Sherlock – The Abominable Bride

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The long awaited Sherlock special, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have been teasing us, fans, with pictures of this special ever since they were recording it. BBC wasn’t even better showing the first picture approximately a year ago. We all saw the moustache on John and the sleeked back hair – the moustache yelling oh no once again the moustache is back.

I went to see the screening of the episode in the cinema with my fellow sherlock fan friends. In the cinema there was a little clip before the show in which Steven Moffat gives us the tour of the Victorian rooms of Sherlock and after the show there was Mark Gatiss interviewing the different actors on the show about their Sherlock experiences.

The following is the story, so of course SPOILERS!

Then up to the episode which starts with a reminder of the past season, from the start to where Sherlock was put on a plane and left Britain in exile. But right after that we turn the clock back and see what Sherlock would be like if it was set in Victorian time, like all the other sherlock Holmes movies from the past.  It starts out with the second anglo-afghan war, and John is narrating, which feels very Arthur Conan Doyle since the books are told from this perspective. In this first part we also relive the meeting between Sherlock and Watson, Sherlock’s hair slicked back like all those classic portrayals of the character (Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Peter Cushing) and what I liked in this scene is that in comparison to the 2-2-1-B Baker Street that was pronounced as the address, Sherlock now says Two hundred twenty-one B Baker street.

We arrive on Baker street and the subtle differences are there, Speedy’s has become Speedwell’s and it has a gritty Victorian feel. Mrs Hudson meets the boys and they have an urchin boy running up to meet them to help them carry their stuff. There is some banter between Watson and Mrs Hudson at the door,  Watson asking Mrs Hudson if she likes his latest story, she doesn’t, she complaining that she is not saying much only that it’s mentioned that she sees people to their door and provides breakfast. Watson commenting that the illustrator is out of hand and that he had to grow the moustache just to be recognised (so that’s why he has the moustache in Victorian times).

We enter the flat and we see that the whole flat is the same except for the changes that they’ve made to give it a more Victorian feel. The layout is the same, the skull picture replaced by a trompe l’oeil of a lady at her dresser that from far looks like a skull, a cow’s skull with a hearing aide instead of the skull with headphones and were the kitchen in modern days is, there is a study of sorts.  Mrs Hudson has told them they’ve got a new client and there is a woman waiting for them in their living room completely covered in black veils. Sherlock deduces that it is Mary, john Watson’s wife and says something like that he is in trouble because Sherlock recognised her and John didn’t with just the whiff of her perfume.

Then we get to the real case at hand, Lestrade enters the room (OMG those sideburns) and tells them about the unsolvable case he’s frightened about. The case is that of a woman who was seen shooting down to the street from the balcony. We have a very modern sherlock feel when we see the living room where the team is listening to Lestrade’s story on the street. So further in the story the people on the street see the bride (Emelia Ricoletti) shoot her brains out, and a few hours later when her husband exits an opium den (this is so Victorian/ so Conan Doyle) she appears again with a shotgun and kills her husband (love the line they’ve given her here: It’s a shotgun wedding – hahaha). The bride is seen leaving the scene with brain gunk on the back of her head.

Sherlock and Watson leave the room they’re off to the morgue, before Lestrade leaves the room Mary says she’s part of a campaign – votes for women and Lestrade asks if she is for or against, she crossly says: get out. With Lestrade gone Mrs Hudson enters with a note for Mary. On the back of the card is a big M (who is it from? Who do we know with an M in the name? Mycroft? Moriarty?). We enter the morgue and the corpse of the bride is bound to the table, Sherlock asks who did this and then Anderson turns around ( a lot of laughter from me for this, putting Anderson there as Sherlock has often showed his discontent with him and his work). The morgue attendant enters, it’s a man, Hooper. They are thinking up ways that it can be that a woman commits suicide but still be able to kill her husband. John utters it could be twins, but this theory is shut down by Sherlock. Hooper says that isn’t the only strange thing there is blood on the finger of the body that wasn’t there before, on the wall there is written in blood “You” (I have a little feel of the blind banker here, although yellow and lines and Chinese signs in that one it also had the running feel to the letters).  Sherlock has a little Freudian slip here and says: Gunshot wound to the head, how could he survive. Before we leave the morgue Watson remarks to Hooper what one has to do in a man’s world to get ahead, saying that he knows that she is in fact is a woman cross-dressing as a man.

