Review: BBC’s Sherlock: ‘His Last Vow’

By Melanie Bethune

Coming off of last week’s sentimental catch-up episode, the season three finale of BBC’s Sherlock, “His Last Vow,” is a return to action at breakneck speed. This whirlwind of an episode touches on everything we love and have come to expect from Sherlock, while being as dark and haunting as last week’s “The Sign of Three” is celebratory.

Returning to the plot-based mystery which grounds the series, “His Last Vow” introduces us to Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson’s (Martin Freeman) newest adversary in the form of media mogul Charles Magnussen (Lars Mikkelson) who is so dastardly frightening he even gives Sherlock pause. We’re given betrayal, scandal, surprises and still a few comedic moments over the the hour and a half run time. Part of what makes Sherlock so successful is the writers’ abilities to draw on Conan Doyle’s source material while still surprising and changing things up for the viewers every time. This episode was no different. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire run time as the thrilling plot unraveled.

In particular, the sequence surrounding Sherlock’s memory palace is expertly crafted with careful homages to past allies and villains and Cumberbatch’s acting truly shines. “His Last Vow” delves into the deepest and darkest parts of what make Sherlock tick in a grim and haunting way and even succeeds in crafting this new version of Sherlock into a character almost independent of Doyle’s original hero. He’s dark, tortured, intelligent but also fallible. Die-hard Doyle fans may find fault in this restructuring of such a classic character, but I find it incredibly fascinating to see such classic literature adapted to our new world.

The episode — and the third season — end with what seems to be a tied up conclusion, but don’t turn off your TV as the first booming note of the credits sounds. True to Sherlock, the waning seconds of the episode reveal a new development that’ll keep you locked with anticipation until season four.

Let’s hope the wait won’t be as long as the last.

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