Wikipedia defines procrastination as: The practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute”. I define it as waiting way too long to write this review of Sherlock’s Season Three finale, “His Last Vow” for absolutely no reason
S3 Ep 3: “His Last Vow” | A
“His Last Vow” is considerably darker than the previous two episodes of this season. Sherlock finally drifted away from being a comedy (Click Here to see my review of Ep 1) to handle an incredibly creepy, and formidable villain. While we did have a few instances of humor, namely the absurdity of the apparent girlfriend, this was Sherlock in full throttle mystery-solving thriller mode. Much like its main character, the show is at its best when dealing with a case that cannot be cracked. Moriarty is Sherlock’s greatest villain because he challenges, and often bests, our hero. Our new villain, Charles Magnussen, is very similar, and it’s exciting to see the true games begin again.
He is a successful businessman. The only problem is, his business is blackmail. He has dirt on all the right people, and can identify their “weak spot” through his almost unbelievably good memory. In many ways, he is like Irene Adler: His currency is information. In the blackmail business, knowledge is power. Disappointingly (for me), this intriguing villain quickly becomes a secondary plot point. The real meat of the story is Watson’s new wife Mary, and the insane twist regarding her past life.
The 20 minute period toward the end of the first act, starting with Sherlock breaking into the building, then the shocking reveal of Mary as the burglar, culminating in an incredible “how to avoid death” sequence, was absolutely amazing. The twist was well executed and completely surprising. Plus, the display of smarts and quick-thinking displayed after Mary shoots Sherlock was perfect. No other show does these sequences quite as well as Sherlock does them. A lot of shows like to say their characters are smart, but Sherlock proves time and time again how smart its characters are through these incredible breakdowns of the thought process.
That sequence set the bar pretty high for the rest of the episode. The later acts, although fine, were not able to maintain the same level of astonishment. The most interesting segment was the immoral but necessary choice Sherlock made to kill our villain rather than try to bring him to justice in the more traditional way. Some complained about the plot point, but ultimately Sherlock isn’t a classic good guy, he’s a supremely logical problem solver working alongside the classic good guys. He’s in this for the chase and the intellectual thrill of solving the case, with a loyalty to the truth and the few people in his life that he cares about. When it comes to evil in the world, his approach will ultimately land on the side of the good, even if the path is not always straight and narrow. We like him because of that discipline, not in spite of it. Without this differentiating trait, Sherlock would be just another genius detective, and the show would probably air on USA. (Joke Explanation: Monk, Psych, Suits, and more all feature unquestionably good, and genius lead characters) When you think about it, Sherlock serves the same purpose as a Spider Man or other modern superheroes: He does the things that we cannot, he kills the guy we know should die, but don’t have the guts to kill. He does what he knows needs to happen, regardless of the moral complexities involved.
The end of “His Last Vow” is the shocking twist that Moriarty is back. Just as Sherlock boards the plane to be sent back undercover in eastern Europe, Moriarty’s face pops up on every screen in London and we have our cliffhanger.
On the surface, Sherlock appears to have a death problem now. None of its characters seem to stay dead and that hurts the show going forward. What stakes can there be if everyone who dies will just dramatically come back to life a few episodes later? I believe that Moriarty is still in fact dead, but that his empire has been reborn. Someone else, possibly Irene Adler, (Just a crazy theory I have, but wouldn’t that be awesome!) has resurrected the consulting criminal business using Moriarty’s name for anonymity’s sake. I trust the creative minds of the show to handle the next season well, and not just do the easy thing and have death cheated yet again.
Ultimately, Season Three was a step below the outstanding efforts of the two previous seasons. But the show covered a ton of ground plot-wise, and set itself up for an incredible Season Four while delivering three solid, entertaining entries into the Sherlock saga. Unlike our mystery man Moriarty, I’ll definitely be seeing you guys soon, and I promise, you won’t have to wait nearly as long to find out what I’ll be reviewing next. Unless procrastination hits again…
Thanks for reading.