Synopsis for 3×16: Sherlock becomes a murder suspect when the body of a young cleaning woman turns up after being missing for three years. Though everyone around him believes he is innocent, Sherlock has no memory of the period of time during which Maria went missing. His past drug use is dredged up as he is forced to seek out one of his old drug dealers for information.
The start of the episode left us feeling like everything was just dandy. Joan tried to help a young woman who claimed that her song had been stolen and used as a jingle while Sherlock tried to keep himself from falling asleep upstairs. As they’re going back and forth about the pots and pans he had attached to himself to wake up anytime he began to doze, he got a call asking him to come down to the station.
Of course Sherlock assumed he was being asked to consult on a case. The detectives from another precinct had photos of a murdered woman who had disappeared years ago. Ever perceptive, Sherlock pointed out numerous things about her much to the detective’s disbelief. They asked if he knew her, he said he didn’t. They didn’t believe him, because of evidence found on the body that suggested she had known him. He realized a day late and dollar short that he was actually being interrogated instead of consulted.
Unfortunately for Sherlock, he was forced to admit he couldn’t tell them if he’d known her or not. The only thing he could say was that he didn’t remember her. At the time the note was written, he was still using drugs. He was at the low point of his drug use and prone to blackouts about that time of his life. If he had known her, or killed her, there’s no way he’d be able to remember. Thankfully, Captain Gregson jumped in and escorted the detectives out, protecting Sherlock for the time being.
Naturally, when Joan heard about the situation, she refused to believe that Sherlock could have killed the woman. Perhaps he’d known Maria, or was helping her with a case, but even with his drug use she didn’t believe he had it in him to kill her. So, with Sherlock technically unable to investigate the case, Joan jumped at the chance to clear his name and tried to interview Maria’s family and friends. She came up empty handed.
Meanwhile, Sherlock went to do a bit of investigating of his own. He tracked down his old drug dealer, a man named Oscar (Michael Weston). Oscar was someone who had known Sherlock during that time. They’d actually spent a lot of time together. However, Oscar claimed he didn’t remember anything about Maria or the situation.
Walking home after talking with Oscar, and doing who knows what else, Sherlock filled Joan in on the news. Moments after he hung up, he was jumped by two men who beat the snot out of him. They left him beaten and bruised on the street, but very much alive. Thanks to Sherlock’s quick hands, he’d managed to pick the pocket of one of his attackers who turned out to be Maria’s brother. With word on the street being Sherlock was the main suspect, it was no real surprise that Maria’s brother wanted to take a shot at him.
Upon investigating the brother, it was revealed that he had been wanted three years ago on a burglary charge. However, they tracked him down and talked it out with him and came to realize that Maria couldn’t have hired Sherlock to try and find who had really done the burglary. Her brother admitted that he’d told her he’d done it, since he had, so there was no way she could have sought out Sherlock’s help for that.
The visit to her brother wasn’t a complete waste. Her brother explained that she cleaned a lot of buildings and at one in particular she’d been having issues. Someone working on a councilman’s reelection campaign had been hitting on her, so perhaps she’d sought out Sherlock’s help with that. In the end, Sherlock and Joan walked away and headed straight toward the councilman’s office to try to get the story.
The councilman told them what they already knew. One of his staffers had been giving Maria grief, but the man had an alibi at the time of her disappearance. It couldn’t have been him, but he also believed it wasn’t Sherlock.
Sherlock and Joan made their way back to the Brownstone relatively empty handed. Naturally, with his past coming back to haunt him, Sherlock had a lot to carry. Joan tried to be positive and insist that there was no way he could have done it. Sherlock blew up at her and insisted right back that she had no way of knowing what he was like back then. He’d completely detached from everything that had made him, him, when he was on drugs. There was no way to know if any little bit of him had been left when he potentially killed Maria.
We were reminded that Sherlock still carries a dark past with him. Drug use doesn’t disappear with sobriety. The past still lingers, and Sherlock was reminded of that this week in a pretty rough way.
Joan got a call from Detective Bell with a list of names of people associated with Maria at the time. Upon looking through the list there’s one name Sherlock recognizes: Oscar. So they tracked him down and Sherlock interrogated him and accused him of being the killer. Instead of admitting it, Oscar flipped it around. He claimed Sherlock was the killer, which shook Sherlock up a bit because he wasn’t lying. He believed Sherlock killed Maria, and Sherlock had no memory to refute it.
Later that evening, on the claim of a witness, Sherlock got arrested.
Joan revisited Oscar and accused him of being the witness. He claimed he wanted to scare Sherlock off, not get him arrested because they’d both go down for it. He was certain Sherlock had done it and claimed he had proof. He cleared up how it happened. Oscar had met Maria at the soup kitchen and she asked him for Sherlock’s information. Sherlock wrote the note, Oscar took it to her, and a few days later Maria ended up missing. Oscar went snooping around for drugs in Sherlock’s place and instead found bloody clothes he believed linked Sherlock to the murder. So he’d hidden them for both their sake’s.
However, Joan saw the clothes as a break in the case and turned them over to the NYPD. She explained later to Sherlock that the clothing was the wrong size and the blood pattern was wrong regarding the way Maria had been killed. The clothes were stained by a stabbing crime, while Maria had been killed by blunt force trauma.
Sherlock saw the pictures of the shirt and claimed it wasn’t from three years ago, it was from sometime far more recent. He recognized the shirt and it was the break in the case they needed. Back to the councilman they went with new evidence under their belts that he was less than squeaky clean.
They surmised that the councilman killed a woman he had been having an affair with. He stabbed her to death and changed his clothes at his office to try and conceal it. The cleaning woman, Maria, took the evidence to Sherlock to get him on the case. When the councilman went to retrieve the clothes to dispose of them he realized Maria had taken them. The assumption was he then killed Maria to clean up loose ends. Eventually the councilman admitted to everything in the face of the evidence and Sherlock’s name was cleared.
The episode ended on a rather somber note. Sherlock went back to Oscar and offered him a chance at rehab. He’d have a standing reservation where Sherlock had received his treatment. Sherlock considered it a part of his amends, but Oscar threw it back in his face. He claimed that it would be Sherlock who would be coming to him one day. Sherlock would give in to drug use. It would just be a matter of time.