*contains mild spoilers/behind the scenes photos for The Abominable Bride*
The new teaser for the highly anticipated Sherlock special episode dropped last month, so just in case you weren't already excited about seeing Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman take up the mantle of the Conan Doyle era Sherlock and Holmes you'd better take a look at this:
Yep, the wait is nearly over for on New Years Day 2016 the next instalment in the wildly popular detective franchise is landing. It's not Sherlock Season 4 sadly, but a special episode that takes our favourite detective duo to 1895, the time of crime fiction author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle.
Who's This Abominable Bride Character Then?
Interesting question Watson! Well the Abominable Bride doesn't really correlate with any specific story from the original canon, rather it's taken from a reference Sherlock makes to a previous case during short story The Musgrave Ritual, where he describes a case involving "Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife". That's all we know of the Conan Doyle Bride, the wife of a man with a club foot who was apparently pretty damn abominable.
The teaser trailer gives us our first proper look at the Abominable Bride as she fires shots into a crowded street, played by English actress Natasha O'Keeffe of Filth and Misfits fame.
So we know that she's a wife (possibly with a club footed husband) presumably a very newly married wife given that she's still in her wedding dress, who goes postal and shoots up a busy street from a balcony.
We also know that she kills herself.
In another still from the trailer (above) we see the bride lying on the ground, this comes just as Sherlock's voiceover states: "Every cause has martyrs, ever war has suicide missions." If you squint you can see the gun still in her hand in the out of focus background. And if that wasn't convincing enough, check out the behind the scenes photos of O'Keeffe as the Bride:
Yep, that's a gun in her mouth alright.
What else do we know about The Abominable Bride that could relate to marriage? Well Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss (who plays Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes in the show) has described this episode as being concerned with the role of women in the Victorian era:
"It’s still our show — it’s Victorian, but it’s still our show. It hasn’t suddenly become fusty and slow. The big challenge was the role of women. You can’t ignore how it was — in fact, it’s fundamental to the plot."
So, a bride in a setting where women are subjected to the dominance of men suddenly shoots up a street in her wedding dress and then commits suicide?
It's important to remember that in the Victorian era marriage was like an iron clad contract, one that even forfeited a woman's right to refuse sexual intercourse to her husband; and women weren't expected to desire or ever initiate sex, it was purely for the gratification of her husband.
Marriage for women at this time meant giving up what little freedom they had to become domestic servants and providers of children to their husbands and marriages were arranged like financial business deals rather than for love.
Feminism began to emerge as a political force during the Victorian era, along with the industrial revolution, Emmeline Pankhurst was around at this time as was the beginnings of the suffragette stirrings and the fight for a woman's right to vote. Gatiss has commented that the role of Victorian women will play a big role in the story and we saw Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) lamenting "those gentlemen" in the trailer, so it's not a stretch to guess that the story of the Bride may in some way interweave with those themes.
Just as Emily Davison threw herself under the Kings Horse years later in 1913, "The idea in my mind was that one big tragedy may save many others", so the story of the Abominable Bride could be linked to the fight for women's emancipation. It seems pretty likely that she could be the aforementioned martyr for the cause, the suicide mission in the war.
But how exactly she relates to what looks to be a properly creepy gothic horror show we'll have to wait until New Years Day to find out. Six weeks to go.