So the time has come once again for Sherlock to end another season. It seems just like yesterday that we were all waited on baited breath for the show to return after its shocking Season 2 cliffhanger. And with a history like that, I’m sure we all started His Last Vow expecting another gut-wrenching story that would leave us on the edge of our seats until the very end.
But if this third season of Sherlock has proved anything, it’s that it isn’t afraid to do things differently. And while His Last Vow is very much packed with plot twists and shocking moments that will leave your head spinning, it’s also held back from greatness by some of the same issues that have been prevalent since The Empty Hearse.
That’s not to say His Last Vow is disappointing, because it isn’t. I fully enjoyed my time with it, and am still very excited to see what’s in store for the fourth season, whenever it might come out. However, it is a little frustrating to see the show stretch itself too thin, as once again, Sherlock finds itself caught trying to do to much.
There are so many things happening during His Last Vow that it’s an almost dizzying experience trying to keep up with it all. The character development is great, if not a little exaggerated, and while the plot is a bit convoluted, I enjoyed it for its multi-layered depth and constant excitement. If I have any real disappoints, they come from the villain.
But let me backtrack a little bit. If His Last Vow truly succeeds at anything, it’s the details. Sherlock has always been great at the subtle things, and while I feel like this season has lost some of that, His Last Vow managed to fill itself with a wonderful balance of explosive plot twists and powerful, little moments that hit the perfect notes.
I loved the opening sequence especially. Getting to see Watson on his own for once was great, and I think his reunion scene with Sherlock in the drug house was equal parts funny and poignant. While I’m glad it was revealed that Sherlock wasn’t actually using again, I think that reminder of his past was a nice way to show just how vulnerable Sherlock is when on his own.
And while I’m sure it will cause some division among fans, I actually really enjoyed the short-lived ‘romance’ between Sherlock and Janine, who you should all remember from the last episode The Sign of Three. While it was obviously going to end badly, I enjoyed seeing this different side of Sherlock come out, even if it was all an act, and it delivered some really fantastic moments.
However, by the best part of the episode was, you guessed, the big reveal about Mary Watson. That initial moment,when Sherlock walks in on Mary interrogating Magnussen made me audibly gasp, and the following moments caught me completely off-guard. Mary shooting Sherlock was easily one of the most memorable moments the series has had so far.
And the following moments of Sherlock mentally fighting for his own life were equally powerful, and while I think they were dramatized a little too much, getting to see inside his mind palace was a brilliant form of characterization that paid off in a big way. Seeing him as a child, and then faced with his own dark side, which cleverly took the form of Moriarty, was by far my favorite moment of the season.
I think we all knew Mary wouldn’t end up becoming a legitimate villain, but I think the entire situation resolved itself a little too quickly. While Sherlock cleverly exposing her in front of Watson was a great moment, it ended far too quickly and left little time for us to really see the impact it must’ve had on all three of the characters.
John’s reasoning behind his decision to completely forgive Mary made perfect sense, as who wouldn’t want to give their future child a good life, but once again I think a little more ambiguity would’ve made the entire situation even better.
However, my biggest complaint comes from the final act, when Sherlock finally confronts this new season’s villain: Charles Augustus Magnussen. Lars Mikkelsen gave a great, chilling performance to be sure, and he eats up every line he’s given, but I felt like there was something missing.
Magnussen has some fantastically menacing scenes, and his manipulation of almost every major character was a great way to set up the plot. However, I don’t feel like he was given enough time to develop into anything more than shock value. His motives are left murky at the end, and while I think Sherlock killing him at the end was a wonderful twist, it didn’t feel like a fitting end to his character.
Thankfully, the final moments of the episode made up for it. Sherlock shooting Magnussen in front of an entire squad of SWAT troopers was obviously going to end badly, and while, once again, I think the situation was resolved too quickly, it gave us some spectacular moments that ended His Last Vow on a wonderful note.
Sherlock and Watson’s ‘final words’ were so heartfelt and emotional that I found myself getting slightly misty-eyed, and while the scene could’ve gotten melodramatic very easily, they kept it real and poignant and I don’t think it could’ve been any better. Until, well, it did. I’ll be honest and say I literally yelled at my TV when Moriarty showed up on that TV, and I cannot wait to find out what role he’ll play in the next season.
Who knows when Sherlock Season 4 comes out, but I know we’ll all be waiting with baited breath for when it does. I think bring back Moriarty is a brilliant move, especially considering how beloved he is by the fans, and while I have no idea how they’ll explain his apparent ‘resurrection,’ I think it could really be some special.
His Last Vow wasn’t perfect, but you know what, I still enjoyed almost every minute of it. It still fell victim to many of the same problems that plagued the rest of the season, but I never felt like the show was getting out of hand. The plot twists were shocking, satisfying, and most of all, left me excited for the future.