'Sherlock' Season 3 finale: Blackmail and something about Mary in 'His Final Vow'

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"Sherlock" really knows how to end a season.

From the first moments of the Season 3 finale, "His Final Vow" -- set in a crack-house -- to the final twist 90 minutes later, there were few dull moments in the quick-moving, violent plot. Also, the good guys basically won in the end. That's always fun.

Watson is bored again

A month or so into married bliss, and John Watson is bored again. We're talking about the kind of bored that results in combat-filled dreams and casual trips to crack dens with a tire iron in the pocket. Fortunately for John, Mary is supportive of all of this.

Less fortunate is the fact that the newlyweds haven't been seeing much of Sherlock Holmes over the previous few weeks.

Imagine Watson's surprise when he meets up with Sherlock in the very same crack-house he has just infiltrated in order to find a neighbor's teenage son.

It's not what it seems ... Not quite, anyway

Brilliant man that he is, Sherlock isn't so good at avoiding chemical temptations. He may call it part of being undercover, but it's kind of hard to believe when peeing in a cup yields slap-worthy results. But whatever the outcome, at least Holmes was working on a real case.

It seems that a newspaper owner, Charles Augustus Magnussen has been blackmailing a powerful woman -- and everyone else in the Western world. This Lady Elizabeth Smallwood has hired Sherlock to retrieve some letters written by her husband that would be (hilariously, apparently) embarrassing. Magnussen is using them as an excuse to blackmail and lick this Clair-de-la-lune perfume-wearing woman.

The whole drug-abuse thing was supposed to convince Magnussen that Sherlock was weak and easily manipulated. It kind of works, even if Magnussen does pee in the fireplace of 221B Baker Street.

An engagement misfires, but Mary does not

Sherlock deduces that Magnussen must have Lady Elizabeth's letters with him in London -- and not in the legendary vault under his country home -- so he and Watson contrive to break in to the press magnate's offices.

This seems impossible until we learn the identity of Magnussen's assistant: Janine, Mary's former bridesmaid and Sherlock's unlikely girlfriend of the past few weeks. Yes, Sherlock has a girlfriend. No, despite the ring and feigned proposal he uses to get through security, Sherlock isn't serious about it.

Once upstairs, there's a hitch. Someone else has arrived first, leaving Janine unconscious. Sherlock gets a whiff of Claire-de-la-lune perfume and surmises that Lady Elizabeth has come to kill Magnussen.

It's not Lady Elizabeth. Instead, there's one other important, Claire-de-la-lune-wearing woman in the "Sherlock" universe. That would be Mary Watson.

She's an assassin? Seriously? Sure, it was obvious that she was covering something up, what with that whole no-family-at-the-wedding thing. But a cold-blooded assassin is still a bit of a surprise, right up to the point when CIA agent Mary shoots Sherlock in the chest.

How Sherlock dies

It's complicated when Sherlock is near death. Because of course it's complicated. This is Sherlock Holmes, after all, who is incapable of "simple" if his life depends on it. Thus, it's good that complicated works better than simple here.

First he has to figure out how best to fall. Then Sherlock has to avoid going into shock -- a feat accomplished by flashing back to a wee, little Sherlock and a puppy! Finally, there's the whole not-dying bit. This involves advice in avoiding pain and living for Watson from a straightjacket-wearing Moriarty.

Watson has a type

Although Sherlock spends a short time in the hospital after his shooting, he doesn't stay long. Saving Watson is far too important for that.

Interestingly, Sherlock's method involves luring Mary to a building he owns (which is actually just a facade hiding the Underground) and proving that she is a crack-shot who could never have missed killing him accidentally. Sherlock then offers his services to avoid the Magnussen blackmail.

It is just too bad that Sherlock can't meet Mary's one condition: Keeping things secret from Watson. That's because John is sitting across the room, listening to everything.

Maybe Watson shouldn't feel depressed though. After all, he does hate the normal life and craves the company of sociopaths on a regular basis. Mary may just be the perfect woman for him!

