It’s been almost 2 years since the last Sherlock episode, and ‘The Abominable Bride’ unfortunately doesn’t mark the beginning of the new season, but, rather, a one-off special to tide us over until season 4.
Maybe it’s the incredibly long wait, or maybe it’s the fact that just one special episode isn’t nearly enough, but for whatever reason and despite my eager anticipation for some new Cumberbatch & Freeman adventures, I just found The Abominable Bride to be largely underwhelming.
The episode takes the Victorian era character and his entourage back to Victorian era London, to solve the case of Emelia Ricoletti, a bride who went insane, shot at random passers-by from her balcony, then shot herself in the head, and later that evening appeared in the middle of the street to shoot her husband.
Everyone is baffled at the impossible resurrection of the crazy homicidal bride, with Watson quick to attribute the events to the existence of ghosts, while Sherlock is confident there’s a clear and logical explanation, before ultimately losing interest in the case.
A couple of months later, Sherlock and Watson pay a visit to a very large, gluttonous Mycroft, which gives us possibly the most entertaining scene of the episode as Sherlock silently communicates with the butler and Watson struggles with the sign language.
Mycroft refers a case to Sherlock as the two brothers place wagers on how long before the immensely fat Mycroft finally kicks the bucket (as he continues to order and gobble down more food).
After a perfunctory meeting with the new client, the two friends stake out the place waiting for the murder that’s about to happen. What they witness is another case of the Abominable Bride showing up to kill a husband – someone else’s, this time – and a note that reads ‘Miss me?’, which is a throwback to the long-gone Moriarty. Sherlock exclaims that the solution is simple and proceeds to meditate.
Moriarty appears in his trance-like state to taunt him, and we jump forward to present-day Sherlock on a plane that just landed, waking up from a self-induced almost-overdose, in an effort to find out how Moriarty has returned from the dead, as he explains to the worried trio of Mycroft, Watson and Mary.
And this is where the episode went downhill for me. Although not a fan of period pieces, I can appreciate the Victorian feel of the episode. It is, after all, Sherlock’s… natural habitat, if you will. It certainly wouldn’t be the first show to feature a special episode in a different time period, and if there’s one TV drama that warrants time-travel, it’s a show about a character who’s been living in the wrong era all along. But jumping back and forth to solve a case that is not even an actual case?
The answer to the Abominable Bride murder mystery was, indeed, simple, and Sherlock unsurprisingly flaunts his exceptional wit and perception all throughout the episode as he reaches the solution, so why involve Moriarty again? I get it, Sherlock is plagued by visions and thoughts of his nemesis, but the whole drug overdose-trance felt forced and it definitely didn’t add anything new to the story.
The acting, directing and overall feel of the episode was, as always, impeccable. I wish I could have gone to a theater screening like some lucky people in England and the US, as each 90-minute episode always feels more like an actual movie than a television show.
Sherlock was slightly less obnoxious as an 18th century version of himself, but we got plenty of quotable dialogue and snarky one-liners as a result, so no complaints there.
Now if only BBC would hurry up and release a full 4th season, that would be amazing.