His Last Vow

Episode Report Card
Cindy McLennan: B | 806 USERS: A-
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

What a funny little season, season three of Sherlock is. The first two episodes left me quite emotional. This third one is an odd duck. I suppose it evokes emotions in its own way, but not necessarily ones on which I care to dwell. During "The Empty Hearse," I feel Sherlock's joy at being home, reuniting with his friend, and his fear of Watson's reaction. Watson's earned sense of betrayal hits home, as does his relief, joy, and aggravation. Then of course there are the suspenseful bonfire and train bomb scenes. "The Sign of Three" overflows with love, laughter, and a good measure of melancholy. When watching "His Last Vow," what I mostly feel is frustration and revulsion. It's a perfectly respectable episode, and I quite enjoyed watching it, but it's not one I'll spend much time with after I put this recap to bed.

We open on the Parliamentary Commission which was announced via a graphic on Anderson's TV back in "The Empty Hearse," just above the "HAT DETECTIVE ALIVE" graphic. Lady Elizabeth Smallwood (Lindsay Duncan) and the rest of the Commission are questioning Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen), newspaper mogul, about how much influence he exerts over the British Prime Minster.

As the Commission members address Magnussen, he reads them, much as Sherlock reads those he encounters. By now, you've watched the episode, right? If not, get out of here, watch, then come back. You don't want me spoiling you.

There, now that we're rid of them, I'm free to say, I'm not going to pretend I am still misdirected by misdirections. Keeping up that pretense makes the recap too long. Magnussen fiddles with his glasses so much, you'd think this is an advertisement for Google Glass. That is, he seems to be getting information transmitted via his glasses.

On screen, thanks to the output of Magnussen's reading, we learn that Lady Smallwood is married, financially solvent, a former gymnast, has no porn preference and no vices. Her pressure point is her husband. Magnussen is recalling all of this from his own spectacular Mind Palace, which as you know because you've seen this episode, is the big twist of the episode.

We have a scene of visual misdirection, in which it appears Magnussen returns home, and descends to his vault, but you and I know it's just his Mind Palace. It's telling that the heart of his magnificent Mind Palace is such a creepy room. You know the one, with the dolls and such. It's where we first saw him, as he reviewed footage of Sherlock rescuing John from the bonfire. God, how did I not realize how creepy dolls are, when I was a little girl? I had so many dolls, I called the playroom "the dolls' room." They're just dead babies, aren't they? I had shelves of dead babies. And? I loved them.

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