The Definitive Ranking of Every Sherlock Episode (So Far)

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10. The Abominable Bride (One-Off Special Episode)

Sherlock’s first Christmas special turned out to be an ambitious bit of period drama. It reimagined the modern-day series as a Victorian-era version of itself, a one night-only costumed fantasy complete with carriages, pipes, pocket watches and deerstalkers. It looks amazing, to be honest. From the moody streets of Victorian London, to the stunning costumes, to the atmospheric mystery, it’s gorgeous. Unfortunately, the content of the episode leaves a lot to be desired.

As it turns out, the episode’s main narrative arc is ultimately an extended sequence in Sherlock’s mind palace, the result of some rather hardcore drug use. The point of the whole thing is to allow the great detective to puzzle out how his (dead) arch-nemesis Moriarty is popping up on televisions around the U.K. But we never see the result of his drug-induced ruminations.

“The Abominable Bride”, unfortunately, commits the grave sin of pointlessness. Sure, there are plenty of hidden Easter eggs for longtime fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. And there are a bunch of fun in-jokes for fans of the show itself. But, at heart, “The Abominable Bride” is a 90-minute dream sequence. It mostly serves as an extended promo for Season 4 and does little to drive the plot of the series’ overall narrative forward. (In fact, the episode goes out of its way to erase the story about marginalized women it does try to tell within its central mystery.)

So, unless you have a particular desire to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in period dress, you could probably skip the bulk of this episode entirely and not be any worse for wear. And in a show that’s generally as intricately plotted as Sherlock, that’s the kiss of death.