‘His Last Vow’ promises puzzling conclusions (review)

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10:14 am EDT, January 21, 2014

As if we need yet another reason to loathe–in the most loving way–Moffit and the Sherlock BBC crew; season three brings a plethora of overwhelming suspense to the table, along with a rattling conclusion.

And of course, there won’t be more from the Londoner detective and his puppy-eyed sidekick for another decade of our lives (or what feels like it, anyway).

Sherlock season 3, episode 3 “His Last Vow” is surprisingly void of a near-death finale scene to leave fans tearing their own hair out. No, this episode was more about unraveling characters, introducing Scary Villain #2, and giving fans something to think about until Moffat decides to come around with season four.

The action begins at John and Mary’s flat, when John’s neighbor asks him to go find her son who’s been staying in a crack house somewhere. John storms into the scene all Sherlock-like–it’s quite adorable–only to find his best friend in the place as well.

Sherlock assures everyone this is for a case, but John still goes to have him drug-tested, and Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) slaps him a couple times when the test comes out positive. To make things even more bizarre, Janine (Yasmin Akram; though you may know her better as the sassy bridesmaid from “The Sign of Three”) seems to be Sherlock’s love interest. Watching Sherlock interact with this woman as though he’s actually in love is one of the bigger shocks of this episode, because we’ve all witnessed how detached and apathetic he can be.

However, it’s not long before the name of Charles Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) comes up–a news reporter/napoleon of blackmail who knows everyone’s weaknesses. He’s an arising threat to a great deal of people, including a Lady Smallwood, one of Sherlock’s clients. The detective’s fake drug addiction and his relationship with Janine are all part of his plan to steal back the letters that belong to Mrs. Smallwood. One of the highlights of this episode was John’s reaction to Sherlock’s fake proposal: “Did you just get engaged to break into an office?”

But surprise, surprise: as Sherlock pushes open the door where Magnussen is being held at gunpoint, the figure turns around–and it’s none other than Mary Morstan, John’s ever-so-faithful wife. Cue the hate fire.

Mary shoots Sherlock, and what ensues is perhaps my favorite ever scene in the history of the show. He visits his mind palace, where he finds Molly, Lestrade, Mycroft, and even Moriarty. Each help him in surviving, as he figures out which way to fall, how to prevent himself from giving over to shock, and how to hold onto the thread of life that is left in him. Ironically enough, it’s Moriarty (chained up and crazier than ever) who unintentionally convinces Sherlock to push through and survive–for John.

During the Christmas dinner at the Holmes house, we find out that Mary is actually a spy with a tainted past, threatened by Magnussen. Her attempt to kill him would’ve been quick and clean if Sherlock hadn’t gotten in the way, and if she hadn’t gotten sentimental over losing him. As Mary easily could have gone for a kill shot, Sherlock explains to John, the fact that she didn’t suggests she saved his life.

Once the hatred has died down a bit, it’s time to focus on eliminating Magnussen, one of the most perplexing criminals Sherlock has ever faced. He bribes the newsman with Mycroft’s computer, which holds valuable government information. However, as Sherlock and John arrive at his home, it’s revealed that there are no files where Magnussen keeps all his victims’ information stored. It’s all inside his head.

Police helicopters arrive, and there’s only one thing left to do. Sherlock shoots Magnussen right between the eyes, is whisked away and arrested, and will seemingly be sent away as punishment for his crime. That is, however, until Moriarty shows up on every television screen in Great Britain.

Yes, the crazy-eyed convict is either actually alive, or his image is being used by an even bigger and badder villain to capture Sherlock’s attention. And this is where it ends. Another season of Sherlock all wrapped up, leaving fans with more questions than they had when they started watching. It’s quite infuriating that they never explain how Sherlock survived; but perhaps they prefer to leave that up to viewers’ imaginations. Cumberbatch and Freeman are more sensational than ever in their roles, and season 3 features a more in-depth look at each and every character, especially Sherlock’s. There’s no “least favorite episode” this season; each is quality suspense and excitement.

Two months or two years; any length of time will be too long for fans to wait and know if Moriarty is actually alive. Season four has quite a lot of explaining to do. Score: 9.5/10.

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