Full spoilers ahead for Netflix’s Enola Holmes, now streaming globally.
The teen sister of storied sleuth Sherlock proves a capital detective in her own right in Enola Holmes, which is now streaming exclusively on Netflix (be sure to read our Enola Holmes review). However, the mystery at its center leaves some questions unanswered and some clues as to where a potential sequel might go.
At the start, the eponymous heroine of Enola Holmes is dedicated to one mystery: the whereabouts of her missing mother (Helena Bonham Carter). With Mrs. Holmes gone, her city-dwelling sons Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) convene in their humble, country family home. Swiftly, they decide to chuck the willful Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) into a boarding school, where she might be transformed into a submissive wife and proper lady. However, Enola escapes to London and gets sidetracked by The Case of The Missing Marquess (the name of the YA novel on which the film is based).
Enola Holmes Ending Explained: The Mystery of The Missing Mom
The solution to this mystery is a major departure from the source material. In Nancy Springer’s books, Enola discovers that her mother has abandoned the constraints of Victorian society to live among the Romani people. In the film, Mrs. Holmes is revealed to be part of a secret society of suffragettes who train in jiu-jitsu and build bombs. This turn-of-the-century feminism is at the center of both missing-person cases. Mrs. Holmes ran off to fight for the cause, while the Marquess’s grandmother wanted him dead to prevent him from backing a reform bill which would give women the right to vote. After all this, it is not Enola who finds Mrs. Holmes, but vice versa.
Mrs. Holmes visits Enola’s rented room, where she apologizes. “I wanted to tell you where I was going,” she says, “but it wasn’t safe.” Of her activism, Mrs. Holmes goes on to explain, “I left you because I couldn’t bear to have this world be your future. So I had to fight. You have to make some noise if you want to be heard.”
This brings us back to the bombs.
In the early 20th century, real-life suffragettes used bombs in their militant campaign to secure the right to vote. Specifically, The Women’s Social and Political Union committed more than 300 acts of activism-inspired arson, including smashing windows, blowing up mailboxes, and bombing unoccupied buildings. There are visual cues within the film that tie these fictional feminists to their real-life counterparts, including the violet ribbon worn as bracelets, the flyers promoting civil disobedience, and the bombs. However, the real-life incendiaries weren’t the gray studded orbs shown in the Limehouse Lane sequence. Instead, these DIY explosives were built from milk tins.
WSPU co-founder Christabel Pankhurst explained this violent activism in 1913, writing, “If men use explosives and bombs for their own purpose they call it war, and the throwing of a bomb that destroys other people is then described as a glorious and heroic deed. Why should a woman not make use of the same weapons as men? It is not only war we have declared. We are fighting for a revolution!”
Revolutionary Mrs. Holmes does not stay with Enola, which suggests the reform bill is not the end of her group’s campaign. However, it’s worth noting that the group’s violent methods are horrifying to Enola. Plus, the film seems to condemn them by paralleling the explosion plot with the story’s villain, the Marquess’s murderous grandma, who would kill her own grandson to further her political goals. (It should be noted neither in the movie nor real life was the suffragettes’ intention to kill.) Yet this conflict of ideas is not resolved in Enola Holmes, which hints that Enola’s run-ins with the suffragettes are not yet done. This too would be a departure from the books. Yet that might be what fans of the film — or at least Henry Cavill’s hunky Sherlock Holmes — most desire.
The Blossoming Bond Between Enola And Sherlock
By the final act, Enola has proven capable of caring for herself and taking on cases of her own. Thanks to a reward for recovering the marquess safely, she can afford to hide from Mycroft and his suffocating control. However, a coded message from Sherlock suggests she need not flee from both brothers indefinitely. Then, the strapping detective tells their older brother that he’ll take Enola on as his ward… if she should ever resurface. The films also take pains to establish the two have a shared love of drawing, puzzle-solving, and irreverence. This seems to set up a scenario in which Enola could become the Robin to Sherlock’s Batman, mentored yet ready to roll out on her own adventures. This is not the case in Springer’s novels.
The six-book series has Enola solving crimes while on the run from Sherlock and Mycroft, who serves as the overarching antagonist. Without her brothers, she tackles a string of missing person cases, including the vanishing of Sherlock’s trusted sidekick Dr. Watson. Not until The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye, the final book in the series, do the siblings reunite with respect and love. Yet to pursue that long-game scenario would be to waste the incredible chemistry of Brown and Cavill, who crackle with a sibling-like jocularity in the film.
Enola Holmes 2: What Could A Sequel Be About?
With all of the above in mind, I deduce that should Enola Holmes take off on Netflix, the streaming service will pursue sequels that aim to blend Springer’s plots with crowd-pleasing revisions. Specifically, screenwriter Jack Thorne has laid out too many details about Mrs. Holmes’ secret society of suffragettes to blow past it. There’s not only the mystery of her whereabouts but also the evolving message that Enola and Sherlock should take an active hand in shaping the world.
“You wanted to be recruited?” martial-arts master/tea shop owner Edith (Susan Wokoma) asks as Enola rolls into her women-only dojo. This question resonates as the adventure races on, while Enola’s role in the women’s rights movement takes shape in saving the marquess. Later, when Sherlock comes calling, Edith, who is a Black woman, challenges this white man to check his privilege, saying of his apathy toward politics, “You have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well.”
The mystery of their mother is not fully resolved in Enola Holmes. So, it’d make sense that these siblings keep searching, if not for her, then at least to understand her. This might not mean the immediate return of Carter to the franchise. As Edith, Wokoma could serve as a surrogate and also a sort of Giles to Enola’s Buffy, educating her further in both fighting and feminist activism. This overarching understanding of politics would tie-in to the YA convention of a young person coming to understand their world and what part they want to play in improving it.
However, while fans might be hoping for more Cavill (I certainly am), the film’s makers would have to be wary about giving him too big a role. Sherlock’s world-renowned persona in-film and out could swallow up the importance of this spunky girl detective. The focus should stay on Enola. Yet part of the fun of this concept is seeing how it re-envisions the touchstones of the Holmes canon. So, there is arguably room for the missing Watson plot and sibling rivalry sprinkled with wit and restrained warmth. The key is striking an exciting balance between the fresh and the familiar.
Finally, with Thorne weaving in historical elements that touch on the books’ message of female empowerment, there’s plenty of room to grow the concept. For instance, an Enola Holmes film series could follow an element from Springer’s The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, weaving in historical icons like Florence Nightingale to give their cases an added oomph, as well as some thrilling stunt casting of other Netflix stars.
The question, of course, will be first and foremost: do audiences want more Enola Holmes? After the success (whatever that means for a streaming service that doesn’t release traditional ratings) of Extraction, Bird Box, and The Old Guard, Enola Holmes has big shoes to fill, but it certainly seems like a concept worthy of a franchise – especially since the film already boasts two of Netflix’s most recognizable stars.
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What did you think of Enola Holmes? Weigh in below and share your thoughts on a potential sequel. For more, read everything we know about Netflix’s Extraction sequel, and check out our Watch From Home Theater watchalong of Extraction with Chris Hemsworth, director Sam Hargrave, and writer Joe Russo.