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Recap / Sherlock Special "The Abominable Bride"

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Happy New Year.

"Little use us standing here in the dark. [lights a lamp] After all, this is the Nineteenth Century."
Dr. Watson

The 2016 Sherlock New Year's Special. Rather than continuing from the Series 3 Cliffhanger, we are instead transported back to Victorian London, where it all began.

After solving a routine murder case of a country squire, Inspector Lestrade has something much more interesting for the Baker Street Sleuth — a bride murdered her husband right after she committed suicide. Scoffing at the notion of the supernatural, Holmes still takes up the case determined to find a perfectly logical explanation. Meanwhile Mary Watson, frustrated at always being left out Sherlock's and her husband's adventures, begins involvement with the suffragette movement behind her husband's back. But as Holmes digs deeper into the case of the ghost bride, an old case that he long thought had lain to rest comes back to haunt him...


  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: When one of these occurs, Holmes starts wishing aloud for a homicidal ghost to turn up.
  • Adaptational Heroism: When Holmes snarks Watson for his lack of imagination, Watson retorts that he's turned Holmes from a sociopathic drug-addict into the gentlemanly Great Detective of the Strand stories.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Dr Hooper is stern with her employees and evidently dislikes Holmes, but Watson's chat about Sherlock's blindness to certain aspects of human nature hints that she might still be covering feelings for him (as well as her gender).
    • There are several other subtle personality changes between the time periods. 1885 Watson, for example, seems duller and is a bit more of a ditz but with moments of incredible sharpness and seriousness when the need arises, which is hinted and ultimately revealed to be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity for the sake of 1885 Sherlock's investigations (he also appears to play up his cluelessness within his stories). 1885 Lestrade seems similarly less intelligent, but doesn't actually seem to be acting. As noted below, 1885 Moriarty snaps between his future personality and a more reserved nature that brings to mind how the character is usually otherwise depicted.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Most of the episode portrays the Victorian era as a simulation being run in modern Sherlock's mind palace, with things getting stranger and stranger as modern Sherlock ODs. The last few minutes however show an actual version of the Victorian Holmes, who has deduced the modern Sherlock series as an approximation of what Holmes and Watson's lives would be like if they lived 100 years from then... then it zooms right out onto the modern Baker Street as seen in the show.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Sherlock keeps complaining that people confuse his sayings for Watson's adaptations of him. The comments are anachronistic, a bit of meta humour, and a clue that this is Sherlock's mind palace.
    • Later on in the episode when Victorian Holmes injects cocaine, Moriarty shows up and begins using fairly modern language.
    • Immediately after saying that he is in the 19th century, Sherlock ends up pulling out not a lantern, but a flashlight.
    • Mycroft breaks the entire Victorian setting by saying "the virus in the data". After this, anachronisms occur abundantly.
    • Simplified Chinese characters occur on a sign in the Victorian settings. This may be a case of this trope since those characters were largely the result of reformations in the 1950-60s.
  • Anachronistic Clue: The episode supposedly takes place in the Victorian era, but one scene features a murderer using the term "shotgun wedding", which wasn't in common parlance in the UK during that time period. As it was in use in the US, Sherlock takes this to mean that the conspiracy he's investigating spans multiple continents, but it's actually a hint that what we're really seeing is the drug-fuelled hallucination of present-day Sherlock.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The episode ends with the Modern Sherlock, John and Mary heading off to tackle the "return" of Moriarty, or more accurately to tackle those who are using the definitely dead Moriarty's image to further their own agenda.
  • And You Were There: All main characters from Sherlock's waking life get a role in his Mind Palace Period Piece.
  • Answer Cut: Plays out exactly as in the "A Study In Pink". When John asks his friend who the first one was that morning to ask about a flatmate, the scene cuts to Sherlock.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the victims. In fact, Mycroft even tells Sherlock to let them go because of this.
  • Ate His Gun:
    • How Emelia Ricoletti commits suicide. At least, this is how it's staged. She fires her other gun to make the sound, and an accomplice sprays blood on the curtain behind her. Then they leave behind a similarly-dressed corpse to fool the cops. However, after murdering her husband, Emilia does have a friend shoot her in the mouth in order to have a proper body in the mortuary (she was dying of TB anyway).
