“Those digits are meaningless. They’re utterly meaningless. You don’t really think a couple of lines of computer code are gonna crash the world around our ears? I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in you, ordinary Sherlock.”
“But the rhythm-”
“Partita number one. Thank you, Johann Sebastian Bach.”
“But then how did-”
“Then how did I break into the Bank, to the Tower, to the Prison? Daylight robbery. All it takes is some willing participants. I knew y
ou’d fall for it. That’s your weakness- you always want everything to be clever.”

The Mind Palace Theories of TAB

So I have a running theory that the Special is taking place in Sherlock’s mind palace in the 4 minutes that he is in the air in HLV. I wanted to compile my thoughts from across multiple posts into one so I can reference back to it later.

The summation of my theory is this, based on what I know right now about the special from setlock and other people’s meta, and the 4 trailers / clips that have been released: 

  • The special is going to be a “real time event” within Sherlock’s mind palace, taking place exactly 1 year ago on January 1, 2015, which is why TPTB were so insistent on ensuring same day airings, and so that we can all have the “Sherlock experience”. 
  • It will take place during the 4 minutes that Sherlock was in the air – this is how they are tying the special to the modern era. The math side of Tumblr has come through for me (thanks @talesofsymphoniac​) and helped further my speculation that it is entirely plausible that almost the full 90 minutes will be equal to 4 minutes in Sherlock’s mind palace. The math comes from the “three seconds” Molly makes a clear point of telling Sherlock in HLV. It seemed really odd to me at the time for her to point it out, but it now makes complete sense to me. There is NO WAY that this special is a stand-alone episode and it needs to tie into the modern timeframe. It will be used in the future for callbacks, I am certain of that. So, in my head, the Mind Palace it is.
  • It is in Victorian era to represent his and John’s repressed feelings for each other. In Victorian England, it was forbidden to be gay, and Sherlock himself rightfully feels that way, I’m sure, about his love for John. It’s something unspoken, wrong, and not safe for John. I believe the special will focus on Sherlock’s feelings in particular, as he works out why he feels the need to hide them from John, especially when he knows John feels / felt the same way. I still can’t wrap my head around how the Women and the “case” itself works into this theory of mine, but I’m open to ideas. Perhaps it’s mixed associations (other cases coming into the forefront to help him solve his problem).
  • The Abominable Bride represents Mary, of which I’m sure we all can agree on. She is the “ghost”. How actual Mary fits into it all, I haven’t figured that out yet either.
  • All of the characters are representative to how SHERLOCK HIMSELF views them. This explains why John is so SO SO brash and admittedly gorgeous, while Mrs. Hudson just as she is in modern SHERLOCK as we see in the SDCC clip: Sherlocks view of John is, let’s face it, a bit skewed to his own tastes (assertive military man who will break all the bones in the body while naming them). Even Sherlock himself seems softer it seems, possibly because he sees himself as such when he’s out of the public eye.
  • I think somewhere within the HLV timeline, Sherlock found out about Moriarty being alive, which I think perhaps the suicide mission MAY have been about. But I don’t think Mycroft told him; I think Sherlock worked it out. We have been told that the Mystery of Moriarty’s Survival will be solved in this special. Now, I know that TPTB love to lie, so this point itself, take it with a grain of salt. SO, that all said, Sherlock is ALSO working out how Moriarty survived his gunshot concluding with Mary as being the main accomplice. When Sherlock was dying, he knew John was in danger from Mary but couldn’t figure out how aside from Magnussen. But I think he works it out in here that she is so much more than an assassin.
  • I think there will be a *small* 3G reference. It will NOT be as impactful as we think it will be. It will be small because, if this is in Sherlock’s mind palace, we need to see how Sherlock THINKS he reacts to John being hurt; what had gone through his mind in events like the kidnapping TBB and the pool scene in TGG. This will instil in us that “oh crap, Sherlock really actually doesn’t do well when John is injured, does he?” Cue S4x03 cliffhanger of John DYING, when we see how Sherlock ACTUALLY reacts, they will call back to THIS MOMENT as Sherlock realizes just how wrong he was, because John DYING is so much worse, and because we have seen Sherlock visibly upset, this will actually create a greater impact because it is SO MUCH WORSE than what we thought it would be.
  • I think the special will end with the return to the tarmac scene. Sherlock has arrived at his conclusion about he and John, Moriarty’s survival, and the Mary problem. I still haven’t figured out where in the timeline the John and Mary at the graveyard scene fits in. Perhaps it is a PREQUEL to the tarmac scene. That’s the only place I can logically put that graveyard scene. The why is what’s bothering me. I think it’s part of John’s joint plan with Mycroft against Mary somehow, maybe to get some info from her. Or it was a red herring filmed, who knows. I’m very excited to see how this plays out.
  • I think there will also be an unambiguous confession of more-than-friends between the two characters, OUT of the mind palace. It may be ADMITTED within to Sherlock himself, but not stating it between the actual physical characters will make the confession no different than Anderson’s or goth girl’s theory. TAB will be where canon Johnlock will begin its confirmation arc. It needs to be real, not fake. This special’s purpose is to basically say, yeah, here’s where we’re going with this story arc, you were told, but didn’t listen, get ready for the pain. I think it’s a large part about why they wanted airdates the same across the board – BECAUSE IT WILL BE ALL OVER THE NEWS IF JOHNLOCK BECAME CANON. This is a spoiler-prevention method as well.

