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OK, folks: now that is how you finale an episode of television. Tonight’s third season ender for Sherlock was everything you love about the series and proved there’s no slump anywhere in this show’s future. A nonstop, twisty-turny, action-packed, and clever as hell little jaunt, "His Last Vow" took us out the insular world of Watson and Holmes and into the reality of the situation at hand. And it exposed — at long last! — not only our big baddie, but a new character we're dying to see more of (Bill Wiggins), a side of Mary Morstan we'd previously not known, and a heck of a lot of slapping. Being trapped in the mind palaces of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss never felt so good.
After last week’s gangbuster wedding episode, the pressure was certainly on for excellence leading into the season finale. However, Moffat and Gatiss did far from disappoint. The myriad moving parts and bits that gave you momentary pause throughout the season were brought together with wicked aplomb, proving that the series is at its best when it balances fan-serving hilarity with character-developing advancements. In the world of Sherlock Holmes, you can have your cake and eat it, too. So what were this episode's most shocking moments? Aside from finding Sherlock in a drug den, Molly’s multiple slaps (all very well-deserved), our hero's blatant disregard for faux-girlfriend Janine’s feelings in the name of manipulation, and the hilariously observant, drug-addled chemist Bill Wiggins? Well, perhaps the biggest bombshells of them all. Namely…
Charles Augustus Magnussen has a Mind Palace
Our foil for Rupert Murdoch (because I mean, really), a baddie that also serves as a stand-in for Charles Augustus Milverton, apparently has a bit of a mind palace himself! (Not just for Sherlock, it seems.) So that’s why we had so many deep dives into Holmes’ inner mental sanctum. The king of the blackmailers has no need for a library full of all the secrets he knows — he needs only a tiny white room where he imagines descending a bunch of fancy staircases. (So that’s why there were so many amazing staircases this episode.) It was a twist that not even Sherlock saw coming, leaving him wide open to be framed for selling government secrets. Which is, well, sort of a terrible position to be in — no wonder Sherlock did the unthinkable and shoot Magnussen dead in front of Mycroft and the cops.
Mary Morstan is an Assassin
We knew from the outset that something was amiss with Mary Morstan, but we were under the impression she was very, very bad. Turns out she might still be a bit of a no-good, but it’s a bit more complicated than all that. Mary’s previous career as a secret agent turned freelance assassin was not something we’d expected when she showed up at Magnussen’s office to shoot the man that Sherlock was also mid-taking down, but it was a delight. And while the reveal that your wife nearly killed your best friend/has a secret double life, would likely cause anyone to scurry, Sherlock makes a case for the clever girl. And considering just how clever, quick, and sort of perfect she as an addition to the Holmes and Watson world, we’re more than glad to have more of Mrs. Watson — once we find out what in the heck in her past is so dangerous.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling twist of all? MORIARTY IS STILL ALIVE, APPARENTLY. What in the actual fuck, you guys: how could that even be possible? We'd be lying if we didn’t say we were over-the-moon excited to see Andrew Scott back on the series — he is a truly wonderful and enigmatic actor — but the twist feels hard to explain away. Of course that’s exactly what the series will have to do the next time we see it, but it’s a resounding “yes!” to the question Moriarty posed London-wide: miss me?
We've come a long way from the season premiere, and in a very, very good way. Sherlock Holmes in the hands of Moffat and Gatiss is more than just a caricature, he’s a human that develops, evolves, and grows in new and interesting ways. The Sherlock of Sherlock has a dynamicism previously unseen in other big and small screen iterations. Fingers crossed we only have to wait until Christmas to find out all the answers.