Christmas at the Holmes home

The story then jumps forward a few months -- mostly -- to a Christmas celebration at the all-too-homey Holmes home. Mr. and Mrs. Holmes are as cute as ever, even if we do learn that Mrs. Holmes was once a mathematician before having children. Also, Sherlock's drug-addict protege is there. Because why not?

The holiday gives Mycroft and Sherlock to share some brotherly love. Speaking of which, does Mycroft later say that they had another brother?

Left alone in the living room, John and Mary finally reconcile. Although Mary had offered a flash drive with her whole sordid past on it, John decides he's cool with his wife, no matter who she used to be. Just a couple of semi-psychos in love!

Alas, the smoking and banter and punch can't last. Not when Sherlock has gone and drugged the drinks. Soon, everyone except Holmes and Watson has passed out.

Into the dragon's den

Sherlock is the slayer of dragons, so of course he can't let the awful Magnussen get away with his crimes. While the rest of the group sleeps, Sherlock grabs Mycroft's top-secret laptop and heads with Watson to Magnussen's fortress-like home.

The plan doesn't work out so well though. Holmes had wanted to get into Magnussen's secret-filled vaults and then have Mycroft and the police arrest the guy. One small issue: There is no vault, and all of the secrets are in Magnussen's brain.

Whoops.

It looks briefly like Magnussen is going to get away with his secrets and his Watson-flicking. Sherlock and John, meanwhile, will be heading to jail.

Then Sherlock grabs Watson's gun and shoots Magnussen in the head. Why? As a callback to the series premiere, the detective points out: "I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas!"

The end ... Or is it?

Because of this murder, Mycroft has no choice other than to send his darling little brother on a suicide mission to Eastern Europe. Sherlock knows it's the end for him, and goes so far as to almost tell Watson he loves him.

He fakes out at the last second to change that to asking for a baby-name tribute. Unfortunately, the baby is going to be a girl. And Sherlock is not a girl's name.

Sherlock flies off into the sunset.

But then ... All across London, TV sets suddenly glitch out to be replaced by the repeated line, "Did you miss me?" Mycroft abruptly calls back the plane carrying away Sherlock.

Why? Welcome back, Moriarty! Maybe ...

A few final quotes

  • "It never tastes like it smells, does it?" - Magnussen, licking a face
  • "You can't come. You're pregnant." - Watson, going to a crack-house
    "You can't go. I'm pregnant." - Mary
  • "I'm looking for a friend. A very specific friend. I'm not just browsing." - Watson
  • "I'm a doctor. I know how to sprain people." - Watson
  • "Oh, hello John! I didn't expect to see you here." - Sherlock at the crack-house
  • "Hang on. Weren't there other people?" - Sherlock
  • "I understood we were meeting at your office." - Sherlock
    "This is my office." - Magnussen
  • "Did you just get engaged to break into an office?" - John
  • "Sherlock, she loves you!" - John
    "Like I said, human error." - Sherlock
  • "Oh, Sherlock if you take one more step, I swear I will kill you." - Mary
    "No, Mrs. Watson. You won't." - Sherlock
  • "You're going to love being dead. No one ever bothers you." - Moriarty
  • "Bad girl. Bad, bad girl." - Magnussen on Mary
  • "If I die here, my body will be found in a building with your face projected on it. Even Scotland Yard can do something with that." - Sherlock to Mary
  • "I'm not absolutely sure why you're here." - Mrs. Holmes to Bill Wiggins
  • "I don't have any morphine!" - Mrs. Hudson
    "Then what good are you?" - Sherlock
  • "Is everyone I have ever met a psychopath?" - Watson
    "Yes." - Sherlock
  • "It was my husband's cartel. I was just typing." - Mrs. Hudson
  • "People like Magnussen should be killed. That's why there are people like me." - Mary
  • "The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege." - Watson
  • "I am not a murderer -- unlike your wife." - Magnussen
  • "I don't understand." - Watson
    "You should have that on a t-shirt." - Magnussen
  • "I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas!" - Sherlock
  • "You know what happened to the other one." - Mycroft (did the Holmes boys have another brother?)
  • "Sherlock is actually a girl's name." - Sherlock
  • "Did you miss me?" - Moriarty

Photo/Video credit: PBS