In Review: Sherlock – The Abominable Bride

A supernatural case takes on a more logical twist as Holmes and Watson investigate a spectre that seems all to real.
Sherlock Holmes

Synopsis: As Holmes and Watson step back in time to 1895, they encounter the baffling case of a woman seemingly returned from the grave to haunt her husband – and to prowl the streets of London on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge. Can the duo get to the bottom of the unearthly case before more blood is shed?

Review: Before I go into to much detail. I must warn that this article will contain spoilers. So if you do not wish to know anything about this special one off episode. Read no further.

This special one off episode of ‘Sherlock’ takes our detective heroes back to 1895, which would be the original time frame for pretty much most of the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Homes adventures, but like most episodes of ‘Sherlock’ when it is at its best. Nothing is quite what it at first seems.

With this episode alone Mark Gatiss and Steve Moffat have made up for the rather mediocre and average third series of ‘Sherlock’ that we had to endure about two years ago.

The genius of this story is that it ties together the present day adventures and characters with those of the characters as they’d likely have been from the original time line for Holmes and Watson and if you were to sum it up in just a few words. They’d be ‘Mind Palace’.

If you will recall the ‘Mind Palace’ is somewhat of an altered state where Sherlock goes to envisage the circumstances, evidence and suspects of any given case. Its pretty much drug induced in this instance as Sherlock has admittedly taken a seven percent solution.

The above is not the only reference to classic ‘Sherlock Holmes’ literature. We also have a reference to the short story titled ‘The Five Orange Pips’, which was one of the many Conan Doyle short stories that got adapted in the 1930’s and 40’s when Basil Rathbone played the brilliant sleuth. ‘The Five Orange Pips’ were very much the inspiration for the 1945 movie ‘The House of Fear’, but they are merely a much appreciated throw away reference in this particular story, which only added to my enjoyment of the cleverness of this.

Basically this story starts off with flashbacks to the previous three seasons of ‘Sherlock’, but then throws us into a mystery set in 1895, which is pretty much described as one of the detectives cold cases.

When a women seemingly blows her brains out in front of witnesses, but later re appears to commit a murder later on that same night. Holmes and Watson are put on the case.

It soon becomes obvious that it is a case that is beyond the great detectives skill set because after his initial investigation Holmes closes the case and moves on with his life. But nothing is at it seems. After a visit to his ailing overweight brother Mycroft. Holmes and Watson soon find themselves having to re-open the case.

Just as it would seem that Holmes is about to give up again it becomes apparent to him that his old nemesis Moriarty may not have actually died at ‘The Reichenbach Falls’ and when Moriarty (Andrew Stott) has the audacity to show up at Sherlock’s home things begin to unravel.

At this particular point. The Game is absolutely a foot because Sherlock in our present has taken a seven percent solution of drugs in order to access his mind palace and the case in 1895, which was unsolved starts to play into the present as Holmes and his brother Mycroft are seemingly fearful that Moriarty is to return.

It’s all very clever stuff and it is one of those rare episodes where you will likely find yourself watching more than the once in order to try and unravel the whole mystery and get all the clues.

The portrayals of Homes and Watson in 1895 are a little different to the modern day interpretations, which is both a testimony to the writing and acting of those involved.

As to the actual story. The case from Victorian London is somewhat resolved to a point, but as to the present day. The story is left wide open for the three episodes, which are currently in production for 2017. In essence this is a teaser and set up for what is hopefully to come in the fourth season.

For my money. This episode alone is as good as the first season of the show and a huge improvement on the rather uneven third season.

Sherlock - The Abominable Bride
  • A great mystery
  • The fact that we have to wait over a year for more
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
One Comment
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    2 January 2016 at 3:51 am -

    This was by far the best ep. we’ve had, precisely because it built on everything — the canon of original stories and the canon of the whole modern series. Plus, the performances were superb. Mark Gatiss and Benedict Cumberbatch are on a whole different level as Mycroft and Sherlock. Great stuff!

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