The thing with BBC Sherlock is that they always leave you reeling. The method of leaving the whole audience in shock is very simple: create a bloody world within a world and give bald faced lies when it comes to telling them what is about to come.
The Gods told us that this was a standalone special. They categorically stated that this was not going to be related to the main show – don’t fight me on this; I’m one of the fanatics who actually follows setlock.
I was told this was a standalone Victorian special, and I almost immediately had very high expectations. No Sherlock adaptation has come even close to the originally Conan Doyle canon – the exception to this is not BBC Sherlock, but the Jeremy Brett Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Jeremy Brett was the ultimate Doylian Holmes, and the TV shows was canonically to a scary degree. Which is why when you tell me that BBC Sherlock is making a Victorian special, I have high standards, because Jeremy Brett raised them for me.
The Abominable Bride on the other hand, was honestly brilliantly orchestrated – not only did fanboys Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss manage to squee over the Victorian originality of the show, but they also weaved it into the main narrative, making the question of how it would compare to original Victorian Jeremy Brett irrelevant.
The direction was extraordinarily well done – giving shout-outs to both the Doyle canon and the BBC canon. The creators used one of my favourite Doyle stories of all time – The Five Orange Pips, and referenced my actual favourite – The Blue Carbuncle. In a mix of direction and plot, haunting, sorcery, drugs, and a mind palace, we have the Sherlock Christmas Special.
A drug induced trance which brings Sherlock to question the death of Moriarty by solving an old case – a very old case shows the depth of Sherlock’s perception of his friends. Contemplating the resurrection of Moriarty while going deep into the 1800s, which leads to hauntings, a cross dressing Molly Hooper and a strong suspicion that nothing is real. All of that can be almost confusing.
The beauty of BBC has always been in the way Sherlock interacts with the world. But by putting Sherlock by in Victorian times, we get both an insight into how Sherlock sees his friends, but also how the world sees Sherlock Holmes.
The way Sherlock talks, the subtle hints towards the Victorian setting not being real, and even the way Molly Hooper derisively calls him ‘Holmes’ brings out the essence of Sherlock as a character. We understand what he thinks of his friends by his portrayals of them in his mind palace, set in a different time. Simultaneously, we also see how he thinks they perceive him, by the way they interact in the mind palace.
Which is how John becomes a loyal friend who looks out for Sherlock, Mary becomes the woman with a plan who clearly cares for her boys and Mycroft becomes the older brother who seems to always have the best in mind, even if the expression of this ‘best’ is not very visible.
Molly Hooper turned out to be the biggest oddity in this. Molly Hooper of the Holmesian mind palace is strong, making sure her career went further, no matter what the cost. In a curious twist of fate, she also calls out Sherlock a lot more than she does in real life. This has a lot of implications as to who controls Sherlock’s psyche, but more on that later. For now, all of us should just watch her enter the morgue and get excited at her very appearance.
Admittedly, Doyle would not be happy with these developments, since he did not enjoy writing about Sherlock Holmes as much as people enjoyed reading about him. But the so many nuanced interpretations of Sherlock Holmes just show that he is a character worth looking into, whether it leads to a Sherlockception of world within a world or not. It was two years in the waiting, it was supposed to be unconnected to the main show, and none of the trailers featured what ‘Miss Me’ on a note could do, but it was amazing.
So, two years more to go. And now, we wait.