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. We are excited to get the chance to see Sherlock’s merry band of misfit informants finally have their story being told. In the series premiere “Chapter One: An Unkindness in London”, Bea (Thaddea Graham) and her crew investigate missing babies with some unexpected posh help.
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 One: An Unkindness in London” opens with Jessie (Darci Shaw) investigating some type of underground tunnel. An explosion sends dust rushing towards her and in the next moment, she finds herself in an open room within the tunnels as these ghost-like beings swiftly move past her. Jessie notices that behind her are piles of skeletons. She turns to walk away when she hears them moving behind her. She turns around to see what it is and the creature reaches out of grabs her by the neck. In the next moment, we see Jessie awaken abruptly, waking her sister Bea next to her. Bea reminds her that this is only a dream as Jessie recounts what she saw. Jessie asks Bea if she thinks she is losing it, but Bea reassures her that isn’t the case and to go back to sleep.
The next morning, Jessie wakes Bea up and wishes her a happy birthday. Jessie rushes off to search through a box while Bea starts preparing tea. Jessie tells Bea that she got her a birthday present this year even though Bea told her money was tight. The invisible gift is a French perfume and with just two sprays, it will make any man want her. Bea is adamant that she doesn’t want or need a boyfriend; she is just too busy for them. Jessie says that she should be knee-deep in shenanigans at her age – well, at least ankle deep. Bea decides that for her birthday present should wants to ban the word shenanigans from being used.
Before their conversation continues, Bea realizes that both Billy (Jojo Macari) and Spike (McKell David) are missing. She rushes out of the cellar in search of them, leaving Jessie behind. As she moves through London’s streets, it becomes pretty clear that they live in the working class/slums of London. As she makes her way up a staircase and across a short bridge above the people, she hears a crow cawing out. As she looks in its direction, she spots a man peeking out one of the windows. When he realizes she saw him, he quickly closes it. She looks down to see that the window belongs to 221B Baker Street. Without a second thought, Bea continues on the move to find Billy and Spike.
Elsewhere in the city, a brawl occurs with a group of men surrounding them and placing bets. Spike is arguing with Billy, telling him that he is too handsome to be in a place like this. That he is a target for everyone around him. Billy tells him not to make eye contact with people, but that just makes it harder for Billy, who makes eye contact with the first person he looks at. Spike asks Billy to leave again, but it’s too late and Billy makes his way to the ring. Spike tries just one more time, but Billy doesn’t care how big he is. However, as the man in question moves a bit to the side, Billy finally sees Bea standing in the crowd and it’s pretty clear he is afraid of making her mad.
In the more posh-looking part of London, Leopold (Harrison Osterfield) is standing in his bedroom surrounded by birthday presents. He overhears cheering outside and sees a group of people on the lawn playing cricket. He is soon joined by Daimler (Edward Hogg), who brings him another gift and wishes his Highness a happy birthday. It turns out Leopold is a prince. While the cups are nice, Leopold has another idea of what he wants for his birthday from his mother – to leave the palace. He tells Leopold that, unfortunately, that isn’t an option. The doctor advised her that he should not be up and moving around after the last time he rolled his ankle. Unhappy with this response, Leopold tells him to tell her that he just doesn’t want to leave; he needs to leave the palace and only for a day.
She must have agreed because, in the next scene, we see Leopold and Daimler riding through London in a carriage. Leopold is unhappy that he is stuck within the confines of his carriage, but Daimler reminds him that London is a hard city and isn’t the place for someone with a delicate constitution. Back in the cellar, Billy is arguing with Bea about his fight. He maintains he could have taken the guy, but Bea reminds him that the guy takes shits bigger than him. She also reminds him that he promised not to fight anymore, but he swears he didn’t. Bea then demands that Billy put a shirt back or catch a cold and be even more annoying. Billy tells Bea that he wasn’t fighting for himself. It was to get money so Jessie could see a doctor to figure out what is going on with her.
The money would also go to paying the rent, which they are behind on by two months. Spike mentions the possibility of going to a workhouse, but Bea is against even the thought. She reminds him that he doesn’t know what it is like to be in the workhouse, that he wasn’t there with them. Upset, she climbs up into one of the beds and pulls the covers up over her, but Billy and Spike sneak under to talk. Bea is worried about losing Jessie as she is the only family she has, but Billy reminds her that both she and Jessie have a family in Billy and Spike. Bea finally comes out from under the covers and Billy realizes that Jessie is gone.