We fast forward a few months and catch Sherlock and Lestrade talking in 221B Baker Street (Sherlock in purple dressing gown, where have we seen that before?). Seems that there a 5 deads in the same way, body found with rice strewed around them and “You” written on the wall in blood. Sherlock says get your hat and boots to Watson only to have Lestrade tell him that Waston has moved out a couple of months ago. Sherlock saying: oh I thought he was improving (laughter enter here, he has been talking to himself no one to counter what he says).

We enter the breakfast room at Watson’s place, a maid enters, some banter about the Sherlock Holmes Chronicles, and then John says something like “I shall have a word with my wife to have a word with you” with the maid responding: “When are going to see your wife”. She gives him a telegram with the following text (typed out on the screen like text messages in the modern Sherlock) Dr. John Watson come at once if convenient! If inconvenient come all the same. Holmes

They enter the Diogenes club (like we all know this is where to find Mycroft) there is a sign asking absolute silence, we go into a slapstick signing routine with the desk attendant since Sherlock can sign perfectly and Watson can sign so-so. Really funny! We enter the room where Mycroft his having breakfast (if you can call this breakfast, more like all food in the world stashed in one room. And as Mycroft is constantly watching his weight and sporting in modern Sherlock here he is fat, really fat. I was like OMG that fat suit, Mark Gatiss in that fat suit OMG). The brothers apparently have a wager going on how long Mycroft will still be alive. When Sherlock and Watson are about to leave, Mycroft talks about an enemy that’s everywhere, unstoppable. Watson asks Socialists, anarchists, the french, suffragists and gets asked if there is any large amount of people that he’s not worried about. Still he says the Scots –  he gets told he might be paranoid. Mycroft continues that we don’t defeat them we certainly lose to them. Why? Because they are right and we are wrong.

Back at the flat Lady Carmichael tells them about their new case/ what happened earlier this morning/week. Her husband receiving orange pips, seeing the bride in the garden late at night, and then she seeing her in the maze one morning. Sherlock wants to set a trap for the ghost and use Eustace Carmichael as bait.

Back to Diogenes club, where we see Mycroft talking to someone saying Sherlock should n out you are working for me Watson (first thought is of course John but Mary enters the screen).

Sherlock and Watson are at Lord and Lady Carmichaels place setting up the evening how the Lady will sleep alone and the trap is set that way. When leaving the house Sherlock says “the game is afoot” (this as Conan Doyle wrote it, and the modern version was “the game is on”). Both men are surveilling the house to check on their trap, some talking happens here like there is a picture of Irene Adler in Sherlock’s watch, Watson having described Sherlock as the brain without the heart in one of his stories, some hints to Sherlock’s experienced, and the sure to get famous lines “Nothing made me like this, I made me like this”. The action starts with them seeing a ghost disappear into the house, and hearing a window break. Because the inhabitants of the house were ordered to close of the house, Sherlock breaks a window to get entrance to the house and rushes to where the screams are coming from, but not without ordering Watson to stay behind and guard the only open window, the only exit. Lord Carmichael is found stabbed with a dagger. At the same time Watson hears some noises and starts threatening the spirit. He leaves the room and the bride comes up behind him and scares him, this way she can escape through the open window. During the crime scene investigation, Sherlock notes that the case is so simple that even Lestrade can work it out. But after he discovered the body, when the stabbing just happened, there has been a note tied to the dagger saying “Miss Me?”.

