Everybody comes from somewhere, even the world’s only consulting detective and his brother, the British government.
Series three of Sherlock lifted the veil on the origins of the extraordinary Holmes brothers. In “The Empty Hearse,” Sherlock’s parents dropped by for a little chat. As much as it tickled us to watch him roll his eyes as his mother recounted the thrilling tale of his father losing things behind the couch (and to see John’s incredulous face at the reveal of his comparatively normal stock), the scene was made all more fun when we realized the couple is played by Benedict Cumberbatch’s actual parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham. What with all the bombs ticking in the Underground and resurrected supervillains running around the city, seeing Mycroft and Sherlock having to deal with the same run-of-the-mill familial obligations we all do has been illuminating.
No, the Holmes family didn’t show up in this series just so we could have that great Les Mis gag. (Do you hear the people sing, Mycroft?) The character development for both of the boys has been massive in these episodes, and we’re finally coming to understand the basis of their often contentious relationship. Their adorable mother who just wants everyone home for Christmas also happens to be a secret genius, and we know that Mycroft considered Sherlock to be “the stupid one” when they were children. So not only did Sherlock grow up in a house where he felt intellectually inferior, but he also knew that his mother gave up her mathematical career for her kids. Happily, it seems, but he probably sees it as a waste. Still, the Holmes boys dutifully visit and protect their parents, despite the dangers potatoes present to laptops. And Mycroft will never stop looking out for his kid brother, as superhuman as he may sometimes seem. Here’s hoping series four will give us more of the Holmes dynamic — half adorable and half really messed up: the best kind of family unit.