Warning: contains spoilers for The Irregulars finale
Praise be for a proper ending! Too many new Netflix series pull their punches when it comes to the finale, bowing out on a cliff-hanger that gambles on a second series commission that often never arrives. The Irregulars does nothing of the sort. It delivers a traditional, big, flashy conclusion that bests the bad guy, saves the world, and leaves plenty of space for emotional breakthroughs and teary goodbyes.
Yes, some groundwork was laid for a potential return, but if these eight episodes turned out to be it, you won’t leave feeling dissatisfied. Unless you’re a Sherlock Holmes purist, in which case, you probably didn’t make it this far anyway.
The action all went down at the Rip, the location of which Linen Man had found when he entered the mind of the Bird Master in Bedlam. Jessie too, had martialled her strength and used her powers to discover that the tear between the worlds had opened at a former plague pit at the under-construction Aldgate tube station – the veil between the worlds really being thinnest at sites of great traffic (ba-dum tish! Apologies).
Linen Man had presumably persuaded Sherlock to free him from his cage at Bedlam by telling him he would take him to see his former lover and Bea and Jessie’s mother Alice at the Rip. 15 years earlier, Watson had unwittingly opened the Rip when he used a magical artifact to try to communicate with the dead (something that, incidentally, spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced was possible). In unrequited love with Sherlock, Watson was jealous of Alice’s powers and desperate to do something extraordinary so that Sherlock would see him as special. Back then, Alice had willingly crossed over to the other dimension to close the original Rip and save the world. Since that time, Sherlock had become an addict wastrel unable to get over her loss.
Linen Man planned to absorb the power of the Rip and become a God who ruled over humans using the power of fear and nightmares. He spoke of having a son, also a powerful psychic or ‘Ipsissimus’, whom he’d planned to have children with Jessie to continue the psychic bloodline and create a ruling super-race (a potential thread for any eventual season two commissions to follow up on).
At the Rip, Linen Man drew a magical symbol, began an incantation, and sent waking nightmares to Bea and the gang, who were in the tunnels on their way to stop him. Leo’s worst fear was bleeding to death from his haemophilia, Spike’s was watching Jessie suffer and die, Billy’s was the return of the zombie workhouse master, and Bea’s was the memory of their mother leaving them and their first night in the workhouse as infants.
Meanwhile, a cave-in separated the boys from the girls underground, so they went back above ground where they fought off attacks from more monsters caused by the Rip. Teaming up with Sister Anna – the nun who’d known Bea and Jessie’s mother 15 years earlier – they defended their home. When Sister Anna accidentally mirrored what the other monsters had done to get their powers by begging for help in the form of a prayer, the Rip turned her into a monster and she came very close to drowning Leo.
Emboldened by her friends psychically pulling her out of that nightmare grave, when Linen Man tried to enter Jessie’s mind to torture her, she turned the tables on him and took them both into his memories. Jessie forced him to remember every person he’d “broken” using his powers, starting with his best friend as a young man, and to feel their combined pain all at the same time. As a result, the Rip’s power left his body and entered Jessie’s, and Linen Man fell into a cavern, where he died after telling Jessie it was her mother Alice who had opened the Rip for the second time.
15 years of isolation in Purgatory had changed Alice. She was no longer prepared to make the same sacrifices she made years ago, and lose her family to save the world. She deliberately opened the Rip, knowing that it would eventually destroy life on Earth as the other dimensions bled into our reality. There would be no death, she argued, because there would be no more life. The barriers between the worlds would collapse, but she would have her family back and no longer have to be lonely.
Jessie realised immediately that their mother was wrong and they had to close the Rip and save the world, even if it meant never being together again. Bea, who’d just been tortured by Linen Man to remember the pain of losing her mother, stood in Jessie’s way, choosing the comfort of Alice over the end of the world. Jessie used her powers to show Bea powerful happy memories from her life, including the love that kept them together as sisters despite being sent to the workhouse, and Bea relented. They each bid their mother goodbye, and watched as she dissipated through the Rip back into the other dimension.
Just as Jessie was using her powers to close the Rip, Sherlock leapt into it to follow Alice. In a repeat of the events of 15 years ago, a besotted Watson hung onto him to try to pull him back, but this time, he let him go and helped to save Jessie instead. Sherlock went through the Rip, Jessie closed it, and all the chaos and monsters outside returned to normal. Sister Anna stopped trying to kill Leo and returned to normal. London, and the world, was saved.
There was still time for emotional farewells. A funeral of sorts was held for Sherlock and Alice, as Bea had learned at the Rip that it wasn’t grieving their mother that hurt the girls, but not having properly grieved for her in the first place.
Leo left Bea, telling her that what they’d had together was true love but that he had to go to Europe and marry a royal princess. That was the condition the Palace had given him when he saved Billy from the gallows for the murder of the workhouse master, and if he didn’t follow through with it, then Billy would be taken away and hanged. Spike and Jessie shared an intimate moment in which he confessed that his worst fear had been her being hurt or killed. And Bea went to 221B Baker Street to extend the hand of friendship to Watson, who was mourning the object of his unrequited love: Sherlock. Both grieving their lost loves, Watson promised that he would be there for Bea and wasn’t going anywhere. It all ended – as every adventure should – with a fish and chip supper, and a side portion of emotional catharsis.
The Irregulars is streaming now on Netflix.