    • Moriarty does this in Holmes's drug-induced hallucination of him and is perfectly fine afterwards, except for a large hole in the back of his head.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Mycroft really doesn't want Sherlock to die of an overdose, and Sherlock did make a deal with him about it.
  • Back from the Dead: Averted with Emelia Ricoletti. Her ghostly reappearance turns out to be faked by similar-looking women.
  • Badass Boast: "You have a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I concede it may even be equal of my own... But when it comes to the matter of unarmed combat on the edge of the precipice... you're going in the water, short-arse."
  • Battle in the Rain: Due to the spray from the falls, Holmes' confrontation with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls plays out like this.
  • The Bet: Sherlock and Mycroft have one going about how long it will take for Mycroft's overeating to kill him, adjusting their estimates based on the number of puddings he eats in one scene. Mycroft claims that his life is the only interesting "stake" left.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Victorian!Watson arrives at the falls just in time to save Sherlock from Moriarty.
  • Bilingual Bonus: According to Steven Moffat, there is a clue specifically for Chinese audiences, which means only those who can understand Chinese would catch this clue.
  • Black Comedy: Mycroft and Sherlock's bet to see how long it'll take Mycroft to kill himself by overeating.note 
  • Black Spot: Sir Eustace receives the five orange pips, which he knows, are a symbol of his impending death.
  • Bling of War: Watson's uniform during the Second Anglo-Afghan War sequence.
  • Breather Episode: Averted. It seems like it is with its Victorian setting, but it's actually Sherlock trying to cope with the return of Moriarty.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • In a way, Mike Stamford makes an appearance, having not been seen since "A Study in Pink".
    • Moriarty returns as a figment of Holmes' imagination.
  • Call-Back: When Moriarty visits Sherlock at Victorian-era Baker Street, their initial exchange is very similar to their final lines in "The Great Game". Moriarty also makes a similar Or Are You Just Happy to See Me? joke about Sherlock and his gun.
    Moriarty: Everything I have to say has already crossed your mind.
    Sherlock: Then possibly my answer has crossed yours.
  • The Cameo: Janine makes a small appearance as a member of the Suffragettes: complete with flashbacks of her "relationship" with Sherlock in "His Last Vow". Archie from "The Sign of Three" also appears a couple of times, apparently as a Baker Street Regular.
  • Captain Obvious: Holmes sarcastically notes Watson's tendency to do this.
    Sherlock: You must forgive Watson. He has an enthusiasm for stating the obvious which borders on mania.
  • Casting Gag: Sir Eustace is played by Tim McInnerny who played John Clay in the Granada adaptation of "The Red-Headed League".
  • Character Exaggeration: While Conan Doyle's version of Mycroft was overweight, he was nowhere as obese as this version.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Every woman but Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson turns up as part of the secret society, including Molly Hooper and the Watson's maid.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Sherlock at the Carmichael home when John mentions he saw the ghost. Sherlock loses it a little bit and shouts furiously at him, "THERE ARE NO GHOSTS!" This is one of the few times in the entire series he shows such anger, or rather, chooses to display it.
  • Christmas Special: Close enough.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: While most adoptions are depicting the iconic Victorian-era outfit of Sherlock Holmes (inverness coat and deerstalker hat) as brown, grey or greenish, in this version it is black, just like the Badass Longcoat Sherlock is wearing in the series' usual present-day incarnation.
  • Composite Character: The hallucination Victorian-era Moriarty is one of the modern Moriarty and Magnussen. Which, fittingly for the setting, makes him a more direct adaptation of his literary counterpart.
  • Continuity Nod: When John and Mary are arguing at 221B Baker Street, Sherlock is playing the violin composition he had written and performed for their wedding, as seen in "The Sign of Three".
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The Bride leaves the word "YOU" written in blood at the scene of her crimes.
  • Cramming the Coffin: Sherlock thinks that there is a second body buried beneath the coffin of Emelia Ricoletti. However, his attempt to dig it up is part of a drug-induced hallucination so the viewer never learns whether he was correct or not.
  • Crashing Dreams: Inside the jet, Sherlock hears John asking "Morphine or cocaine?" but when told to repeat John denies that he said anything. Then the scene fades over to Victorian London where John asks Sherlock again "Which is it today? Morphine or cocaine?", implying that this is the reality Sherlock just woke up to.
  • Dark Secret: The trailers suggest that something from Holmes' past comes back to haunt him. We later learn Sherlock is in fact trying to solve the case of Moriarty's "Resurrection". The more serious revelation is that he's been successfully hiding heavy drug use from Watson for years, and it's the source of many of his abilities and quirks.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: John tells Mary to Stay in the Kitchen while he and Sherlock go chasing after criminals. He also tells Sweet Molly Oliver at the morgue "Amazing... what one has to do to get ahead in a man's world."
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Sherlock and Watson are puffing away on pipes due to the episode's Victorian setting.
  • Dress-Up Episode: A throw-back to Victorian London.
  • Eat the Camera: The camera zooms in on Mycroft's mouth when he treats himself to another plum pudding.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: The Bride behind John at night at the mansion.
  • Evil Twin: It is never twins!
  • Face Your Fears: The Victorian mind palace is Sherlock's way of coping with Moriarty's "return".
  • Fainting: Sir Eustace faints when seeing the Bride in the hedge maze.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: At the end the scene Fades to Black and the theme music comes only to be interrupted by another scene in Victorian London.
  • Faking the Dead: Emelia Ricoletti didn't actually kill herself — she had someone else spray the curtains with blood and then used a body double as the corpse. After killing her husband, though, she did arrange to be shot by a friend, and her real body was then put in the mortuary.
  • Fat Suit: Mark Gatiss wears one in this episode to depict grotesquely overweight Mycroft.
  • Finger-Tenting: Sherlock does this prominently when listing to Lady Eustace.
  • Flanderization: Mycroft, while notably thinner than his literary origins, still refuses to perform "legwork". Here he's presented so far in the other direction it's almost a parody. Granted that Victorian Mycroft is (likely) just a figment of Sherlock's imagination as part of moving a puzzle, it may just be Sherlock getting a dig in at his brother.
  • Flashback Cut: When John notices his maid amongst the members of the Secret Circle of Secrets, we get a brief flashback to an earlier scene at his home, reminding the viewer who that girl was.
  • A Foggy Day in London Town: It's overly foggy in the scene when the Bride shoots her husband in the streets of London.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The eagle-eared viewer will pick up on the foreshadowing that this is all in Sherlock's mind palace. Sherlock's soliloquy about how he will "need to go in deep" is a big one, but can be dismissed as Sherlock's usual eccentricities. The first obvious clue is when Emelia Ricoletti quips about a "shotgun wedding", as the term was not yet in use in the UK in the 19th centurynote . Later on, such anachronisms begin to appear more and more, until Mycroft's "virus in the data" line completely shatters the illusion.
    • In the case of The Bride itself, on rewatch a viewer might notice that 1885 Holmes actually figures the whole thing out very early on but fails to realize it. When Lestrade comes to ask him questions about a rush of recent murders attributed to The Bride, Sherlock dismisses it by claiming it was just a bunch of copycats taking advantage of the spectacle — which is exactly what's going on. What he doesn't realize at the time, however, is that the copycats and the original were all working together.
    • When Sherlock is musing about the case while at the morgue, he wonders how "he" could have survived the suicide, despite the fact that the deceased was a woman. An early hint that this is all just Modern Sherlock thinking about the death of Moriarty (which is mirrored by the death of The Bride).
    • Early in the episode, Watson notes that Mary is frequently absent from the house. He also comments that the maid has been sloppy with her work. These lines indicate that both women are occupied with other matters.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Just for a lark, we get to see the Sherlock characters in their proper Victorian setting. This is later revealed to be Sherlock's mind palace, with him imagining himself tackling a famous unsolved case with similarities to his current one to try and figure out how Moriarty could have survived his fatal gunshot wound.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Victorian Watson goes to meet Sherlock in the morgue early on in the episode, a figure looking very much like Modern Sherlock can be seen in one of the hallways.
  • Freudian Excuse: Invoked by Watson as a reason for Holmes's behaviour but defied by Holmes himself.
    Dr. Watson: What made you like this?
    Sherlock Holmes: Oh, Watson, nothing made me. I made me.
  • The Gadfly: Mary dresses up as a veiled client seeking Holmes assistance, to point out to Watson that he really needs to spend some time at home instead of working cases with Holmes. Her maid puts in a few choice remarks too.
  • Genre Savvy: The Victorian Watson is good enough at crafting stories to recognize when he is inside one.
  • Get Out!: Mary says this Lestrade when he makes a joke about votes for women.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Several signs indicate that events are occurring in Sherlock's imagination:
    • In the morgue, he refers to Moriarty coming back from being shot in the head, instead of falling off Reichenbach.
    • Victorian Sherlock uses the modern term "crime scene", which puzzles Mycroft.
    • The term "the virus in the data" is used by Mycroft, which Sherlock clearly notes.
    • Sherlock immediately jumps to Mycroft's side after discovering Moriarty's message, is disorientated, and hallucinates when looking at the painting of a waterfall.
    • At one point, during a carriage ride, Sherlock turns to Watson and notes that he looks different: clean-shaven, modern haircut and clothing.
  • Guns Akimbo: Emelia Ricoletti opens fire on an entire street with a massive revolver in each hand. The reason for this is part of the whole staged suicide — one gun under her chin and she fired the other one into the balcony floor beside her. In all the confusion her earlier shots whipped up, nobody would notice that the gun under her chin hadn't actually gone off when she "died".
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: It's revealed that for particularly difficult cases Sherlock sometimes takes just about any drug he thinks might give him a boost. Mycroft is aware of this and insists he keeps a list of what he's taken.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Mary in 2015 is able to break into MI-5's computers with a cell phone. Justified as it was just another part of Sherlock's hallucination.
    Mycroft: What do you think of MI-5's security?
    Mary: I think it would be a good idea.note 
  • Homoerotic Subtext: As usual for these two. Witness the scene where Watson tries to discuss with Holmes his non-existent private life.
  • Iconic Outfit: Watson demands that Holmes wear his iconic deerstalker, instead of the top hat he was going to.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Lestrade instantly downs a scotch when he visits Baker Street. Watson points out this as something Holmes missed: he didn't "want" a drink, he needed one, because the Ricoletti case has him that spooked. Sherlock implies that he deliberately misspoke to test Watson's observation skills.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Holmes mentions the name Ricoletti to Sir Eustace, Sir Eustace says that he has never heard of her. Holmes observes that he never stated Ricoletti was a woman.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Mycroft tells Sherlock it would take weeks to find out where Emelia Ricoletti was buried, only for Mary to interrupt him telling that she just found the information in the MI-5 archive.
  • In the Hood: The secret society wears hooded robes, not unlike Ku Klux Klan robes, but purple in colour.
  • Karma Houdini: The real Emelia Ricoletti and her accomplices in the 19th century were practically a terrorist group using fear and murder to get their political belief pushed through, but still were given a free pass. As we find out in the present-day scenes, her husband's murder was never solved, and presumably the other murders attributed to the Bride weren't either.
  • Killed Off for Real: Sherlock states Moriarty's definitely dead; someone else is just using his image for their own reasons.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • When Sherlock and John say he's going to his mind palace, Mycroft points out that that's not exactly how it works.
    • As a Funny Background Event, as Sherlock tries to concentrate again, you can hear Mycroft and John continuing to argue about it.
  • The Last Dance: Emelia Ricoletti knew she was lethally ill with TB, so her ploy of staging her suicide to get back at her abusive husband can be seen as that.
  • Last-Name Basis: Like in the original stories, Holmes and Watson address each other by their last names, as such was more common in Victorian times.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Several times in the episode.
    Mrs. Hudson: I'm your landlady, not a plot device.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Happens to the end credits music as part of the Fake-Out Fade-Out.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Holmes predicts Mycroft's Death by Gluttony to come about in 3 years, 4 months and 11 days.
  • Medium Awareness: The Victorian version of Watson realizes he's a character in a story, although this happens at the most self-aware level of the simulation and it's implied this is because he's a figment of Sherlock's imagination realizing that he's a figment of Sherlock's imagination.
  • Mexican Standoff: With Moriarty at Sherlock's home.
  • Mind Screw: The episode starts with "Previously on… Sherlock... wait, no, what if our Sherlock Holmes existed at the time Sherlock Homes did in the original stories?" Then it skips to this Victorian version and starts a story there, with nothing but some stray comments hinting that this isn't a straight-up alternative version with no continuity with the original modern-day series. But then, after a while, it returns to the modern era, and all of that is revealed to have been a kind of simulation the modern Holmes is running in his head to help him solve the analogous mystery he's currently facing. But then it's revealed that, according to the story set in the past, the modern-day story is also a projection happening in that Holmes's mind. In the end, both versions of the story seem to be given about equal weight, so there are two intertwined stories that are an unusual version of Mutually Fictional... although the past story doesn't make quite as much sense because one question that Holmes has about the crime is left unanswered when those events break down and become dreamlike, interpretable only as part of the modern-day-centred story. Along the way, there are also other reality-breaking scenes like a scene in the present that turns out to be Only A Dream too. Still, this Mind Screw is mostly explained by the end of the movie, even if the answer is rather strange.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Watson attempts to communicate with Wilder, the concierge of The Diogenes Club, in sign language. After first telling Wilder that he is very ugly (instead of kind), he then tells him that he is glad that Wilder liked his potato (instead of story).
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Sherlock's Victorian outfit is not unlike how Jeremy Brett dressed for the character in the series Sherlock Holmes, right down to the signature black topper. The final shot of Holmes looking out of the window is similar to the opening titles of the Brett series, except that he's looking at the 21st-century Baker Street. Additionally, the first shot of Holmes and Watson's 19th-century apartment at Baker Street is accompanied by music very similar to the opening theme of the Brett series.
    • Sherlock Holmes keeps his tobacco in a Persian slipper.
    • Watson growing a moustache because of his illustrator for his stories is inspired from a scene in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes where Holmes is complaining that he has to wear a deerstalker and Inverness cape everywhere he goes now because of the illustrator for The Strand Magazine.
    • Sherlock's cocaine is in a seven percent solution.
    • The Victorian Mycroft is morbidly obese. Most versions of Mycroft tend to be less physically active than Sherlock, and therefore fat, but the "modern" Mycroft isn't due to dieting and exercise.
    • The five orange pips as a warning to someone marked for death is a reference to "The Five Orange Pips".
    • The Klan-like robes of the secret society is also a reference to "The Five Orange Pips", as the victim was a former Klansman who left.
    • The message "Come at once if convenient — if inconvenient come all the same." is a message from Holmes to Watson at the beginning of "The Adventure of the Creeping Man".
    • At the end of the episode, Holmes says "Elementary, my dear Watson!", a famous line long associated with the character, (though it never actually appeared in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories).
    • Sir Eustace Carmichael seems to be based on Sir Eustace Brackenstall from "The Abbey Grange", another case where Holmes let the killer go free. Also Emilia's grudge against Sir Eustace matches that of Irene Adler in "A Scandal in Bohemia" — being seduced by a man under the promise of marriage and an improved social position.
    • And of course, the untold case of "the clubfoot Ricoletti and his abominable wife" from "The Musgrave Ritual".
    • Moriarty lectures Sherlock on the recklessness of fingering a loaded gun in his robe pocket, just as he did in "The Final Problem."
    • Near the end of the episode, Victorian Sherlock tells Victorian Watson that "from a single drop of water, a logician should be able to infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara", a near-direct quote from "A Study in Scarlet."
    • Mrs Hudson complains that she never speaks in the Strand stories. This was true until it was pointed out to Arthur Conan Doyle by a fan, so he wrote "The Dying Detective" to deliberately avert this (among several other tropes).
    • Before he takes the leap off Reichenbach Falls so he can leave the simulation, Sherlock throws his hat down the waterfall with both Holmes and Watson watching it plunge out of sight. In the episode Mortal Fight of the 1979 Russian series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, Professor Moriarty did the exact same thing with his own hat, him and Sherlock watching its fall, right before they physically engage in their iconic battle.
  • Nightmare Face: The Bride is described by witnesses to have "a mouth like a wound." It's really just lipstick done beyond the corners of her mouth.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Sherlock to his imagined version of Moriarty in his mind palace during their confrontation at Reichenbach Falls.
  • Not His Sled: Holmes and Moriarty are about to fall into the Reichenbach together... and then Watson appears, apprehends Moriarty, then pushes him off. Moriarty is annoyed that Watson showed up, since it's supposed to be just the two of them like every other time.
  • Offstage Villainy: Neither Mr Ricoletti nor Sir Eustace Carmichael are actually seen doing anything that would warrant death onscreen and Carmichael in particular actually seems wracked by guilt as much as fear for most of his screen time — even Holmes notes he seems like a man who expects to be dragged away to Hell (and by implication that Carmichael believes he deserves it.) For some viewers this left the militant suffragettes seeming less sympathetic than might have been intended.
  • Oh, Crap!: John at the Carmichael house on the night of Sir Eustace's murder, when he realizes the bride is behind him.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: From the secret society in the desanctified church.
  • Only Friend: Again pointed out by Watson, though the modern-day Holmes is shown to have several who really do care about this Jerkass.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The mortician is Victorian Molly Hooper in a fake moustache. Watson easily figures she's in disguise, what with her not really hiding her voice.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The secret society of militant suffragettes behind the Abominable Bride methodically stalk their Asshole Victim prey, inflicting extensive psychological torture on them before eventually murdering them.
  • Previously on…: The episode starts with a recap of what happened so far in the series.
  • Rape as Backstory: It is stated that Eustace Carmichael "had his way with" Emilia some time before she was married. Needless to say, it doesn't end well for him.
  • The Reveal: With the case itself, Emilia Ricoletti faked her suicide long enough to kill her husband before killing herself for real. She and her friends were members of a women's rights group that were murdering the men who abused them. More broadly, the episode is not actually an AU-version of the normal show, but is connected to the main plot; it's Sherlock's drug-overdose-induced hallucination to try to solve and cope with the reappearance of Moriarty. Sherlock also concludes that Moriarty really is dead, and his "reappearance" is someone else impersonating him.
  • Running Gag: People complaining to Watson about the way they are portrayed, or aren't, in the stories he writes for The Strand Magazine. Amusingly, everyone else gushes about the stories except for the people who are actually in them.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: The episode contains two linked plots involving two different versions of Sherlock Holmes, who are repeatedly shown dreaming each other's stories. Modern Sherlock Holmes wakes up in his plane and reveals that the Victorian portion was a drug-induced dream, only for Victorian Sherlock Holmes to wake up in his apartment and reveal that the plane was just part of his drug-induced dream, and so on. In the end it's left very unclear which, if either, of the versions was all just a dream.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Invoked by Sherlock at the end, asking why Mycroft hasn't arranged a pardon for him like a proper big brother.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The secret society is meeting at night in a church, wearing hoods and chanting. Holmes congratulates them on their sense of theatre.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Steven Moffat re-uses the structure of repeatedly waking up from dreams from Doctor Who's "Last Christmas".
  • Sequel Hook: Even though Sherlock knows Moriarty is certainly dead, the mystery of who is behind Moriarty's "return" is still to be answered.
  • Servile Snarker: Victorian Watson's maid repeatedly talks back to him, to his ever-increasing frustration, since reprimanding the staff is his wife's job and it's not proper for him to do it himself.
  • Shaped Like Itself
    Coroner: Stranger things have happened.
    Holmes: Such as?
