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Who watched the Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride, on New Year’s Day?
If you follow me on Twitter you probably already know this, but I have a very swoony middle-school crush on Martin Freeman.
Ok back to business, so I’m a new Sherlock fan. It’s been just over a year since I watched my first episode. I have never read the books. In fact, I think that because of these two things I enjoy the show that much more. It is an outlandish spectacle and I have fallen in love with it. I have to admit that it’s nice to be a part of a fandom where you have no stake in what happens, where you are just along for the ride, and where you are surprised by each and every episode.
Just a quick warning before we begin: this post will be chock full of spoilers for The Abominable Bride. It will completely ignore the disaster that was the feminist storyline, because *shudder*. It will also layout a case that my most shippiest of ships, Johnlock, is alive dammit, and that, well, it is the entire point of the show.*
*Disclaimer: I may have watched the special right after consuming an unsafe amount of fanfic. Johnlock Christmas first kiss fluff to be specific (happy new year to me). Please reference this Tumblr post if you would also like to get punch drunk on the sweet, sweet goodness. It’s fluffy as cotton candy I promise.
It’s time to pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and get back in the Christmas spirit.
The one thing that drew me to this show from the very beginning, is that at the very heart of the show it is about two people who have found their soul mate. It is in essence a love story. I will concede that it is also a show about solving crime. However, the moments where the show delivers the biggest punch is when either Sherlock or John is in danger. These are the moments when you see the cracks in Sherlock’s steely façade, when you finally see his vulnerability, and you see that for John, Sherlock is it. *sobs thinking about John’s face at the end of The Reichenbach Fall*
This connection was never more apparent than in this episode.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start at the beginning.
This is the meta of all meta episodes. This has already been picked apart on Tumblr and in the press so I won’t try and rehash it all, but the brilliance of this episode is that it takes place inside Sherlock’s mind palace. The second brilliant part is that his mind palace is set in Victorian London, in the nineteenth century, in the book Sherlock’s time period. And they gave us a show to match: fabulous tweed, terrific capes and great coats, hats, textured wallpaper, pipes, gaslight, hansom cabs, oh and John’s handlebar mustache (blargh). And to top it all off it’s a creepy gothic ghost story.
Also, this part was pretty golden:
IMO the most interesting part about Sherlock’s alternate reality mind palace is how each of the characters is portrayed differently than in the present. I’m not going to get into the fact that Mycroft is obese and they’re taking bets on when he’ll die (Sherlock’s fear) or that Molly is in drag and totally fierce (how he really sees her) or that Moriarty is the bride(I’m not even going to try and unpack that one). I’m going to stay on point here. Let’s talk about how John is portrayed instead.
In Sherlock’s mind Mary and John’s relationship is strained. Mary works for Mycroft behind John’s back in his mind palace. She ISN’T PREGNANT in his mind palace. When Mary comes to Sherlock as a client he says that her new husband has abandoned her for “an unsavory companion of dubious morals”, in other words himself. And he’s proper smug about it too. He does admire Mary- she is the female version of himself after all.
In both worlds John is the the spinner of the tale. He shapes Sherlock’s public persona through his writing and we find out that even inside Sherlock’s head, John is narrating. At times Sherlock quotes John in reference to himself. Sherlock says at one point that it is helpful to see himself through John’s eyes because he is cleverer.
Oh it gets better. At the moment we reconvene with Sherlock on the plane in the present day he’s reading John’s blog post about the first time John and him met. He is grappling with the loss of John and he’s taken a lot of drugs. Did you get that? SHERLOCK WAS HIGH BEFORE HE GOT ON THE PLANE. BEFORE HE FOUND OUT MORIARTY WAS BACK. HE DIDN’T WANT TO SAY GOODBYE TO JOHN SOBER. (If you’re counting that’s twice now: after John got married he went undercover in a drug den) John is the only one who truly knows Sherlock. The only one who doesn’t enable him. He is the only one who stands up to Sherlock. The one who demands that he “hold himself to a higher standard”. Sherlock would be lost without John. He starts using drugs again the moment he is faced with the prospect of leaving John forever.
Back inside Sherlock’s mind palace, on the cliffs at Reichenbach when Sherlock fights with Moriarty he is really battling with himself. Moriarty is the part of Sherlock who uses, he is the personification of everything he loathes about himself. John is his redemption. John is the part of himself that sees Sherlock as he would like to be seen, as brilliant, capable, and loved.
Only John can save him from himself.
There I said it. Do you need more evidence?
HEART EXPLOSION. I’m done. I’m out. This is Sherlock’s heart bare on the cutting block. He is just waking up from almost ODing on drugs and is blown absolutely wide open. Do you see his smile when he sees John? Gah. Case closed.
So even if you think the relationship between John and Sherlock is strictly platonic, even if you ship Sherlolly or Sherstrade, even if you’re certain nothing will ever come of it anyway, even if you think this is only a crime show, at the end of this episode we were all Moriarty.
So what do you think? Did you like the Abominable Bride? How did you feel about being inside Sherlock’s mind? Did you love Victorian London? Hate it? Is Season 4 going to kill us? Moffat and Co. have promised us a darker season. At least we have another year to prepare for it. Bring on the gothic fanfic!
You don’t watch Sherlock? Well all three seasons are on Netflix and, lucky you, PBS will be re-airing The Abominable Bride on January 10, 2016 at 10pm ET. They will also have it available to stream online starting January 11, 2016 for a limited time.