Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sherlock - The Abominable Bride Recap

The long awaited Sherlock Christmas special has finally arrived courtesy of the lovely BBC. It has been a very long wait, and the unfortunate thing is, this is the only episode for 2016. Bring on 2017! This recap does contain massive spoilers, for previous seasons, and this episode. Also the books. But hey, anything over 100 years is fair game in my opinion. 

We begin with a quick recap of what Sherlock has been up to the past five years, how he and Watson came to live and work together and a few glimpses of cases solved previously. We see glimpse of Moriarty and his demise, Sherlock and his Reichenbach fall, and then his return from the not so dead. We come to the conclusion of the last episode, Sherlock on a jet being exiled for murder, only to be called by his brother Mycroft 4 minutes into the flight. Jim Moriarty is back! And terrorising England again! Errrr, one problem, he’s dead. Like so dead. Or is he??

Cut to the years rolling back from 2015 to 1895 and John Watson having flashbacks from the Second Afghan War.  Being shot, the bad dreams, and finally returning home to London.  For those who have watched this perfectly mirrors the first episode, apart from the scenery.  We have gone from modern day London to gorgeous Victorian times. Cobblestones, horse drawn carriages, bowler hats and ladies in gowns.  John meets a lawyer friend and mentions his need of housing.  His friend directs him to the morgue where we meet 1800’s Sherlock for the first time.  And this is a very different Sherlock.  Dapper, beautifully dressed, hair slicked back and with a delightful upper-crust accent.  Sherlock is the same smarty pants know it all, deducing everything there is to know about Watson as quick as a wink.  He gives his name and the famous address and we are off.

Cut to John and Sherlock in London heading to 221b Baker Street.  They head upstairs only to encounter a women, dressed head to toe in black. Sherlock quickly deduces that the widow before them is in fact Mary, Watson’s wife.  She insists this is the only way she could think of to see him, he being away so much working with Sherlock.  She desperately wants to go along with them while they are working but John rebuffs her with a “What would you do?”. Implying that women have no place in gentlemen’s work in this day and age.  You in danger, John.

Detective Inspector Lestrade enters the rooms and is decidedly upset and sporting some rather impressive mutton chop sideburns.  After a slug of brandy, he begins to tell the tale of a recent occurrence in the streets of London.  A bride, pale of face, mouth like a crimson wound, taking pot shots off a balcony at random men.  Shouting “You!” at each shot, she has no luck before turning the pistol on herself and committing suicide.  This however is only the beginning.  The bride, Emilia Ricoletti is taken to the morgue.  A few hours later as her husband is leaving an opium den, he is confronted by a veiled bride with a shotgun.  She raises her veil, and it’s Emelia!  The very dead Emilia!  She blows him away and then disappears into the foggy night. 

They head for the morgue, minus Mary, who gets a boop under the chin from Watson, and a “We’ll be back and hungry later!”.  If looks could kill, Watson would be dead on the rug and cooking his own bloody dinner!  Mary stays and is delivered a mysterious note from Mrs Hudson, from M, saying only “Immediately”.  She smiles mysteriously, and takes off on a mission of her own!

We enter the morgue and see the body of Emilia, chained to the table so as not to sneak out again.  Sherlock asks to see the man in charge.  He appears, and it is our lovely Molly Hooper.  Gone all Shakespeare in Love and pretending to be a man.  No such thing as a lady doctor in this day and age! Are we sensing a theme yet? 

Hooper explains her/his findings, she has been positively identified as the body in the morgue, and also as the murderer by eyewitnesses.  There is one more thing, Emilia now has a bloody finger that was not there earlier and YOU! has been written on the morgue wall in blood.  Watson points out that Emilia was also suffering from consumption and requests a full post mortem.  Hooper challenges Watson after Sherlock leaves, and he comes back with “Amazing what one has to do to get ahead in a man’s world”.  A not so subtle hint that he knows she is a woman, and not as clueless as he seems.

