The Irregulars season one ending explained

Exclusive: The cast and crew of the new Netflix Sherlock Holmes drama break down that shock final episode.

The Irregulars

New Sherlock Holmes adaptation The Irregulars concludes its eighth episode with quite a bang, following our heroes (led by Thaddea Graham’s Bea and Darci Shaw’s Jessie) as they take on the evil Linen Man and try to close the reality-threatening Rip, all coming together for a seriously emotional finale.

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But what exactly happened in the finale, and what does it mean for season two? To find out, we caught up with series creator Tom Bidwell and some of The Irregulars cast.

*Warning: spoilers for The Irregulars episode eight, The Ecstasy of Life, come below the jump.*

The Irregulars ending explained

The Irregulars
Harrison Osterfield, Thaddea Graham, Darci Shaw, Mckell David, Royce Pierreson and Jojo Macari in The Irregulars (Netflix)

 “For the end point, the end episode, we wanted to do something a bit differently,” Tom Bidwell tells RadioTimes.com. “And we wanted to present a kind of final battle that wasn’t necessarily what you would expect from an action adventure horror show.”

Accordingly, the majority of The Irregulars final conflict isn’t a physical battle – rather, it’s an emotionally-fraught discussion that ends with some acts of noble self-sacrifice. Though there is also a bit where someone fights an evil nun.

Forming a double bill with the penultimate episode (aka episode seven, The Ecstasy of Death), the Irregulars finale pits our heroes against the Linen Man (Clarke Peters), who has enlisted the troubled Sherlock (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) to help him take control of the Rip, aka the tear in reality leading to another dimension that has (over the course of the series) brought real dark magic and the supernatural to Victorian London.

The Linen Man, previously seen as a kindly psychic helping Jessie (Darci Shaw) understand her powers, is actually just keen to seize the power of the Rip for himself. The Irregulars themselves, meanwhile, want to close the Rip to prevent it destroying the world – but Sherlock was convinced to help The Linen Man instead of capturing him in episode seven, the pair heading off to the old Plague Pit where the Rip is located at the start of the finale.

The Irregulars
Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Royce Pierreson and Eileen O’Higgins in The Irregulars (Netflix)

Why Sherlock helped him is simple – the last time the Rip was closed, his partner Alice (Eileen O’Higgins, above in younger years), mother to Jessie and Bea (Thaddea Graham) was pulled inside. By further opening it this time, he may be able to bring her back – and indeed he does manage to pull her through, reuniting her with Jessie and Bea.

However, this happy reunion is short-lived. After 15 years alone in a dimension for lost spirits, unwilling to move on (essentially, she was in Purgatory) it was Alice that opened the Rip again to return and see her daughters (the first time, years before, it was Royce Pierreson’s Watson who had opened it accidentally).

Now, twisted by her time away Alice plans to open the Rip entirely, allowing her family to be together forever but destroying Earth in the process as “our” dimension is swallowed by the one on the other side. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go down too well, and Jessie and Bea end up resolving to close the Rip entirely, which necessitates their mother returning to the other side.

“That’s the drama,” Thaddea Graham tells us. “You don’t need all the big other elements. I say as we talk about the Rip, which is like a massive VFX thing.

“But the bulk of the drama was us talking to each other.”

The Irregulars
Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Sherlock Holmes in The Irregulars (Netflix)

But there’s one final twist in the tale. As Alice heads through, Sherlock decides to follow her, flinging himself through the Rip into the Purgatory dimension and leaving a shocked Jessie, Bea and Watson behind him.

“It ended up feeling as big as it would if it was as action big or as horror big,” Bidwell says.

“So we were pleased with it, and the performances are absolutely extraordinary from everyone.”

“That whole Rip set was so massive, and obviously with the COVID protocols, the cast were in a bubble where we were getting tested all the time, so we could get close on camera,” Graham adds. “But everyone else had to kind of keep their distance. And we would keep our distance from them as well.

