The following is a spoiler episode review of the Sherlock 2016 Special – The Abominable Bride
Set in 19th century London, The Abominable Bride follows supposed alternate versions of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Victorian London. Their introduction to each other is almost identical to the first episode of series 1, except for the time, of course. When Holmes and Watson are introduced to a supposed real life ghost story by Lestrade, slowly, but surely we notice that something isn’t right with our beloved Sherlock.
The 2016 ‘special’ of BBC’s Sherlock was supposed to be a standalone episode, but became so much more than that. You might even call this episode the first episode of the fourth series of Sherlock. I’ll go out there and say it straight away: While I did enjoy this special episode of Sherlock quite a bit, it did leave me annoyed and bewildered from time to time.
I like Mary (Amanda Abbington) quite a bit, as I think Abbington matches Freeman really well in their scenes together, but the little interplay they had in this episode was less than stellar, and her part in the story felt underwritten, almost dangerously so. Victorian-Mary did not leave me pleased, but I thought she worked better in the half of the story not centered in the 19th century, even if her technical smarts perhaps were a bit sudden and unexplained.
But the most disappointing part of the episode was how it handled suffragettes and feminism. The writers tried to wrap everything up in a bow, for us to be suddenly surprised by the great Andrew Scott. However, the entire scene where the suffragettes behind the plot unmasked felt off. I can definitely understand people criticizing this entire scene to great length. I’m sure there was a point to all of this, but I failed to see it. It was very displeasing to see this show handle this sensitive manner in such an unrefined way.
At times the episode was rather confusing, as the writers tied the Victorian events to the ending of series 3. It was a secret plot-point, and while it did intrigue me greatly, I thought it could have been handled in a smoother way. They failed to balance the two settings of the special episode in a pleasing manner.
However, there was a lot of good in the episode. I really enjoyed how they toyed with Sherlock’s mind-palace, when it could have looked desperate in all the confusion. I always love seeing Andrew Scott on the show, and his scenes with Benedict Cumberbatch are always memorable. I loved the nods to the fans, recognizing which moments would make us smile. There was a fair deal of fan-service, and that really worked for me here.
The Abominable Bride is definitely not the best episode of Sherlock, with it containing the most negatives that I’ve had for an episode to date. However, even though the episode can be confusing and handles sensitive manner without forethought, the good outweighs the bad, and I’m excited for more Sherlock.
I’m Jeffrey Rex