The case then stagnates for several months, no further clues appear and the case is left open. Lestrade has five similar murders he is convinced are connected to the bride, rice on the floor like in a wedding, and YOU! on the walls in blood.  Sherlock is convinced they are copycats using the myth of the Bride as their patsy.  Lestrade however, is convinced it is the spectre of the Bride, risen to exact more revenge.

We join Watson at breakfast waiting impatiently for Mary, or the maid to appear.  He rings his little bell several times until the maid finally appears.  She informs him that Mary has already left earlier that morning.  She delivers a telegraph to him; and it is quite brilliantly the telegraph version of a Sherlock text message.  Come at once, if convenient.  If inconvenient, come all the same.  These little Victorian/modern day throwbacks are very effective at making this episode a fun alternative to a normal Sherlock episode, without being over indulgent.

Watson and Sherlock head for the Diogenes Club to meet with Mycroft.  One of those special men’s only clubs where absolute silence is required.  What follows is a hilarious sign language conversation between the very fluent doorman and Sherlock, and the not so fluent Watson.  When the doorman tells him how much he likes his books . . . comedy gold in the silent form.

They enter the room where Mycroft is residing and um, let’s just say that this ye olde Mycroft does not make use of a treadmill.  Like, ever.  He and Sherlock have a ongoing bet about how much longer he will live given his gluttony, which continues to shorten as more plum puddings are consumed.  

Mycroft refers the wife of a friend to see Sherlock, as it appears she has a story he would like to hear.  Mycroft has his own theories about what she has witnessed, and warns Sherlock that they are all under threat from an unseen assailant, one who is everywhere, undetected and unstoppable.  Mycroft sets the challenge, to solve the case, and confirm his theory.  He then drops the bombshell that this unseen enemy is not to be defeated, that they must certainly lose to them as they are right and we are wrong.  Mycroft sets Sherlock the challenge of solving Lady Carmichael’s case and also revealing the enemy behind it.  Unable to resist the intrigue, Sherlock accepts on the condition that Mycroft consumes another plum pudding and lowers his wager to 2 years, 11 months and 4 days.

Lady Carmichael attends Sherlock’s rooms, and tells her tale.  Her husband, Eustace, received a note containing a death threat. Eustace blows it off as nothing, and life goes on until Eustace sees the Bride in the garden of his home in the middle of the night.  He is terrified  and convinced she has come to kill him.  Lady Carmichael saw nothing, until that very morning.  She followed Eustace out in the fog to a maze, you know those things that all English lords and ladies have in their backyards.  She searches him out becoming more and more desperate until she finally finds him catatonic in front of  . . . THE BRIDE.  Emilia threatens Eustace with his death that night, he collapses and she disappears.

Mycroft appears once more advising a spy of his to keep their eye on Sherlock’s case and to report back.  And also never to let him know that they were sent by him.  Mary appears and tell him that he can trust her.  The mysterious M, is Mycroft!  And Mary will not be at home waiting on the return of Watson with a plate of din-dins! You go, girl.

Sherlock and Watson head out to the Carmichael house, and meet with Eustace.  He insists he was only dreaming and sleepwalking, and his wife is an hysteric. Sherlock shoots him down, defending Lady Carmichael as highly intelligent and perceptive.  Sherlock advises Lady Carmichael to sleep away from Eustace and lock all the doors and windows before turning in for the night.  And just like that, the game is afoot!

Sherlock and John begin their stakeout as darkness falls, and John attempts a heart to heart about Sherlock and his need to be alone. Watson attempts to find out about Sherlock and Irene Adler, but he states that all emotion is abhorrent to him and that he has never been more impatient to be attacked by a murderous ghost. They are interrupted by a sudden apparition of the Bride near the house, and when asked by Watson what to do Sherlock suggests a little chat.

They approach the Bride and but she disappears and a scream and breaking glass is heard from the house.  They run for the house and break a window to get in.  Sherlock tells John to stay and guard the window and heads at a run upstairs.  He finds the Lady Carmichael, screaming down at a pool of blood and following the trail finds Eustace dead, stabbed through the chest.  Watson hears creaking and pulls his gun ready for a confrontation.  The Bride appears behind him and scares the absolute living shite out of him.  

