On Sunday, the final episode of the third season of Sherlock, His Last Vow, was on PBS. As a brief description at the PBS website describes this episode, “This time around things will be different—a new member of the team, a new arch-villain who inspires unsurpassed loathing, and, most unsettling of all, a new threat that lies very close to home. ” This is a quite good encapsulation of the episode.
His Last Vow opened with newspaper magnate Charles Augustus Magnussen, the “arch-villain” of the episode, being questioned by an inquiry board about his influence over the British Prime Minister. He denies that he had much of an influence over him, and chillingly tells one of his female interrogators (Lady Smallwood) “I have an excellent memory.”
He is then seen later, with a card depicting a beautiful woman at his mouth.Then, he is seen holding a woman’s wrist, and questioning her about a young lady who Lady Smallwood denies knowing was as young as she was. He is blackmailing her, and he creepily licks her face.
Lady Smallwood, later driven by her chauffeur, tells him that “No one stands up to him.” Then, she tells him to turn around, and head back to Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes resides.
A woman, the next door neighbor, sobbing and obviously shaken, shows up at the door of Baker Street, and is welcomed by Dr John Watson. He is there with his wife, Mary, the latest member of the team. The neighbor wants Watson to help her as her son, Isaac, is in a crack house, because he’s an addict.
Then, we see Watson, looking for his “friend” Isaac Whitney — the neighbor’s son — in a crack house. He shows up at the crack house, and a man there pulls a knife on him. Watson easily kicks his butt, and asks him again where Isaac Whitney is — the man tells him “Upstairs.”
Isaac Whitney is, indeed, up there, as is Sherlock Holmes, in a “drug den,” as Watson puts it. Sherlock tells Watson he was “undercover” as Watson and Mary drive him to a laboratory. Sherlock tries to tell Watson that it was all a part of a plan so that Magnussen would think he had dirt on Sherlock and could blackmail him.
Watson and Mary take Sherlock to the police lab, where Molly, dressed in a white lab frock, slaps Holmes repeatedly, and asks him to tell them that he’s sorry. Sherlock gets a phone text, and says “Finally! The game is on!”
At a meeting with Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother asks him if he’s “back on the sauce.” He tells Sherlock that he’s a “celebrity” and “can’t afford to have a drug habit.”
Sherlock tells him that it’s not what he thinks, that “it’s for a case.” He says he’s after Charles Augustus Magnussen. Mycroft tells him to never use that name again, and that he’s under his protection. “If you go against Magnussen, you go against me.”
Watson asks Sherlock what sort of case it is, but Sherlock refuses to answer him.
The bridesmaid Jeanine from The Sign of the Three, dressed only in a man’s shirt, talks very familiarly to Watson, and mentions “Mike,” who is Mycroft.
Watson asks Sherlock if he has a girlfriend, and Sherlock says “yes.” Then, Sherlock changes the subject, and speaks about Magnussen, who he says turns his stomach. Jeanine is, supposedly, Sherlock’s girlfriend, and fiance — they kiss, and she whispers: “Solve me a crime, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”
Holmes tells Watson that Magnussen is “the Napoleon of blackmail,” and adds that he’s the head of “Appledore” the Alexandrian Library of secrecy. He says that the personal safety of everyone is imaginary.
Magnussen meets with them at Baker Street; he tells Sherlock and Watson that “This is my office. It is now.”
Sherlock tells Magnussen that he wants to be an intermediary to get letters returned to him. Magnussen take a pee into the fire in the fireplace, and calls the U.K. “the petri dish to the rest of the world.” He says he’s “keeping the letters,” and calls them “phony.”
Sherlock says that Magnussen is actually ready to make a deal, and that he only does so if he thinks he’s recognized someone’s weaknesses. He thinks that Magnussen might believe that his weakness is that he’s a drug addict.
Sherlock uses a card to break into Magnussen’s office — Jeanine, his “girlfriend,” is the head of the security there. Sherlock tells Watson that he just got engaged to break into her boss’s office.
Watson realizes that Jeanine has gotten a blow to her head, and has been knocked out. Sherlock’s nose detects the odors of various perfumes, like the one which Jeanine wears, and that of Lady Smallwood (thinks) but it is really Mary, there with a gun to the head of Magnussen. Mary shoots Sherlock in the chest.
Depending on which way he falls, he will lose too much blood and will die, or he will live, but just barely. He determines that the bullet is inside of him, and is “the cork within a bottle.” By falling backward, he might save himself, if he can stop going into shock. He has massive internal bleeding, but he must control his pain, or the shock will kill him.
Watson then shows up, and he asks Magnussen who shot Sherlock; apparently, Magnussen doesn’t ask him. The “ghost” of Moriarty (in Sherlock’s imagination, Moriarty is there, in a padded cell, yelling at him, with a straitjacket on) tells him that he’s letting John Watson down, that that wife of his is dangerous.
Sherlock, practically dead in the operating room, pulls through. When Watson tells Mary this news. She acts happy, but she looks less than thrilled.
Jeanine, in the hospital room with Sherlock, tells him that he “shouldn’t have lied to her.” Mary tells him that he shouldn’t tell John what happened. Sherlock, in his bed, wonders who Mary Watson actually is.
He vanishes from his hospital bed, and everyone searches for him. Mycroft says he’s got five known bedrooms. Greg LeStrade and John Watson talk about where Sherlock might be, and Greg comes up with the possible explanation that he’s “protecting someone.”
Sherlock contacts Mary by phone, and tells her that he’s planted the information about where he is — she just needs to find him. He calls her a “facade.” He said he “won the place in a card game.”
He says that Mary has an “extraordinarily retentive memory.” He asks her how good of a shot she really is. He said he’ll take the case — Mary asks “What case?” and he tells her “Yours.”
She asks him to not tell John, but John is actually right there and hears exactly what Mary has said.
Sherlock, Mycroft, and Sherlock’s “protege” are at Sherlock’s parent’s house, there for Christmas. Mary is also there.
Sherlock asks Mrs. Hudson if she had morphine in her kitchen — but, she tells him that she doesn’t have any. Sherlock asks her “What good are you, then?” and tells Watson that he (Watson) is “addicted to a dangerous lifestyle.”
Sherlock then asks John: “What is she?” about Mary. He wants to know what John thinks about Mary now, and what their relationship might be like after he’s learned that Mary is not the person he’d thought that she was.
John tells Mary that right now, she is a client, and this is where he and Sherlock will decide whether they want her or not.
Watson has a USB port with the initials A.G.R.A. on it. She tells Watson that those are her real initials. She is a CIA assassin, or rather, was one. She tells Watson that he married her because danger is what he likes. She was there to kill Magnussen, but she didn’t do it — she phoned the ambulance before John did. Sherlock is bleeding internally, and has an ambulance take him away to the hospital again.
Watson tells Mary that the problems with her past are her problems, the problems with their future are his. He hasn’t read the USB port information; they resolve their problems, at least for now.
Mycroft tells Sherlock that Magnussen is a “necessary evil.” He’s not a dragon for him to slay. Mycroft tells him that “your loss would break my heart.”
Mary passes out in Watson’s arms — Sherlock has drugged her.
Sherlock is then seen meeting with Magnussen — he tells Magnussen that “I think you are a lot more careless than you let on.” Sherlock believes that Magnussen’s eyeglasses might be like Google Glasses, but they are just ordinary spectacles.
Sherlock offers Magnussen his brother as a Christmas present. He tells Watson that Magnussen is the most dangerous criminal he’s ever faced. It was Magnussen who had kidnapped Watson and placed him in the bonfire. Magnussen said that he would have never let him die, though. He had men ready to pull him out of the fire.
Sherlock hands Magnussen a laptop computer, but he says that it’s password protected. The price for the password, he says, is all the files on Mary that Magnussen has in his vaults.
Magnussen tells Sherlock and Watson that Mary is a “bad person, that one.” Magnussen says that he knows Sherlock put a GPS tracking device in the laptop, but he adds that Sherlock has made “one enormous mistake.”
He shows Sherlock and Watson that the Appledore vaults are really “mind vaults,” his memories. He can see the files of Mrs. Watson that way, and all of the people she killed, all of the missions that she went on for the C.I.A.
“Knowing is owning,” Magnussen tells Watson. He tells the pair that they will be heavily featured in the news tomorrow for trying to show him state secrets.
Magnussen taunts Watson, asking him to let him “flick his face.” He threatens to tell people who know Mary and hate her where she is, and that they will kill her.
According to Magnussen, he’s a businessman, and the police who are coming are actually going to arrest Sherlock and Watson for trying to sell him state secrets.
He says “Do your research. I’m not a hero. I’m a high-functioning sociopath.”
Sherlock shoots Magnussen dead, and puts his hands up. “Give my love to Mary,” he tells Watson. “You’re safe now.”
Mycroft, in the helicopter, says “What have you done now?”
Mycroft tells Lady Smallwood that “Regrettably, my brother is a murderer.” He decides to send his brother, Sherlock, on a mission to Eastern Europe, one which Sherlock will likely not come back alive from.
Sherlock meets for one last time with Watson. Watson tells him that “The East Wind takes us all in the end.”
Before boarding the airplane, Sherlock tells Watson that he will be doing some undercover work in Eastern Europe for 6 months.
He then says that “Sherlock is actually a girl’s name.”
Watson: “It’s not.”
Sherlock: “It was worth a try.”
Sherlock tells him: “To the very best of times, John.” and boards a waiting airplane.
Moriarty’s face has appeared all over England, saying “Did you miss me?” repeatedly. Mycroft calls Sherlock and tells him that his exile is now over, though the plane hasn’t even been gone more than four minutes.
I watched the PBS wrap-up of the season after the last episode of Sherlock His Last Vow, and I learned that the two people who play Sherlock’s parents are actually Benedict Cumberbatch’s real parents.
Sherlock is one of the best TV series ever, with strong, believable characters, intricate plots, and clever and devious villains. This last episode of season three, His Last Vow, might very well be the best episode yet. There were tons of twists and turns in His Last Vow, and it will be very interesting to see how the relationship between Watson and Mary will continue to unfold in future episodes.
Also, of course, I am intrigued that Moriarty has somehow managed to fake his own death, much as Sherlock did, and that he has apparently been lying low for a couple of years, right up until the end of His Last Vow.
I’m guessing that the Internet will be rife with theories about how Moriarty survived and faked his own death, much as they were about theories as to how Sherlock managed to survive his apparent suicidal leap from a building at the end of season two. The fourth season of Sherlock can’t come too soon for me, though I’m afraid that it hasn’t yet been begun.
Written by: Douglas Cobb