This Sunday, January 8, is the second night of the year for Sherlock fans to hunker down and deduce with their favorite troubled detective. We’re not including any spoilers since THIRTEEN will rebroadcast last week’s Masterpiece: Sherlock, Season 4 premiere “The Six Thatchers” at 7pm (watch online January 1 through 15). However, you’ll have to absorb its stunning ending quickly post-broadcast because episode two, “The Lying Detective,” rolls up at 9pm (it’s repeated at 10:30pm, in case you need a break to recover).
In this second part of the three-episode season, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) faces his most chilling enemy to date. “This is the most dangerous, the most despicable human being I have ever encountered,” spits Sherlock. Who is this evil adversary with a very dark secret? In “The Six Thatchers,” the character in question — Culverton Smith — is foreshadowed in a transitory way.
The visage of the powerful and seemingly unassailable businessman Culverton Smith (Toby Jones) appears in a bus stop advertisement, though our attention is focused on a bright-eyed, bohemian who is bashfully flirting with her fellow bus passenger, a flustered and flattered John Watson (Martin Freeman).
We’re in for a good ride with actor Toby Jones, who you may know from his star-making turn as Truman Capote in Infamous (2006), recurring roles in The Hunger Games and Captain America films, numerous character parts, or even recognize his voice as that of Dobby the house elf in two Harry Potter films.
The team behind Sherlock, a BBC production, has kept the dossier on Culverston Smith and the entire “The Lying Detective” sealed tight. It premieres on the same night in the UK as on PBS in the US, so both sides of the Atlantic are in equal states of suspense.
Sherlock writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft Holmes) did stress the darkness of Season 4 and the nature of Toby Jones’ character at a roundtable interview at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2016. The following excerpts were reported by Collider.com
How different would you say Toby Jones’ villain is from the villains and adversaries we’ve seen previously?
MOFFAT: He’s completely different. It’s a completely different character. He’s the darkest villain we’ve had. There was always something charming and engaging about Moriarty. There was something fascinating and actually amoral, rather than immoral, about Charles Augustus Magnussen. This guy is the purest evil. Sherlock is actually appalled by him. He’s the most evil villain we’ve had. I don’t think that when you see it, you will disagree. He’s horrific.
GATISS: It’s an interesting thing to chart. We made our Moriarty very different to Doyle’s. He’s Irish, and he brings all his charm, his twinkle and his humor to it while he’s also terrifying. Magnussen was a very blank, chilling business man. He doesn’t see what he’s doing as evil. Toby is doing something very interesting. He’s an avuncular, funny seeming man with terrible teeth. We’ve given him terrible teeth, which are symbolic of the rot inside him. It’s a great complex, shaded character. You’re not quite sure what the relationship is with him.
You can preview Culverton Smith’s evil laugh in the Masterpiece: Sherlock -“The Lying Detective” preview, above. And yes, the name of both the villain and episode 2 is a reference to an original Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “The Adventure of the Dying Detective.”