Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Review (SPOILERS)

Sherlock is easily one of my favorite shows on TV. In fact, the character of Sherlock Holmes has always been a favorite of mine because I've always enjoyed the mystery/detective books, movies, and TV shows and that's exactly what Sherlock Holmes is. I can't say that I've read or watched everything having to do with Sherlock Holmes, but what I have I've really enjoyed. I first got introduced to the show Sherlock when they were in their second season. The finale of that season was actually the first episode that I watched. Quite the introduction there if you remember what happens in that episode. It didn't take me long at all to catch up with the rest of the series and ever since doing that, I've been in a constant state of waiting. That's the only disadvantage to being a fan of this show. Most of your time is spent waiting for the next season to air. When it finally does, you get through it in the blink of an eye and then it's another 2-3 years of waiting. There's not a new season each year and the seasons that do come only have three episodes each. Granted they're all an hour and half long and thus it's like three movies, but still. I want more.

That's why this Christmas Special was quite the pleasant surprise. I knew it was coming, but I totally forgot about its existence until I was reminded on the day of that it was happening. Instantly my plans for that night changed and I once again dove into Sherlock. As is the case with all of my TV show reviews now, this review will be a spoiler review. I've decided with TV, my target audience is not people waiting to see the show or considering watching the show, it's the people that have already watched. I want to discuss the details of this episode with other fans of Sherlock that have already seen it, because there's a lot that happened here. If you haven't seen this episode yet, it's actually showing in theaters tonight and tomorrow (January 5th and 6th) in certain places if you feel like paying to see it. Otherwise it is re-airing on January 10th I do believe. Or you could probably just find it online somewhere. I'm guessing that PBS or BBC will have it on one of their websites, but that's just a guess. Anywho, watch the episode somehow and then come back and read this review for the episode and let's discuss!

For those reading this paragraph, I'm assuming that you have watched the episode or just don't care about knowing spoilers. So let's dive in! What I immediately loved about this episode was that it initially appeared to be an episode in an alternate universe. What I mean is that one of the great things about Sherlock is that it is set in the modern day, yet it has the tone of and feel of any other Sherlock Holmes story. Well this time the episode was actually set in the late-1800's with our current cast of characters. A lot of the stuff that was going on was the exact way it is in all the old Sherlock Holmes stories. It was classic Sherlock Holmes with the actors that we all love! I didn't know why it was happening, but it was and I was enjoying it. I just assumed that they wanted to do something fun for the Holiday Special to satisfy fans while we all wait impatiently for season 4 to finally air. I was totally down for this. In fact, I didn't need for this to connect at all with season 3 or season 4. Instead I got to thinking how cool it would be if we actually had a full-fledged spin-off series like this.

But it actually did connect and it did so in such a genius way. First to the actual case we are following for much of the episode. The Abominable Bride. Here we have a somewhat basic case in a show like this that we are told by Watson turns out to be one that racks Sherlock's mind like none other. A woman blows her brains out in front of a large enough crowd of people that it seems certain that she is actually dead. The next night she shows up in what appears to be ghost form and kills her husband. But then when everyone goes to the morgue to check this out, she is indeed dead and it's not a fake body. So what's happening? Is it actually a vengeful spirit haunting the town? Because she continues to show up despite her obviously being dead. Do Sherlock and Watson need to call Sam and Dean Winchester (or their ancestors) to burn this lady's bones so that she can stop? Obviously not. Although it appears to be a simple supernatural occurrence, everyone knows that it isn't and we need to figure out she is doing this and why she is doing this.

That's where the meat of this story will come. It's always fun during an episode like this to speculate on how she faked her death, just like it was fun to speculate how Sherlock faked his death at the end of season 2, which we still don't know the answer to. We speculated for two full years only to be teased for the whole third season on how he did it. All we really got was more questions as it appears with the end of the season 3 finale that Moriarty also faked his death. Now it will be a total of five years before we might get an answer to these questions. We did get a few more clues towards the end of this episode, but I'll talk about that in a second. The point is, I was fully invested in this mystery they were solving. They could've just gone on did this story the whole episode without bringing it in and I would've been totally fine, but then crazy things started to happen. Sherlock is mediating in his room when Moriarty shows up and starts taunting him about this case. Then he wakes up. He is back on the plane with Watson, Mary, and Mycroft in the modern day, right where we left off after the season 3 finale.

