Sherlock: The Abominable Bride is a special which kick starts the fourth season of Sherlock. The episodes for the fourth season will be aired in 2017 and this feature is more of a standalone affair which also has a theatrical version of it. The theatrical version has approximately 20 minutes of additional footage and is a one off affair. I have loved each and every episode of Sherlock so far and I was brimming with excitement for this one. This would also be the first visit of our protagonist to the Victorian England and that was the perfect icing on the cake for me. I went into this feature with absolutely no idea of the story and that I believe was the best way to go about it.
The story unfolds between the events of the last scene of Season 3: Episode 3 when Sherlock is exiled out of England. Moriarty resurfaces right at the moment when he is being dispatched on a plane and he is flown back instantaneously. The story unfolds from Sherlock’s perspective as he enters his “mind palace” and imagines being part of a case from 1895 wherein a newly married bride committed suicide by shooting herself in the mouth and then went on to kill her own husband in that chronological order. There are multiple subplots involving Mary, Watson’s wife who resurfaces, an almost “about to burst” Mycroft who is investigating the rise of a group of individuals who are half of this world and a case that he has to offer Sherlock. As we move towards a fitting end, all these plots are tied off in one solid ending.
There have been many complaints regarding the fact that this story unfolds completely in Sherlock’s mind with momentary forays back into the actual timeline of the series but I believe that there was no other way that the Victorian setting and the sudden swoosh back in time could be justified. The first two acts of the feature unfold completely in the Victorian Era. The setting is beautifully envisioned and at junctures I felt how good it would be if the whole series was actually made using these settings. The flashy and fast editing style remains the same from the series and that it is used with the Victorian settings as a backdrop only makes for a more visually noticeable flair.
The case in itself is though a bit on the weaker side. The story though interesting to start with quickly loses its steam and the ending that it finally gets is far from exciting. What however works is the appearance of Moriarty here and there and his presence sprinkled all throughout the narrative. The scene between him and Sherlock are easily the highlights of the feature. It should also be noted that the whole story of the feature is a result of Sherlock knowing that Moriarty had come back from the dead and his predicament at not being able to understand how he had done so after blowing his own head off. Thus he slips into his imagination using a potent mix of drugs and tries to unravel the fact that how Moriarty pulled off the masterstroke. In doing so he uses the case of the Abominable Bride of 1895 as a similar pretext and places the people from his own life like Watson, Hooper and Mycroft to fill in the roles in that narrative.
The performances like always are brilliant. Benedict Cumberbatch is superlative as Sherlock and with time he is easing into the role and adding what could be called a comic timing which was missing in some of the previous episodes. Martin Freeman as Watson was just as good. Even though his moustache felt a tad bit out of place, he does extremely well in his one to ones with Sherlock. The scene where the two discuss about Sherlock’s private life is a rip-roaring affair. He has developed a comic timing of his own which is all too evident in some of the scenes that he shares with his wife.
Andrew Scott as Moriarty is evil. I have liked his act at many junctures more than that of Cumberbatch himself. Even in his death he continues to intrigue not only Sherlock but also us the viewers. The fact that he is a figment of Sherlock’s imagination only makes us see him in a way that Sherlock sees him. When Sherlock says that he had understood his plan and what he was about to do next, I was just jumping with excitement. I can’t wait to see the next few episodes and see which way the story heads. But that will need a year’s wait.
Technically speaking, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride is wonderfully shot and edited. The cinematography has been good all throughout the series but this time around the contemporary editing style fused in with the Victorian era setting makes for a captivating watch. The background score is great and is in strong keeping with the previous episodes. Overall, this standalone feature may not be as good as what was expected but it still is good enough to merit multiple views. I have to praise the ingenious of the makers to envision a story which provides the perfect excuse for Sherlock and Watson to travel to the Victorian Era. They may have failed here and there to offer the kind of content that the series is known for but still have created enough ripples to keep the viewer interested. I liked this feature and I believe that will be the case with most of the others.