February 4, 2014

Episode Review: SHERLOCK: "His Last Vow"

You have to give Sherlock some credit; it really knows how to end a season.

A bored Watson agreed to help find his neighbor's son who had a problem with drugs. Our favorite doctor ended up in a seedy den where he also found Sherlock. Those close to Holmes worried that he relapsed but he insisted that he was undercover for a case. As it turned out, he needed to get the attention of Charles Augustus Magnussen.

Magnussen was a newpaper owner with the ability to blackmail people, and one of his victims hired Sherlock to take him down. He was also the mysterious man watching the footage at the end of the series opener. Sherlock hoped that his drug use would hit the news thus putting him on Magnussen's radar while also dating the business man's personal aide, Janine. It looked like things were going as planned, and Sherlock and Watson were able to break into Magnussen's office (after he proposed to Janine), but everything took an interesting turn.

When Sherlock came face-to-face with Magnussen, he was being held at gunpoint by a woman in black. At first, Holmes thought that it was the person who hired him but it turned out to be Mary. She had a deadly past that Magnussen was privy to and she wanted to shield John from finding out. In order to get away, Mary shot Sherlock and the race to save his life was on.

Of course Sherlock survived but he had to decide whether he would tell Watson the truth. He arranged a meeting with Mary where he tricked her into coming clean herself. She tried to convince him that she loved him and even gave him a memory stick with details of her past life. After a few months, Watson decided to stay with Mary but refused to learn about what she did before they met.

While at a Christmas get together, Sherlock arranged for everyone to be drugged so he and Watson could meet Magnussen. His plan was to exchange top government secrets for Mary's file, but when they arrived at Appledore (Magnussen's estate), they learned that he didn't have physical files but kept everything in his own mind palace. Mycroft was hot on Sherlock's trail, and he even had them cornered but Holmes killed Magnussen in cold blood in order to protect Mary's secret.

Sherlock was on the verge of exile when Britain was bombarded with a mysterious message from Moriarty.

I'm just going to admit to it now: I did not see the twist involving Mary coming. Sure, they showed us all of the clues that were dropped over the previous two episodes, but I never expected her to be some stone-cold killer. I don't know if I completely buy her as an assassin, but kudos to the creative team for pulling a fast one.

Fake-outs aside, "His Last Vow" was not only one of the stronger finales Sherlock's ever put out, but it was one of the stronger episodes to date. Not only did we get Mary's reveal, but a better understanding of Watson, some amazing character beats from Sherlock, a creepy villain in Magnussen, and the return of Moriarty. Not too shabby.

Even more important to me was the fact that the episode didn't drag like so many Sherlock installments. Things seemed to flow, and "His Last Vow" felt very much like a TV movie instead of an elongated hour of television. When this show's clicking on all cylinders it's one of the best to grace our screens. My only quibbles had to do with Magnussen being killed off and Sherlock being recalled so quickly. It just felt like all tension was deflated and opportunities were wasted.

Other Odds and Ends:

  • The Mikkelsen brothers are a creepy brood.
  • Molly giving Sherlock the business was pretty much the greatest moment ever.
  • Janine!
  • Sherlock's voyage towards death and back was amazing.
  • Do we really need more Moriarty?
So another three episodes are in the book, and while this series didn't have a standout like "A Scandal in Belgravia" it was the strongest from top to bottom and a good sign for what we're in store for in the future. Thank you Moffat and Gatiss.


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