First of all, for anyone who has not seen "The Abominable Bride", spoiler alert!
As production for the new series of Sherlock finally gets underway, I couldn’t help but go back and review past episodes in anticipation. As I did so, I focused on the last episode, "The Abominable Bride". This controversially received episode left many watchers pondering on what was real and what was the conjured up by a drugged, brilliant mind. With clever wit, an exciting pace, and talented actors, this episode was set up to be a thrilling ride from flashback to ominous cliffhanger.
With so many jumps between reality and Sherlock’s hallucinations, the lines between characters could easily become blurred. Fortunately, all the actors in the show were able to professionally keep the slight variations of their modern day characters separated from their Victorian portrayals beautifully. Played by Martin Freeman, the John Watson of the twenty-first century has a bit of a dirty mouth, yields to and respects his wife, and does not feel shy when sharing his opinion on Sherlock’s mistakes. On the other hand, the John Watson of the nineteenth century is slightly oblivious to his wife’s potential, extremely well mannered, and tends to play the fool more readily and willingly than his modern day counterpart.
But as wonderful as Freeman’s acting was, Benedict Cumberbatch nicely tied the entire show together. Not only was he capable of distinguishing both past and future Sherlock, but he also knew how to blur the lines between the two when reality and hallucination temporarily merged. Cumberbatch seamlessly switched between all three versions of this episode’s Sherlock Holmes, which contributed greatly to the whole success of the most current episode. After watching the two main stars perform in this episode, it would come as no shock that they have both played main roles in major productions of Shakespearean plays.
Though it could be argued that the story line is confusing or hard to follow, this is likely the show’s intentions. After all, the entire episode is set within the mind of a drugged up genius attempting to solve a centuries old crime. Because of this, it is more likely that the discrepancies within the episode are actually clues. They help the audience know that all is not well or sane within this narrative. Even the jump that takes us back to today’s date that proves to be false contains suggestive details that. However, if these clues are confused for continuity errors, then the watcher can easily be lead astray.
Often times when a show gets a new director, the consistency of the show’s characters are affected by the new director’s perspective. Fortunately for its fans, this is not the case for Sherlock. Despite the directors of the show changing almost every season, the writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have been able to maintain the integral feeling as the show continues to progress and develop. Because of this, many would argue that The Abominable Bride is the best episode yet. The pacing of the show is phenomenal, with exciting jumps between time and reality throughout the show. Even in the calmer times, the writers and directors keep the audience interested with interesting dialogue and intelligent humor.
Focusing now on the music score for this show, one can only feel inspired. Any film or series without a driving music score, no matter how good the directing or acting may be, often feels flat or boring. Fortunately for Sherlock, David Arnold and Michael Price greatly helped enhance every atmosphere contained in The Abominable Bride. From a quick and upbeat tune to help with a scene change, to increasing the tension that comes from witnessing a main character face a deadly apparition, Arnold and Price helped keep the audience thoroughly immersed in this thrilling story.