Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (2016)


Reviewer: Charity Bishop


On a snowy afternoon in Victorian London, Baker Street is in an uproar. Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) is angry that John Watson (Martin Freeman) never gives her dialogue in his famous stories published in The Strand, and is giving him the silent treatment. Watson is rather pleased with the story's success otherwise. Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) is annoyed that she never gets to go along on their adventures, but she has her own shenanigans afoot with "M." Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) has just finished a case and is bored. And then enters Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves), shaking and terrified out of his wits... for it seems a suicide bride has arisen from her grave to murder her husband in gold blood, before returning to death in the morgue.


Ghost stories are not exactly Holmes' favorite brand of murder, but he eagerly takes on the case... only for it to wind up at a dead end. Months later, another woman appears in his flat asking for help, fearing her husband will be murdered. As it turns out, the case involves a death threat from the Abominable Bride, and Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) is aware of what is transpiring. Can Holmes save a man from death, even one who pushes away his assistance?


This is an engaging, entertaining, and completely hilarious episode of Sherlock... and not exactly what its creators pretend it is, since there's a twist midway through that connects it to the modern series. It's delightful to see this cast displaced into Victorian London and off having an adventure. More than that, it reveals insights into the main character's mind in ways that further reveal the cracks in his realities. His impression of his older brother is particularly shown in glaring contrast with the truth. But if there is a flaw in this episode, and the series on the whole, it is that it repeats too many of the same themes; it is less clever than it thinks it is. That does not make it any less entertaining, but the resolution of the case was somewhat disappointing and pushed aside in the third act for more musings on Moriarty. Cases are not always explored to their full potential, which means great ideas sometimes fizzle out a bit.


However, it's tremendously tongue in cheek, it pays homage in little ways to the canon (from Persian slippers stuffed with tobacco to Holmes mournfully playing a violin), and it takes a hilarious poke at the sexism of the Victorian era, much to the female character's annoyances -- one heroine must dress as a man to be taken seriously in "a man's world," another is cleverer on the side than anyone thinks. Perhaps the funniest line comes when Mary complains about waiting at home while they run off on a case, and Watson cheerfully informs her that she needn't be bored while they are gone -- "We'll be hungry when we get back, after all."

Sexual Content:
Moriarty makes a crack about Holmes and Watson needing to elope. Watson tries to find out from Holmes if he's ever been with a woman.
Watson calls Sherlock a "pompous prick."
Shots are fired in the street. Blood sprays a curtain as a woman kills herself. We see gory head wounds where someone's head has fired into.

Holmes takes a massive dose of drugs that nearly sends him into an overdose; other characters berate him for his cocaine addiction.