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This is a followup question to my own answer on another Sherlock question regarding the Season 3 finale "The Last Vow", from which I will shamelessly copy contents below.

During their visit in Bakerstreet, Magnussen lists Sherlock's weaknesses (as we find out later) in his mind.

Sherlock's pressure points

There are only six points being listed here (and infinitely scrolled, likely for effect, to indicate that there are more than usual):

  • Irene Adler (see File)
  • Jim Moriarty (see File)
  • Redbeard (see File)
  • Hounds of the Baskerville
  • Opium
  • John Watson

While I don't think all of them make sense as a pressure point on Sherlock, I at least understand what they are and why Magnussen might think that he could use those topics against Sherlock.

That is, all of them except one: "Hounds of the Baskerville"

What does "Hounds of the Baskerville" mean in this context, and why does Magnussen think he can use this to blackmail Sherlock?

If I remember the plot of the Baskerville episode correctly, there never really were any hounds and it was instead some kind of experimental biochemical weapon that was produced by a secret government/military facility. I don't see how that could be used against Sherlock, or anything else that Sherlock did during that case that could be used to blackmail him. He infiltrated the secret complex with his brother's ID, but that was discovered, so not really blackmail material.

Is there any indication in the show that explains this point on Magnussen's list?

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3 Answers 3

The only real indication in the show is Sherlock's behaviour during that case. He was very on-edge after seeing the 'hound', immediately afterwards he looks agitated and leaves without a word, before sulking at the pub. He's confused by what he saw, and perhaps for the first time ever questioning his own senses and reasoning, it even drives him to drink.

Perhaps Magnussen knows about this and the file details what happened to them on the Moors and how simple it would be to slip him some psychotics and watch him self-destruct from self-doubt or drugs to numb his senses.

Sherlock Sulking

Of course this is all just conjecture, it's possible Steven Moffat simply gave them a few of those names and the graphics designers just filled in the rest to make it a more interesting shot.

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I'm not sure how that pressure point would work in practice. Do as I say, or I'll give you frightening hallucinations! – Oliver_C Jun 10 '14 at 10:16
I thought Sherlock's apparent confusion was just part of the trick to fool Watson. – Taladris Jun 10 '14 at 13:53
@Taladris Hmm, I don't think so, he seemed genuinely moved by that, escaping into, even for Sherlock, overly logic deductions and overly cold reactions as a distraction/overreaction. But maybe I just want to believe that. If you really have some reasonable doubt of the truth of his confusion, I guess that might make for an interesting question on its own. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 10 '14 at 14:28
I'm interested in the mechanics of this rumour. Let's say a hundred people got to know about the experimental deliriant. But only a few (actually, I can't readily name others besides John) actually witnessed Sherlock confess to being scared out of his senses. So, how did Magnussen get to know this bit? Did John blog about it? – Chiffa Sep 17 at 2:38
@Chiffa possibly the same way he found out about Redbeard -- via Richard Brook:… -- although I can also imagine John writing a draft blog about Sherlock's fear during that incident, deciding not to publish it, only to have the hard drive stolen or broken into by Magnusson's thugs. – Gaurav Sep 25 at 22:47

I think it's more about Sherlock knowing and having access to government secrets, which CAM might want to gain access to.

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Drugs (gas) caused the hallucinations (seeing the hound). Sherlock, John, and others were all affected at different times. That could be why HOB was listed as a pp for Sherlock. Also in that episode Sherlock told John that he, John, was his only friend. That, too, could be a reason for pp... I think this is probably why.

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