Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sherlock Series 3 - His Last Vow

Major spoilers within!

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.


  1. ROLF The horns on Mary's head is perfect! Gotta love Moffat's use of clever hints!

    Great review rundown of the episode. This one completely blew my mind! It was one shocking twist after another. The ending was fantastic with Sherlock shooting Magnussen. It was the only logical thing to do, if he was to project John and Mary. Freeman was particularly on his A-game in the episode. His scenes with Mary were perfect. Overall, I think the episode might be my favorite of the series.


    1. Yep, that was a very sneaky one!

      Thanks very much! I agree, it was great after all the exhausting twists to have that part be so straightforward. A great moment for Sherlock. Oh yes. John and Mary's scenes were just... incredible. Freeman and Abbington work together amazingly! I'm glad you liked it that much. Since it's the only one I've only seen once, I definitely need to re-watch it before I decide where it stands. I'll probably enjoy it way more now that I know what happens!

  2. This episode disappointed me a bit. Felt like they rushed the ending and worst of all, just seemed random. Lame ending, to what was a pretty good season thus far. Nice review Sarah.

    1. Aw, sorry it disappointed you, I didn't think it was at all bad, but it wasn't my favorite. What particular part(s) of the ending did you not like? There were a few things about it that bothered me. Thanks!

  3. Yay! I love reading your reviews! :)

    Oh, wow. His Last Vow. How do you even start? :) I loved the mind palace scenes. Especially after Sherlock was shot and he was deciding which way to fall, then again when Mycroft is telling him that's he's starting to panic and that the *obvious* course is to 'not panic'. And then Redbeard. And I liked the scene with Moriarity when he told Sherlock he always felt it (pain, etc.) but that 'you don't have to fear it'.

    And, gee, John is such a good sport.

    Hehe, that picture of Mary; I didn't notice the horns before either...never a coincidence in Sherlock, is there? :)

    The only thing I didn't like was how Sherlock got into the apartment - the whole fake girlfriend thing. The girl - maid of honor (I don't remember her name) - said, to Sherlock in the hospital, something about she knew him and he shouldn't have lied to her, almost as though she was saying it didn't fit his character....

    I liked how whenever we're seeing Sherlock from the eyes of Mycroft he's a little boy, it just fits somehow. And it makes Mycroft the big brother. Like in Sherlock's mind palace when he and Mycroft are talking and Mycroft says mommy and daddy are very disappointed because he's stupid and Sherlock, as a little boy, says he's not. Or when Sherlock shots Magnussen and Mycroft takes down his headphones and looks at Sherlock and he's a little boy, crying.

    Nice review Sarah. :)


    1. Thanks so much!!

      Yes, I think the mind palace bit (particularly deciding which way to fall) was my favorite part of this episode. That, and when John and Mary make up. So sweet. I love them.

      Yes, yes he is.

      No, no there is not! :D

      That was unusually unfeeling of him, but I believe he did something similar in the books, so I guess it was within his character. And it did end up better than it could have -- she got her revenge and seemed to be more or less okay. Personally, I thought it was a horrible thing to do, but I still thought it was hilarious. :P

      Yeah, that was a very neat and deep way of showing the brothers' relationship. This whole season developed their relationship very very well.

      Thanks again S! :)

    2. Yeah, I loved that scene with Mary and John too. :) "...are my privilege." I don't remember the whole quote but it was just perfect. :)

      I'd heard that somewhere, that he did something like that in the you have any idea what story it was? - I'd like to read it. :) It was a little funny, with the ring and all, and it ended up okay, true. Still, whatever. :P

      You're welcome. :)


    3. "The problems of your past are your business; the problems of your future are my privilege." Simply incredible quote. :)

      Apparently, it's in "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" ... aka Magnussen. Except the girl is a maid not an employee, and doesn't know Mary. I think it may make it worse that she was Mary's friend in this version. :P