Watson runs and the Bride escapes.  Sherlock and Watson meet in the foyer, Watson insisting that he has witnessed the appearance of the ghost of Emilia Ricoletti. Sherlock berates John for allowing her to escape and insists that there are no ghosts.  Very loudly, I’m surprised Watson’s bowler hat didn’t blow off quite frankly.

Lestrade attends to participate in the investigation of the murder, and points out that the murderer did in fact leave a note.  Sherlock freaks the freak out, there was no note!  And now there’s a note?  He inspects the body and wrapped around the implement is a little tag.  He flips it over . . . MISS ME?  Now I’m freaking the freak out.  Miss Me is the Moriarty call sign.  Moriarty is here?  He’s not dead?

Sherlock meets with Mycroft, and Mycroft has the Miss Me? Note.  They discuss Moriarty and his death, in this version he dies at the Reichenbach Falls as per the original novel.  I love that they slipped this little detail in as the modern version of this story was quite different.  Sherlock comes to the conclusion that Moriarty is back to distract him and he must discover his intentions.

Sherlock returns to his rooms and mediates for two days straight.  He enters his “mind palace”, which is really just his magnificent giant brain and goes through the process of sorting through the masses of information to try and uncover the murderer and unravel the whole Bride conspiracy.  In modern Sherlock you witness his brain as being like a computer, facts, photos and articles whizzing through as he grabs and views items that catch his eye.  In Victorian Sherlock’s mind palace, the items he catches are newspaper clippings and the effect is quite brilliant.

We witness Sherlock finally waking from his meditation, only for a moment to inject himself with a drug and return to his mind palace.  This time however, the calm is interrupted by the one and only Jim Moriarty.   We get to hear the usual batshit crazy musings from Moriarty, and eventually guns are drawn.  The conversation turns to what Sherlock really wants from Moriarty, that what he wants to know has absolutely nothing to do with Eustace Carmichael’s murder.  But in fact, he wants to know how Emilia Ricolletti shot herself in the head but survived.  For those who have seen the episode the Reichenbach Fall, you will know this is how Moriarty met his modern day demise.  

Sherlock’s rooms start to quake and shake, as we realise we are still in  Sherlock’s head and Moriarty is not really there.  Moriarty prompts him to remember why this is so important to him, wasn’t it in fact the same as a previous case?  Moriarty places the gun in his mouth whilst telling Sherlock that “Dead is the new sexy”, and once again blows the back of his head off.  Sheesh.  But shock, horror! He is not dead, just sporting a bit of an empty skull that he hopes he can cover by a bit of backcombing.  Sherlock asks the question, why aren’t you dead?  Moriarty replies it’s not the fall that kills you Sherlock, its the landing.  Sherlock’s rooms shudder and shake and we cut to . . . Sherlock.  On the jet.  Landing back at the airport.  Uhhhhhh . . . 

He is met by modern day Mycroft, John and Mary much to his horror.  He expresses his need to go back, that he nearly had the answer.  We then realise that Sherlock has gone into his mind palace, running an experiment by using an unsolved 100 year old case to work out whether it is possible that Moriarty survived his self inflicted gunshot.  Mycroft is not pleased and asks Sherlock whether he has made a list.  Apparently the drug usage in ye olde times, was also partaken in the modern one.  Ever since Mycroft discovered Sherlock’s drug usage he has asked Sherlock to keep a list of what he has taken so as to be there if required and be able to help.  This is a rarely glimpsed side of Mycroft, and we see the deep relationship they actually have underneath all the snide remarks and competition.  Sherlock insists on going back and promptly passes out, slipping back to 1895.

He awakens to Watson trying to rouse him from his drug stupor, and finds himself on the end of a very angry Dr Watson.  He reminds him that he is an army doctor, which means he can break every bone in his body while naming them. Yikes, scary and sexy at the same time, Dr Watson.  A telegraph arrives directing them to a de-sanctified church where Mary is waiting to show them what she has found.