After seeing this note Sherlock walks down the stairs in a trippy way, and finds himself in a room with Mycroft (I’m thinking this is in his mind-palace, not sure though). Mycroft asks him if he made a list, he needs a list of everything. When Sherlock shows the list, he is greeted by “Good Boy” (What list? Why does Mycroft want him to make a list?). Mycroft notes “Moriarty is the crack in the lens, the fly in the ointment, the virus in the data” (this last part sounds very modern as in computer speak).

In the next scene, we’re back in Sherlock’s appartment, he’s sitting on the ground and articles are flying around in front of him, he picks them out of the air to read what’s on them (this is a cool depiction of how Sherlock would have been shown if Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss had chosen to do it in Victorian times originally, it has a modern feel of showing this, it’s a bit like clicking through tabs on an internet browser). Mrs Hudson and DI Lestrade are standing at the door watching him. Apparently the collected press has been at the door. Mrs Hudson says she keeps on bringing tea to them, because it’s proper. She says to DI Lestrade that Sherlock is waiting for the devil. Sherlock picks up a syringe (I’m thinking 7% solution, since that was his dosage in the books. Behind him, we hear a voice, a very recognizable voice (whiii Moriarty). Sherlock turns towards Moriarty and Moriarty says “It’s a dangerous habit fingering a firearm in the pocket of one’s dressing gown or are you just pleased to see me ” (I loved this quote because ever since the rooftop of St Barth’s the internet has gone crazy shipping Moriarty and Sherlock and this plays out a bit lover-like). There is a stand-off between the two of them, guns pointing at each other. The room shakes (is there an earthquake in central London?).  Moriarty starts teasing Sherlock saying things like “You need to know how the bride shot her brains out, and returned”, sticking the gun in his mouth “it’s on the top of my tongue”. The shaking continues. Sherlock says (and I find this line considerate of him for Mrs Hudson) “For the sake of Mrs Hudson’s wallpaper, one false move with your finger and you will be dead”. Moriarty answers with “Dead is the new sexy” (like “Brain is the new sexy” that Irene Adler said – I can see the T-shirts already arriving in the stores). Moriarty shoots his brains out, still alive, turns around (how can he be alive?). He says very appropriately “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s never the fall, it’s the landing”.

And we switch to modern day, the plane on which Sherlock was put in exile lands again at the airport. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have fooled us all this time, the Victorian part was only in Sherlock’s mind. When we all thought this might be a perfect episode for people not having seen Sherlock before to get the feel of the show, it’s just all tight into the story we left off at the end of season three.

On the plane, Mycroft asks Sherlock if he made a list, which Sherlock hands over. On the list are all the drugs he’s taken (we finally know what is on the list).  Sherlock says “I’m not an addict, I’m a user, I alleviate boredom and occasionally heighten my thought process” (I loved the words they’ve used here – good writing).  Sherlock explains that he used all those drugs to go over the Ricoletti case in his head. Mary already busy on her mobile phone, when Mycroft suggest going to the MI5 archives. Mary says she is already looking there, and to the question of what she thinks of MI5 security she answers it would be a good idea (Although Mary is not so strong in Victorian times because of what a woman could do, she is still one of the best strong female characters of the modern Sherlock). Next follow two fantastic statements from Mycroft:

  • I was there for you before, I will be there for you, I will always be there for you
  • Solitary confinement is locking you up with you worst enemy

And we are flashing back to 1985, he’s still tripping, we actually didn’t go back to 2015, it’s still one trip…. Watson finds Sherlock in his rooms, down on the floor after taking his 7% solution. Watson says something along the lines of “You will be reminded which of us a soldier and which a drug addict- you are not a soldier you’re a doctor- I’m an army doctor which means I can break every bone of your body while breaking them”(this reminds me of the hit me, I always hear hit me when you talk scene in scandal in Belgravia). A telegram from Mary arrives and they rush out to meet her. In the lobby they are getting dressed for the outside (the victorian coat has a red button like the modern Belstaff coat – DETAILS!), Sherlock wanting to don a top hat, but John gives him a deerstalker and says “You’re Sherlock Holmes wear the damn hat”.

