Title: Sherlock S3.E03 “His Last Vow”
Released: 2014
Series:  Sherlock

Another series of Sherlock has now come and gone. Although there’s been talk of both a fourth and fifth series—the fourth beginning as soon as this Christmas?—I fear that the (well deserved) popularity of Messrs Cumberbatch and Freeman will yet again force us to wait for new episodes, our hands grasping at air, our hearts aching, our Tumblrs growing stagnant. We shall see, friends. We shall see.

That said … HOLY SHEEEEET was that ever a way to cap off a season/series.

The Case

We back up with the mysterious man from Episode 1 (“The Empty Hearse“) while he’s being grilled by a bunch of politician-looking people. While they’re asking him questions about his meetings with the Prime Minister, he’s reading them through his glasses, reading about their names, financial situations, porn preferences (yup) and pressure points. He focuses in on one woman, whom we later find out is Lady Elizabeth Smallwood, and makes the connection that her husband is her pressure point.

After the inquiry, Mr. Magnussen (who’s played by Lars Mikkelsen, Mads’ older brother … they sure do make them awesomely creepy in that family) makes his way into Lady Smallwood’s private chambers. There, he threatens her with information he has about her husband’s long ago inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old before sweating (he has a “condition”) all over her and licking her face. After he leaves, Lady Smallwood decides to make a visit to Baker Street.

John wakes up from a war nightmare and finds a neighbor knocking on the door. Her son, who has a drug problem, has gone missing. John and Mary head to the crackhouse to try and find him. When he enters, a drug addict threatens him with a knife. John takes him down like he was taking down a stuffed animal (H.O.T.) before heading upstairs to find the neighbor’s son. When he finds him, he also finds an unexpected face: Sherlock, who’s been off the grid for a month.

John is immediately worried that Sherlock, who’s had issue with drugs in the past, is using again. Sherlock assures him that it’s all for a case, but John heads back to the car and tells Mary to head to see Molly because “Sherlock Holmes needs to pee in a jar.” The crackhead that John tussled with comes along (and—to jump ahead a bit—ends up being a seriously awesome side character).

After Molly tests Sherlock’s pee and makes sure he’s clean, she slaps him, hard, three times and yells at him to apologize to his friends. Sherlock tries to change the subject to John’s new cycling habit, and Bill Wiggins (the crackhead) makes a very clear deduction about how Sherlock knew. (Something about folding shirts. They’re much smarter than I am.) Sherlock gets a text that his drug habit will be making the papers the next day and gets excited.

When the men get back to Baker Street, Mycroft is there. He’s got Anderson and another member of Sherlock’s fan club combing the apartment for any evidence of drugs. Sherlock reiterates that it’s all for a case, but won’t let anyone go in the bedroom. Mycroft isn’t having any of it until Sherlock says that the case has to do with Charles Augustus Magnussen. Suddenly, Mycroft is all business, and kicks everyone out. Sherlock has to forcibly remove him from the flat.

When everyone has left other than John and Sherlock, Sherlock goes into his bathroom and Janine—the bridesmaid with whom Sherlock was flirting at the wedding—comes out of the bedroom in nothing but Sherlock’s button down. Apparently, Sherlock has a girlfriend … who calls him Sherl? John is flabbergasted.

After she leaves, and Sherlock pretends to be a typical boyfriend (so weird!), Sherlock tries to tell John about Magnussen, when, speak of the devil, he and some of his men arrive at the flat. After reading John, who’s pressure points are Sherlock and Mary, and reading Sherlock, who either has every pressure point ever or Magnussen can’t figure him out, Magnussen denies Sherlock’s request for Lady Smallwood’s husband’s illicit letters, and then pees in the fireplace. (Dude only gets creepier with every scene he’s in.)

John and Sherlock later meet up at Magnussen’s office to try to break in and find the letters. It turns out that Janine is Magnussen’s assistant, and that the whole relationship has been crafted by Sherlock to get to Magnussen. (He even fakes a proposal, the bastard.) When Sherlock and John get up to his private office, Janine and a security guard have been knocked out. While John’s checking on her, Sherlock heads to the bedroom, and finds someone dressed all in black aiming a gun at Magnussen. Sherlock believes it to be Lady Smallwood, since he can smell her perfume, but the shooter turns around and it’s …


Mary shoots Sherlock and sends him into his mind palace where he uses his memories and knowledge (personified by Molly, Anderson, Mycroft, his childhood dog Red Beard and a straight-jacketed Moriarty) to survive the wound. He wakes up in the hospital after coming back from the dead and Janine’s sold numerous (fake) stories to the tabloids as revenge. She’s mad, but is surprisingly OK with the situation. (Another awesome female character, that Janine. And how nice is it that she’s somewhat “normal” sized?)

