Something evil has come to London in Netflix and Tom Bidwell‘s crime drama The Irregulars. Based loosely on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works, the series follows a band of misfits as they investigate supernatural crimes. In the previous episode, Jessie (Darci Shaw) came face to face with someone who didn’t value her gift and Bea (Thaddea Graham) goes on a cat and mouse game to find Sherlock (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) and wins. In episode five, “Chapter Five: Students of the Unhallowed Arts”, Bea uncovers the connection between her mother, Watson (Royce Pierreson) and Sherlock while Billy (Jojo Macari) faces a horror from the gang’s past.
It goes without saying that this recap will contain spoilers for The Irregulars. If you haven’t watched it, I highly suggest checking out the series here!
“Chapter Five: Students of the Unhallowed Arts” opens with a flashback to when Alice (Eileen O’Higgins), Watson, and Sherlock worked together. From episode three, Patricia Coleman Jones (Olivia Grant) has found herself on the wrong end of a hypnotized mob. Watson and Alice swoop in to save her and we see Alice reach out and touch one of the member’s arms, similar to how Jessie uses her powers. It turns out the mob is being controlled by an opera singer named Linda Langtree (Cassie Clare). Sherlock is attending her show that night, where her singing hypnotizes the crowd.
He joins her on stage and where she demands he take his own life. Just as he is about to do so, Watson and Alice rush in and try to stop him. But it looks like Sherlock was ten steps ahead of them. It turns out he had an idea about what was happening and put ear wax in his ears before heading to the show. He injects Linda with something to knock her out before she can cause any more harm. Watson and Alice join him on stage, both seriously worried about what could have happened but happy that he is safe. As they take their bow, the scene flips to the present, where Bea is helping Sherlock to a bed in a rented room. He isn’t the most respectful guest and manages to piss on the floor before passing out.
Bea returns sometime later with tea to help sober Sherlock up. He thanks her for not taking him back to 221B, but she could care less about him. All she wants is answers about her mom and how to deal with the Rip. She asks him if he knows who she is, but he doesn’t answer. She gives him five minutes to get himself ready before she goes to leave. However, he stops her, putting together the type of tea, where it was made and who could have made it showing off his expert skills as an investigator. But it doesn’t look like he is on his game because it turns out he was wrong.
Bea returns to the cellar to find Leopold (Harrison Osterfield) up and moving around. She reminds him he needs to rest so his side can heal. She offers to clean it up for him, but he declines. It turns out that he lied to her, and possibly everyone else, about how he got hurt. Instead of telling them that he jumped from a balcony, he made up a story about falling. Bea thinks that someone else did this and that is why he keeps an eye on the street. He opens up and tells her that the people where he was didn’t want him to leave, so he had to run. He tries to promise her he won’t be going back, but she tells him just to get some rest.
Bea returns to check on Sherlock, who is looking through his pockets. He tells her that he made a mistake with the tea earlier and when he makes mistakes, he likes to admit it. She asks him why he cares so much about the tea and he shares that it’s not the tea but how she views him. She has no idea who he is, what he has done, or what he has seen. He has saved people and he wants Bea to know that. However, Bea thinks very little of him and rightfully so. She spent the entire morning cleaning up after him and spent the previous day going through two opium dens to find him. But she is willing to allow him to change her mind.
Sherlock tells her how he was the youngest person ever to be recruited by Scotland Yard. He met Watson when they became housemates and he helped on Sherlock’s first case. They agreed to start an agency together, but it was soon after that things really started to change. Another flashback begins as Sherlock talks about the first time London dealt with the darkness that Bea and her friends are currently dealing with. Things were fine until he realized they needed help and Mycroft (Jonjo O’Neill) pointed them in the direction of Alice. While meeting with her, he meets a younger Bea for the very first time.
In the present, Bea rushes off to find Jessie so she can come to listen to Sherlock’s story. Jessie has other plans, though, which require her to stay at the cellar. She wants to fall back to sleep and investigate her nightmares more. She believes she can use this time to figure out where the Rip may be located. Streetside, Billy and Spike (McKell David) talk about Billy’s need to get back into the game and Spike sends him over to talk to a few ladies. While introducing himself, a man bumps into him, who Billy remembers from the workhouse. He follows him for a bit before Spike catches up.
