Sherlock 'His Last Vow' TV review: A disappointingly desperate finale

The conclusion to series 3 failed to hit new heights and saw the return of the super-sleuth's arch nemesis

Neela Debnath
Sunday 12 January 2014 23:00 GMT
Lars Mikkelsen as the newspaper proprietor Charles Augustus Magnussen
Lars Mikkelsen as the newspaper proprietor Charles Augustus Magnussen (BBC)

Reaching the end of a Sherlock finale is like finishing a hearty meal and wanting to eat it all over again. There is always a sense of satisfaction but also a hunger for more.

But as the credits rolled on His Last Vow, there was little gratification to be found. Sherlock was essentially exonerated for killing newspaper proprietor Charles Augustus Magnussen and came back to stop Moriarty. Everything was wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly.

The Internet was set alight with speculation following the “death” and reappearance of Sherlock at the end of The Reichenbach Fall back in 2012. It was a masterful stroke of genius by writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and left viewers wanting more. However, to attempt to replicate this interest by resurrecting Moriarty comes across as desperate.

Moriarty should have remained in Sherlock’s mind palace for at least another series before he came back. It all felt a little too soon to bring back the arch nemesis. Magnussen was only just getting started before he was disappointingly taken out. There was plenty of hype surrounding this new villain and rightly so.

Lars Mikkelsen of Borgen and The Killing fame gave a sterling turn as Magnussen. He oozed evil from every pore, appearing cold and calculating without any mercy for those who got in his way. Callous but sharing a similar eccentricity to Moriarty – licking a woman’s face or urinating in a fireplace because he can - Magnussen was a fitting foe for Sherlock to face. Who knows, he may be turn out to be alive given this recent trend.

At the risk of trying to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with plenty of plot twists, the conclusion of His Last Vow seems to have done the opposite.

Then there was the big reveal in which Mary turned out to be an assassin. It pushed the realms of believability a little too far – even John was finding it hard to believe. It felt implausible and too much of a coincidence without being clever.

Video: Sherlock - Series 3

Sherlock is known for being clever but this time it is trying far too hard and is coming across a tad foolish. While there has been an excessive amount of self-indulgence this year, some of it was forgivable. What was there not to love about Anderson’s crazed conspiracy theories or drunken Sherlock?

However, the third instalment failed to make up any lost ground. Sherlock is about the thrill of the chase but there has been far less of that this time around. The focus has been on character development and building up the world of Sherlock but all of this has been at the expense of the story.

Where are all the corpses and the seemingly unsolvable murders? The Bloody Guardsman would have made a strong and credible story in itself without being shoehorned around Sherlock’s best man speech. It was classic and compelling Sherlock territory and yet played second fiddle to the wedding.

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