Sherlock escapes the hospital and his whole group of friends/associates go looking for him. John returns to Baker Street and discusses with Lestrade why Sherlock, who obviously saw who shot him, wouldn’t reveal the shooter’s name. John realizes that he has to be protecting someone … and that someone is him.

Mary goes looking for Sherlock and finds Wiggins sitting on a corner with a phone in hand. (He’s working for Sherlock now. I love this development.) Mary enters 23 and 24 Leinster Terrace, and talks to Sherlock about how she’s not who she says she is. When Mary shoots a hole through a coin while it’s in the air, Sherlock tells her he’ll take her case, as she’s obviously hiding something that Magnussen knows about. She assures Sherlock that no matter what happens, she cannot lose John. When the lights come on, she’s been talking to the both of them the entire time.

The group head back to Baker Street, where John is barely keeping himself together. He wonders aloud why this is happening to him, and Sherlock and Mary both agree that John is the type of person who seeks out danger and dangerous individuals. When he asks, “Is everyone I’ve ever met a psychopath?” Sherlock replies: “Yes.” Mary gives him a flash drive with the initials A.R.G.A. on them, and tells John to read it when he’s not with her. All of her secrets are on the drive. John is still pissed, but Sherlock assures him that Mary could have easily killed him had she wanted to. She’s actually the one who saved his life (after shooting him), by calling the ambulance easily five minutes before John did.

Fast forward to Christmas at the Holmes’, where Sherlock, Mycroft, Mary … and Wiggins … are all enjoying the holiday (the former two begrudgingly). John shows up and tells Mary that he didn’t end up looking at her secrets, that her future—with him—is all that he cares about. (It’s so sweet to see them make up!) Mary suddenly passes out, and it turns out that Sherlock’s drugged everyone but himself and John because Sherlock’s made a “deal with the devil.” Wiggins helped. (He’s totally my new favorite character.) They take Mycroft’s laptop, which holds many British secrets, to Magnussen, in order to protect Mary and in exchange for seeing Magnussen’s vault of secrets.

When they arrive at Magnussen’s house, they find that nothing is what it seems. Magnussen, like Sherlock, knows the power of the mind palace, and in his head is where he stores all of his secrets. And because they stole the laptop and because there are no physical vaults, Sherlock and John will be arrested for attempting to sell state secrets. Magnussen thinks he’s won, and proceeds to flick John’s face (weirder and weirder) as the three men wait for the police to arrive.

When they do, Sherlock shoots Magnussen in the head, sealing the vaults and protecting Mary once and for all.

Sherlock is arrested and Mycroft speaks on his behalf, asking that he be put to use in an undercover operation rather than being imprisoned. As Sherlock’s about to leave on a plane for “somewhere in eastern Europe,” he has a conversation with John. He suggests that he and Mary name their child William Sherlock Scott Holmes, even though it’s a girl. He heads off on the plane, and one might think that was the end.


A transmission comes over all screens in the country, asking a question: “Did you miss me?” Lestrade looks shocked. Molly looks frightened. Mycroft receives a call and then immediately calls Sherlock, telling him that his plans have been cancelled and that England needs him.

Somehow … Moriarty’s back.

The Bromance

Sherlock has grown a lot over the course of three seasons. He’s still a high-functioning psychopath, but he’s grown a heart, particularly when it comes to John Watson. And when John’s hurting, he does everything in his power to help him, even if that means helping others who might not mean as much to him, but who mean everything to John (i.e., Mary). There weren’t any particularly bromantic moments in this episode—not like last week’s, which was nearly overflowing—except for maybe that last convo, but there’s so much under the surface.

The Observations

  • John is such a badass. Taking Wiggins down with barely a second thought was fabulous.

  • Janine mentions at one point that she’s going to use the money she got from selling Sherlock stories to buy a cottage in Sussex Downs that has beehives. In the Holmes story “His Last Bow,” Sherlock retires to a cottage “upon the Downs” and raises bees. It’s also in this story that he tells Watson “there’s an east wind coming.”

  • Benedict Cumberbatch’s real-life parents are SO ADORABLE. I hope they’re exactly like the Holmes parents in real life.

  • Magnussen asks for a T-shirt based on John’s non-understanding … and the BBC delivers.

The Deduction

Seeing the third episode in a Sherlock series is always bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s an awesome 90 minutes of TV.  On the other, it’s the end of yet another series, which means no more weekly Sherlock and John for an undetermined period of time. *pout* I loved learning more about Mary in this episode (CIA? Assassin? Actually American?), and even though her past isn’t exactly squeaky clean, she’s an amazing partner for John and fits nicely into the team. Magnussen was a crazy bad guy with some “unique” quirks. (To be honest, I’m kind of sad he’s already gone.) And I totally wasn’t expecting Moriarty to return, outside of Sherlock’s mind palace, that is.

But enough of my thoughts—I want to hear yours! Was “His Last Vow” a fitting ending to the series? Do you have any predictions for what happens next? Let’s discuss below.


Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.