It’s only been a couple of years, but let’s not forget just how much of a joy Enola Holmes was. And not just that, but it arrived when we needed it most, in 2020 during some of the worst pandemic times. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ equally brilliant kid sister, played by Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, were fun, witty, progressive, and had a crackle of energy that couldn’t be denied.
Of course, Netflix turned it into a franchise. They can hardly be blamed for it. There are multiple books in the series from Nancy Springer, and audiences genuinely wanted more. So here we are with Enola Holmes 2 which brings back all of the principle figures of that success: Brown, Henry Cavill as her older brother Sherlock, Helena Bonham Carter as her mother Eudoria, director Harry Bradbeer, and writer Jack Thorne. But the results this time are less rewarding, the story less engaging; in an attempt to expand what is becoming one of the streamer’s recognizable brands, some of the original spirit is lost.
That’s not due to the cast, and certainly not the fault of Brown, who is charming and feisty as ever as Enola. Following the solving of her first case, which her big brother got all the credit for, Enola has started her own detective agency. Of course, the brilliant young sleuth didn’t predict the obvious: men wouldn’t want to hire a woman, and nobody wants to hire a kid. Why do that when they can just go petition her busy brother for help?
On the verge of shutting down, Enola lucks into a case involving the plight of poor Match Stick girls, and a missing one in particular. There’s corruption afoot, and a much wider conspiracy reaching to the tops of high society. Fortunately, Enola has some friends up there, like the returning Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), who has risen to some power and influence, which has attracted him the attention of women. Not that Enola is jealous or anything.
The stakes are much higher this time, and the story a lot more grim. David Thewlis joins the cast as Police Inspector Grail, who engages in more violence than any other character we’ve seen so far. He’s pretty intimidating, actually, and seems to take a perverse pleasure in scaring women, in particular. Also new to the cast is veteran actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster as a mysterious figure who represents the beautiful inclusivity and diversity of these movies.
Brown remains the beating heart of Enola Holmes 2 and she’s still just a pleasure to watch, with clever asides to the audience as she balances being a feminist hero with the emotional confusion that comes with being a teen girl. Cavill is also perfectly suited to the Sherlock role. With the other sibling Mycroft (Sam Claflin) out of the picture, Sherlock’s role is expanded with a parallel investigation into a crime he cannot crack without help, something he’s unaccustomed to asking for. It seems the Holmes clan are all loners, and the continuing thread is their need to break this cycle.
Enola Holmes 2 is still quite enjoyable, but it doesn’t leave the same impression as its predecessor. While pulling from history to craft a mystery with greater implications is smart, it culminates in a lot of explaining of the details, revealing of characters (including one major “Ah ha” moment), setting up of sequels, and so forth that dulls the lightheartedness that these movies are best at and shouldn’t need a magnifying glass to find.
Enola Holmes 2 streams on Netflix beginning November 4th.