Now, I’m sure some fans and critics out there are applauding Moffat and Gatiss’ creativity and uniqueness regarding the New Year’s Day special of BBC’s Sherlock which was set in two alternative time periods and delved into “mind palaces” of the living dead, ghosts and the repercussions of taking too many drugs. There must also be some of you who were confused as hell. Understandable, seeing as the episode wasn’t going out of it’s way to slow down and run through explaining the plot line. I do miss TV that used to make sense. When show writers first began concealing information from viewers it made shows more intense and clever, drawing us in closer, but there’s a thin line between clever and not making any sense.
Personally, I didn’t think the episode was terrible. Of course, it could have been more coherent and I thought the actual murder investigation was boring. However, the “ghost bride” herself was definitely on the verge of terrifying, with the eerie singing, veiled face, and corpse-like movements. Those scenes were great entertainment and had me hooked the most. Although, I think some people are missing the point of the episode. The whole inception of the story and development of Victorian London was created because of the villainous antagonist, Moriarty’s, return.
Moriarty; Sherlock’s biggest weakness and arch enemy. After discovering that Moriarty survived a gunshot wound to the head, Sherlock must face the monster once again. It’s this fear and adrenaline that Sherlock experiences as a result of his return (as well as a lot of drugs) that causes the episode and leads Sherlock to take an overdose where he enters a mind palace of imagination to discover how Moriarty survived. After all, Sherlock must always know how, and it’s this annoyance and anger at his own intelligence that forces him to mentally step back in time. We can see how far Sherlock is willing to go just to discover the truth and proceed his reputation. In his mind, he is in the 19th century and investigates a similar case to that of Moriarty’s in order to riddle out the answer.
The episode isn’t about saving lives or playing games, it’s about Sherlock. Viewers truly get a deep look at how the heck he does it and how extraordinary the character’s brain is. The detective literally travels back in time inside his own mind. He has the capacity to solve a crime from another century to aid him in his own problems, all within five minutes. At the end of the episode, the character states: “I’ve always known I was a man out of his time”. I felt that this moment was trying to imply that the show we’ve been following since 2010, the three series and nine episodes, only seems to be set in the modern day because it is the perception of Sherlock Holmes himself. This high-functioning sociopath and hallucinating detective is ahead of his time and sees his Victorian world in a modern way and is way ahead of all the people around him, whether that be in solving murders or just plain socialising. The character is unbelievable and impossible, that it’s almost like he doesn’t belong in a Victorian era and fits so much nicely in a modern day setting. However, you can disagree. Which time period is real and which is imagined by Sherlock? That’s for you to decide and the answer doesn’t matter.
On other notes, the contrasting characters from the different times were so interesting to watch, especially the women who, of course, were treated very differently in the 19th century. Sherlock himself didn’t change much between the eras showing how unique the character really is and, lastly, what this all boils down to; Is Moriarty alive? Perhaps not, for it seems that, in Sherlock’s brain, Moriarty is very much alive and well, or, at least, the memory and idea of him is. Like Sherlock says himself “Once the idea exits, it cannot be killed”. It seems the villain made such a huge impact that he will be taunting Sherlock from beyond the grave. Like always in Sherlock, some scenes were ridiculous and some were pure brilliance, but I’m not hiding the fact that I made good use of the subtitles and rewind buttons whilst watching (otherwise I think I would have found myself forever lost). Overall, I enjoyed.