| "The Marchioness"
Season 2, Episode 7
|Air Date||7 November, 2013|
|Writer|| Craig Sweeney|
|Viewers||8.89 million (U.S.)|
|Previous||"An Unnatural Arrangement"|
|Next||"Blood is Thicker"|
Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, arrives in New York and enlists Sherlock's help with a case involving his former fiancée, Nigella - the woman Sherlock slept with to prove to Mycroft she wasn't faithful. Investigating the murder of Nigella's current lover outside of the stable where Nigella keeps her expensive stud. Searching the scene, Sherlock finds a set of four fingerprints leading to a cartel hitman, known only as El Mecanico. Discovering Nigella's horse is an imposter, Sherlock saves Nigella's life, and investigates El Mecanico. After reviewing tapes, Sherlock zones in on a suspect with four fingers, but his prints don't match those found at the scene. They realise that El Mecanico had taken the prints off of his first victim – a homeless man he buried in the park years ago. Using Nigella as bait, NYPD captures El Mecanico, and Sherlock and Mycroft force Nigella to pay back victims of her scam. Meanwhile, Sherlock has difficulty accepting that Joan and Mycroft slept together while in London.
As Sherlock's latest addict meeting draws to a close, the group leader proposes a topic for discussion: what is the craziest thought that addiction has prompted in them? Holmes, unusually, is moved to speak: he confesses that his senses are hyper-acute, and sometimes wonders if he turned to drugs to dull the never-ending "distractions" that seem an inescapable fact of modern life. Sherlock wonders aloud whether, if he had been born in another time, he might never have turned to drugs and instead been a more focused, fully-developed person? One of his fellow addicts jokingly asks how far back Holmes would wind the clock if he could, and Holmes admits he would miss a few modern conveniences, such as dentistry.
"Around 200 years, perhaps?" asks a voice, and Sherlock turns to see his older brother Mycroft sitting in a back row. Mortified and furious, Sherlock rushes out of the room, where Watson is waiting. Mycroft follows him out, apologizing for coming to New York without warning - he was planning to come next month, when a branch of his London restaurant chain, Diogenes, opens in Manhattan - but a mutual friend of theirs needs help. Sherlock sneers, "we don't have any mutual friends," and Mycroft amends to "acquaintance", promising to explain if Sherlock and Joan will accompany him to his restaurant.
The Holmes brothers and Watson enter the restaurant, which is almost finished, and Watson begins to compliment Mycroft on the decor. A blonde woman standing at the bar turns around and bestows a dazzling smile on Sherlock, who deadpans to his brother, "are you joking?" The woman greets him with an affectionate kiss on the lips, while he remains still as a statue, then introduces Watson to Nigella Mason, Mycroft's former fiancée. This gives Watson a jolt, remembering from their trip to London that the description "former" came about as a result of Sherlock's brief, torrid liaison with the woman.
The foursome sits down to a private meal, while Sherlock openly asks how Nigella, whom he despises as a faithless gold digger, managed to "worm" her way back into his brother's life. Nigella explains that after her engagement to Mycroft was broken, she fell in love with and married Robert Suffolk, the Marquess of Loudwater. Their marriage ended badly - largely, she says, because Robert had little interest in staying faithful to her - so she took up with her husband's stable master, Dalton Ladd, which led to a very messy and very public divorce. "Do you see now," Sherlock asks Mycroft, "the magnitude of the favor I did you?"
Thanks to her attorneys, Nigella emerged from the disaster with two things: her title as Marchioness of Loudwater, and her husband's champion stallion, Silver Blaze. The horse is too old to race now, but there is a high demand for his services as a breeder. "So you've become a horse pimp, how fitting," Sherlock remarks. Unruffled, Nigella explains that the stallion is currently stabled in Ulster County, but two nights ago, Dalton caught a man trying to break into the stall; the intruder shot and killed Dalton, and left behind a bag with a syringe full of poison, indicating he wanted to kill the horse. Nigella is asking the Holmes brothers to help find out who is responsible, both to protect the horse and get justice for Dalton. She adds that when he fell ill, Mycroft found it in himself to forgive her, and she hopes Sherlock can do the same.