They enter and watch a group, hooded and chanting.  Mary’s theory is that Emilia Ricoletti had help from her friends in pulling off the trick of the bride.  They confront the group, and Sherlock presents the case as he now believes it happened.  Emilia Ricoletti draws attention to herself on the balcony and then gives the impression of shooting herself by firing into the ground with her other revolver.  Blood is sprayed from behind and she collapses as though dead.  A corpse very similarly looking to Emilia is taken to the morgue while she slips away and later confronts her husband at the opium den.  She escapes.  Emilia then lays back on a bed, and gives an accomplice permission to shoot her in the head.  The corpses were then swapped over and the real Emilia Ricoletti was in the morgue.  

She had been a member of the unseen army Mycroft had described.  Ignored, patronised and disregarded.  Not allowed so much as a vote.  The hooded figures disrobe, and we see they are all women.  A female army, ready to fight for their cause by any means possible. Emilia Ricoletti had acted as their martyr, and as Watson pointed out previously she was in the last stages of consumption.  We discover they are lead by Molly Hooper, who reveals that Emilia had previously been led astray and left penniless and alone by Eustace Carmichael.  We also learnt of Emilia’s mistreatment at the hands of her new husband, which lead to her willingness to make an example of him.

Sherlock explains to Watson how the apparition was made at the house by using glass, which then smashed when they tried to remove it.  There were in fact several Brides, once she had been established as a urban legend anyone could be her.  A spectre to stalk those unpunished brutes whose reckoning was long overdue.  A league of furies awakened.

He then begins to deduce Sir Eustace’s murderer, the one person who knew the dark secret that Eustace had in his past.  Lady Carmichael.  The Bride appears and reveals herself to be . . . Moriarty? "Peekaboo!  Is this silly enough for you yet Sherlock?". Things start to quake and shimmer and Sherlock awakens in hospital after appearing to have OD’ed.  He insists on finding Emilia’s grave and confirming what he has deduced to be true.  If his theories are correct, does that mean that Moriarty could have pulled off the same trick and survived?  Sherlock and Lestrade dig up her grave and discover one corpse in the coffin.  Where is the second corpse originally taken to the morgue?  Sherlock returns to his digging when suddenly, the skeleton begins to whisper and raises its arm? What the??  Oh, still dreaming! For crying out loud, Sherlock!  Those were some good drugs.

Sherlock awakens drenched by the Reichenbach Falls.  It is pouring rain and in the dark of night. And here’s Moriarty, ready to change his demise and bury Sherlock in his own mind palace.  Too deep, old boy, too deep.  They begin to fight, to see who will be launched over the cliff this time, and it appears that Sherlock may not ever make it back.  

Until! Who is here to save the day in a totally heterosexual way?  Dr John Watson, of course!  Bro love conquers all.  Time you woke up Sherlock, says Watson as he kicks Moriarty off the cliff.  Sherlock decides that the fall will wake him, John asks him how?  We finally hear an “Elementary, dear Watson” and he swan dives off the cliff.  Straight back to the jet to stare lovingly into Watson’s eyes once more.  In a totally bro way of course. Johnlock forever!

Sherlock arises and announces his intentions to head back to 221b Baker Street and begin work on the new Moriarty case.  He, Mary and John discuss whether Moriarty can really be back and Sherlock states he’s dead.  “Of course he’s dead, he blew his own brains out.  Moriarty is dead, no question.  But more importantly, I know exactly what he is going to do next”.  Xzzzzpffttt, I think my brain just blew a fuse.

Gorgeous, gothic, trippy, mind bending, goddamn hilarious and a perfect set up for the new episodes.
In a year.


  1. Bravo, Veronica! Bra.slowclap.vo.

    I just about fell over when Miss Me and then the gif parade made me actually LOL.

    And now I'm gonna watch it anyway!!

    1. Sorry for the spoilers, but there is so much more in there when you actually watch it. I nearly wrote a novel

  2. Nicely done! Makes me want to watch it now. Mebbe I should watch the first 2 seasons first

  3. That is some crazy shizz, yo! What a trip! Great recap, Ronnie!