The Abominable Bride

abominable bride

The Abominable Bride is a Sherlock special episode broadcasted in January 2016. Written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and directed by Douglas Mackinnon, this episode places Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) back in the Victorian London, at the same era from the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

After a flashback with scenes of the previous episodes, we were reintroduced to Dr. John Watson while he tells us the story of how he had been discharged from the Army after being seriously wounded during the Second Anglo-Afghan-War. Moving back to London, Watson meets Sherlock Holmes in a morgue and accepts his invitation to share his flat in Baker Street.

Near Christmas, Watson and Holmes are faced with a new mystery to solve, presented to them by Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves). Emelia Ricolleti, a woman who had committed suicide dressed in her wedding dress after going mad, apparently had returned from the dead to confront and kill her unfaithful husband when he is leaving an opium den. At the morgue they have the confirmation from the pathologist, Dr. Hooper (Louise Brealey), that the dead body  in the morgue, the woman who had killed herself in the morning and the woman who had murdered Mr. Ricolleti at the previous night are all the same. After that, when once more the dead bride appears to kill another men, Holmes deduces that it is a copycat crime and loses his interest.

Some time later, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), Holmes’ older brother brings, them another case: help one of his acquaintances, Lady Carmichael, who is very worried because her husband had been receiving threatens in the form of orange pips sent by mail.Lady Carmichael’s husband thinks that it is an exaggeration of his wife and refuses to help the pair of detectives helping him.

But at night, while Holmes and Watson are watching from outside the house, they heard screams and see the assassin bride inside the house. Holmes finds Sir Eustace Carmichael dead, presumably murdered by the ghost bride, who Watson sees running away from the crime scene through a broken window. The piece of paper with the phrase “Miss me?“, a wave to the modern Moriarty, is attached to the corpse and it is just one more piece to add into the puzzle.

While meditating, Sherlock Holmes has an intriguing conversation with his nemesis, Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), who challenges Holmes’ knowledge of how a woman can still be walking around after she had shot herself, in a similar way the modern Moriarty had done too in the series.

We find out then that the entire story had happened in Sherlock Holmes’ mind while he was still inside the plane we last saw at the episode “His Last Vow“. Mycroft, Watson and Mary come into the plane to find a delirious Sherlock, mumbling about the story of Emelia Riccoletti, an unsolved case from the past that he tried to solve in an attempt to find out how Moriarty himself had also returned from the dead.

The episode goes on, with Sherlock coming back inside his mind palace and receiving a telegram from Mrs. Watson where she tells him that she had discovered a conspiracy connected with Emelia Ricolletti at an abandoned church. Following Mrs. Watson instructions, Holmes and Watson discover that there is a kind of women’s secret society that used the story of Ricolleti to punish men that had wronged them. It all had started when this group of women helped Emelia to fake her own death, to kill her husband and later, to kill Emelia at her own request, which explained why the corpse Watson and Holmes had seen at the morgue was actually the real and very dead Emelia Ricolletti. Knowing that Lady Carmichael was also a member of this society, Holmes tells the other that she was the one who murdered her husband and approaches one of the woman who is dresses as a bride thinking it is Lady Carmichael, but for his surprise is Moriarty who is under the veil.

We come back to the present with Sherlock insists on digging up Emelia’s grave to prove that there is a body-double buried in her place. While doing so, he hears Emelia’s corpse repeatedly whispering, “Do not forget me“. The corpse moves to attack him, then Holmes awakens in the past on a ledge next to the Reichenbach Falls where Moriarty appears to tell Holmes that he is stuck in his mind palace, making Holmes realize that he had been dreaming even when he thought to be digging up the grave.

The two men start to fight and when Moriarty takes the upper hand, Watson appears pointing a gun at Moriarty. After kicking Moriarty off the ledge, Watson asks Holmes how can he wake up in the present. Holmes decides to fall over the ledge, confident that he will survive.

We are back to the present to see Sherlock waking up in the plane. Fearing for his brother safety, Mycroft asks John to look after him, hoping that that will stop him from using drugs again. After John leaves the plane, Mycroft opens Sherlock’s notebook, revealing the word “Redbeard”.

Sherlock concludes that Moriarty is indeed dead but had planned events to occur even after his own death. Shifting to the past again, Holmes describes an airplane and a mobile telephone to a skeptical Watson, then looks out the window onto Baker Street in the present.


Benedict CumberbatchSherlock Holmes
Martin FreemanJohn Watson
Amanda AbbingtonMary Watson
Andrew ScottJames Moriarty
Mark GattisMycroft Holmes
Louise BrealeyDr. Hooper
Rupert GravesInspector Lestrade
Jonathan ArisAnderson
Yasmine AkramJanine Donlevy
Catherine McCormackLady Carmichael
Tim McInnernySir Eustace Carmichael
Natasha O'KeeffeEmelia Ricoletti


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