Surprised, Sherlock looks at his brother, who admits that he had leukemia, and should have told him a long time ago, but could never figure out how. With apparent sincerity, Sherlock says he is sorry for Mycroft's ordeal, but he detests Nigella and wants nothing to do with her or her affairs - "fortunately, I don't need to sleep with her again to get her out of my life." He gets up and leaves.
That evening, at the Brownstone, Watson confronts Sherlock about his oddly muted reaction to Mycroft's revelation. If it had been her, she says, she would have been angry and hurt to learn that her sibling had kept his illness from her. Sherlock says he is simply annoyed: Mycroft's attempt at being a better person is solely attributable to his brush with death - "there isn't a cliche that man can encounter without running into it head-on." Then the doorbell rings, and Sherlock answers the door to his brother.
Mycroft begins by apologizing for not telling Sherlock he was sick; Sherlock berates him for being stupid, since they both know that if Mycroft needed a bone marrow transplant, the most logical thing to do would be to ask his brother. He goes on to sneer that all recovering invalids like to say they've been spurred to become better people - Mycroft shoots back that just because a lot of people experience something, that doesn't make it less real; "I imagine that it's a lot like addiction in that way."
Mycroft then explains that when he fell ill, Nigella contacted him and asked what she could do; in fact, she organized a drive among her aristocratic friends, and helped Mycroft find his donor match. It would not be an exaggeration to say she saved his life, and the least he can do is help her with this. Moreover, he believes that if Sherlock can help his brother with this case, then it will go a long way to proving, to both of them, that they have reconciled. But if Sherlock wants to be stubborn, he can simply remember that there is a murdered man whose killer is still at large.
Sherlock and Joan drive to the stable in Ulster County, accompanied by Mycroft. The local Sheriff walks them through the crime, explaining that there was one eyewitness who followed the killer with a shotgun for a short distance, but the killer disappeared into a clearing. Sherlock and Watson both note the inconsistency in this story, and realize that, instead of running away, the killer climbed a tree and hoisted himself out of sight. There is only one tree low enough for that purpose, and Sherlock applies fingerprint powder, producing a set of prints. Interestingly, the man who climbed the tree is missing the ring finger of his left hand.
At the precinct back in Manhattan, Sherlock and Joan examine the contents of the killer's bag, which he "borrowed" from the Ulster County authorities. Its contents include a set of lock picks, a large bowie knife, two large syringes, and a map of Ulster County. Looking closely at the map, Holmes notices pen impressions, and makes a pencil rubbing, revealing the number 2501.
Detective Bell enters and informs them that the fingerprints don't match a suspect, but they match a series of crimes: two mass shootings on the East coast, both thought to be the work of an unidentified assassin code-named El Mecánico, working for the Robles drug cartel. Sherlock turns to Mycroft and asks him to ask Nigella if she can think of any reason why drug dealers want to murder her horse. Mycroft texts, and she texts back to ask them to meet her at her hotel, Suite 2501. A look of alarm passes around the room.
Sherlock telephones Nigella and tells her that the man who killed Dalton is targeting her as well, asking her if anything out of the ordinary has happened. She says no, she is just enjoying the view out her window. Holmes tells her to leave the room immediately. She starts to ask why - just as a rifle bullet flies through the window and hits the wall, missing her head by an inch.
At the precinct, Nigella swears to Bell and Captain Gregson that she has no connection with the Robles cartel, and has no idea why they would want her dead. Sherlock, watching, says he doesn't believe her, and Nigella says she will give the police copies of all her personal records, which will confirm her story.
Entering the kitchen of the Brownstone, Sherlock is taken aback to see Mycroft preparing dinner for the three of them, since, as he explains, he spent most of the day as a "spare wheel." Sherlock begins to object, then checks the bare contents of the refrigerator and grudgingly agrees.
As Joan and Mycroft eat at the dinner table, she compliments him on the food, while Sherlock refuses to sit, but instead keeps pacing back and forth, checking various documents. Joan has to hide a laugh when Mycroft tells Sherlock, "your food's getting cold." Ignoring his brother, Sherlock receives a text from an accountant friend. He explains that Joaquin Aguilar, the suspected head of the Robles cartel's East Coast operations, rarely appears in public, and only in his private box at the same racetrack, and only when one of two particular horses are running. Both horses are owned by the same stable in New Jersey, which - Sherlock's accountant friend has just confirmed - received its seed money from a shell company long suspected of being a front for the cartel, meaning Aguilar is not only an avid horse racing fan, he is the "shadow owner" of the horses. Holmes checks Nigella's records, and confirms that one of Aguilar's horses, Twice For No, is a mare who mated with Silver Blaze. What is odd is that, instead of keeping the resulting foal (Nutmeg), Aguilar sold it to a stable in Long Island. Their next move is to examine Nutmeg. Mycroft says, splendid, but since the stable will not open until the morning, Sherlock can at least sit at the dinner table long enough to enjoy dessert. Reluctantly, Sherlock sits down - then bolts back up, unable to bear sharing a table with his brother and Watson.
