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Elementary: Papa Holmes Is Here! (Whether Sherlock Likes It or Not)

Get scoop on Season 4

Hanh Nguyen

Sherlock's dad is in town, but don't expect a happy reunion.

When Elementary returns Thursday (10/9c, CBS), Fringe and Sleepy Hollow star John Noble enters as Morland Holmes, Sherlock's wealthy and estranged father, who got Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) into rehab and set him up with former sober companion Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). Despite this good turn, the famed detective has never spoken of his dad fondly. "Over the years, Sherlock has conjured certain images of him ... certainly Satan, on one occasion, to Dracula," series creator Rob Doherty tells TVGuide.com. "We've left it to the viewers' imagination. We can only take Sherlock's word for it because he's the only character on the show who has actually met Morland face to face."

Morland has flown to New York from London after hearing of his son's unfortunate relapse after Sherlock beat up his former dealer Oscar Rankin (Michael Weston), who had lied to and manipulated him on a case. "[Morland] is there because he sympathizes," Doherty says. "He knows that Sherlock was forced into a position in which a relapse was almost inevitable. He appreciates the work that Sherlock did, and feels that ultimately Sherlock was a victim of a crime. It's not fair to put this work in and have someone take it from you."

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As previously reported, Morland is an international consultant with powerful and prosperous clients. He'll try to help Sherlock deal with the fallout from his actions, but he will meet resistance from his suspicious son. Despite the pair's combative relationship, Noble wanted to show in his performance the two are still indelibly related.

"In terms of the way that the men spoke, we did not go for exactly the same nuances that Sherlock has at all," Noble told reporters. "In terms of mannerism, I think you'll see little things in there occasionally ... We're working on that very subtly and I know Rob and the writers are very conscious of that thing. There is a similarity between them in some ways and looks too which is quite interesting when I see it on camera."

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Addiction won't take over: Don't worry, Sherlock's relapse won't trigger a downward spiral this season. "If Oscar had tried this a couple of years ago, then maybe Sherlock would've really gone off the rails," Doherty says. "But the truth is that he has spent over three years engaged in a program that has been profoundly helpful. Yes, his work is important. Yes, Joan is important, but the program that he's in acknowledges that relapses happen. Sherlock knows enough now to acknowledge the mistake, put it behind him and put himself back on the path he was on."

Sherlock's job is in danger: All that said, the police who retain Sherlock as a consulting detective can't ignore his actions. "Sherlock is waiting to hear from the District Attorney's office as to whether he's going to be charged with assaulting Oscar," Doherty says. "He lost control, he did some significant damage to Oscar. It would be hard to find anyone who would say Oscar didn't deserve it, but Sherlock is in business with the New York Police Department, and extra levels of scrutiny are being applied. While he waits to hear if he's going to be charged and potentially sent to prison, he is beginning to accept the likelihood that he's going to lose his job with the police. And then there's the very real fear that he'll be dragging Joan down with him."

Who needs the police? Sherlock and Joan's skills won't be wasted though. "In the second episode, we will not see much of our police friends in that we will be working exclusively for the FBI in that episode," Doherty says. "It's a very precarious time for Sherlock and Joan, and they have to take work where they can find it. So they will be pulled in by the FBI to assist with a spy hunt."

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We'll get more backstory on Joan: Although we met Joan's mom in the first season, we'll meet another family member this year. "A few episodes in the season we're going to meet her stepfather and discover they have a pretty complicated relationship," Doherty told reporters. "It's a theme we will hit pretty hard over the first half of the season."

We may learn about Mama Holmes: "I feel like we have an obligation at some point this season to flesh out that story and explain why she is not featured on the show alongside Mr. Holmes," Doherty says. "We need to find the right moment. I think mom is a big reason why Sherlock and his father have struggled to the degree that they have or struggled as father and son."

Cloudy with a chance of Moriarty: Since Natalie Dormer is off being famous in film (The Hunger Games) and other TV shows (Game of Thrones), her schedule may make it difficult to visit again as Sherlock's diabolical ex, Moriarty. But hope springs eternal, and Doherty is planning on a different sort of reunion. "There's nothing imminent, but I'd really love to think we could see Moriarty this year. I can guarantee a reference to Moriarty in the first episode," he says. "The most I can say right now is one person I'd love to see this year is Mycroft (Rhys Ifans). It would be fun but complicated to get all of the Holmes men together. That would be awesome."

Clyde the tortoise returns! "You'll see Clyde as early as Episode 3 I think," Doherty says. "He's having some dietary issues that will be addressed in the story. I'm perpetually shocked and pleased by the attention that Clyde gets. In the early goings, Sherlock could only tolerate the company of Joan and Clyde."

Elementary returns on Thursday at 10/9c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)