Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

"I fear she has branched into literary criticism by means of satire. It is a distressing trend in the modern landlady."

Well, wasn't that superlatively brilliant? Oh, the present day scenes were a little pointless in terms of content (I hate Sherlock's "mind palace", too) but I suppose they had to be there to justify this episode happening. Everything else was awesome.

There's a lot here for fans of Conan Doyle's original stories by delightfully mashing A Study in Scarlet with A Study in Pink, introducing us to Sherlock with Victorian trappings. It's a real treat; all of the characters as portrayed by the actors we know work just as well in a Victorian setting, as well they should, and we have lots of fun with all of them, including Mrs Hudson. Even Mycroft (Mark Gatiss in a fat suit) and Molly Hooper (er, in a moustache, but nicely illustrating the episode's themes) make appearances.

The central image is delightfully grotesque, too- a gun totin' and bloodied bride, reminding me of the character from Kill Bill. So too is the use of Watson's stories for the Strand magazine, and the suggestion that there's a distinction between the "real" Holmes and the one who appears in the stories.

It's well directed, as everything by Douglas Mackinnon invariably is, with plenty of Sherlock's trademark visual storytelling tricks, a magnificent escape from dull realism as well as being extraordinarily clever.

There are plenty of nods to the canon, from the acknowledgement that The Blue Carbuncle is a bit pants to the five orange pips (and the use of Klan like hoods at the end ties into this, if I may spoil a century old short story). The ghostly figure haunting Sir Eustace through the mist even calls to mind The Hound of the Baskervilles. Most intriguing is the mention of Itene Adler, and the hint that the "real" Holmes has a more complicated reason for lack of interest in women than the canon version. And then there's the cocaine. And Reichenbach. Yes, even Moriarty works in this context.

The big reveal- that behind all this are a protocol-female just secret society out to get votes for women and punish abusive men- is both wonderful and a satisfying payoff to the wry commentary on gender politics as seen throughout the episode.

And then it's the present day. And Moriarty's back. Not that he isn't dead or anything, but he's back anyway. And we probably have years until the next episode...

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