In a flashback to 15 years prior, Sherlock tattooed Alice and then tried to tattoo Watson before he chickened out. The tattoo means The Irregulars. In the present, Sherlock shares the faded tattoo with Bea. She laughs at how Watson pretended to be lightheaded to get out of the tattoo and Sherlock remarks that her smile looks like her mother’s. Bea becomes serious again and requests that Sherlock continue with the story. In the past, we see Alice, Watson and Sherlock meeting with a group of others at 221B and discussing the Opera Signer case.
They ask him how he was able to solve the case and after a little push from Watson, he explains how he came to his conclusion. Alice gets up and readies herself to leave when Sherlock comes to find her. She has decided to leave because she is tired of watching him show off his skills in front of others. That he must love the way, people think he is so brilliant. But they are on the edge of something truly terrifying that has no order. His arrogance has made him believe that he is bigger than all of this, but in reality, he is just a “minnow about to swim on into the vastness of the open sea”.
Sherlock shares his belief that fear will only take those who have things to lose and he doesn’t have anything. Or does he? Clearly, a relationship between Alice and Sherlock has grown in the time they have been together and the two share a kiss. Unknown to them, Watson happens upon them and it’s apparent that he isn’t happy with the idea of Alice and Sherlock together. But instead of saying anything, he returns to the parlor and their guests.
Sherlock tells Bea how much he loved Alice and how she loved him too, but Bea doesn’t believe him. She tells him how they read about the experiments and what Mrs. Hudson told her. How he tortured Alice and she couldn’t have loved him because of what he did. Sherlock says that they weren’t forcing Alice to do anything; she was apart of it. They were doing these rituals together as a way to close the Rip. Her screaming was from the nightmares she was having.
Nightmares very similar to what Jessie is experiencing now. Jessie has fallen asleep again and in her nightmares, she is exploring the tunnels trying to get back to the open cavern she saw in episode one. She finds a minecart full of bones. As she is exploring, a creature reaches out and knocks her over. Another one comes closer and holds her down while both are chanting ‘circle’. She manages to break her arm free and reaches over to grasp the spell on her wrist. Instead of going to the Linen Man’s (Clarke Peters) mind, she awakens in the street to Bea.
Jessie must have been sleepwalking in her nightmare and tells Bea that she doesn’t want to do it ever again. Bea tells her that she might not have to and asks her to come with her to talk with Sherlock. Jessie is against this, not wanting to hear about her mom or the story. Bea tells her that it’s kind of nice getting to know her through Sherlock, but Jessie says that’s only because she doesn’t know where the story is heading. Jessie tells Bea that she wants to be left alone but will think about going to see him.
Spike finds Billy in the bar and the two discuss the man Billy saw earlier. He opens up that he was a man named Vic Collins (Alex Ferns), the master at the workhouse where Billy and the girls were. Billy shares with Spike that Vic was abusive and Spike is upset that he never talked about it before. Billy didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but he thinks that someone will do him in if there is a higher power. They would just need to follow him home late one night and get him when he isn’t expecting it. Spike realizes that Billy is talking about the idea of handling it himself and he reminds him what would happen if he kills or even hurts someone of such high standing. Billy says he understands, but Spike is still a bit suspicious.
Back in the cellar, Leopold is checking on his wound when Bea arrives. He doesn’t want her to see him broken and asks her to turn around. She doesn’t think he looks broken at all but complies with his wishes. Bea tells Leopold about how she and Jessie had a terrible dance routine they would do in order to get money. She teaches him a bit as she sings. He tries to lean in to kiss her, but Bea won’t let him. He is curious why she won’t let him get close, but she wants to know why he won’t be open with her. Maybe sometimes people have too much to hide.
Bea returns to Sherlock so he can continue his story. We get a flashback to Alice and Sherlock. They are using Alice’s nightmares to try and uncover clues about the Rip. He could see the nightmares were really getting to Alice, but that wasn’t even half of it. The cases were starting to become worse and, in turn, taking a toll on all of them. They were presented with a case where parts of a person were being taken. Alice thinks something isn’t right with the case and that Watson may have something to do with it. She is also worried the Sherlock has turned to drugs to help him fall asleep or stay awake.
Alice finds a vile with a green substance that Sherlock uncovers to be a mix of herbs, including Snowdonia Hawkweed (this also happens to be what he was muttering to himself when Bea helped him at the beginning of the episode). He knows it only grows in one particular place and asks Watson to check with the Royal Botanical Gardens and see if they know of anyone who has brought it into the area. Watson isn’t sure, but Sherlock is willing to bet his career that he is right. He tells Bea he is always right that chemistry is his thing. He still believes he is right.
