Season four of Sherlock brought with it screams, sighs, and squeals (at least, it did in my living room). Without a doubt, Eurus became one of the most disturbing villains Sherlock has dueled yet. I don’t plan on spoiling the final episode, in case you haven’t watched it yet, but I do want to explore the unique name of this season’s antagonist.
Peculiar names are a norm of the Holmes family and Eurus doesn't disappoint. Eurus, in Greek mythology, is the god of the east wind. Alongside Boreas, Zephyrus, and Notus, these four comprise the Anemoi, the wind deities. Given there are four winds, each one was naturally aligned with a season as well as a direction. Thus, we have Eurus, god of the east wind and autumn.
Generally, in literature, autumn is associated with change. The character of Eurus definitely excites changes for the Holmes brothers, and I think Greg Lestrade’s last line exemplifies this point perfectly. I won’t tell you what he says—you’ll need to watch the episode for that!—but considering his speech in the first episode, when Lestrade speaks to Watson about Sherlock, I think it’s safe to say a change has taken place.
Now getting on to the wind. It was a common enough saying to associate an eastern wind with unlucky fortune. Dickens, Tennyison, and many other Victorian authors (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a Victorian author as well) used the coming of an east wind to signal disaster.
But why is that?
Well, let’s take a look at London.
In the Victorian period, the wealthy lived in the West End of London. That left the poor crammed into the East End. You might have heard about that before, right? How the East End of London was similar to a slum in the Victorian era?
Well, if you recall, indoor plumbing wasn’t around in this time period. They used buckets, and once the bucket was full, it needed to be emptied. So all that filth and refuse had to go someplace, right? What better place than a river?
The Thames flows from west to east, starting in Cotswolds and heading east to the North Sea. So all the filth that accumulated from the West End grew and grew as it made its way eastward, with more and more being piled on. Until it made it to the North Sea.
Now, if an east wind kicked up, what kind of scents do you think would be riding that bad boy? Definitely not sunshine and daisies. When an east wind blew, all the discarded, thrown out, and forgotten refuse wafted through the air as a pungent reminder of what had been.
So let’s connect the two. We have the character of Eurus, unlucky, rising up from her discarded place in the trash. She’s bringing change with her. And a popular portion of the literary giants in Victorian England used the east wind to foreshadow disaster.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think they could have picked a better name for season four’s villain.