Netflix's new series, The Irregulars, is based on a group of minor characters from the Sherlock Holmes novels. In the books, these London-dwelling orphaned street urchins are the eyes and ears for Holmes in several of his cases. But in Netflix's version, one of those urchins, Jessie, has a strange, magical ability tied to her dreams. Early on in the series, as her nightmares threaten to overwhelm her, she's rescued and taken to a beautiful dream in the American South (for some reason), where she meets a kindly stranger called The Linen Man. But who is The Linen Man in The Irregulars, really?
Warning: Spoilers for The Irregulars Season 1 follow. Very little of The Irregulars connects with the original source material. Other than Holmes and Watson appearing as characters, and the conceit of hiring teens from the street to help solve crimes, none of these stories come from Arthur Conan Doyle's works. The Linen Man, is no exception — he's definitely not a character from the novels or short stories.
But he's a big deal in the series. The Linen Man first appears to Jessie in the opening episode when he rescues her from the plague doctor figures who haunt her dreams. He places an image of a butterfly on her wrist, which allows her to travel to his beautiful dream land of the bayou in Louisiana. In exchange, he asks her to delve into the minds of the criminals the Irregulars track down, the ordinary Londoners who suddenly develop supernatural powers. The Linen Man says he needs to know where the power was coming from so he could help defeat it.
But The Linen Man's promises are not all they seem, especially when he reveals he's not actually in Louisiana. Instead, he's on a boat, traveling to London to see Jessie. Although Jessie is grateful and relieved that the man from her dreams is coming to help, something's not right. Why doesn't he tell her this in the first place? What's he hiding?
When The Linen Man finally arrives in London, Jessie learns he didn't come to help her close the source, known as "The Rip." Instead, he plans to harness The Rip's power and take over the world, spreading nightmares wherever he goes.
The Linen Man uses Jessie and then traps her in her dreams, believing they would eventually kill her. Anyone who gets in his way receives the same treatment, from Bea reliving when their mother abandoned them to Billy seeing the man who abused him in childhood. The Linen Man also uses anyone he can to get to The Rip, including Sherlock, whose grief over Alice's disappearance make him easy prey.
But Jessie is stronger than The Linen Man realizes; she confronts the demons in her mind and breaks out. She uses her knowledge to try and help Bea and the others fight their nightmares. And when push comes to shove, Jessie doesn't hesitate. She uses The Linen Man's memories against him, showing him the ghosts of everyone he'd killed, making him feel their horror and pain until it drives him to fall to his death.
The Irregulars Season 1 is on Netflix now.