What does it take to make John Watson love you? Aside from sociopathic tendencies, that remains to be seen. It seems to involve John being able to maintain plausible deniability though. Wait. Given the end of "His Last Vow," scratch that last bit.
Finally, this season's villain, who was seen at the end of "The Empty Hearse, and whose specter looms large over our lovely bride during the telegram scene in "The Sign of Three," rises to the fore. Charles Augustus Magnussen is a media mogul and the most despicable man William Sherlock Scott Holmes has ever encountered. He collects data on everyone or everything, and then uses it as he will, to control who and what he wants.
Magnussen determines his targets' pressure points. Because Mycroft Holmes is the British government, Magnussen wants him under his thumb. Mycroft's pressure point is his brother, Sherlock. Sherlock's pressure point is John Watson. John Watson's pressure point is Mary Morstan Watson, if that is her real name, and as it turns out, it's absolutely not.
Mary is ready to kill Magnussen. Unfortunately, she is ready just at the moment that Sherlock and John sneak into Magnussen's place, in order to steal information that Magnussen is holding over Sherlock's newest client. While John tends to an injured Janine (the bridesmaid from Mary and John's wedding), Sherlock finds Mary holding Magnussen at gunpoint. Mary shoots him, and by him, I mean Sherlock, and flees. When Sherlock wakes at the hospital, he doesn't give up Mary. It's only later, when he gets her to admit that Magnussen has been leaning on her, that John finds out one of the people he loves best in this world shot the other.
Sherlock insists the Watsons resolve their "domestic" quickly, so that they can move forward and take Mary's case. Getting Mother and Father Holmes to invite the pair to Christmas dinner is integral in fully reconciling the couple. Drugging Mother, Father, and Mycroft Holmes, as well as the pregnant Mary, is also integral to taking down Charles Augustus Magnussen. While everyone is sleeping, Sherlock steals Mycroft's laptop, and he and John head to Magnussen's estate, Appledore.
Appledore is rumored to house the vaults where Magnussen keeps his vast stores of incriminating information. Sherlock offers a trade -- Mycroft's laptop (and password), in exchange for all the information Magnussen has on Mary (who worked in intelligence, handled some wet works, and then freelanced). It's then revealed that the Appledore rumors are just that. Like our hat detective, himself, Magnussen has built himself a Mind Palace. Thanks to his media mogul status, Magnussen doesn't need physical possession of any of the information he wields over his marks' head, he just needs to know it. He just needs to publish it.
Because Mycroft's laptop has a GPS tracker, it's not long before Big Brother helicopters his way to Appledore, where Magnussen, Watson, and Holmes are waiting, outside. Realizing there's no information on Mary that he can retrieve in a meaningful way, Sherlock grabs John's gun, wishes Magnussen a Merry Christmas and shoots him dead. Immediately after killing Magnussen, Sherlock raises his hands over his head, warns John to stand clear of him and awaits his doom. From the air, Mycroft orders the men on the ground to stand down.
Instead of incarcerating Sherlock, Mycroft arranges for him to be sent on a dangerous Eastern European mission. On the tarmac, John and Mary bid their friend and savior farewell and watch him fly away. It's then that the TV transmission is interrupted by James Moriarty (or his double), who asks Britain, "Miss me?" Sherlock has only been in the air four minutes, when Mycroft orders the plane to return. Mycroft hopes Sherlock has used those four minutes to learn his lesson. So say we all.
I'll be back ASAP with the recap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page, and then come on over to our new Sherlock forum where we wish you a Merry Christmas in February, because we can.
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.