Out on the streets, Jessie appears to be sleepwalking. She hears whispering in her head about monsters, darkness coming to London and it being someone’s time. She spots one of the creatures from her nightmares and she panics and moves back into the street, right in front of a carriage. Bea manages to save her and rips into the man who ends up being Daimler for racing through the city and trying to talk down to them. Leopold watches as Daimler gets shoved around by the young lady but hides when she gets too close. Bea returns to comfort Jessie and Leopold and Daimler ride off.
Later that night, Bea visits her mother’s grave and discusses Jessie’s dreams with Sister Anna (Lisa Dwyer Hogg). She remembers that this is how her mother was before her decline. Sister Anna tells her that won’t happen to Jessie and not to worry. Sister Anna reminds her that her door is always open before walking away. Towards to back of the cemetery, a man is watching Bea. He makes a noise as he approaches and Bea runs off. She makes her way back through London before she finally turns around to confront him. He tells her that he is a doctor (Royce Pierreson) and that he and his partner have been watching her and they need something from her and would be willing to pay.
At a local bar, the Doctor requests a room so he and Bea can speak privately. He explains that they run a small detective agency and need help accessing more disreputable parts of London. They need Bea to obtain information from them about four missing newborn babies taken from their locked homes. He fills her in on the case’s basics and how they found a raven’s feather beneath the last missing baby’s crib. If she can find and question the older daughter and bring back information, he will pay her for it.
The next morning, Billy argues with Bea about the job claiming that something is off about all of it. She reminds him that this is easy money and all they need to do is find the girl. Billy doesn’t think it will be that easy to find the girl seeing as there are four million people in London, but Spike is already ten steps ahead. It turns out he is quite the talker and can uncover where the older sister was hiding. They question Susan Shipley (Marli Siu), who tells them that she had snuck out that night and left the window open. When she got back, her sister was already gone. She also tells them that she heard scraping and clawing at the window for a few nights leading up to the disappearance.
Before she can continue, a crow comes out of now where and attacks Susan. Before they can even think, a group of ravens comes for them, sending Bea, the boys and Susan off running. Spike trips, but the crows seem to ignore him and continue after the other three. Bea and Billy veer off one way and Susan veers off another before tripping and falling. Bea and Billy manage to make it into a building and can barricade themselves. After a few moments of the ravens slamming into the building walls, they just stop leaving Bea and Billy alone. The two nearly share a moment and Billy refers to her by her nickname Bumble before Spike breaks things up. The three of them made it out safely, but Susan wasn’t so fortunate. The ravens pecked her to death and gouged out her eyes.
“An Unkindness in London” then jumps to Bea standing in front of a pool table, telling Leopold how she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him. The little scenario playing in his head gets cut short when Daimler bursts into his room. He shares with Leopold that he is happy the excursion into the city went the way it did so he could see first hand the type of people that live there. He isn’t keeping him locked up for anything but because he has hemophilia. Leopold demands to be left alone for the rest of the day and uses this chance to sneak out (well, walk right out) of the palace. He begins searching for the Duck and Quiver, the pub he saw Bea outside of the night he almost ran over Jessie. It turns out he has quite a lot to learn about the city.
Over on Baker Street, Bea pays a visit to the Doctor demanding the money he owes and to tell him that they are out. He needs useful information from her and provides her with the police report to work from. While the Doctor stepped away, Bea overhears a man coughing. She tries to investigate further but isn’t able to before the Doctor returns. On her way out, she asks him why they chose her, Jessie and the boys. He claims it is because they are from the street, but she knows that something else is going on.
Later that day, Bea spots Jessie outside of the cellar. Bea is worried about Jessie, but Jessie is over people telling her what to do and being overbearing. Leopold finally finds Bea and goes right up to her, though he has trouble actually talking. He mentions the raven’s feather in her hand and asks where she got it. She says she found it, but he says that is hard to believe as they aren’t native to here. He also tells her that the collective noun for ravens is Unkindness. He introduces himself as ‘Just Leo’ and as the two continue talking Bea tells him about the investigation. He looks at the police report and realizes all the babies were born on the same day in the same place. If they can find any others, they can stop it from happening again.
Leopold joins them on a trip to the townhall to investigate his theory. Billy asks Bea who Leo is and she tells him that he is just a lad who works for his uncle making deliveries. Jessie likes him and claims Billy doesn’t because he doesn’t like any posh-people. Bea doesn’t care who he is, just that he is smart and helping them. After doing a bit of research, Leopold finds six babies were born at the same place on the same day. Four are already missing and one passed recently after birth. If they can find the final baby, then maybe they can save her. He expresses that he doesn’t think that what is happening is a natural phenomenon and that someone must be controlling the birds. We get a quick glimpse of a building, a man standing in the dark and a raven flying over to a baby within.
