It’s hard to trump Andrew Scott’s performance of Moriarty. So it’s safe to say that the villain of Season 3 of Sherlock would have to be totally different.
This is true. Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) is reserved, patient, and, most importantly, a businessman. The stark contrast to manic energy and over the top flamboyance of Moriarty is clear.
I found myself missing Moriarty during “His Last Vow.”
Now it’s not to say that Magnussen is not a good villain. Quite the opposite, he’s a businessman and a huge creep who gets his jollies over exploiting other people’s weaknesses and taking advantage.
I just missed Moriarty’s showmanship the most. He never made me want to shower afterwards unlike Magnussen.
Anyway, that is a tribute to Lars Mikkelsen’s skill as an actor. The fact that he’s skeevy businessman makes me want to shower means that he’s doing something right. Magnussen is supposed to be a creep and the calm arrogance Mikkelsen portrays him with is perfect.
Magnussen aside, let’s talk about the real interesting bit of this episode.
Amanda Abbington deserves to be commended. She led us astray by being so sweet and cheerful. The revelation that Mary is a former assassin who left the life behind definitely shocks. Sure we knew that there was something about Mary, but no one knew quite what or how to feel about it.
This twist is a brilliant maneuver. John could never fall in love with an ordinary person, not when his best friend is Sherlock Holmes. There had to be something in Mary that on a subconscious level he knew and reacted to. Of course her lying to him and nearly murdering his best friend definitely will lead to a lot of marriage counseling.
Martin Freeman’s reactions are perfection in this episode. His betrayal and anger at Mary’s lies, his needing his own fix by doing something dangerous, and his quiet and loving moment with his wife are equally breathtaking and applauding. His turn as John Watson is a hard act to follow. The fact that even as he somewhat forgives her he tells her he will still be angry shows the human being underneath. He loves his wife and he loves his best friend but when they lie to him he is going to be angry about it and they let him.
Seriously bringing in Mary this season was a brilliant move on the writers part as well. They bring her in, make us fall in love with her, and then make this huge earth-shaking revelation…and we still love her.
She nearly kills Sherlock! We still love her.
Speaking of nearly killing Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch was no slouch in this episode either. Of course this should go without saying.
The moment where he really shines though is in his Mind Palace as he nearly dies. He is surrounded by figures of colleagues and enemies. It’s a beautiful dizzying sequence as his body is in distress and Sherlock’s mind attempts to overcome it. Cumberbatch shows the distress but also a kind of wild-eyed clarity as Sherlock runs through the various scenarios after getting shot. His Mind Palace becomes larger and grander. The dizzying shots and angles only enhance the performance given in those precious minutes.
It makes me really sad that the season is only three episodes. Naturally, though, Freeman and Cumberbatch do have other projects to do.
The episode gets a four and a half out of five stars because Magnussen was built up, but not to a point where I felt satisfied when he was “officially” introduced. Moriarty at least had a more subtle build up. The story was a little confused in some places and a bit twisty. Also Sherlock going back on drugs for five seconds and it never being addressed again can’t be swept under the rug. That really does need to be addressed.
Overall, I give Season 3 as a whole five stars out of five. With some minor faults in the episodes, the overall arc of the season showed something amazing: Sherlock Holmes’ heart. The season was about emotion over intellect. Sherlock Holmes may be a “high-functioning sociopath” but clearly he has learned to love.
Then there was the bombshell at the end of the episode. Season 4 may have no start date, but the Sherlock fandom will prevail.
Then they’ll ask: “Did you miss me?”