Let’s cut to the chase, guys. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad. It was maybe OK, but it was far from great. But before I start listing all of my problems with the special, let’s talk about the things that worked:
— Mrs. Hudson. Always Mrs. Hudson.
— John and Sherlock’s chemistry. In any century, they’re a fun couple.
— Fat, gambling Mycroft.
— Any amount of Moriarty. Having even a small bit of Andrew Scott’s psychopath back in our lives is a good thing.
And that might have been it for me. It’s not that everything else about the show was garbage, it’s just that nothing else seemed to fit. Starting with the solution to the Abominable Bride mystery. Since we’ve already seen one character fake his death, and now presumably a second has returned from the dead, the big reveal as to how Emilia Ricoletti tricked the morgue needed to be pretty clever. As it turns out, she just had a couple of friends. So that seems like a let down.
Even worse is the apparent reason as to why she wanted to fake her death. See her husband was, in historical parlance, a real asshole. So her faked death became the ultimate cover to be able to murder him. And also something about women’s suffrage. Because clearly women struggled to get the right to vote so that we could stop our boyfriends from being mean to us. Try not to think too much about how at the time real suffragettes were being placed into real jails because they were openly demanding the right to vote. Or that the government for which Mycroft worked was openly jailing said suffragettes and not secretly pushing the suffrage agenda. Those historical wrinkles will just give you a headache which in turn, ironically, will give you wrinkles.
But by far the biggest problem is the set-up for the historical romp. Sherlock, who was super baked out of his skull, needed to visit his mind palace in order to solve the Ricoletti case so he could in turn solve the mystery of how Moriarty faked his death. And sorry, Tennessee State Police, I really don’t know where to begin telling you what’s wrong with that. But maybe I’ll start with the fact that there must have been people since 1895 who have faked their deaths. And that those “deaths” might be more relevant than one that happened long before modern technology. Like the internet which might be more useful in this case than Sherlock’s mind palace. Or television which is still the only evidence that Moriarty is in fact alive. Or personal video recorders like one a criminal mastermind might use to record an ominous message before meeting their arch-nemesis on top of a tall building with a loaded revolver.
Because, yeah, as it turns out, John and Sherlock’s romp through Victorian England wasn’t just unproductive, it was probably pointless too since Sherlock’s determined that Moriarty is probably still dead and it’s his criminal network that’s attempting the comeback. We watched all our favorite characters march around in stuffy suits/dresses to solve an unremarkable crime that doesn’t have anything to do with the current story.
Which is really the special’s biggest flaw. Sherlock fans in general, and Moffat fans in particular, are willing to forgive a lot of plot foolery. But there either needs to be minimal plot advancement or it needs to be the most fun episode ever. The Abominable Bride did neither. They gave us an unfun, unimportant, unmemorable special, and are now going to duck out on us for a full year?
Alright fine. I’m relaxed. But I still don’t love this.