TV Review: “Sherlock” – “His Last Vow”

Written by Jesse Gelinas January 13, 2014

Magnussen makes his first real appearance in "His Last Vow"

“Facts are for history books; I deal in news.”

“The east wind takes us all in the end.”

So, there we have it. A week and a half, and it’s all over; Season 3 of “Sherlock” has come to a close. And what a close it is. “His Last Vow” may just be the most shocking “Sherlock” episode yet, and it definitely leaves us scratching our heads as to what the writers have in store next season. Far from the light, airiness of the first two episodes, this season ends with a dark, grueling descent into the grimy world of blackmail… and journalism.

“His Last Vow” picks up about a month after the Watson wedding. We find Sherlock in a drug den, possibly high, possibly undercover. But it’s all part of a bigger scheme, as Charles Augustus Magnussen is formally introduced. He is the “Napoleon of blackmail”, and he now has his sights set on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. We find out some secrets about the life and times of the new Mrs. Watson, and a familiar face turns up for a rather intriguing cliffhanger (stay tuned for a stinger after the credits). Over all, we get to see the many sides of Sherlock Holmes, and the lengths he will go to protect those precious few he calls friends.

“The game is never over, John, but there may be some new players now.”

On the negative side, “His Last Vow” is very oddly placed. I actually found myself getting bored in the first half hour because it just seemed to be plodding along without any real direction or focus. Of course, this comes together in the latter half, which more than makes up for it. It was a hassle though to stay interested long enough for my interest to be re-piqued. That aside, every scene with Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) is brilliantly written, and terrifically tense and unsettling. His cold gaze, and utter disregard for anything resembling respect is just so instantly hateable. He makes for a perfect foil to Sherlock and stands as a great villain. It’s just unfortunate that we had to wait until the finale to have him fully introduced. While all the episodes are clearly connected with the endgame in mind, his presence was not felt nearly as well as Moriarty’s was in the previous seasons.

Sherlock in "His Last Vow"

As usual, the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman is the big draw here. Holmes and Watson have never been better together than they are here. Watson gets one of his most badass moments of the series early on in “His Last Vow”. We also get to see Sherlock in one of his most dastardly schemes in pursuit of his case. And like the two episodes before it, we’re also treated to some great conversations between Sherlock and Mycroft.

While many shows will try way too hard to shock their audience, this seems to come much more naturally to “Sherlock”. “His Last Vow” has no less than three shocking moments that are sure to leave your jaw on the floor. Thankfully, rather than feel like cheap gimmicks or on-the-fly ideas, these twists have evolved organically, over the whole season, and allow for some really great moments in this finale.

“Didyoumissme? Didyoumissme? Didyoumissme? Didyoumissme?”

So, after to brief a ride, we leave Baker Street for another indeterminate period, until Sherlock returns. “His Last Vow” does end the season with a hell of a wallop, but as the detective himself says, “the game is never over.” Yes, the final moments will leave you wanting more right away, but as with all great BBC dramas, patience is a virtue, no matter how much we all miss him… and him.

My Rating: 9/10

Sherlock's trademark smile and wink.

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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