So there’s all that. Not really a summary, but there you are.

One more thing I’d like to point out is something that I have had on my brain since before I started this blog. I mentioned it in a REALLY old post back when I had like 10 followers, so it’s gotten lost in the fray. And now, after seeing the new trailer, it reminded me of this little thing I noticed and I am SO HAPPY it ties into the special. And to me it proves it can be in Sherlock’s mind palace.

Now, I’m sure argument is going to come to someone’s mind that “This special can’t be in Sherlock’s mind palace because he has a mind palace moment in the special!”

This mind palace sequence is VERY similar to when Sherlock was explaining to John about how he was breaking into Magnussen’s office in HLV. Non-mind palace participants are all there, and the mind palace characters are frozen. 

First of all this proves to me that the special is from Sherlock’s POV, like most of season three. But you know what I found odd about TAB’s sequence?


In the HLV scene, to me it seems John is more staring at the door, and following Sherlock’s thought patterns. He knows Sherlock the best after all, and is probably imagining his own scenario similar to Sherlock’s (”get your head bashed in”)

But in TAB’s sequence, ALL of these characters are watching Sherlock’s thought train. HOW? John is the ONLY one who is the closest to knowing how Sherlock thinks and is able to follow his process. Mary, well, don’t get me started on that, and Lestrade just knows Sherlock does amazing things and that’s that. So how can they all be witness to this scene?


I believe they are pulling an “Inception” on us. 

This scene here is Sherlock entering another level of his mind palace. For anyone unfamiliar with the movie Inception, the part I’m interested in is the idea that there are different levels of your brain, that run at different rates of time per each level the deeper you go. It’s a good movie, read up more about it at the Wiki.

Anyway, Sherlock has done the multi-level mind palace before, in HLV:

When Sherlock is dying, his “first level” mind palace is starting to fail. AFTER Mycroft tells Sherlock to find something to calm himself down, he then closes his eyes and is suddenly running down a set of stairs. I believe this is evidence of him entering another mind palace within his mind palace – literally going DOWN STAIRS to a second level of his mind palace (I also have a theory that he went to a THIRD level of his mind palace when he entered Moriarty’s room, then returns to level two when he leaves it). He then CLIMBS UP STAIRS to return to the first level:

… which he wakes from when he reaches the top, that level being  when the images flash rapidly as his first level comes back online…

And I think TAB is doing the EXACT SAME THING.

If this meta wasn’t enough to convince you, how about the “Inception Bwom” in the new trailerTHE TRAILER HAS THE INCEPTION HORN PLAYING THROUGHOUT. You probably didn’t make the connection because it’s a bit slower. Just like how time has slowed down in Sherlock’s head. 

If TAB is not a mind palace sequence, I will personally eat everyone’s green carnations.

  • expectation:weird-mustache john and short-hair sherlock run around victorian london; cool cinematography
  • reality:sherlock arguing with sassy-memory moriarty and himself; microsoft powerpoint transitions