Our fears of last week are confirmed. “Scrambled” opens with Shinwell being zipped into a body bag. Rest in peace, old friend.
Joan is obviously upset, but there isn’t much for them to do. Whoever murdered Shinwell did a clean job of it. Shinwell was stabbed in the back, SBK’s signature move for dealing with snitches. Joan points out that Shinwell wouldn’t have turned his back on someone he didn’t know or trust, further pointing to SBK.
Sherlock fears that Joan will blame herself for Shinwell’s death. But Joan isn’t feeling sad or guilty. She wants revenge. She’s determined to finish what Shinwell started and take down SBK. Sherlock, proving once again that he’d happily follow Joan into hell, agrees without hesitation to take on a deadly gang.
Detective Guzman, the detective that Shinwell was reporting to, brings by his files on SBK and debriefs the detectives. The leader of SBK is a man named Bonzi Folsom. He’s a unique figure in the world of gang crime. Where most gang leaders last only a few years, he’s lead SBK for over a decade. He’s smart and cautious. The phones of major SBK members are tapped, but Folsom is too canny to openly communicate over the phone. Gang members are rarely seen visiting his apartment. He must be in communication with his gang, but how?
Folsom has several half siblings, including one Tyus Wilcox. Wilcox is unique in that he’s the only one non-criminal family member. He’s a respectable business man. The police have tried to get him to flip on his brother before without success.
But as Sherlock combs through the files, he notes that a mistake on the family tax forms means that Folsom and Wilcox’s mother owes a huge amount of back taxes. They might be able to use this to lean on Wilcox. Joan and Bell go speak to Wilcox as Sherlock goes to a meeting. And here’s where things start to get kind of weird.
At first, Sherlock talks about Shinwell. As expected, he’s taken Shinwell’s death and failure to redeem himself for his past crimes personally and feels as if neither he nor Shinwell have been trying hard enough.
As Sherlock speaks, he glances at a woman in a flowery dress who is also attending the meeting. After the meeting ends, she approaches him. She too has a British accent, and implies she’s known Sherlock much longer than the other members of the group. She asks Sherlock if there’s anything more than Shinwell’s death troubling him, and the two speak alone.
As it turns out, Sherlock recently consulted on a case in which a teenager, Luke Monro, was suspected of murdering his girlfriend by strangling her with a metal chain. The detective on the case asked Sherlock to observe an interrogation, after which Sherlock concluded that the boy was lying and that he killed his girlfriend.
The boy was arrested. But a few weeks later, he committed suicide and left behind a note insisting on his innocence. Now Sherlock is consumed with guilt and self-doubt. He never inspected the crime scene, and the murder weapon was never found. What if he was too quick to condemn this boy?
The woman attempts to console him, but Sherlock isn’t convinced. Let me note here that his new friend is never named. I’ve been calling her Flower Dress Lady (or FDL) for lack of a better name.
Meanwhile, Joan and Bell meet with Tyus Wilcox. He’s charming but not very helpful. Wilcox and Folsom had a dramatic falling out two years earlier and supposedly haven’t spoken since. The most interesting thing that Wilcox has to say is that he thinks his brother has been using his own drugs.
Sherlock returns to the brownstone to meet with Joan. He pointedly doesn’t mention the conversation with FDL. Joan thinks she’s hit on something in the SBK case. A stray remark from Wilcox about the fact that Folsom uses social media inspired her. At first glance, Folsom’s feed looks like a useless collection of memes and click bait.
But Joan notices that each post has a unique filename, a collection of random letters and numbers. It could be a code, if only they can decipher it. Before they can get very far, they receive a text from Bell. Folsom has called the police, claiming to have information on the murder of Shinwell.
The three detectives visit Folsom’s lavish apartment. Folsom denies being connected to SBK, but says that he happens to know that Shinwell’s killer is an individual known as Tall Boy, a friend of Shinwell’s that Joan and Sherlock have previously encountered. Joan is furious and gets into Folsom’s face, warning him that they know he’s in charge and that they’re going to take him down.
Nonetheless, they check out Folsom’s lead, and sure enough, Tall Boy is Shinwell’s killer. Joan attempts to persuade him to flip on SBK, but Tall Boy continues to swear loyalty to his gang.
She leaves the interrogation to find Sherlock bringing in an old machine that resembles a typewriter. It turns out to be an “enigma machine,” a piece of technology used in World War II to help code and decode messages. Sherlock noticed one in Folsom’s apartment and realized that’s what he was using to code his messages. This will help decode his messages, but they still need the key to the code. As they discuss the machine, Sherlock looks up to see Flower Dress Lady.
