Sherlock: The stage is set, the curtain rises, we are ready to begin.
Mary Watson: Begin what?
Sherlock: Sometimes to solve a case, one must first solve another.
John Watson: Oh, you have a case, then, a new one?
Sherlock: An old one, very old. I shall have to go deep.
John Watson: Deep? Into what?
Fan favourite series Sherlock returns for a 4th season with a 90 minute holiday special, that as always showcases the clever, witty & self-referential writing of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and the screen chemistry of Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (as Dr. John Watson).
When we last encountered Sherlock, he had just murdered Charles Augustus Magnussen to stop him from blackmailing Mary Watson, flying off in exile on a private jet before being recalled to address a new crisis – the return of the deceased Moriarty!
All well and good but somehow, at the beginning of this special, we are thrown back in time to the late 19th century – the era in which Sherlock Holmes was created – and this where the above verbal exchange takes place.
Thus, there are two parallel cases being solved here and while this does not become too apparent till the third act, Sherlock has to face his deepest fears in order to come to a conclusion that will aid him in solving the dilemma that he will face in the 4th series.
So, yes, The Abominable Bride, functions as an elaborate setup but is in itself, an enjoyable romp through the ‘what-if’ scenario of the modern Holmes and Watson in a time far removed – back to the egg, so to speak.
However, be warned, as since is no definitive resolution, the whole episode might come across like a bit of a cock tease and at this stage somewhat superfluous to the plot narrative of the upcoming 4th series.
It worked for me, despite the heavy handed attempt at social commentary on women’s rights – yes, we know what life was like in the late 19th century. Though to be fair, that point only had a tangential relevance to the matter at hand i.e. the return of Moriarty.
Or did it? It all remains to be seen.