forcing him to accept his family’s title, had some dramatic momentum, their exchanging notes about how to dance and how to fight as a quasi-courtship fell a little flat the second time around. But then again, we aren’t exactly the target audience.
However, the sequel ends with Enola and the young member of the House of Lords dating. So the filmmakers might as well develop that relationship for real next time. No more unexpected and “coincidental” meetings after a third of the movie is already over. Instead let us see Enola struggle against, and perhaps subvert, the customs and expectations of a society lady and her suitor in the Victorian era.
Enola Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper?
One of the best qualities about Enola Holmes 2 is how it tied its story of a missing girl into the Matchgirls strike of 1888. This, it should be noted, is an invention of the movie’s screenwriters Jack Thorne and Harry Bradeer. Tying future Enola Holmes mysteries into real Victorian history thus seems like a no-brainer. And one of the most notorious mysteries of that time period, or any other, occurred in the same year as the Matchgirls strike: the grisly murders of the serial killer that the London press dubbed “Jack the Ripper.”
From August to November of 1888, Jack stalked the streets of London’s East End, particularly the Whitechapel neighborhood, which already appeared in Enola Holmes 2 when Enola finds herself wandering into a nightclub of ill-repute. While the real Jack was never caught, we imagine Enola (or Sherlock for that matter) would take a special interest in a killer who targeted impoverished women the authorities couldn’t help.
… Then again that would be a might-bit darker than anything the series has done to date!