First off, here’s a massive high five and/or group hug to all you Sherlockians. We’ve survived another hiatus, and I’m sure we can all agree it was worth the wait.
After a brief recap of previous seasons (a traditional Moffat-style feels trip), “The Abominable Bride” begins in an alternate-reality Victorian London. As if we needed more nostalgia, we even get to witness the beginning of the series all over again: John returning to London after sustaining injuries in the war overseas,
“he’s beating a corpse with a stick,”
Sherlock and John meeting for the first time, “the address is 221b Baker Street…” Basically all of the things we love about Episode 1 are revisited, and it’s beautiful.
Time-jump forward a little bit (okay, a lot; more like alternate Season 3) and the mystery begins. Our favourite Scotland Yard inspector, Lestrade (now with some fabulous sideburns), approaches Sherlock and John with a fascinating case: Emelia Ricoletti, a woman dressed as a bride who, after shooting at multiple individuals on the street, shoots herself in the head…and then supposedly returns later, to shoot her husband. Sherlock and John visit the morgue, and it is confirmed, after a visit to the morgue, that the body on hand, the woman who killed herself, and the woman who killed Mr Ricoletti, have been positively identified as Emelia.
“The bride” starts appearing in more cases over time, always killing other men. Sherlock concludes that it must be people copying Emelia, although others, including John, question whether the bride is a ghost. After a few months, Mycroft (the definition of a “big” brother in this episode) alerts Sherlock of another case: the bride threatens the life of a man named Eustace Carmichael, who recognizes the bride as Emelia Ricoletti.
Sherlock and John decide to keep watch of the Carmichael estate in the hopes of finding the bride and preventing Eustace’s death. That night, they catch a glimpse of Emelia, and soon after, Eustace is stabbed, and a small note is left by the dagger. This note reads something that’s all too familiar to us Sherlockians: “Miss me?”
Sherlock meditates on this for days, and during this meditation, encounters Moriarty, who shoots himself in the head (again), showing how similar his “death” was to Emelia’s. Sherlock is jolted awake in – surprise! – present day London, right where we left off at the end of Season 3, just as the plane is landing. Mycroft, John, and Mary enter the plane to find Sherlock in a rather crazed state; he claims he was in his mind palace, with the help of drugs, hoping to solve the Ricoletti case which would, in turn, help him determine how Moriarty came back. He drifts back into his mind palace, and is awakened back in Victorian London, believing the present-day “hallucination” to be the effects of a recent cocaine injection.
Sherlock receives a telegram from Mary, who claims to have found the group responsible for the various deaths by “the bride.” It turns out to be the Women’s Rights Movement, who arranged a double to fake Emelia’s suicide, allowing for the creation of “the bride” persona – a ghost-like being that kills men who have done wrong to women. This leads Sherlock to believe that Eustace was killed by his own wife.
The drug-trip aspect of this episode intensifies at this point. The bride appears, only this time, it’s Moriarty. Sherlock wakes up on the present day again, and is deadset on digging up Emelia’s grave, hoping to find the double used to fake her death. The corpse begins to chant “do not forget me” and attacks Sherlock, who immediately wakes up in the past – still stuck in the mind palace – this time on the ledge of a waterfall with Moriarty. They fight – hand-to-hand combat, rather than the usual intellectual fights, interestingly – and just as Moriarty is about to win, John appears, gun at ready. Moriarty surrenders, and John gets the honour of kicking him off the ledge. Sherlock decides to jump off the ledge so that he can finally awaken and exit the mind palace.
He wakes up on the plane with John, Mary, and Mycroft again, the drug effects nearly worn off. He concludes that Moriarty is dead, but made plans that would continue after his death. (So mysterious…hopefully this will get developed on further in future episodes…)
The final scene shows Victorian-era John and Sherlock in the 221b flat, discussing what the futuristic world looked like in Sherlock’s earlier visions, while looking out the window on modern-day Baker Street. *cue dramatic end credits music and overwhelming feels*