‘Sherlock’ Recap: ‘His Last Vow’

Sherlock: The Holmeses

Sherlock: The Holmeses

The wedding is over, and the honeymoon is anything but sweet…

Newspaper proprietor Charles Augustus Magnussen is facing a parliamentary enquiry about his ability to influence government policy. His glasses appear to have an electronic menu, offering suggestions of weakness in the people facing him.

These give the sweaty-handed Mr Magnussen a clear sense of cold moral superiority, especially when he uses them to raid his huge personal archive, in a house called Appledore, to find damning evidence against people who stand in his way. Like Lady Smallwood, whose husband’s affair with a 15-year-old girl would be hugely damaging, if made public knowledge.

But it’s not blackmail… it’s ownership. And to prove it, he licks her face.

Later, on the way home, she realises there’s only one person in Britain capable of standing up to Magnussen, and he lives in Baker Street.

John and Mary Watson have been woken by their neighbour, and her son Isaac has gone missing. He’s in a drug den, and John sets off (with a tyre-lever) to get him. No Sherlock, because he hasn’t seen Sherlock for a month. Once inside, he makes short work of spraining a man’s arm, before finding Isaac. But before he can lead him away, up pops a familiar face. It’s Sherlock! Sherlock on drugs!

Time to take everyone off to the lab for testing. Sherlock’s pee is so toxic is causes Molly to slap him in the face three times (from which he deduces her engagement is off). And John continues to act the angry parent, while Sherlock claims this is all for a case. There’s a text confirming his recent recreational activities may end up in the papers, and the game is on.

Back at Baker Street, Mycroft has set the Sherlock fan club to work cleaning out his flat for drugs. But the self-righteousness on his face vanishes as soon as Sherlock mentions his case concerns Magnussen. Immediately he commences threatening everyone present, and it’s not until Sherlock nearly breaks his arm—”don’t appall me when I’m high”—that he is prepared to leave.

Suddenly, from Sherlock’s room, Janine appears. Remember Janine from John’s wedding? She’s clearly been staying over, in a boyfriend-girlfriend sort of way. This temporarily stuns John, so much that Sherlock’s speech about how repulsive he finds Charles Magnussen and his archive of sensitive information at Appledore doesn’t even make it into his ears.

And then, suited heavies arrive, and with them, Charles Magnussen himself. While Sherlock talks, asking for Lady Smallwood’s letters back, Magnussen’s glasses spool, and he takes a whizz in the fireplace. Then, revealing the letters in his pocket, he leaves.

Later, at Magnussen’s building, Sherlock shows John how he intends to break in. A little technical subterfuge, and a little personal information. Janine is Magnussen’s PA! Sherlock is going to propose to her! So she has to let him in! It’s a foolproof plan.

Except she’s been knocked out. And so has the security guard. Someone has broken in! And not Holmes and Watson. It’s someone that wears Claire-de-la-lune perfume, just like Lady Smallwood.

Oh! It’s Mary Watson. She appears to be an assassin. And, having found out that John is in the building, she shoots Sherlock, forcing him to retreat into his Mind Palace to figure out what to do next. Fall on your back! Calm down and don’t go into shock! Talk to your childhood dog! Control the pain! Talk to Moriarty! He’s in a padded cell, locked in the back of your mind!

And then it’s a trip to hospital while Sherlock hovers between life and death. Or more accurately, death and death, until he forces himself to get better. Sherlock LIVES!

Janine, it is fair to say, is peeved. But she’s told the tabloids about Sherlock’s sordid sex life (that never was), and has bought a cottage with the proceeds. Time for another trip to the Mind Palace to try and figure out Mary Watson, and then he’s off out, but no one knows where.

Mary has been contacted by Sherlock, who leads her to a hideout in Leinster Gardens, in houses that aren’t really there. Sherlock has been investigating her past, and found that she is not the person John believes her to be, and that she has deductive capabilities almost as good as his, and a better memory. Oh and she’s a truly exceptional shot.

Sherlock has reasoned that she meant to incapacitate him, not kill him, and that she’s in trouble with Magnussen. He agrees to help, but her request that he not tell John about her past is something he can’t honor, as John is sitting and watching everything, from the shadows. Time to talk.

But as always, it’s Sherlock that does most of the talking. John’s an addict, an adventure junkie, and he has subconsciously found a woman that scratches that itch, while protesting that this is not what he wants. Now Mary has to sit and explain.

Then, it’s Christmas, months later, and we’re at the Holmes family residence—the old Holmestead, if you will—and the boys are back to see their parents. Oh, and so is Bill Wiggins, the fella whose arm John sprained earlier.

It turns out Sherlock’s mother is quite the mathematical genius, which is where the boys get it from. But that’s by the by, as John and Mary have unfinished business. John has Mary’s memory stick, with her identity on it, and the initials A.G.R.A., her real name. Sherlock deduced her identity as an intelligence agent on the run, hiding from Magnussen’s gaze, befriending his PA (boy is Janine going to be peeved when she finds out) and trying to stay under the radar.

John says this: “the problems of your past are your business, the problems of your future are my privilege”

Then there’s a tearful reunion.

And then Mary passes out. Because Sherlock has drugged her tea. And everyone else’s drinks too. Because he’s made a prior deal with Magnussen: Mycroft’s laptop in exchange for a guided tour of the vaults at Appledore.

There follows a tense exchange: it turns out Magnussen was the man who put Watson in a bonfire (technically a Johnfire), just to test his theory that the way to get to Mycroft Holmes is via Sherlock. And the way to get to Sherlock is to own Mary Watson.

Now Sherlock demands all files on Mary, and Magnussen spots that Mycroft’s laptop will lead security forces to his door. It looks like the Holmes brothers have the upper hand, except…

…what if Appledore is a Mind Palace, just like Sherlock’s? With no physical evidence, wouldn’t that mean that Sherlock has just stolen his brother’s laptop and taken it to the home of a newspaper magnate for no appreciable reason beyond personal gain?

Magnussen spends the time waiting for Mycroft’s helicopters to arrive flicking John Watson in the eye while Sherlock appears to flounder. Except he does have a plan after all. To protect Mary, he shoots Magnussen in the head, just like Mary wanted to in the first place.

Which leaves Mycroft with a problem. How to punish his only remaining brother without causing prison riots and further upheaval. Maybe a suicide mission to Eastern Europe would do the trick?

Oh no wait, Moriarty is back, Sherlock can’t leave after all.

THE END.

PS: WHAT? MORIARTY IS… WHAT?

See more:
‘Sherlock’ Recap: ‘The Empty Hearse’
‘Sherlock’ Recap: ‘The Sign of Three’
10 Reasons Why Steven Moffat’s ‘Sherlock’ is the Best
Steven Moffat: “We’ll Do The Next ‘Sherlock’ Series As Quickly As We Can”

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine