And to top off Series Three rankings, we have…
His Last Vow
Summary: John and Mary are married and expecting a baby, and Sherlock is back on drugs. And he has a girlfriend. Who is just a cover for his investigation of a truly repulsive villain. Sherlock gets shot on the job, and everything goes rapidly downhill from there.
Why it’s ranked here: “His Last Vow” is significantly better than the rest of Series Three–so much so that it almost seems they were saving up all the good writing for this episode on purpose. Sherlock is still a bit too human (and too self-deprecating–whatever happened to his skyscraper-sized ego?) for my taste, and the villain lacks in cleverness what he makes up in creepiness, but overall, this is a pretty solid episode.
For one thing–and spoilers DO follow–Mary’s assassin identity completely blindsided me. I suppose I should have been expecting some dark secret from her, given Moffat’s history with female characters, but her charming normality in the other episodes had me fooled. So…the scene where she shot Sherlock was successfully shocking.
I also LOVED getting an extended tour of Sherlock’s mind palace and seeing what–or rather, who–he has stashed in there. No Watson, interestingly enough. Anderson shows up, surprisingly. And, of course, Mycroft and Moriarty, cast in fascinating roles. That scene gave me lots of food for thought.
Magnussen was also a fairly well-done character. After two episodes without a murder or even a convincing threat of murder, he gave us–well, not murder, but a genuinely creepy villain who manages to establish his complete evilness without killing anyone, which is perhaps an even greater feat. I mean, peeing in the fireplace? Who does that?
In all seriousness, the writers did a good job creating a character that Sherlock could kill without losing his status as “the good guy” in the sight of the audience. I think many fans would have lost sympathy for our great detective if he had even blown Moriarty away. But we’ll all forgive him for Magnussen. And when you think about it, it’s a wonder Magnussen managed to survive until the beginning of this episode. He’s a professional blackmailer who keeps all his information on people in his head! It might be an impressive feat of memory, but if you want to give people a reason not to kill you, modern digital filing sometimes comes in handy. Guy could have learned a thing or two from Irene Adler.
And then, of course, we get to the last 30 seconds of the episode. To be honest, I wasn’t too surprised that the writers gave Moriarty a cameo. One of the reasons this series was so weak is that he wasn’t around to create some real suspense. What exactly that cameo meant, I don’t know. If he really is back from the dead, it’ll be the biggest departure from the original stories that Sherlock has done yet–and also much harder to explain than even Sherlock’s resurrection. I’m more inclined to believe the image was just a recording that Moriarty’s surviving network (or maybe just one of them) decided to broadcast as a way of announcing their presence. Only time will tell, I guess. *sigh* One more year of hiatus…