Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Review (SPOILERS)
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.
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.
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.