So I was watching some Sunday night telly when Steven Moffat strolled up to me and ripped my heart out. He waited a few minutes, and crammed it right back in. Then he topped it off with a slap to the face and a wink -- all the while giggling maniacally in a Scottish accent.
|So how was your weekend? Catch the big game? It was on.|
It all began how I was afraid it might -- it's been a while since John and Mary tied the knot, and Sherlock has been slipping out of their lives, and the excuse of his being undercover is not acceptable enough. But of course, since it's a Sherlock episode, he drops back in within a perfectly acceptable time frame. Then the classic, witty, banter-y Sherlock starts up, just with a strangely more ominous undertone than the previous two episodes. John impresses and amuses with self-defense skills. Sherlock confuses by being in a relationship with Mary's maid of honor and acting suspiciously normal about it. And a bad guy is introduced; Charles Augustus Magnussen, a creepy, controlling blackmailer and businessman.
|Played by Lars Mikkelsen.|
Following is a fantastic scene of crime-solving (crime-committing) fun -- John learns how to break into an office the Sherlock way, complete with sneakiness, fore-planning, morally questionable trickery, and lots of wit. This is exactly what I love about Sherlock. So obviously, from there, things go completely sideways.
If you read my reviews for The Empty Hearse and The Sign of Three, you may have noticed a strong pattern of unreserved approval of the character of Mary Morstan/Watson. She charmed me from the very first second, even though I saw the word "liar" mixed in with her other characteristics Sherlock deduced. I ignored it, but in my defense, so did he.
I was severely less charmed when she shot Sherlock in the chest after he caught her about to murder Magnussen. She's not the person we were led to believe her to be, and the previously ignored word swirls around in the minds of audience and dying protagonist alike.
|A la Star Wars: "NOOOO, it can't be true! That's IMPOSSIBLE!"|
At this point I had to put my shock aside to be impressed, yet again, with the representation of Sherlock's mind palace, as he deduces his way out of death. His friends appear and help him, telling him what to do, and silently speaking volumes to his growing character -- in the first two seasons the cold, superior, sociopath Sherlock only ever saw data in his palace. (This is also where Benedict Cumberbatch's impressive acting skills are most obvious. They're never anything less than impressive of course.)
|Sherlock stands with Molly over his body as she calmly explains what's happening and how to survive it.|
Then, back to panicking.
|Check out this cute picture from The Sign of Three. Of course I don't notice the HORNS until now... that wasn't accidental. Things in Sherlock never are.|
Moffat's signature feather-ruffling style of writing has never been more effective on me, but eventually, and to great relief, he let us off the frazzling rollercoaster and restored Mary's goodness with believability. The drama finished off with a flourish -- a lovely scene between John and Mary as they return to being the charming, lovable Watsons. A huge round of applause to Amanda Abbington -- never before has anyone sold Moffat's trickery so convincingly. Martin Freeman also delivers as we've come to expect, with both the betrayed Watson, and the adorable, forgiving Watson.
|He puts up with so much...|
Now, only two more twists to cover. One, Magnussen's glasses, the twist being that they don't feed him data in a far-fetched futuristic manner as implied. This one's simple; instead, as he said, he has a great memory. We witness two neat mind palaces in the episode.
And two, is Moriarty back? I won't fall for it until it's proved beyond all doubt, and an animated photo of him with the voices of other people saying "did you miss me?" is not nearly enough evidence. Alternate theories are everywhere; it's Moriarty's brother, or, it's a different villain pretending to be him for attention. Here's my first thought: you know when John's all like, "Sherlock, you have a plan, right?" Well, he did.
I suppose it goes without saying that anticipation for the fourth series has already graced us with its persistent presence. So just one last thing 'til next time:
Good one, Moffat... good one.
|You got me.|