Spoilers Alert! Please read no further if people spoiling the story for you is absolutely not your cup of tea.
It was a new year’s gift from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Sure we are watching it in 2016 but the episode was taking us back to the late nineteenth century, the Victorian era – the very time period Sherlock Holmes originated from! Okay, it’s a bit hazy whether Sherlock was a Victorian or an Edwardian but what we do know is that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was brilliant, calculative and composed. His social skills lacked only because of his inherent ability to remain indifferent to any emotions and intolerance of engaging in conversations that does not benefit in knowledge gain nor getting a case for investigation, not because he is a “high functioning sociopath”!
However, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes is not as composed and constantly bickers with Martin Freeman’s Dr. John Watson that it becomes tedious at times. Sure, it feeds the thirst of the Sherlocked fans but it often strays away from the character that the detective was in the books.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride starts off at a good pace, rightfully so, because it is suggestive of how Sherlock’s mind works. The premise is set and Watson is established as the chronicler for Sherlock’s adventures. Then enters Lestrade with news of the latest tragedy, Emelia Ricoletti, adorned in her wedding dress, has shot several people before blowing her own head off. but hours later, she still manages to kill her husband! So, how did a dead person end up killing another person?
But the murders have not stopped. All round the country, people are claiming that the Ricoletti bride has walked from the dead and killed all those people! Henceforth, the mystery continues.
Amidst all these though, there is something strange going on with the characters. The story has moved back to the nineteenth century but Sherlock is still seemingly rude to Mrs. Hudson and even Watson is patronizing Mary now! When did maids start being so cocky and what the hell is wrong with Mycroft? Sure, Mycroft was always the smarter but lazier Holmes but was it necessary to make him look like a pig? He looked more like a Slitheen in human form (from Dr. Who)than a large Victorian gentleman!
Then Moriarty shows up! Excuse me? What’s going on?
The story now starts to get very confusing, the conversation doesn’t make sense and, Sherlock and Moriarty are having one of those compelling discussion that most always serve the purpose of challenging each other’s intellect than ousting each other out. While we try to keep up with what’s going on, we are suddenly pulled back into the modern day, at the present moment on the plane where we had last left Sherlock in Season 3.
And things start to make some sense –everything that has transpired up to now was all the imagination of the drug induced Sherlock, in his mind palace! To understand how the dead Moriarty could have possibly come back, he tried to recreate the scene ofa 100 year old case where a woman had risen from the dead and apparently killed off a number of people. Butthe case is incomplete and Sherlock flickers between the modern day England and the Victorian England trying to solve the case.
So, does he solve the mystery?
Of course, he does but the case is not as intriguing as one would expect. The mystery of the abominable bride is not so much a mystery than Mrs. Emelia Ricoletti faking her death to kill her husband before killing herself. She was a part of a women’s group who gathered together to fight for suffrage and independence. But for some strange reasons, these women are covered in robes and pointed hats that closely resembles the uniform of the Ku Klux Klan! Now, why would the creators want the women to be dressed in clothing that echoes white supremacy and terrorism in its every thread? Does that mean to imply that women have taken extreme measures to fight for their rights and cause? I choose to believe otherwise and hope that the costume designer have some good enough explanation for their choice.
But that really makes the ending boring and filled with ridiculous conjecture about how women came about to ask for their rights. Emelia Ricoletti’s example seem to have encouraged repressed women all around England to start killing off those dominant men and instead of giving voice to the women’s movement, this development has dragged them further down into the olden times!
The writers have once again accomplished in doing what they have been doing for years now –create content that rides on the waves of fan fiction, dialogues that seek to please the viewers and themes that are based on the trending news. It doesn’t mean that I am not a fan of Sherlock but being a true loyalist to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, I do wish that the creators had taken less liberty.
When Sherlock Special was announced, I was very eager to see Benedict’s Sherlock in his true element, the poised and sharp Sherlock Holmes teaching the science of deduction but what demonstrated henceforth was a story where the characters go on a trip to the Victorian era and have fun with the clothing, without leaving essence of the modern. It was still the same Sherlock, the same bromance with Watson and the same witty dialogues that seek to please the viewers but I was expecting a treat that would have been dear to the readers!
– Jasina Gurung, Content Manager