If you’re a fan of Sherlock, you likely know that a holiday special was aired on January 1st, 2015 and it was something the entire fandom had awaited for with baited breath. The producers somehow figured one episode would tide fans over until freaking 2017. However, this episode was supposed to be special, set in the 1800’s. At first glance, the episode follows some alternative timeline where Holmes and Watson take down mysteries in Victorian era London, a hearkening to the setting of the original books.
If you’re worried about spoilers, I you recommend stop reading after this paragraph. Unfortunately, you may be better off if I just gave you a summary of the episode instead of choosing to spend two valuable hours of your life watching it. If you do decide to view it anyways, be prepared to be really, really confused.
Now, here be spoilers!
Mostly, I feel toyed with. When advertised, viewers were lead to believe they were in for an exciting Victorian-era romp with our favorite British crimefighters, isolated from the underlying plot of the rest of the modern series. Interestingly enough, that’s how the first half episode played out. In Sherlock Holmes and the Abominable Bride there’s been a murder and it appears that, unsurprisingly from the title, an angered, undead bride is responsible. Being a reasonable fellow, Mr. Holmes quickly dismisses this notion and gets to work discovering the logic behind the seemingly illogical. The beginning was interesting enough but suddenly, things took a turn for the weird. One minute Sherlock is dealing with a 1800’s feminist underground crime ring and then the next minute we’re watching modern-day Sherlock overdose on the plane where we last left him in Season 3. The episode continues to leap back and forth between the 1800’s, Sherlock’s “mind palace”, and the 21st Century on the plane until ultimately, only 15 real minutes in the show have actually passed. The Victorian-era feminist activists? Yeah they were real but Sherlock and Watson were never actually in London during the 1800’s. The fight between Moriarty, Sherlock, and Watson on Reichenbach Falls? Obviously it was meta, 2edgy4u analysis of the taxing and isolating effects that accompany jabbing a needle full of heroin into your arm. You didn’t realize that 90% of this episode never even happened? Yeah, that’s because you’re probably a complete idiot. What are you? Fuckin’ braindead? The episode ultimately culminated in present-day Sherlock walking towards a car, patronizing his companions for not realizing Moriarty is indeed dead. What a fantastic way to reveal such a crucial plot point! The main antagonist, which we previously thought had returned from the dead, is, in fact, actually still dead? Yep, the best possible way to write such an important revelation is to have Sherlock mention it off-hand as he’s tripping balls on heroin. Viewers were given little to no build-up or anticipation concerning Moriarty’s fate. Simply, “Oh yeah? Moriarty? The driving factor behind this entire damn show up until this episode? Nope, that bloke is certainly dead.”
Ultimately, the episode was so damn twisted that I really don’t have much to say. There’s a total lack of consistency and viewers have absolutely no idea which reality they’re supposed to believe in. Although I feel as if Sherlock has always tried a bit too hard to be complex and deep, The Abominable Bride was a whole new monster. Now, I’m sure if I went back and I picked every little detail apart, I could perhaps scrounge up some sort of coherent piece of television. The problem is that I, along with most other viewers, have better things to do with 3 hours of our life. Being sophisticated and multileveled is one thing – being incoherent is another. So, please, Sherlock, stop trying so damn hard. Complex television does not necessarily make for good television.