Review: 221B excited for ‘Sherlock’ special with more plot twists than ever

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Allie Gruszkiewicz, News Editor

The words “new,” “Sherlock,” and “episode”, in that order, seem unreal to most fans of the BBC reboot of Sherlock that debuted in 2010, but for better or for worse, so did last Friday’s episode. Imagine taking a raft down a slow stream that suddenly hurdles you down the Reichenbach falls: that’s the episode.

Sherlock’s Christmas special featured the same principal cast as the series, but took a break from the show’s 21st century setting. “The Abominable Bride” took place in the same 19th century world as Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, with delights such as Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his iconic cape and deerstalker and Watson (Martin Freeman) with his full handlebar mustache. The story centers on the case of Emilia Ricoletti (Natasha O’Keeffe) who, after killing herself publicly, mysteriously reappears on multiple occasions to commit a series of murders.

“The Abominable Bride” was rife with stomach-dropping plot twists and turns that were undoubtedly fascinating and cleverly executed. Although at certain points I had to throw my hands up and give in to the wild plotline, I have to admit that writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat can tell a story like few others.

That being said, the shock-factor of the episode overshadowed the mystery itself, and the show lost something by neglecting much of the deduction and investigation. “The Abominable Bride” forces me to question whether Sherlock can go back to case-by-case episodes with simply a mystery, a murderer, and a solution, or whether the show is lost to secret agents and supervillains. Earlier episodes like “A Study in Pink” and “The Hounds of Baskerville,” which were mostly composed of deductions and “legwork,” are drastically different from the special and season 3, which were driven mostly by personal drama such as Sherlock’s return and Mary Morstan’s (Amanda Abbington) secret past.

Overall, however, “The Abominable Bride” was a highly enjoyable and exciting episode. Fans got to see how Sherlock and Watson would have met in the 19th century, matching the modern version nearly verbatim, and the Victorian costuming was beautiful, as were London, the title sequence, and 221B (although, admittedly, there wasn’t much about the duo’s iconic apartment that needed to change). Viewers also had the chance to see parts of the book that never made it to the modern translation, such as a gluttonous Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and a Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) who actually was a housekeeper.

The show still kept many of its original elements as well: the text of various notes scrolled across the screen, and Sherlock used his mind palace to sort through facts. Also, Sherlock’s jibes at Scotland Yard and Watson’s trouble dealing with the “silence rule” at the Diogenes club were hilarious.

While “The Abominable Bride” kept me on the edge of my seat, it left as many questions as it answered, especially as it was surprisingly relevant for an episode I previously thought to be disconnected from the modern storyline. I guess I’ll just have to wait (at least) another year.

8/10

“The Abominable Bride” will be aired again on PBS Masterpiece Theater Jan 10 at 10:00 p.m.