It’s been almost two years since the game was last afoot, but the third season premiere of Sherlock is finally in our sights. And once our favorite consulting detective returns to televisions across the country on January 19, we will be able to find out the answer to the second most important question raised by last season’s finale: Since Moriarty has been defeated, who will take over the title of Sherlock’s arch-nemesis? It just wouldn’t feel right if Sherlock and John didn’t have a deranged psychopath to add some conflict and explosions to their everyday routine. Luckily, the writers have anticipated the need for a new villain, and plan to introduce Charles Augustus Magnussen into the mix this year.
Since the episodes have yet to air in the U.S., there’s not too much that we know yet about Magnussen, who will be played by The Killing star Lars Mikkelsen. However, his name seems to be taken from the Arthur Conan Doyle character Charles Augustus Milverton, who was the focus of his eponymous Sherlock Holmes short story. In the tale, Sherlock describes the character as “the worst man in London,” which means he might have more than bombings, blackmail, and slander up his sleeve. He is apparently the one person that Doyle’s Sherlock hates most in the world, and if the team decides to translate that into the show, then we’re bound for lots of action and excitement.
According to the story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton,” the titular character makes his money through blackmail, often targeting rich widows and society women whose reputations would be damaged by scandals. Sherlock has already touched on such an idea in the past, with Irene Adler’s possession of incriminating photos and files, so it would be easy for them to translate Milverton’s character into modern time. It’s also likely that his blackmail would eventually involve Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, who knows everything about the British government and holds more power in his umbrella than all of the members of Parliament. The show’s producers like to play with their sibling dynamic, and so we predict that Magnussen’s plot will definitely involve Mycroft in some way, forcing Sherlock to rescue his older brother.
Alternatively, Magnussen could be going after Sherlock and John for some reason. The first photo released of Mikkelsen in character show him sitting in their apartment, which could hint that he has dug up something incriminating from one of their pasts. Of course, since Moriarty was also known to make house calls, he could just be doing his best to try and intimidate the two of them or Mrs. Hudson. We’d put our money on Mrs. Hudson in this fight, though; she’s a lot tougher than she looks.
Regardless of who he’s trying to blackmail, Magnussen will have big shoes to fill now that Moriarty is gone. When it comes to villains, it’s hard to top someone who would willingly strap a bomb to a blind old woman, steal the crown jewels, and then set up an elaborate ruse to discredit his nemesis and pin all of his crimes on someone else. Moriarity was an unpredictable character, both for Sherlock and the audience, and that’s what made watching him interact with the detective so much fun. As far as pure chaos and anarchy go, we don’t predict that Magnussen will go down that route, as it would only bring about comparisons to Moriarty form the audience. Andrew Scott and his character were fan favorites, so we think it would be best for the writers to explore a different direction, and therefore avoid an unfavorable bias.
However, we do have a feeling that Magnussen will definitely be evenly matched with Moriarty and Sherlock in terms of intelligence and ingenuity. The ability to think quickly, creatively, and three steps ahead of your opponent is a key characteristic of any good villain or detective, so we have no doubt that there will be plenty more clever games and inventive crimes for Sherlock to solve. This, combined with his love of blackmail, means that Magnussen will likely be a bit more similar to Irene Adler, who was able to outsmart Sherlock quite a few times. Of course, we’re sure that Magnussen will be a bit more buttoned-up and proper than Irene was, but that just means he’ll need to find a new way to ruffle Sherlock’s feathers.
Despite Irene’s cleverness, wit, and lack of inhibitions, the series strayed some from Doyle’s text by having her and Sherlock develop some semblance of feelings for each other, and ultimately making her survival dependent on him. This probably means that some of the original Milverton will get changed in his transformation into Magnussen, and even raises the possibility of him and Sherlock becoming close, much like Sherlock and Irene. Personally, we’d like to see Sherlock befriend Magnussen despite detesting him, maybe as a clever way to get close to his rival. That would also help differentiate Magnussen from Irene, which helps allow the writers to create a new, interesting character.
The first two series featured two extremely compelling antagonists (three, if you count Mycroft as Sherlock’s “arch-nemesis”) and so we’ve no doubt that Magnussen is set to join them as another wonderfully insane, love-to-hate-him villain. The dynamic between them is also bound to be different this time around, as, depending on when he is introduced, Sherlock’s relationships are all strained after he faked his own death. He’s also proven that he can be beaten by a villain, even temporarily, which will probably give Magnussen a weakness to exploit when carrying out his evil deeds. All of which means that we couldn’t be more excited to meet this season’s newest baddie.
So, welcome to London, Charles Augustus Magnussen. We hope you really are as bad as everyone has promised.