“The Abominable Bride” Review

Well, first real post. Let’s do this.

**Careful for spoilers for the Sherlock special.**


Sherlock is a great show. I’m saying this so when I go back and read this in the middle of hiatus hell, I’ll remember that fact. The problem with having such long respites between seasons is that you tend to forget just how brilliant a show Sherlock is. And then, finally, finally, after years of waiting, you see it again…and you remember why you love this show so much, why you keep holding on. Because Sherlock is worth the wait.

As much as I love the whole concept of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in modern day, there’s just something about the Victorian/Conan Doylian SH that gets me right here (imagine me poking myself in the heart). On a show like Doctor Who, when it’s modern elements in a historical setting, it’s just not the same. Especially when SH has been moved to the temporal period many other times in the past. And Moftiss (that’s Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the writers/showrunners) do a great job of making the scene feel legitimate. The costumes and scenery are just so rich and in character with the show. For me, all the warm reds in the set were a nice change compared the normal, cold blues and purples of the modern setting (excluding Benedict Cumberbatch’s purple shirt of sex, of course).

But of course, this is Moftiss we’re talking about. And they have to mindfuck you.

When Sherlock wakes up on the plane, (the first time I watched) I was shocked. But the whole premise of the mind palace story line makes perfect sense. It’s simple, and obvious once you know the secret, but still intricate and elegant. (They really got me with the corpse attacking Sherlock and then having him waking up in the Reichenbach falls with Moriarty though. *insert Inception bwaaaaaaaah*)

The whole episode is beautiful. Mark Gatiss’s portrayal of rare caring big brother Mycroft actually made me emotional. It’s nice to see Gatiss, a naturally warm and friendly human being (I think) not acting like an utter prick. (Plus I actually shouted expletives aloud when I witnessed mind palace Mycroft’s obesity prosthetics. Luckily my grandmother wasn’t home.) As usual, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson and Rupert Graves as Lestrade are precious. Crossdressing Molly Hooper took me for a pleasant surprise, and may I say, Loo Brealey looks good as a man.

Mary…was interesting. I love Amanda Abbington in the part, and it gives Mary and John’s relationship an extra layer, knowing that Amanda and Martin Freeman are lovers in real life (I say this, yet I still ship Johnlock). In the real world, Mary was her usual self, clever and badass (“‘I’m taking Mary home.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘Mary’s taking me home.’ ‘That’s better.'”), but in Sherlock’s mind palace…she was kind of a bitch.

I didn’t really understand it at first, Sherlock and Mary are obviously friends, they get along fairly well; Mary even purposely saved Sherlock’s life by shooting him in a non-fatal spot in HLV and calling him an ambulance. So why is Sherlock’s mental version of her being mean to him?

Then I got it: some part of Sherlock, either consciously or subconsciously, still sees Mary as a rival for John’s attention.

Take for example, this exchange:

John: I thought we were neglecting each other.
Sherlock: Well you’re the one who moved out.
John: I was talking to Mary.

See? Sherlock just assumes John means him. Many times, he inadvertently refers to himself as the most important person in John’s life, because John is the important person in his. Like in “The Empty Hearse” when Sherlock just presumes that John has just been twiddling his thumbs, waiting around for him to come back for the past two years. In several scenes between the three of them, Sherlock and Mary are often in the shot together and John is by himself, like the cinematography is saying that Sherlock and Mary are two options that John must always choose between: his best friend, or his wife. Whether or not you choose to watch through slash goggles, the fact is, Sherlock sees his relationship with John as always strained, because of Mary. Sherlock dearly loves John in some way: after all, Mycroft, John, and Mary found Sherlock off his head on enough drugs to kill him, crying and reading the entry on John’s blog describing how they met, as if it’s the last thing he wanted to be thinking of before he died. So put that in your Sherlock Holmes pipe and smoke it, haters.

(By the way, in actuality, Sherlock and Mary probably don’t bear any ill will toward each other; on the contrary, I think their mutual affection for John is what much of their friendship is built on. Mary understands how important Sherlock is to John, and Sherlock would gladly do anything to make John happy-it’s why he poured his blood, sweat, and tears into perfecting John’s wedding.)

There is one more scene I must talk about, and that’s the waterfall scene. Sherlock and Moriarty are struggling, just as they did before, and Moriarty has Sherlock at a disadvantage, about to push him over (is that supposed be a physical manifestation of Sherlock giving into the influence of the drugs he’d overdosed on and dying?), when John shows up to rescue him, the only self aware character in Sherlock’s drama, save for Moriarty and Sherlock himself, claiming that “there’s always two of us”.

And with that, Moftiss just signed Mary’s death certificate.

Of course, in the ACD novels, John’s wife died, so I always suspected it was a possibility, but still…I had hoped.

Regardless of how I feel about Johnlock, I love Mary (just like I love River Song even though Doctor/Master is my OTP of all time ever) and don’t want to see her go. The problem is, except for Mrs. Hudson, most of the female characters in Sherlock have been driven away due to the fandom demonizing any female character that could threaten their gay pairing. (Even Molly is less and less frequent.) This internalized misogyny has been a tradition on many TV shows, most notably, Supernatural. Amanda Abbington has actually received death threats because of fans wanting Sherlock and John together so badly.

People. It’s not the actress’s fault that your gay fantasy hasn’t been realized. You want to complain to someone, complain to the writers.

Which brings me to the other topic I wanted to mention: the Johnlock Conspiracy (TJLC for short).

Many fans believe that Johnlock is endgame, that the writers plan to break up John and Mary somehow in the future and have Sherlock and John ultimately end up together. I try not to take stock in conspiracies like this, especially since Moffat is a highly unpredictable writer who’s managed to pull a fast one on me before, but I must say, these fans are real sleuths. I’m including a link to a whole dissection of TAB that I came across (it’s not mine) which claims that Sherlock is psychologically pointing to Johnlock, which you can read here. It’s genius, I admit; I was very impressed. It all makes sense…if it’s actually true.

The question is, does Moftiss do these things on purpose? Is it all just coincidence? Or is it perhaps our slanted minds pushing us to see subtext where there is none?

It’s the exact question that the special postulates: poetry? Or truth? You decide. Me? I choose to wait and observe (while reading Johnlock fan fic to get me through the hiatus).

(I’ll say one more thing. Some part of Sherlock’s subconscious definitely wants John romantically. After all, why would a Sherlock-fabricated Moriarty suggest the two of them elope? And that aftercredits scene was totally gay Victorian domestic life.)

Thanks for reading. Until next time. ~TRL

(Photo source: here.)


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