WARNING: This reivew contains spoilers
Watching a brand new Sherlock episode on the first of January is always a great way to start off the new year. No matter how long we have to wait for it, it’s always worth it. ‘The Abominable Bride’ wasn’t part of an official season per se, but a special episode set in the 19th century – for the most part.
‘The Abominable Bride’ is the usual ‘nothing is what it seems’ case. Not because of the plot twists of the murder case, but because of the very same structure of the episode. In fact, there were definitely some fishy things going on from the beginning: Sherlock and John dealing with the supernatural (*Superwholock enthusiasts cheering in the background*)? Sherlock forgetting about an unsolved case? Or how about the Abominable Bride faking her death in a similar way to Moriarty?
At first, I found it weird that the episode spent nearly two minutes recapping previous events of the past seasons when this was supposed to be a one-off special that had nothing to do with the actual show. However, every little thing about the mysterious case worked as a parallel to the current canon events of the series. In fact, I find it ironic how Ricoletti and her feminist movement were actually used as a plot device to refer to Moriarty and the events post-Season 3. Still, the revelation that Ricoletti had an army of women/brides that were fighting for gender equality (even though that wasn’t the right way to go about it) was very nicely done, especially given how women’s rights in the 19th century were constantly hinted at throughout the whole episode.
It’s noteworthy that the only thing that seemed to change in this let’s-call-it Victorian AU was the scenario, from the carriages to the costumes. Even though Sherlock and John met for the first time once again, their relationship was the same as it’s always been and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Obviously, we didn’t get the usual flying texting on screen either, but the show still used some nice tricks for Sherlock’s Mind Palace. Everything else remained the same, from the characterization to the relationships between the characters (except Mycroft, he looked quite different).
The only complaint that I have is that they could have left the dream-revelation for a little later, as I became quite disinterested in the Abominable Bride case as soon as I learned that it was all in Sherlock’s mind (even though the case actually happened). Instead of that, we got constant flashbacks and flashforwards that only led to confusion, and I never quite knew which story to focus on. It was messy, but a clever organized type of messy, the one you would expect from the Moffat-Gatiss duo. Getting something that would belong to Season 4 was a nice surprise as well, even though we didn’t learn anything new: Moriarty is back… but he’s also dead. Sherlockians will keep speculating!