Finally the cold, calculating, high-functioning sociopath has returned. The jeopardy is back, the tension is back and most importantly Sherlock is back.
Character doubts are laid to rest, questions are addressed and in a series where the villains have been somewhat absent we don’t get just one Master Villain, we get two… possibly.
The previous episodes focus on characters rather than plot pays dividends in this final episode, with Sherlock proving without hesitation he ‘will always be there’ for John and Mary. Whether or not the previous two episodes needed to be so character heavy for the sake of the final episode is a matter of debate. What’s not up for debate is those two episodes gave the ‘His Last Vow’ the kind of depth that is rarely seen in British dramas.
So, to the story itself. Sherlock has been hired to bring down the reptilian ‘King of the Blackmailers’ Charles Augustus Magnussen, creepily brought to life by Lars Mikkelsnis (Forbrydelsen and Borgen) who is one of the most memorable villains the show has ever produced. Whereas another certain Sherlock villain operated in the shadows and was very much hands off, Magnussen operates out in the open and there is no-one he won’t put his hands on, tongue on or even urinate on.
Sherlock’s hatred for Magnussen, ‘He attacks people who are different’, also continues a running theme of this series, exploring Sherlock’s childhood. That combined with his feelings towards Watson, explains why the Magnussen case, shocking as it was, could only have the ending it had. Especially after finding out precisely where Magnussen’s vault were.
There is yet another wonderful exchange between Sherlock and Mycroft, with the two brothers outside their family home where, after discovering their mother is the gentle genius behind these two child prodigies, Mycroft is relieved Sherlock turns down a life threatening job and lets it be known that ‘Your loss would break my heart’. Seeing the parents does somewhat demystify the brothers somewhat, but for every one revelation there’s a new mystery regarding the brothers.
Thank God Mary’s character turned out so well, with yet another revelation which provides not just an insight into Mary but John Watson himself. Questions do linger on as to how she’ll fit into the show. After the revelation of Mary’s past and after spending the whole series developing the character it is unlikely a life of quiet domestic bliss lies ahead her.
The great thing about this last episode is that it’s revelations cast a new perspective on the previous lighter episodes and give them more of an edge. With the dynamic now clearly changed in the show it’ll be interesting to see how Season 4 will incorporate them into the show. Magnussen’s power comes from knowing his prey’s weaknesses, or ‘Pressure Points’ as he liked to call them. Now Watson is having a baby, surely isn’t that the biggest ‘Pressure Point’ of all? But seeing how well Moffat handled the last episode the show is obviously in safe hands.
This episode was so detailed and dense it would be futile to write them all down. From the Citizen Kanesque Red Beard, Sherlock juggling a girlfriend and a healthy drug habit, Mary being a remarkably good shot, to the introduction of the Baker Street Irregulars leader and the return of a fan favourite, this episode had it all.
This may not have been the best series of Sherlock, but ‘His Last Vow‘ is quite possibly the best episode the show has produced so far.
Finally the Dragon Slayer is back!
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