In the flashback, Watson returns with a letter from the head botanist Edith Dubois claiming that Sherlock was wrong. This was all they had to go off of. Nothing else from the crime scene gave clues to who the collector could have been. Watson can see that Sherlock is distressed and asks him to go down to the pub for a pint. Sherlock refuses and tells him he needs to stay with Alice. In the present, Sherlock is going through withdraws and struggling to answer Bea’s questions. He asks if she would get him something to take the edge off. Bea refuses and tells Sherlock he needs to sober up and finish his story, but he threatens that he won’t speak another word unless she brings something back with her.
“Chapter Five: Students of the Unhallowed Arts” jumps to Billy following Vic Collins. Before he can do anything stupid, Spike catches up with him. Spike reminds him how stupid it would be to go after him and that he understands that the guy is a horrible person, but he isn’t worth it. Billy is still so angry and it turns out the story he told Spike earlier about Vic beating him wasn’t entirely true. Vic would beat Bea. We saw a bit of this during episode two’s flashback in Jessie’s mind. Billy is upset because he wasn’t able to stop it before, but now he is.
Bea returns to Sherlock with what he asked for but won’t give it to him until he finishes his story. The flashback picks up from where he left off before, but now we can see that Sherlock wanted to stay with Alice because she was pregnant and going into labor. Sherlock knew that Bea had to have caught on, but Bea needed him to tell her. It becomes pretty clear that Sherlock is Jessie’s dad. In the present, we see that at this moment, Jessie has finally shown up and hear everything he said.
Sherlock apologies to her, but Jessie doesn’t want that or anything else from him. She just wants to know what Alice saw in her nightmares. Sherlock explains that she saw executioners and we finally get to see what Alice’s nightmares looked like. She is walking through the woods while women scream out for help and men repeat the word “triangles”. She trips at one point and in the tree branches, she sees people hanging.
Alice awakens from her nightmare and begs Sherlock to leave London. She believes others like her will come and close the Rip, but right now, this is tearing them apart. Sherlock doesn’t want to leave. He tells her to imagine what it will be like when they close the Rip and Watson writes about it. How they will save the entire world and everyone will know it was them. She realizes that this was never about doing the right thing for him; it was about making him a legend. She reminds him that now he has so much to lose and he realizes that she is right and decides to leave London.
As Sherlock is packing, Watson returns home and is upset he decided to leave. He blames Alice for everything, but Sherlock reminds him that Watson will be fine on his own. That he always manages to land on his feet. But before Sherlock can say any further, Watson drops a bomb on him about where the Rip might be located. The Rip would most likely occur where the barrier was most vulnerable, a place where a lot of people died.
Using the information from Alice’s dreams, Watson pinpointed that they must be looking for gallows. When Sherlock asks him why he didn’t say anything before, Watson tells him he wanted to impress him. He wanted to be seen by him. Sherlock says that he does, but Watson doesn’t seem to believe him. Sherlock is able to narrow down exactly what gallows they are looking for because only one is actually shaped like a triangle, the word Alice keeps hearing in her nightmares.
Watson suggests to Sherlock that they should take Alice there to see, but Sherlock claims she isn’t well. In the present, Bea accuses Sherlock of taking her there anyway, even though he had promised her they were done and moving on. He tells them that he had no choice and begs Bea to give him the opium. But neither Bea nor Jessie will give him anything until he finishes the story. In the flashback, we see Alice, Sherlock and Watson make their way to the land the gallows sat on. Sherlock thinks they have the wrong place, but Alice sees an executioner from her nightmare and follows it.
Alice tells Sherlock that he doesn’t need to prove that he is brilliant and that he is perfect the way he is. She also tells him that the girls are his and to take care of them. While closing the Rip, Alice gets sucked into the other side. Sherlock tells Bea and Jessie that he tried to drag her back and asked Watson to help, but Watson grabbed him instead of her. In the blink of an eye, Alice disappeared and so did the Rip.
In the present, Jessie has decided that she heard enough and leaves while Bea chastises Sherlock for allowing them to believe their mom went mad and drowned herself. What was worse is that he abandoned both her and Jessie. He swears he was trying to do best by them, but Bea knows that he was just trying to do what was best for himself. That it didn’t matter if he constantly thought about them because that didn’t help when they were being abused in the workhouse or starving to death in the streets.