On the way to meet Mary there is another little gem of text from Watson:

  • Tell me where my wife is, you pompous prick, or I will punch your lights out

They meet Mary at the heart of the conspiracy (a desanctified church) and see people passing by in purple pointed hats.  Mary tells them she’s working for Holmes, Watson replies with a “Him?” and Mary counters with “Not him the clever one”. Must be hard being the slow little brother.

We enter the room full of “conspiracy” people, they all seem to be women.  Sherlock deduces that the Ricoletti murder could only be seen as the following, Emelia gets the attention of the crowd below shooting from the balcony. When all eyes are on her, she takes one of the two pistols she’s using and while “shooting herself” actually shoots the second gun to the ground. An accomplice sprays the curtains with blood, this way the suicide is witnessed by the crowd below. A body double is transported to the morgue, no one bothers with is because a grubby little suicide is of no interest to Scotland Yard.  At that time Mrs Ricoletti slips away, then to the murder of her husband. She bribes a familiar cabbie so she can intercept her husband at his favorite opium den. That is the perfect stage for the perfect drama. She shoots her husband after a positive identification.  This gives the idea that Mrs Ricoletti has truly risen from the grave.She leaves the scene and escapes through a manhole (disappearing like a ghost). After this she really does commit suicide and the body double is replaced by her corpse in the morgue.

The women take their caps off (is this the suffragette cause?) We see Molly, confirming the cross-dressing earlier on in the morgue. Watson commenting to Sherlock that she didn’t have him fooled.

The explanation for the disappearing ghost at Carmichael manor is given. This is done by using the technique of Pepper’s ghost. The only mistake they made was breaking the glass that is used for this trick, that was the first glass we hear breaking. Sherlock goes on that the room is full of brides, once she has risen anyone could be her, the avenging ghost strikes terror in the heart of every man with malicious  intent, the spectre to punish these brutes whose reckoning is long overdue, a league of furies awaken, a league if women that we, I have betrayed, the women we have ignored and disparaged, once the idea exists it can not be killed. Someone dressed like the bride appears behind Sherlock, it’s not Lady Carmichael as he expects but Moriary.

Again we get flashes and hospital sounds can be heard. We’re back in modern days. Mycroft asks his brother if this is what he calls controlled usage. Although recovering from a suspected overdose, Sherlock wants to find the grave of Emelia Ricoletti, Mycroft thinks that even with his resources this might take some weeks to find, But Mary already found it. At the graveyard Sherlock starts digging up the grave and Watson is not staying, saying: “I’m taking Mary home”, which she replies to with “What” and Watson replies “Mary is taking me home” (Very funny, shows who is the strong one in that relationship). While Digging, Sherlock looks up to Mycroft and Lestrade that are standing there and asks (seemingly addressing Mycroft) “Help me?”, on which he in return answers “Chercher la femme”.  We skip some time since the grave has been dug out further, there is a second man in the grave, digging. First idea is, is Mycroft actually performing manual labor? No, it’s Lestrade that’s helping. They get to the coffin and remove it from the grave. When opened, Sherlock’s supposition is not confirmed, the second body(body double)  is not in the coffin with Emelia Ricoletti. This makes sherlock a bit manic and says if she’s not in the coffin then she will probably be buried underneath the casket. He starts digging with his bare hands in the soil. The skeleton starts to move and sings “Do not forget me” and once again Sherlock starts tripping and we go back in time back to the Reichenbach Fall.

