Sherlock Review – ‘His Last Vow’

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

We have finally come to the end. I say ‘finally’, when in fact it’s only been 12 days. But what an emotional rollercoaster those 12 days have been: I’ve laughed, cried, sworn, shouted, cried some more and heaved a huge sigh of relief that they didn’t finish with ‘aliens did it’. But in all seriousness, I thought that this final episode almost made up for the travesty that was the second episode of the series (it feels weird saying ‘series’ – it was only 3 episodes!) but the pain is still there. Anywho, let me talk you through the things that I enjoyed in particular about this episode.

Oh yes, there will be spoilers – *bonus points to whoever gets that reference*

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Ah Mary, I must admit I didn’t really care for you in the second episode. I thought your involvement in the series was just to introduce the ‘Sherlock-John-Mary’ love triangle into the story. But boy, did they surprise me this episode: Mary shot Sherlock! The moment she turned round to face Sherlock in Magnussen’s apartment I gasped – okay, maybe not ‘gasped’, but I did that ‘furrowing confused’ look that people who know me might recognise. I particularly enjoyed the way that Mary’s prior behaviour was referenced and tied into the fact that she was a ‘baddie’ – remember how she recoiled when the name ‘Cam’ was read out in the telegram at the wedding? C.A.M. = Charles Augustus Magnussen!

To be honest, I’m surprised Mary survived the finale – not because I’m being particularly harsh, but because in Conan Doyle’s work Mary actually dies at an unspecified time between The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House. But hey, she’s alive. I hope that the awkward dynamic between her and John will play a role in Series 4.

Sherlock Dies

The few minutes after Mary shoots Sherlock is one of the best things I think I’ve seen on British television. Sherlock retreats into his ‘mind palace’ and deduces how to try to survive the shooting. I won’t go into full detail about it here, as I believe it needs to be seen to be appreciated, but in short – it was beautiful. Beautifully shot, beautifully written and beautifully played. More of this, please!

(I tried to find the clip on YouTube, but the only thing I could find is the scene split into about 20 clips of 30 seconds each – hopefully someone will upload the full scene in due course.)

Mind Palaces

Oh Moffatt, you little teaser! At the start of the episode we were led to believe that Magnussen wears some kind of Google Glass-esque device that allows him to recall information he has on people. But no, he does it with his mind! There were no vaults underneath Appledore (the stunning Swinhay House in real life) it was all just in Magnussen’s head. I must admit, the fact that he did the actions whilst ‘searching’ through his mind palace was a little silly, but hey, whatever works for him. Mind palaces are a genuine phenomenon and, if used correctly, can be an extremely useful tool for those that are not blessed with eidetic memory.

If you want to try your hand at constructing a mind palace, here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started – http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Memory-Palace

References Galore!

It really does show that both Moffatt and Gatiss have read their fair share of Conan Doyle: evident from all the references they sprinkle into their writing. Here are some that I noticed:

  • Bees! Janine says she’s retiring to a cottage in the Sussex Downs, where she has to remove some beehives. This is a reference to the story ‘His Last Bow’ where Sherlock retires from being a detective to keep bees in the Sussex Downs.
  • Bill ‘Billy’ Wiggins is a character from some of Conan Doyle’s work, so hopefully he will appear in future episodes.
  • The ‘East wind’ is a nod to the outbreak of WWI – rather fitting.
  • A.G.R.A is a cheeky nod to ‘The Sign of Four’ in which Mary Watson’s case involves treasures from the city of Agra in India.

There are probably a few more hidden there, but it’s still nice to see that there is some love for the source material on the part of the writers.

The Ending

Yeah, it’s time to talk about that ending. In one word – ‘Moriarty’! Did we miss him? Indeed we did. Whilst this sets up the show nicely for the fourth series (Christ knows when that’ll surface) it does however throw up a lot of questions: is it really Moriarty? Did he fake his suicide? Or is it someone masquerading as him? So now are there going to be endless fan theories on how Moriarty faked his death? Something tells me people won’t be as keen to solve this one as they were to try to work out how Sherlock managed it. Time will tell, I guess.

*
So that’s the end of Sherlock, for the forseeable future at least. A fourth and fifth series is in the pipeline apparently, with a rumoured Christmas episode due out (at Christmas time funnily enough). Overall, I was somewhat underwhelmed with this series – I think I’m just going to try to erase the second episode from my mind – it’s only saving grace was the finale. Regardless, I look forward to seeing what The Dynamic Duo of Moffatt and Gatiss have in store for us next series.
Tom

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