Sherlock, TV review: 'Series 3 finale delivers the goods'
A dizzying trip round Baker Street’s patriotic front
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Sunday 12 January 2014
If you require more than just explosions and car chases from your weekend viewing (get you!) then the concluding episode in this current run of Sherlock (Sunday, BBC2) delivered the goods. It had intelligence, humour and obscure fanboy references galore.
After the bromantic lull of last week's wedding episode, in which the mystery plot was half-drowned in sentiment, there was reason to fear Sherlock had gone soft. We should have had more faith. Sherlock always plays the long game and this week was a pay-off that more than justified its set-up. The clue was in the episode title. "His Last Vow" made reference not only to Arthur Conan Doyle’s "His Last Bow", a patriotic spy story from 1917, but also to the vow made by Sherlock in his Best Man's speech: "Mary and John, whatever it takes, whatever happens, from now on I swear I will always be there. Always."
The challenge to Sherlock's loyalty and his patriotism came in the form of Charles Augustus Magnussen, a foreign newspaper proprietor-cum-master blackmailer who had the audacity to insult the English while urinating in Sherlock's fireplace.
"You can do what you like here," he mused as he tinkled. "No one's going to stop you. It's a nation of herbivores." Fans of Borgen and The Killing have been awaiting the arrival of Lars Mikkelsen as Magnussen ever since the closing shot of episode one, but this performance was enough to send a shiver down any spine - a viscerally repugnant cross between Hannibal Lecter and Rupert Murdoch.
Magnussen wasn't the only new character to be introduced. This was the most dizzying, lysergic episode yet, in which Sherlock's "mind palace" became our home from home, and a similar mnemonic device would be needed to recall how it all slotted together. A few old frienemies dropped by to say hello and we developed deeper insight into the two leads. We now know what tickles Watson's fancy and that Sherlock's fancy will always remain reassuringly untickeld.
So yes, Sherlock requires attentive viewing, but it rewards your attention tenfold. There was enough detail in this episode to justifying watching it again and again, once weekly, until series four starts next year.
Video: Sherlock - Series 3
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election