Sherlock wakes on a ledge at the waterfall and says “Oh I see, still not awake am I” (makes me wonder which parts are real, what is trip, what is real, makes it hard to follow – I think he hasn’t really been out of the drug induced coma/sleep since the beginning of the episode. It is probably modern Sherlock not Victorian Sherlock who is dreaming all this up). Standing next to Sherlock is Moriarty. They fight physically (are they going to make him fall again? Don’t want him to fall again it was way to devastating the first time around). There are some more great lines like:

  • Congratulations Sherlock you will ve the first man in history to be buried in his own mind palace
  • What are you, you know what I am Moriarty the napoleon of crime
  • You once called your brain a hard drive well say hello the virus
  • But when it comes to the matter of unarmed combat at the edge of a precipice you’re going in the water, short ass

Moriarty hisses like a snake and attacks. Sherlock seems to be losing the fight. Another great line from Moriarty’s mouth: “Shall we go over together, It has to be together doesn’t it, at the end it’s always just you and me”. Watson shows up behind Moriarty with a gun (breaking with the original story because there it was just Sherlock and Moriarty). Moriarty says it’s not fair since there  are two of them.   John kicks Moriarty over the edge of the waterfall, it was his turn.

But now the question arrives, how does Sherlock plan to wake up, to finally get out of this very long trip. He prepares himself to jump and says: “Between you and me, I always survive a fall”. Watson asking: “But how” (that is not a bad question since we never really had the solution of how Sherlock survived the fall down St Barth’s). He answers: “Elementary, my dear Watson” (I think the writers are honoring old time Sherlock movies with this phrase as this was never a line out of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle books, only in certain specials and movies).  He jumps.

We wake up on the plane (again on the plane, real this time?). Opening his eyes, he says “Miss me” (ok, this is funny, he’s been gone for all of 10 minutes on that plane. And of course, the case at hand is the return of Moriarty, which has been teased at the end of last season by the numerous “Miss me” signs).

Now comes a kinda heartbreaking exchange between Sherlock and Mycroft.

Sherlock: ” I have to go to Baker Street now, Moriarty is back”
Mycroft: “I almost hope he is, if it could save you from this”

Mycroft:” Sherlock promise me!”
Sherlock: “What are you still doing here, shouldn’t you be off getting me a pardon like a proper big brother”
Mycroft: “Doctor Watson look after him”

This last part, very good acting on Mark Gatiss’s part because you could see the breaking of Mycroft’s heart. He really does care about his brother. Although I can’t touch someone on TV, I had my arms stretched out to hug Mycroft.

After this Sherlock and Watson rush off to Baker Street. We have one more flashback to Victorian times though. We return to Victorian Baker Street, with Sherlock telling Watson about what it would be like in modern times. He says “In any case, you and I would very much be at home in such a world” with Watsons reply:”I  don’t think I would be” and then the final words by Sherlock “I beg to differ but then I’ve always known I was a man out of his time”. The episode closes with Sherlock going to the window of 221B and we see him from the outside, when they then zoom out we can see (Victorian) Sherlock standing in the window but outside it is modern times.

I especially watched the episode a second time to get all the details right.  I loved watching this episode with my friends and every second of it was just on the right, the story flow had some people baffled since it is constantly back and forth between timelines (Victorian & Modern) but I saw the whole idea of Victorian time happening in Sherlock’s head as novel. I had thought that it would be a one-off episode in this Victorian time but as it turned out, more fool me, it was all in Sherlock’s mind and Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat had me fooled… Still it was a great story with all the ups and downs and the back and forths between time periods.

The ending could make you confused. As we go back in forth between times it makes it difficult as it is. What is real, what is drug induced? Did we really end in Victorian or modern times? Was everything just the imagination of Victorian Sherlock or were the old-timey things all modern Sherlock’s trip? So as you see, a lot of questions remain. I know from messages online that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are once again writing for Sherlock. Let’s hope that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are free soon after they finish writing because waiting for another two years would be hell, since we only got one episode length special this year and every other two years we had a three-episode season.

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