After dinner, Watson confronts Sherlock, who denies that he is uncomfortable around Mycroft - what he is uncomfortable with is Watson's tension in Mycroft's presence. Watson denies any tension, but Sherlock immediately deduces that he was right, and Watson slept with his brother while they were in London. Exasperated, Watson admits it, but doesn't see why Sherlock has such a problem with it.
The next morning, the three of them drive to Long Island. Riding in the backseat, Sherlock says he is not angry with Watson - who is, after all, an adult capable of making her own decisions - but he is extremely disappointed with Mycroft, for seducing Watson out of petty revenge. Mycroft simply says that his motive wasn't revenge. Still trying to get a rise out of either of them, Sherlock innocently asks Watson whether his brother was "any good." The two of them ignore him.
They are shown to Nutmeg's stall by the stable owner, who still can't believe that they were allowed a chance to bid on a foal from the legendary Silver Blaze, which cost them a bundle. Holmes takes a careful look at Nutmeg, then compares him with photos of Silver Blaze and Twice For No. He is unable to keep a smile of malicious glee off his face as he turns to Mycroft and says he knows exactly why the Robles cartel wants Nigella dead.
At Diogenes, Nigella sits down again with Watson and the Holmes brothers. Sherlock shows her the photos, pointing out that Silver Blaze and Twice For No have similar markings - "whorls" - in the exact same place on their heads. Genetics would dictate that Nutmeg should have the same, yet his whorls are located lower down on his face. So, Sherlock says, the only question he would like to ask Nigella is: where is the real Silver Blaze and when did Nigella replace him with an imposter?
Nigella says that she "fought" hard to get ownership of Silver Blaze included in her prenuptial agreement with the Marquess, but barely two months after the papers were signed, the stallion died of heart failure. In Nigella's view, she deserved something for the "years of her life" devoted to a philandering cad like the Marquess. Mycroft - who by now is very close to sharing Sherlock's opinion of Nigella - dryly points out the exaggeration, given that her marriage lasted exactly 22 months. "Yes, and I earned that horse during that stretch, believe me!" Nigella shoots back.
Sherlock asks how Nigella made the switch, and she explains that the horse in Ulster County is actually Silver Blaze's brother; he has none of his brother's greatness, but their markings are almost identical, and a little dye took care of the rest. Watson interrupts, expressing disbelief that a little dye is enough to convince people who are paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars for the real Silver Blaze's "services." Nigella explains that in horse breeding, most of the scrutiny is focused on the mare, not the stud, and besides, thanks to her highly public divorce, "the whole world knew that Silver Blaze was mine." Shifting slightly, she adds that, for those who demanded more definite proof, she and Dalton preserved some hair and blood samples from Silver Blaze before they buried his body.
Defensively, she says that her ruse has worked fine so far, and they are the first ones who figured it out. Sherlock says, in fact, they are not - Aguilar has already done so, which is why he is trying to kill her and the imposter, and has already killed Dalton. Another man might have sued her, or at least exposed her scam to the media, but that would destroy the value of Nutmeg, whom Aguilar sold in an attempt to cut his losses. Besides, Aguilar is a drug kingpin, so he prefers to deal with the problem in the traditional way: hiring an assassin.
For the moment, Nigella is much less worried about the assassin than about whether Holmes and Watson are going to reveal her scam to the police. The three remain silent, but Sherlock glances at Mycroft, indicating that it is ultimately the elder's decision.
