The BBC has a funny habit of ordering the absolute minimum of episodes of their most beloved series. Over the course of five and a half years, they’ve aired a total of 16 episodes of Luther, starring Idris Elba (The Wire). These 16 episodes have been divided over no less than 4 seasons. Something similar is going on with Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. In the same amount of time, there have been 3 seasons, each consisting of 3 episodes – the last one aired two years ago. This year we have to do with just one ‘special’, called ‘The Abominable Bride’.
Everybody’s pulling at Cumberbatch and Freeman, so I know scheduling must be hard. They both have recently joined the Marvel Universe, so that means filming after-credits scenes alone must be a fulltime job. However, you can’t tell me there’s only been time for one Sherlock episode in the last two years. For a show with lots of devoted fans, all over the world, it must be something close to disdain to take such long breaks in between. Keep it up and the series will run out of momentum, if it hasn’t already. Even the deepest invested Sherlockians will turn their backs on it. The fourth season will air in 2017 – again: 3 episodes – and the BBC had better hope people won’t have forgotten about it by then.
For now, it’s only the ‘special’ to keep the fire burning. Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Freeman), the British Mulder and Scully, with Mulder being Dr. Gregory House, travel back to the 1800-somethings, ‘alternatively’, to try to solve a crazy suicide. But not before the series shows how the brilliant detective and the war veteran would’ve met in Victorian London: very much the same way as they did in the pilot episode ‘A Study in Pink’.
If you think their getting to know each other – or, Watson figuring out Holmes – is going to be done all over again, but in different costumes, you’d be mistaken. Sherlock might seem like a typical slow-paced British whodunnit, but it’s actually quite fast and loaded with all kinds of twists. After the main credits, we immediately flash forward to a new case. A bride (at least that’s how she’s dressed), whose lipstick is all over the place, shoots people from her balcony, then shoots herself in the head. Then, she returns as a ghost and kills her husband. Or does she? Because on this show it is never what it seems.
Both Things Can Be True
About halfway through the episode, Holmes wakes up. Wakes up? So this was all a dream? Well, yes and no. He’s been trying to solve a case by going into his famous ‘mind palace’. But it’s not solved yet; he needs to go back. Like usual, near the end of ‘The Abominable Bride’, he figures it out. But for one loose thread, which doesn’t make sense to him. Moriarty (Andrew Scott). What does he have to do with it? Well, that never becomes clear. Holmes’ arch enemy is dead, but ‘he’s back’ anyway, according to Holmes. Apparently, both things can be true, and who am I to question the greatest mystery solver currently in popular culture?
Lack of Material
Solving the case of the Bride seems to have put Holmes on the trail of Moriarty, in some way, which ends the episode on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Since it’s not a season finale, but merely a holiday special, the ending feels a bit forced. It’s one twist too many, but other than that, Sherlock has once again presented a very interesting story, full of surprises and creative effects. This show can go on for years to come. And I don’t mean stretching out seasons for years on end. Just order a proper season, BBC, like 6 to 10 episodes a year. There are 60 (original) Sherlock Holmes stories, so lack of source material isn’t an excuse.