Sherlock claims he wants to help them now, but Bea won’t accept it. He can’t even take care of himself. How will he ever be any help to them? He is too wrapped up in being this brilliant and making sure everyone knows it. Sherlock knows he has made mistakes, but Alice’s death isn’t his fault. He shares with Bea that the idea that Watson, who has never been touched by the hand of inspiration, all of a sudden knew exactly how to figure out where the Rip was.
Bea goes to leave, but Sherlock begs her for the opium she promised. She rips it open and pours it on the floor before telling him it’s just sugar. Angered, he swears he never wants to see her again and that she deserves everything coming to her. At Vic Collin’s house, we see Billy enter behind him and tells him he wants to hurt him. Vic claims to remember who he is from the workhouse and that he isn’t the son of a soldier but a whore who gave him up. He tells Bill that he remembers having to get up at night to deal with his crying. He tells him he isn’t strong and had better leave before he gives him something to cry about.
The next morning Bea and Jessie are talking about Sherlock. Bea apologizes for pushing for Jessie to come to see him, only for him to turn out a complete wanker. Jessie tells her she doesn’t care, but she doesn’t care about him. That she realized that she had someone there growing up who loved and cared for her. Bea reminds her that she still does and always will. She also tells Jessie that she thinks Watson knows more than he is letting on. Bea vows to uncover what is really going on and put an end to it. Jessie also imparts a bit of advice to Bea not to let her anger for Sherlock change her. He is just a broken man trapped within his memories.
Bea returns to Sherlock’s room with tea. He asks where Jessie is and Bea tells him that she is a long way away from him. She asks how he is feeling and it appears the worst of his relapse is over. He tells Bea that he knows he could have been a better man to Alice but really loved her. This time Bea agrees with him. Sherlock goes on a small tangent about the tea and claims it is Ceylon. Bea lies to him and tells him he is right even though he isn’t. She asks him if he wishes he never met her, but he tells her that life isn’t supposed to be painless and that he would relive this last decade for 100 more years for just another moment with Alice.
Bea returns to the cellar and Leopold. She asks him to let her see his body. He finally agrees and she tells him to never hide his body from her. Bea vows that there will be no more hiding and he agrees. “Chapter Five: Students of the Unhallowed Arts” comes to a close as Bea and Leopold share a rather intimate moment.
Flashback episodes, in my opinion, are either done fantastically or fall very, very short. Thankfully, The Irregulars can pull this off while continuing to progress both the overarching plot within the season and the smaller character plots. We finally have a better idea of how Jessie’s nightmares play into everything, thanks to learning about Alice. However, Jessie has made it pretty clear that she doesn’t want to go back into them. We also see how Watson, who up until this point has been pretty secretive about everything, is hiding some major information from them. If he knew how to lose the Rip before, why isn’t he helping to guide the children now? What is he trying to hide from them?
What really broke my heart in this episode is the uncovering of Sherlock being Jessie’s birth dad. His relationship with Alice also meant that he would have been Bea’s dad as well. We know enough about the struggles they went through growing up, like being abused in the workhouse, nearly starving to death, thinking they have to sell their bodies to pay rent and that is just the tip of the iceberg. To think that one man could have changed all of that. What really gets me is that when the gang is working for Mycroft and he refers to them as his nieces and he had to have known the truth. Plus, Jessie and Bea even talk about what it would have been like to grow up somewhere like the estate and they could have if Sherlock hadn’t abandoned them.
We also get the chance to see a bit more of Billy’s character development in “Chapter Five: Students of the Unhallowed Arts”. Finding Vic Collins and facing the idea that he can essentially make up for what happened to Bea. It’s similar to the Tooth Fairy situation and how she was getting revenge. She even asks Bea if she knew that her mother was murdered, wouldn’t she feel the same way? Bea seems to go against that thought process (though knowing Watson had something to do with her mother’s death might actually change things), Billy seems to be on the same wave path as the Tooth Fairy. I just hope that Billy makes the smart choice and leaves the past where it belongs.
The episode comes to a close with a major relationship development between Bea and Leopold that I can’t say I didn’t see coming from a mile away. The rich guy finds and falls in love with the poor girl. It’s a trope that we won’t stop ever seeing. I’m honestly worried, though, because eventually, the truth has to come out, right? Bea has to learn that he is a prince at some point and then how she will take his lying? She has been pretty open this whole time with him about who she is and what her life is like. I’m just worried about what will happen now that their relationship has gone to the next level. We have three more episodes this season to watch this and so much more unfold!