Sherlock Series III : Episode Three “His Last Vow” Review

Apologizes for the lateness of this review.  Your humble author here unfortunately had to wait for the release of the Sherlock DVD after she accidently deleted the last episode off her DVR. Yes, genius move on my part. Anyway, best not to keep the readers waiting longer than they have to. Let’s get the ball rolling and say farewell to the third series of Sherlock.

Seriously BBC, what’s up with the three episodes per season?

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When looking back at how last season ended with the demise of Moriarty, Sherlock arch-nemesis, it was going to be incredibly difficult for the show to fill the space left behind by the psychotic mad man. And for the most part, the finale did a fairly decent job doing just that. However, as much as I like to praise this show every which way until Tuesday, I have to say that there was something lacking in this finale. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

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Enter Charles Augustus Magnussen. A truly terrifying man and the one person that Sherlock hates above everyone else in the world. Think of this guy as the Edward Snowden of the Sherlock world. He is a powerful business man who controls a media empire of newspapers and the net. Much like Moriarty, Magnussen comes off as harmless, but he is so much more. In his line of work, he has access to a whole treasury of personal information and he takes it upon himself to use that information to blackmail those in power. When Sherlock is hired to negotiate the retrieval of important documents from Magnussen, Sherlock discovers that it’s not just the rich and powerful that he has information on, but his friends as well. That stakes get even higher when one of Sherlock’s closest friends is one of Magnussen’s targets with a past that could ultimately destroy the very foundation of John Watson’s marriage. Sherlock is faced with the choice of either yielding to the puppet master’s will or go to the extremes to protect his friends and lose them in the process.

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Much like the previous finale, we see Sherlock put against someone who is equal in intelligence. One of Sherlock’s best weapons he uses against criminals is his ‘mind palace’, a sort of sanctuary in his mind that he goes to peaceful process information and to deduce reasoning. Up until now, viewers have been lead to believe that only Sherlock has this ability which makes such a genius detective. However this time around, we are introduced to a man who is Sherlock exact opposite but who possesses the same talents as Sherlock. Where Moriarty was more of an agent of chaos like Joker is to Batman who just wanted to make life hell for Sherlock just for the thrill of it, Magnussen has an agenda. He plans on holding the whole of Britain hostage with the information he has. We see get a glimpse of who Sherlock could be if he weren’t the person he was, and if he did have the support of his allies to give him sane…well, sane-ish.

And just like every episode this season, there is emphasis on Sherlock’s friendship with John Watson and his wife Mary and how much value he puts on these things. I thought I would’ve gotten tired of this by now since it’s been brought up in every episode. But surprisingly no true. This episode does a very good job at showing yet again the lengths Sherlock is willing to go to make sure that John or Mycroft or Mary are out of harm’s way that makes the viewer truly feel from the characters.  6ae6ffda602dfc4c8960a876ce84890eHe is a target of many criminal master minds and he knows it . He is also a very lonely character who knows his intelligence and lack social skills put him on the outside looking in. Being the person he is hasn’t awarded Sherlock with many friends who can honestly say they would take a bullet for him. Which is why he treasures the small company he does have. The threat of somebody coming in and destroying his ‘family of friends’ only serves as a reminder of how far Sherlock has come. And as viewer’s already know, Sherlock is very self sacrificing. He will willing throw himself into danger so long as it means that it spares his friends pain. This entire season has done a great job on bringing out the more human side of Sherlock. By the end of the episode, you walk away feeling as though those two years away meant more to him that perhaps his friends.

However, with all that said, there is an issue that I must make about this episode: the villain. I said before with Moriarty no longer in the picture it would very hard to find someone to fill the void. And while I did enjoy Magnussen as a manipulative and despicable man, the threat of him was still minor in comparison to Moriarity. And that’s what you’ll find yourself doing; comparing Magnussen to Moriarity.

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Don’t get me wrong! Magnussen is evil. Pure evil. The kind of evil that paralyzes you with fear as he licks your face just watch you squirm. But the evil that he brings to the table is what he could do whereas Moriarty will shoot a man in public just to show you he means business. Magnussen’s presence is all about what he could be planning or what he’s planning without really doing anything. In fact, the most damage that comes to Sherlock or John comes from their own actions. Magnussen doesn’t really pose a threat other from taunts. I guess it could be said that the fear alone that he might do something is enough to make him formidable but really, that’s not good enough. There’s more to making a person a threat other than saying “I’ll ruin your life with what I know”, then never really making good on your threat. In truth, it is the length that a person will go to keep their secrets safe that make them truly dangerous. So really, the true villains in all this here is Sherlock.

Huh…well, maybe that was the whole point after. Touche Moffet.

All in all, this was a truly enjoyable episode and series. I was so glad to see it back again even it was just for three episodes. It was very good character development for everyone, especially the friendship with John Watson and Sherlock. There wasn’t a lot of mystery solving as there was in the previous two seasons, only snippets and that’s a bit of a shame. Still, I think it’s save to say now that many Sherlockians come to watch the interaction between the two first then mystery second. Hopefully fans won’t have to wait too long for the next season. I know I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more mysteries and more goofy, uncomfortable yet lovable moments with Holmes and Watson.

OH! And before I forget, be sure that you stay just after the end credits! You might get a small sample of what is to come in the next season. Can’t wait? Here’s a hint:

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