It’s now been two years – that’s right, TWO WHOLE YEARS – since the third season of Sherlock aired its glorious three episodes. The cliff-hanger finale made this two year wait all the more excruciating, and although we still have to wait a year for the next season, this full-length Sherlock Christmas special is just enough to tide fans over.
“The Abominable Bride” begins with a recap of the show (starting in 2010 – how has time flown!) and follows up with a “but what if…” journey to Victorian England for a more traditional take on Sherlock Holmes (seeing as this is the time period Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the original Sherlock stories). It’s interesting to see how the set and even parts of previous scripts are “down-dated” to fit the era. Most of our favourite characters make at least one appearance, a couple of which are in unexpected ways. But don’t worry if you can’t recognize them, the episode will give you a “flash-forward” to jog your memory.
The mystery in this episode is just as compelling as those before it: a killer ghost on the loose? But how?! While I admit the ‘solution’ to said ghost is disappointing, the episode isn’t actually about the ghost. Although the episode may come off as filler for the first 75 minutes or so, it does eventually become clear how the Victorian narrative fits the overarching Sherlock plot.
It’s really the last 15 minutes that kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what the heck was really going on. The storyline jumps around more than it should, which somewhat deters from the otherwise excellent storytelling that is expected from the series, but nevertheless, by the end, I was completely satisfied with the result. The performances by the actors further enhance and bring everything together to make for a convincing story in the last stretch of the episode. In particular, Andrew Scott continues his bone-chilling portrayal of Moriarty so incredibly that I’d be scared to meet him on the street.
One major issue that continues from the previous seasons is the lack of strong female representation that this episode even self-references (the on-going joke of Mrs. Hudson not saying anything because John never gives her any lines in his published stories). I hope that this awareness means that the next season will give a bigger role to Mary and Molly, and even if Lara Pulver were to reprise her role as Irene Adler, it would be much welcome.
“The Abominable Bride” is practically everything one could want from a Sherlock Christmas special: “the thrill of the chase, the blood pumping through your veins”, the characters, the supernatural story, the “timey-wimey stuff”, and not to mention the Victorian garb. Watching this episode is a great way to start off 2016.