Overview: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson travel back to the late 1800s to solve a perplexing case involving a vengeful bride who just won’t stay dead, while Sherlock attempts to face one of his biggest demons once and for all. Distributed by Fathom Events; 2016; PG-13; 110 minutes.
My Dear Watson: Fans of the BBC television series Sherlock have been chomping at the bit for more episodes for two whole years, so anticipation for this special event has been, needless, to say, pretty palpable. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman don their hats and their snarky banter and pick up the spirit of these beloved characters right where they left them in 2014, although this time they find themselves in 1890. The two don’t miss a beat regardless of what century they’re solving crime in, preserving the dry wit and argumentative, co-dependent nature of their relationship. As always, Cumberbatch and Freeman’s interactions are by far the best part of this episode.
Stuck in the Mind Palace: Perhaps the biggest disappointment viewers will take away from this experience is the lack of headway The Abominable Bride makes in the arena of plot development. The last episode of the third season left some significant loose threads and one particularly surprising cliffhanger, and The Abominable Bride does virtually nothing to tie them up or provide any resolution, nevertheless move the main plot of Sherlock forward in any notable way. This episode is essentially a dream sequence, so the real world remains the same at the closing credits as it was in the opening. So, as satisfying as it is to revisit these characters and the complicated, brilliant mind of Sherlock Holmes, the frustration that the contents of this special events are more or less meaningless exists all the same. No case is actually solved. No nemesis actually faced. So where’s the satisfaction in that?
Elementary? I Think Not: If viewers don’t mind the minuscule impact the story of The Abominable Bride has on the series as a whole, the convoluted and disjointed nature of the time jumps might be enough to generate a negative reaction. Sherlock always manages to dance along the thin line of brilliance and absurdity; here we see a story that leans slightly more than usual over the line onto the side of the absurd. A time jump episode back to the age of the original Sherlock stories is delightful on its own, the atmosphere reminiscent to the original tales Sherlock junkies know and love, but the story manages to dip its toes into the realm of strange during moments like Sherlock’s competition with a morbidly obese Mycroft wherein he is literally trying to eat himself to death in order to win a bet. We take a full leap into bizarre, however, during the last twenty minutes when it becomes impossible to distinguish what time period is the dream and which is the real world, and what Sherlock’s purpose in each of them really is.
Overall: The performances by Cumberbatch and Freeman along with the script and visual storytelling are constants that live up to the high expectations set by the reputation of the rest of the series, but a messy plot and lackluster conclusion leaves Sherlock: The Abominable Bride a less than satisfactory special event for fans and newcomers alike.
Featured Image: BBC