In the first three series of BBC’s Sherlock, it was the modern take on the classic Victorian detective, Sherlock Holmes, which attracted viewers worldwide. The adaptation was a success. But, with the special episode The Abominable Bride taking viewers back to the 1800s, was this adaptation just as successful and popular?

Photo: BBC.

To start off with, the episode very much repeats the plot of A Study in Pink from the first series, except with a few minor changes. We see a noticeably larger Mycroft, a Molly in disguise as a man, and the same encounter which unites Sherlock and Watson is reimagined in a more old-fashioned manner. Admittedly, I was concerned that it would be a simple repeat of A Study in Pink, but the plot certainly made the episode unique.

When the plot was explained by Detective Lestrade, I was thrilled by the touch of the supernatural involved. For those who don’t know, Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, did believe in ghosts and fairies and so forth. But, the detective himself, however, did not. It’s why I found Sherlock’s angered shouts to Watson after he saw the ‘ghost’ so hilarious.

Then, when the case was finally solved, I was overjoyed by the explanation (unlike the one by Sherlock as to how he survived the fall – I’m still clueless). The fact that it was a secret conspiracy run by feminists was sheer brilliance, as it was relevant to the time. I thought that it was all clear to understand – until Moriarty came along.

Although, we were all expecting Andrew Scott’s brilliant portrayal of the professor to appear in the episode at some point. It was brilliant that Moriarty’s psychopathic nature remained – it is, after all, what makes Scott’s version of the character so different to others. However, it was annoying that Moffat explained the Victorian special using a rather sneaky adaptation of ‘it was all just a dream’.

OK, let’s replace ‘dream’ with ‘mind palace’. I was aware that the special episode would offer us a slight explanation for the series three finale. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but find the jumps between the two worlds difficult to keep up with. It was almost as hard to follow as Inception.

Despite that, there were moments where I was screaming with joy. As a deaf person, I was in hysterics when Sherlock and Watson were communicating in the Diogenes’ Club using sign language (except Watson failed miserably). But, what I really had to applaud was Moffat and Gatiss’ nods to the original works. In particular, the Reichenbach Fall.

Thankfully, the whole mind palace business stopped me from complaining about Moriarty surviving the fall (he doesn’t in the original novel), but it was fantastic to see Cumberbatch and Scott battle it out at the falls just like it was in the novels. It was also great to see a change in relationships between Hooper (Molly, that is) and Sherlock, as well as the relationship between Watson and Holmes becoming fragile at times when the modern versions are perhaps a bit more collaborative. The only thing which bugged me a little was the “elementary my dear Watson” line, which he never actually says in the books – but at the same time, he doesn’t wear a deerstalker, either. It’s just Moffat and Gatiss’ interpretations.

On the whole, the show sees the modern and historic worlds combine in a way which not just breaks the fourth wall, but shatters it to pieces. We may have had a glimpse as to how Moriarty survived – supposedly – but we’ve also been left confused as to what the bloody hell just happened. It’s confusing, but heck, that’s the main thing I love about Sherlock.

What did you think about the episode? Comment below with your thoughts!