Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Last Vow

In the last episode of Sherlock, we finally come eye-to-eye with this season's villain:
the glassy-eyed (no pun intended), enigmatic and - frankly - repulsive Charles Augustus Magnussen.

We are introduced to not only him at the beginning of the episode but also his super glasses (take that, Google glass): the privacy-breaching instrument that supplies him with all the information - notably the 'pressure points' of individuals - he needs in order to blackmail anyone under the sun... which makes him inconveniently immune to a number of threats.

Something else we are introduced to at the beginning of the episode - something more bizarre, in fact - is THIS: 
To be honest, I actually had a *thank goodness for the integrity of the show and the inherent nature of Sherlock's character* moment when he revealed that he dated Janine only so that he could "break into her boss’ office," although his biting comment about love being a "human error" was certainly... ouch..

The more significant part about the break-in, of course, is this:
At first, I thought mysteriously-disguised-female was almost certainly Lady Smallwood OR EVEN Irene Adler BUT... if one flashbacks to Sherlock's preliminary examination of Mary, 'Liar' surfaced at least 4 times (I did actually notice, okay) - I got over the initial shock pretty quickly and it seemed almost expected that the creators of Sherlock would throw such a twist at us.


Nonetheless, I, like John, felt this way:
I was crushed that Mary couldn't just be the regular civilian wife that John wanted - something 'en dehors de' Sherlock's nutty life; however, on the contrary, precisely what John needs is not that sort of partner. As Sherlock aptly verbalizes what we've subconsciously concluded since Season 2 ended,
John, you are addicted to a certain lifestyle, you're abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people so is it truly such a surprise that the woman you've fallen in love with conforms to that pattern.
So, Season 3 tells us as much about Watson as it does about Sherlock - the two are truly a 'couple.'
Sherlock pulled himself back to consciousness for John's sake, just as John goes running to look for trouble in a shady-alley because he can't stand missing out on the lifestyle he has with Sherlock.

(tangent: I love the still below from episode 2; very desktop-wallpaper-able)

Both certainly have their 'pressure points' - Sherlock has so many kept buried at the bottom of his mind palace - and I'm glad this episode did more to tap into them (character exploration!). Speaking of mind palace, I can't believe Magnussen's vaults = his brain, although that conveniently gives Sherlock a 'valid reason' to kill him... once again, all for John.

But, as we know from the previous episodes, John is more than merely the 'damsel in distress'-  he himself is also a lifesaver. Speaking of John, that scene in which he was being flicked by Magnussen was HORRID; it was the worse, worse, worse scene in the entire episode but just goes to show how horrible and psycho Magnussen is. Though he is perhaps not as mental as Moriarty, who, I cannot believe is somehow back (!?!?) but at least that gives the British government an excuse to recruit Sherlock (another *thank goodness* moment).

So, in conclusion -

Season 3 of Sherlock has been unquestionably entertaining and insightful. The three episodes have filled in the gaps left by the fanbase, notably by building on Sherlock and John's chemistry, giving more depth to both their characters and ultimately cementing the certitude of their friendship. Best friends. We delve deeper into the Sherlock-world as a whole, e.g. when meeting Redbeard (naw). Even Ms. Hudson's character has been explored; she is not just the old, batty landlady she oft seems to be but one who in fact harbors a dark, not-so-chaste history. Moreover, all this has been done while still preserving the pith of the show: slipping carefully-crafted crimes into each 80 minute segment; crimes that are each, of course, solved by our clever protagonist.

Episode 2 remains my favourite episode from this season, but nonetheless The Last Vow answers earlier questions thrown to us at the beginning of the episode, (naturally) raises new ones and gives us more to look forward to for Season 4.

Much cleverness, much emotion, and much screenwriting/film-making finesse. No wonder the fanbase is swelling! The show deserves it.

Here are my reviews for The Signs of the 3 and The Empty Hearse.

The Sign of the Three

Well, all I can say is that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss certainly know how to kill two birds with one stone - in The Sign of the Three, the second episode of the much-awaited Season 3 of Sherlock (if anyone still cares about my overdue opinion), they not only successfully pluck at the fanbase's heartstrings but also manage to spin out an intriguing mystery.

Heartstrings, first: much was done to point this episode in direction of #EMOTION, notably in:
1) The best man speech
2) The Irene Adler cameo
3) Reiterations of "you're my best friend"
4) Even little things such as Sherlock ruffling his hair

As I mentioned in my previous Sherlock post, certain decisions - atypical as they may be (but thankfully in moderation)- are inevitably being made during the screenwriting process to satisfy the fans' needs expectations and recognize the existence of the tumblr-populating Sherlockians.

But are such components (e.g. gif above) truly considered atypical anymore? Sherlock BBC is, after all, a 21st century remake of a the classic detective novel. So the drunken scenes

perhaps seem tangential to the Mayfly case/crime but in fact are essential to the pith of the show itself: Sherlock and Watson's friendship, his humanity (yes, to some degree)... plus, such scenes take us deeper into the show and further into character exploration and understanding - not to mention the fact that they're hilarious and contribute greatly to the excellence of the episode.

Moreover, all the delightful flashbacks we are treated to in this episode turn out to not actually be as tangential as we may think (apologies for backtracking on my comments); this is what I mean when I say that Gatiss and Moffat killed two birds with one stone in this episode: all flashbacks/juicy footage of Sherlock-Watson chemistry are IN FACT greatly relevant to the main mystery's unfolding... EVERYTHING ties together - the two seemingly separate cases Sherlock presented in seemingly trivial anecdotes are in fact brother-cases... the WEDDING ITSELF is the crime scene...

Q.E.D. The screenwriters deserve all the awards.

What I love about this episode is also all it does to expose Sherlock's 'soft-side,' notably when his smoothness temporarily goes and sulks in the corner while he struggles to write/deliver the best-man speech. Sherlock, with "an international reputation" (as he drunkendly puts it) is rendered gauche and awkward at John's sunny, yellow-wallpapered wedding (tangent: I loved the set design).

At first, the best man speech does not start of so well -

Sherlock goes on a brief tirade about how marriage is a staple of the "ailing and morally compromised world... etc" "doom of our society" "entire species" etc.

BEFORE he (thankfully) salvages his speech and says (cue fangirl tears):

"The point I'm trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, and all-around obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the unhappy. So if I didn't understand I was being asked to be best man, it is because I never expected to be anyone's best friend. Certainly not the best friend to the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing."

^Certainly not something one would imagine Sherlock saying in Season 1... John has changed him as much as he has changed John. So when Mycroft mockingly asks Sherlock on the phone, "Civilian life suiting you?" he knows that Sherlock has already gotten involved (despite his denial - see gif below).

"involved? I'm not involved!"

His final promise to protect all three Watsons certainly doesn't help his case.
While Sherlock is getting all the more involved, Mrs. Hudson warns John that marriage life will take him away from anyone out of his marriage (e.g. Sherlock). John denies this, of course, and his denial is much more believable than Sherlock's .... as we see in the next episode.