He quickly pulls her aside into an empty room. He’s made a new discovery in the Munro case. He found pictures of the Munro boy and his girlfriend at the neighboring house which had a small swing set. The metal chains on the swings look like they could match the bruises on the deceased girl’s neck. He plans to check it out when he has a chance. FDL is happy for him, but Sherlock harshly tells her that he she can’t come here again.
The next morning, Sherlock wakes up to find that, in a surprise reversal, Joan stayed up while he was sleeping and may have cracked the case. Folsom was adjusting his blinds to let his lieutenants know what cipher to use to decode his social media messages. Joan has been able to decode several messages.
Unfortunately, even in coded messages, Folsom was careful to be vague and euphemistic in what he said. For instance, “oranges” stands for a kilo of cocaine. The messages would be difficult to use as conclusive proof in a trial. But if they can use a new message in order to catch a drug deal as it happens, that would be different. Joan and the captain have already arranged a sting.
There’s just one problem. When the cops pick up the SBK members, they are literally carrying oranges. Folsom must have realized they cracked his code. He has also deleted his social media feed.
They still have Folsom’s old messages archived at least, so Sherlock and Joan comb through them to see if there’s anything they can use. They find references to four murders that stand out. The victims were ordinary citizens who were killed in crimes that, at the time, seemed like run of the mill street crime, such as a carjacking or mugging. It’s hard to see how or why SBK would benefit from these deaths.
But there’s someone else who would have benefitted: Tyus Wilcox. All the murder victims are connected to him or his business, and at least two were clear business rivals. Joan and Sherlock suspect that Wilcox and Folsom’s supposed falling out was staged all along, and that Wilcox is the real brains behind SBK.
Wilcox is utterly cool in interrogation, giving away little. But Sherlock notices that when they mention one of the four victims, a bank teller named Carol Logan, Wilcox looks disturbed. Logan’s death is the only one that doesn’t fit the pattern. She worked at Wilcox’s bank, but it’s hard to see how he’d benefit from her death. Her death was also more brutal than the others.
Logan was at a party the night of her death. Joan finds photographs from the party online, including one that shows Logan with Bonzi Folsom himself. From there they easily construct the chain of events. Folsom and Logan went back to her place, something went wrong, and he assaulted and killed her. Then he had SBK dispose of her body.
There’s DNA evidence from the Logan murder. If they can match it to Folsom, they have him for a life sentence. Maybe they can even use that as leverage to make him turn on his brother.
With this break in the case, Sherlock takes the time to investigate his swing set theory in the Munro murder, and invites the detective from the case to meet him. But when he gets to the Munro’s neighbor’s house, the chains from the swing set are missing. He tells his detective friend that someone must have stolen the chains to protect Munro’s memory, but the detective is bemused by this claim. He was the one to take the chains, in order to send them to a crime lab for testing…because he received a text signed “S Holmes” asking him to do so. Sherlock is visibly shocked and denies knowing where the text came from.
Bell and two other officers visit Folsom’s apartment to serve a warrant for his DNA. But they find the apartment in chaos. Folsom had taken a hit of cocaine, only to seize and pass out. The apartment is swarming with EMS officers, who aren’t confident about his chances.
Folsom survives, more or less. He’s in a vegetative state and it’s unlikely he’ll ever wake up. This was no ordinary overdose. Bell thinks his coke may have been dosed with bleach.
Joan is fearless and furious this episode. She’s completely sure that the one responsible is Wilcox, and tells him as much. Wilcox, as ever, gives little away, but makes veiled threats at Joan and Bell. Considering he managed to essentially murder his brother without going anywhere near him, it’s hard to not take these threats seriously.
Joan isn’t the only one on the receiving end of an ominous comment. Sherlock meets mysterious Flower Dress Lady at the same church as the earlier meeting. He accuses her of sending the text and tells her it can’t happen again. Her response is that he had better stop ignoring her, or things will get worse. But this isn’t a threat, apparently. According to her, when you love someone, you don’t make threats, you make promises.
Anyone else getting the vibe that FDL is absolutely not a real person? No one else interacted with her the whole episode. Sherlock has been behaving strangely for several episodes. The man was wearing pajamas, for god’s sake. He was also far more emotionally vulnerable with FDL than he’d usually be anyone other than Joan. Something is going on.
I have less evidence to support this second theory, but I would predict that she’s his mother. Gee, I wonder if Sherlock’s mother’s name starts with an “S.”
Sherlock has had hallucinations once before, after his friend and father figure Alistair died. But that lasted for a brief time and was obviously triggered by emotional stress. This hallucination seems to have been going on a while already, without any obvious trauma. Nor has Sherlock told anyone about it. Something bad is going down.
On any other show, I’d be concerned he was sick. I was there for the Great Grey’s Anatomy Denny Duquette Debacle. I know the deal. But this is Sherlock, so there’s another worrying possibility.
Has he relapsed?