That evening, Sherlock and Joan are reviewing what little the police know about El Mecánico, including a taped interview of Kent Nelson, who witnessed the assassin's first mass shooting in Tampa, Florida. Sherlock is taciturn and moody, and Joan impatiently asks why he can't get over the fact that she and Mycroft slept together, or why he insists on seeing it as an act of revenge or spite on either of their parts. Sherlock says he has moved past that particular obsession; what he can't get over is Joan's recklessness. She is an intelligent and perceptive person, who knows that she and Sherlock work well together, and that Sherlock values her companionship and assistance - so why would she introduce an "x factor" by having a liaison with his brother? Joan gives up the argument and turns her attention back to the video. Seeing Mr. Nelson describe the killer in haunted tones, she comments on his unhelpful fondness for cliches. Sherlock agrees, saying Mr. Nelson is describing an ideal more than giving an actual description of the killer's appearance. Then he leans in and notices something even more interesting - Mr. Nelson is missing the tip of his left hand's ring finger.
At the precinct, Sherlock and Joan explain to Gregson and Bell that the man who gave his name as Kent Nelson is actually El Mecánico. He must have been seen leaving the scene of the shooting, so he approached the police claiming to have witnessed the crime, with a false identity ready - since he is, above all things, prepared. Gregson asks why no one noticed the significance of Mr. Nelson's missing finger, and Bell concludes that, until Holmes examined the tree in Ulster County, the police had only partial fingerprints to work from, and didn't know El Mecánico was missing a finger.
Holmes adds that it should be easy to apprehend the assassin. Bell asks why, since all they have is a physical description, but no idea of his current whereabouts. Holmes says they have the next best thing - the whereabouts of his current target (Nigella). Gregson objects that the police do not use civilians as bait, and Holmes says they won't have to. If El Mecánico is as precise and methodical as they all believe, then certainly he has the means to track Nigella's movements. For that very reason, the police have instructed her not to use her cell phone, but "what if she were to slip up?"
On the police's instructions, Nigella calls a friend in New York and makes a lunch appointment. The police stake out the roofs surrounding the restaurant, and, sure enough, find "Kent Nelson".
Nelson doesn't say a word under interrogation, and his attorney insists that her client is just an innocent bystander. Gregson rejoins that this "innocent bystander" was carrying a $10,000 handgun in his pocket, that his legal employer is a known front for the Robles cartel, and they have fingerprint evidence connecting him to two mass killings, which means Nelson should be begging to confess right about now. Then Bell comes in, pulls Gregson outside, and informs him and a stunned Holmes and Watson that Mr. Nelson's fingerprints do not match any of the previous crimes.
Mycroft drives Holmes and Watson back to the Brownstone, ruminating that frustration must be a frequent hazard in their profession: they have built a brilliant case, and all the evidence pointed to Mr. Nelson, yet they were wrong. Sherlock dismissively says they're not wrong: the fingerprint evidence may be an obstacle, but Sherlock is certain they have apprehended the Robles cartel's assassin.
Watson asks him to explain the fingerprints, and Holmes says it is simple: Nelson was wearing a fake set of fingerprints when he committed his past crimes. Modern science is perfectly capable of manufacturing a set of fake fingerprints, as long as the criminal has access to sufficient funds and an industrial-grade chemical lab (neither of which would be an issue for the Robles cartel) and preferably a set of real fingerprints to make the copies. "I imagine they're awash with severed hands," Sherlock remarks dryly.
The next morning, Watson is rudely awakened by Sherlock poking her bedsheets with his single stick, "trying to see whether my brother is in there with you." He also says he has made a breakthrough. The fingerprints attributed to El Mecanico (which Sherlock believes were faked) actually matched three crimes, not two: the two mass shootings, and the burglary of a liquor store in a rural town in upstate New York. The burglar broke into the store and stole all the Straw Dog wine. Watson finds it hard to believe that a highly-paid cartel hitman would drink cheap wine, or have to resort to stealing it. Sherlock agrees, and says the solution is simple: the original owner of the fingerprints robbed the liquor store, shortly before "donating his hands, presumably unwillingly" to El Mecanico.
Driving to the town, they interview the retired Sheriff, Miriam Berg, who says that she suspected a local drifter nicknamed "Straw Dog Jed" of the burglary, but the man disappeared shortly before she could question him. The odd thing is, she went to his habitual street corner and found bottles of unopened Straw Dog left behind.