“So it felt very much like, once the camera started rolling it was just us in that world, in that environment, and just looking at Eileen, or just looking to Darci’s little broken face! How can you not feel that? It’s just heartbreaking.”

What happened to the Linen Man?

After torturing Jessie, Bea, Leo, Spike and Billy previously with their deadliest fears, Jessie uses her psychic powers to turn this back on the Linen Man as she confronts him in the ex-Plague pit. Forcing him to experience the fear and horrors of every one of his victims, Jessis discombobulates and disorients the Linen Man so much that he moves away, unwittingly moving off a ledge and falling to his death.

Is Sherlock dead?

Sherlock The Irregulars
Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Sherlock Holmes in The Irregulars (Netflix)

The finale would seem to suggest that Sherlock has departed this world forever, and a heartbroken Dr Watson certainly considers his friend lost for good.

However, given that Alice was able to return from Purgatory once, it seems likely that she and Sherlock could do so again – and even if they don’t want to risk opening the Rip once more, it’s hard to imagine The Irregulars keeping Sherlock Holmes away forever.

Certainly, actor Henry Lloyd-Hughes is keen to reprise his role in a season two.

“I don’t know how it’s going to work,” he told RadioTimes.com. “But, you know, if you can unlock the mysteries of time and space then I’ll give it a shot. That’s all I can say.”

What happened to Billy, Spike and Leo?

irregulars
The Irregulars cast (Netflix)

After being separated from their friends thanks to a cave-in, the three male members of the main gang (played by Jojo Macari, Mckell David and Harrison Osterfield) return to the streets, where they have to dodge various Rip-afflicted people and later battle a possessed nun (yes, really) until the Rip is closed.

Later, Leopold leaves the group to get to know his intended wife Helena – part of the price for securing Billy’s release earlier after he was arrested – while Spike and Jessie get closer romantically.

The Irregulars season two

Tom Bidwell
The Irregulars creator Tom Bidwell on set (Netflix)

As for what could happen in season two, assuming there is one, apparently there’s no shortage of ideas.

“I mean what happens inside the Rip, I don’t know – do we go in there, do we stay here?” wonders Thaddea Graham. “What happens next with Sherlock? I think there’s so much scope for more to explore.”

“I agree, I think with this show there’s so many unanswered questions, as well as so many possibilities,” adds Darci Shaw. “I could not even predict where Tom could take the next series, because it’s that kind of show where anything goes, and anything could happen. I think the possibilities are very exciting.”

Among the potential storylines, according to creator Tom Bidwell himself? A storyline delving more into Leo’s royal relatives, as well as some monsters and action sequences that were originally considered for season one.

“If we get the chance to make future seasons, it’s the royal family and the higher echelons of society, you’ve got a lot to play there,” he told us.

The Irregulars
Harrison Osterfield as Leo in The Irregulars (Netflix)

“The thing is with this show is that there’s a lot of story potential in lots of different areas with Leopold, with Sherlock and Watson with the gang with their love stories.

“So there’s almost too much story! We certainly had to move some out of season one to kind of make space. So yeah, if we’re allowed to come back, we will hit the ground running for sure.”

Of course, given that the Rip is closed at the end of season one, viewers could be excused for assuming that all the supernatural threats the irregulars faced had vanished – but according to Bidwell, that’s not the case.

“Hopefully, if it’s a success, then we want to keep the format fairly similar,” he says. “You don’t want to do exactly the same thing, because it’s old but I like the monster of the week stuff. I like to be be able to tell as individual stories.

“So yeah, I think we’d want to keep things on that side of the show, the supernatural stuff, fairly similar.”

Altogether, it sounds like The Irregulars season two could be as action-packed and emotional as season one. We can only imagine how complicated that ending might be.

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The Irregulars season one is streaming on Netflix now. If you’ve already finished the series, why not read The Irregulars review here. Want something else to watch? Check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page, visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight, or check out our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix.