Sherlock’s much-anticipated return to TV in the New Year Victorian special wasn’t exactly what everyone was hoping for. Spoilers ahead.
8.4 million Brits tuned in to watch Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reprise their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
Many expected the episode to be a self-contained one-off look into what it would have been like if the BBC show was set in the Victorian-era - like the original Arthur Conan Doyle novels.
Instead, it flickered between the present day and the past, linking in with the end of series three and leaving many viewers confused. However, it wasn’t just the time-travelling aspect of the show that annoyed viewers.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
1/6 Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
2/6 Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
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5/6 Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
6/6 Sherlock: The Abominable Bride in photos
The case of the Abominable Bride focussed on the death of Emilia Ricoletti, who was seen faking her own death in order to kill her husband. In the months after the original murder, many other men are killed by the ghostly bride in copycat cases, all taken out by the same “murderous cult”.
Eventually, Sherlock solves the crime and finds the group of killers in a spooky church-like scenario, each person wearing a purple hood.
It turns out that they were all women, with the detective seemingly implying that it was the suffragette movement behind the murders.
He then continued to give a speech about how "one-half of the human race [is] at war with the other”, saying of the women: “The invisible army hovering at our elbow, tending to our homes, raising our children, ignored, patronised, disregarded, not allowed so much as a vote.
“But an army nonetheless, ready to rise up in the best of causes, to put right an injustice as old as humanity itself. So you see, Watson, this is a war we must lose.”
Tweeters were quick to point out that the movement wore hoods similar to those worn to the Ku Klux Klan, just in purple instead of white.
This is a man's nightmare of women, isn't it? We dress up in hoods, hold Masonic ceremonies & kill our men in the name of feminism #Sherlock— KateMaltby (@KateMaltby) January 1, 2016
Not sure the suffragettes being portrayed as some sort of Dairy Milk KKK was the best twist they could have come up with... #Sherlock— Mark McDonald (@markmcdsnp) January 1, 2016
Did no one at script stage ask 'Why are the suffragettes wearing shiny purple Klan hats'? #sherlock— David Hewson (@david_hewson) January 1, 2016
"Steven, your female characters could use a little work." "OK ... er, ooh, here's a cult of murderous suffragettes! In KKK hoods!" #Sherlock— Patrick Andelic (@pkandelic) January 1, 2016
Are you telling me not one person in the production of Sherlock found a problem in murderous Suffragettes wearing purple KKK robes? Not one?— Aimee Richardson (@Aimee_P_R) January 2, 2016
Moffat: 'Hmm I do get told my writing can be sexist...got it! Suffragettes!!.. But in a murdering cult!' At least you tried. #Sherlock— Hazel P (@Hazelperiperi) January 1, 2016
Viewers also noted that the climax saw Sherlock “mansplaining” feminism to a room of suffragettes.
Just seen Sherlock. Remarkably the mansplaining of feminism to a KKK suffragette meeting wasn't even in the top 5 of crap things about it.— Alan Beattie (@alanbeattie) January 2, 2016
So. Much. Mansplaining. #Sherlock— Aimee Richardson (@Aimee_P_R) January 2, 2016
Love that a TV special ostensibly about feminism manages to both feature mansplaining and fail the Bechdel Test #Sherlock— Lloyd White (@yornup) January 2, 2016
Not quite sure feminism will appreciate #Sherlock reimagining the women's rights movement as some sort of murderous KKK-style wive's cult— Alex Bellotti (@alexbellotti) January 1, 2016
Is... Is #sherlock mansplaining feminism?— Laura Harker (@lauramaryharker) January 1, 2016
Sherlock mansplaining feminism to a room full of suffragettes was no doubt one steven moffat's gr8 ideas— Olivia (@oliviasmth_) January 2, 2016
Best part of tonight's Victorian #Sherlock special was when a man explained feminism to a room full of suffragettes.— Katherine (@katbeth88) January 2, 2016
Meanwhile, others praised the segment for taking on feminism.
Many fans have tried to explain the convoluted plot of the episode, with this theory hitting the nail on the head.
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