Retracing a path from the street corner, Holmes notices a public park that was planted around the time of Jed's disappearance. When asked, the Sheriff confirms that all the trees were planted at around the same time - which makes it odd that one particular tree is both taller and much more robust than the ones around it, despite being the same age. Watson sees what Holmes is getting it - something buried under the tree has both raised its height and been providing it with extra nutrients.
A short time later, Gregson re-enters the interrogation room and formally apologizes to Kent Nelson and his attorney for the inconvenience, admitting that they have no evidence linking him to the drug killings. Nelson and his attorney start to rise, but Gregson tells them to wait, adding that they do have evidence linking them to a murder in upstate New York. Someone killed Straw Dog Jed, cut off his hands, and buried him in the new park. But on the body they found some hairs that belonged to someone other than Jed.
At the Brownstone, Watson watches the news, reporting that Nelson has confessed to being El Mecanico. The doorbell rings, and she answers it to Mycroft, who congratulates her on her and Sherlock's success, and asks her to be his date for the opening ceremony at Diogenes in a few days. Watson is taken aback, and Mycroft says that he feels that whatever relationship they began in London has potential, and he wants to explore the possibility of taking it further. Watson is silent - for all her denials, it is becoming clear to her that Sherlock is right, and Mycroft's presence makes her uncomfortable, possibly because his presence upsets the balance between her and Sherlock. The scene cuts away, leaving unclear whether she accepts his invitation or not.
That night, Mycroft and Sherlock are sitting alone at the bar in Diogenes, when Nigella enters to speak with them in private. Sherlock begins by assuring Nigella that she should be safe from further assassination attempts - he has conferred with Joaquin Aguilar's attorneys, threatening to reveal the fact that Aguilar knowingly sold a foal with fraudulent bloodlines to a third party. Aguilar is a businessman, and Sherlock feels certain that he will cut his losses and leave her alone rather than risk such exposure. Nigella thanks him, in an abstracted way that makes clear that her greatest fear is being exposed and arrested.
Sherlock turns the decision over to Mycroft, who informs Nigella that her scam is over as of that moment. Furthermore, he and Sherlock have audited her records, and calculated that, between her savings and the life insurance payments for Dalton, she has enough money to repay all the people she has defrauded - he and Sherlock will be monitoring. He adds that she may keep the money she got from Aguilar, and "use it to fund a new, hopefully more respectable start in life." Beneath his genteel words, Mycroft's tone makes clear that these terms are non-negotiable, and whatever debt he felt he owed to Nigella is now paid in full. He finishes by saying that, though it has been lovely seeing her, he and Sherlock are having coffee, and she is not invited. Understanding that she has no further hold over either of the brothers, Nigella mumbles some words of thanks and exits the restaurant.
In a petulant tone, Sherlock says that he has no intention of discussing the past, nor does he want to discuss any plans for the holidays. Mycroft, unperturbed, accepts this and asks, then, "what would you like to talk about?"
- Jonny Lee Miller – Sherlock Holmes
- Lucy Liu – Joan Watson
- Aidan Quinn – Captain Thomas Gregson
- Jon Michael Hill – Detective Marcus Bell
- Rhys Ifans – Mycroft Holmes
- Olivia D'Abo – Nigella Mason
- Andrew Samonsky – El Mecanico
- Orlagh Cassidy – Maris
- Phyllis Somerville – Miriam Berg
- Joe Forbrich – Brad Scheff
- Lucas Salvagno – Addict
- Christopher Tocco – Will
- Jane Pfitsch – Lisanne
- Ken Marks – Chairman
- "Marchioness" is the title in Great Britain and Ireland which is the equivalent of "Marquise" elsewhere in Europe – the female form of "Marquess" or "Marquis".
|#01 Step Nine||#09 On the Line||#17 Ears to You|
|#02 Solve for 'X'||#10 Tremors||#18 The Hound of the Cancer Cells|
|#03 We Are Everyone||#11 Internal Audit||#19 The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville|
|#04 Poison Pen||#12 The Diabolical Kind||#20 No Lack of Void|
|#05 Ancient History||#13 All in the Family||#21 The Man With the Twisted Lip|
|#06 An Unnatural Arrangement||#14 Dead Clade Walking||#22 Paint It Black|
|#07 The Marchioness||#15 Corpse de Ballet||#23 Art in the Blood|
|#08 Blood is Thicker||#16 The One Percent Solution||#24 The Grand Experiment|