The whole finale to this is rather wacky, but really genius at the same time. Apparently everything that has been happening in this past is all in Sherlock's head. He's used drugs to send him into this mind simulation so that he can solve a case from 120 years ago that he feels can help him figure out what is going on with Moriarty. I don't know why I didn't make the connection earlier, but suddenly I did. The whole case with the Abominable Bride is parallel to Moriarty's case. This bride blew her brains out and appears to come back and so did Moriarty. By solving this case from, we could get clues as to how Moriarty pulled off what he did. This also dives deep into the character of Sherlock. He's not just a super genius solving cases. He's a human being with serious flaws. He has these drug addictions that are apparently a lot stronger than we initially thought and he justifies the use of these drugs so that he can feel better about himself. We even dove into his thoughts on romance as Watson interrogated him about that. I also got the feel as we kept jumping back and forth through Sherlock's mind that Moriarty has gotten to him real good. Whether or not Moriarty is actually dead, his legacy certainly lives on and if his goal has been to mess Sherlock up mentally, it seems to be working.

After jumping back and forth through time, we finally go back and it appears that we are going to solve this case. The bride faked her death at first. Then she went and killed her husband. After doing this, she kills actually kills herself to throw people off when they identify her dead body at the morgue. Then a secret group of females have been carrying on her legacy to avenge the wrongful things that certain men have done to them. I really enjoyed this specific story. A surprising reveal? No. An interesting one? Yes. But even more interesting is what happens right at the end. Sherlock is about to unmask the lady, certain he knows who he is, when he is shocked to find Moriarty, who is also supposed to dead in this dreamed up timeline as well, although through the classic waterfall death scenario. Pretty soon we are back to the waterfall where we have our second confrontation between Sherlock and Moriarty. The two big sequences we have between Sherlock and Moriarty is definitely the meat of this episode. The constant battle between the two of those is what ultimately holds this whole series together. Yes, the episodes without any sign of Moriarty are still good, but the ones with him are the best. Yes, much praise has to be given to Benedict Cumberbatch for his perfect portrayal of Sherlock, but we can't forget Andrew Scott as Moriarty for being perfect in that role as well.

Speaking of which, I will end this review with touching a bit on the question that has been on our minds since the end of season 3 at the very least, possibly earlier. Is Moriarty dead? We knew the second Sherlock jumped off the building at the end of season 2 that he had faked his death. We don't know exactly how he did it. But we know who helped him and there are ideas. But did Moriarty also fake his death? Sherlock concludes at the end of this episode that he definitely is dead, but he still has plans that will be carried after his death which they have to deal with. After all, he shot his brains out and there's no coming back from that. Do we trust Sherlock? The second he said that, I thought about a few minutes earlier when he described how the bride in this episode also shot her brains, but faked it. I've always kinda felt that Moriarty would come back and that both him and Sherlock faked their deaths, so that's still where I lean. But even if Sherlock is right with what he thinks, I'm equally excited for that to play out. I'm just hoping that we get plenty of Andrew Scott in some form during season 4 and I'm really excited to see where this goes.

In conclusion, I thought this was a very fascinating episode. Because of this series, I'm always excited to see Martin Freeman and/or Benedict Cumberbatch show up in any sort of TV show or movie, which is part of the reason why I'm stoked to see Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, but I especially am excited when both Freeman and Cumberbatch show up together in Sherlock. This episode snuck up on me, but I was so glad I got to get my Sherlock fix. This was a fun story and it was great to see all these characters in a classic Sherlock Holmes setting. Then as it was revealed what was happening, I really enjoyed how psychological we got. Sherlock was always a fascinating character, but I felt we dove even deeper into his character in this episode and saw a lot of the issues that he has and how troubled he is over the Moriarty situation. Speaking of which, the best part of this episode for me was the return of Andrew Scott as Moriarty. I wasn't expecting him to show up, but it was such a pleasant surprise when he did. Then did again. As a holiday special, this was perfect. This didn't progress the story too much, but it gave us a taste of what is in store for us next year. I just wish season 4 would get here faster.

1 comment:

  1. Sherlock is by and large the best written and performed t.v. show out there. The wait for the new season is excruciating and just makes me want to shake my fist at Stephen Moffat. I agree that the Christmas special was exciting and very satisfying. Andrew Scott is phenomenal as always. Personally I agree with you that most likely Moriarty is still alive. Back when Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle was writing the books he killed off Moriarty in that fantastic waterfall scene and the uproar from the public was so great that he eventually brought him back. He had every intention of ending the character right there but then the people spoke. Since Moffat and Co. Are such students of the original I can't imagine them not doing the same, and because the Scott portrayal is so brilliant I couldn't be happier.