“Chapter One: An Unkindness in London” jumps to Bea and the group are heading towards the baby’s home when Spike decides he isn’t going. Something isn’t right with what is going on and he isn’t about to put himself in harm’s way. Bea agrees and forces Jessie to go back to the cellar with him after sharing that she thinks she is a mess and that everyone is worried about her getting hurt. Bea doesn’t want to risk losing her sister. Jessie isn’t happy hearing this and storms off. Bea tries to follow her, but Spike tells her to leave her alone for a bit. Jessie and Spike return to the cellar while Bea, Billy and Leopold head off to the baby’s house.
The plan at the house is for Billy to climb up the drainpipe, sneak in and swap the real baby with a fake one to keep her safe. Things don’t go right and a raven can swoop in the take the baby. Bea and Leo realize and start chasing after the baby. Bea, Billy and Leopold find the raven that made off with the baby in a back alley. She is now in the care of a mysterious man (Rory McCann), who seems to be the one controlling the ravens. Before they can get the girl back, the man sends all of the ravens after them, forcing them to hide away while the man disappears.
Back at the cellar, Jessie has fallen asleep and ended up back in one of her nightmares. This time she is caught by one of the denizens and Spike is unable to wake her up. However, before the creature can kill her, she is teleported to a house on the bayou in Louisiana. A gentleman (Clarke Peters) tries to calm Jessie down and explain that he isn’t a murderer and tries to help her.
Bea, Billy, and Leopold struggle to figure out why the man in the alley claimed that the baby is his. Billy wants to believe that he is just crazy, but Bea thinks it is much more than that. Bea starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together and realizes that this man must be the sixth baby’s father that passed away and must be looking for his daughter. The sixth baby’s father is Arthur Hilton, who also works as the head Ornithologist, someone who studies birds at the London Zoo.
The scene swaps back to Jessie and the mysterious gentleman trying to persuade her that he is her friend. He explains to her that she needs his help. She has a power awakening in her that will allow her to see into other people’s minds. He knows that Jessie and the rest are in search of a man who wields birds. He explains that she is the only way to stop them. Before he can go further, Jessie awakens back at the cellar. She explains to Spike that she needs to get to Bea and the rest fast.
Bea, Billy and Leopold arrive at the London Zoo to find Arthur locked up in the bird sanctuary. Before they can do anything, Arthur unleashes all of the birds of London on them. They can barricade themselves just as Jessie and Spike arrive. Jessie sneaks up behind Arthur and places her hand on his arm and is transported into his memories. He remembers that his wife and daughter died in childbirth. Jessie tells him that she needs to learn how he got his powers and they are transported to another memory where he attempted to reach out to them with a spirit board. However, he didn’t reach her but somehow was granted these powers. He isn’t sure where they came from, however. Arthur soon realizes he was wrong this whole time and stops the assault.
Bea asks Jessie what exactly she did, but Jessie isn’t ready to answer that question. As the sun rises and the tolls begin to chime, Leopold runs off without saying goodbye to anyone. The rest return home to the cellar, where Bea remembers something the Doctor said about her friends and sister. Confused how he knew they were siblings, Bea goes off the ask him. When she reaches 221B Baker Street, she knocks only to realize the door is open. She enters to hear the Doctor and another man struggling in the back room. The Doctor comments something about not letting the person do something again and not come back.
When the Doctor realizes Bea is there, he tosses her the money she is owed and news that all the babies have been returned to their homes. He also lets her know that Arthur Hilton will be spending the rest of his days in Bedlam. But Bea cuts right to the chase and asks how he knew Jessie was her sister. She threatens that if he doesn’t tell, he will never see them again. The Doctor finally opens up that Jessie has a gift that allows her to see things normal people can’t. Her powers and the rest of them are needed to stop the horrors that have come to London. “An Unkindness in London” comes to a close as Bea exits the townhome to find Jessie on the stoop waiting for her. She asks if everything is okay and Bea lies and tells her it is and she was just getting their money.
“Chapter One: An Unkindness in London” is just a fantastic series premiere for The Irregulars. It gives us everything we need from character introductions, mystery, a look into the over-arching plot and character relationships and dynamics. It opens up a lot of doors of possibilities and raises quite a few questions. What is Jessie’s power? If Jessie and Bea are sisters, why doesn’t Bea have them? Will they ever learn that Leopold is the prince? What is this darkness that the Doctor is talking about and is it connected to Jessie’s dreams?
Aside from setting up the main story beats for the rest of the season, I really enjoy how the show centers on Bea and her friends aside from making this another Sherlock Holmes-centric series. By allowing the story to be told from their perspective, we can, as the Doctor so kindly put it, see the more unreputable side of London and where they fit within the world. We are just one episode in and I already can’t wait to see where this story will lead!