    Coroner: Well... strange... things.
  • Sherlock Scan: Spoofed when Sherlock does this on their veiled client, only to reveal that he knew who she was all the time.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Discussed by Emelia Ricoletti when threatening her husband with a shotgun.
  • Shout-Out: When Watson and Holmes are considering titles for their latest adventure, which involves an "army" made entirely out of women, Monstrous Regiment is suggested.
  • Shown Their Work: Several ways;
    • When Mary tells Lestrade that she's involved with the cause of votes for women, he asks "for or against?" Though they're normally omitted from the narrative, many women did oppose suffrage, such as the National Anti-Suffrage League.
    • When John is faced with a Servile Snarker maid and his wife nowhere to be found, it turns out that he's not socially permitted to fire or reprimand the maid himself.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Victorian Sherlock takes on the speech patterns and knowledge of Modern Sherlock when the fantasy starts to properly fragment, calling Dr Watson "John" and Moriarty "Short-arse".
  • The Stinger: Victorian!Sherlock had this strangest dream...
  • Summation Gathering: Sherlock does his summation at the church where all major characters are present.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The Victorian version of Molly disguises herself as a man to work in the mortuary. Watson seems to be the only person who notices.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Holmes eventually deduces that both of the murders we saw on-screen were committed by desperate women driven to extreme measures in order to escape from (and punish) their abusive husbands. Other similar murders are briefly mentioned by Lestrade, and while Holmes expresses no interest in them there is some implication that they were committed by similar women for similar reasons. Given the society-wide attitudes towards women in the era, the murderers may have genuinely not had any better options, which both of the Holmes brothers acknowledge.
  • Tempting Fate: Watson is smugly pointing out that he knew the truth about Molly when Holmes didn't see what was right under his nose, whereupon Watson's maid cheerfully waves to him from the crowd of suffragettes.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Both Ricoletti and Moriarty pulled these off, as a means of allowing others to continue their work.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: For Victorian Mycroft, it appears to be Plum Puddings; Sherlock can make predictions on how long Mycroft has to live based on how recently he's had one.
  • Trailers Always Lie: We were led to believe that this was just a one-off special that was disconnected from the rest of the series.
  • The Unreveal: The nature of Moriarty's "return." While the entire episode revolves around Sherlock struggling with the idea, the only confirmation is Holmes declaring him dead.
  • Wait Here: When they break into the Eustace mansion, Sherlock tells John to stay back downstairs to watch if anyone wanted to leave through the only exit. John protests.
  • The Watson: Lampshaded when Watson says he's perfectly happy to tag along with Holmes asking questions just to make him look clever. In fact he even exaggerates his stupidity in the Strand stories, just so Holmes will be The Hero.
  • Wham Line: Mycroft refers to "the virus in the data", a glaring anachronism that is the first sign that the episode isn't just a Victorian AU version of the show.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: The real purpose of the secret society. They hunt down and punish men who mistreat women, and are women themselves.
  • World's Smallest Violin: Holmes plays the violin to drown out the sound of Mary and Watson having a domestic quarrel in the background. It doesn't work and he abruptly puts a stop to their squabbling with the announcement of another case.
  • You Are Not Alone: At the mental version of Reichenbach Falls, Moriarty tells Sherlock that in the end Sherlock will always be alone. Enter Watson, service revolver in hand.
    Moriarty: That's not fair, there's two of you!
    Watson: There's always two of us. Don't you read the Strand?
  • You Keep Using That Word: Mycroft points out that a "mind palace" refers to a specific memory technique that can't actually do everything Sherlock refers to by that name. It turns out Sherlock is using it as a euphemism for "drug-induced trance".
  • Your Days Are Numbered:
    • Mycroft, according to both himself and Sherlock, eats so much that he has less than four years to live. The brothers bicker over just how long he's got, down to the days. Not helping is that Mycroft not only doesn't care but keeps actively overeating plum puddings just to speed the whole thing up.
    • Emelia Ricoletti was suffering from tuberculosis, as Watson noted when he saw her (real) body and arranged to be shot by a friend before she succumbed.