To say that this episode of Sherlock was hyped is a dramatic understatement. Everyone seemed to wait with baited breath this week, trying to figure out the mass of questions that each trailer gave us. Who would die? Would someone die? Was Mary good or bad? Who was Charles Augustus Magnussen? However, none of us were prepared for this episode.
The episode opens with Magnussen sitting in a deposition. There’s typing that comes up, with information about each person he’s looking at, including their “pressure point”, what makes them tick. Magnussen goes throughout the room and finally settles on the woman who is asking him questions. We then watch him attempt to seduce the woman, while blackmailing her with letters she’d written. Finally he crosses the line and says she is his, and even licking her face. The last thing we see in this scene is the woman in her car, telling the driver to take her Baker Street.
Then we’re introduced to what we’ve all been waiting for: domestic, civilian John. He and Mary are awoken by their neighbor saying her son hadn’t come home the night before; his mother convinced he went to a drug house. John, craving the life that he left behind with Sherlock, goes and finds the boy – and Sherlock. While Sherlock tries to tell John that he’s undercover on a case, John won’t believe him, and has him tested, and then his house checked.
Mycroft, who also was part of the intervention, notices that Sherlock’s door is shut. While Mycroft thinks that means Sherlock is in fact on drugs again and not on a case, what he’s hiding in there is much worse than drugs – a woman. Remember Janine from the wedding? She and Sherlock are together now, in domestic bliss, it looks like. Or so we think.
It’s after Janine leaves that a very confused John asks Sherlock what is between him and Janine. Sherlock brushes it off, and tells him about Charles Augustus Magnussen, who is one of the worst people Sherlock’s ever met. He tells John about the building Magnussen works.
It’s then that he makes his grand entrance into 221B, where Sherlock had been invited to try to get the letters back for the woman from the beginning of the episode. Magnussen is incredibly bold when at Baker Street, doing acts that show his uncaring for Sherlock, including urinating on their fireplace. Finally, he leaves, but not before showing Sherlock the pictures were in his coat pocket the whole time.
Since unsuccessful with getting the photos, the only thing left to is steal them. As it turns out, Janine is Magnussen’s personal aide, which is why Sherlock had been acting like he was in domestic bliss. He gets inside Magnussen’s office by pretending to propose to Janine – but by the time they got up to the office, she was on the floor, shot, as well as a security officer. Who’s behind all this?
As it turns out, Mary has a past in the CIA – Mary isn’t even her name – and Magnussen knew about it. He was going to exploit the past that she’d kept hidden, and ruin her marriage with John. Not willing to let this happen, Mary even shoots Sherlock to keep him from telling John. And that’s when the fun starts.
Once Sherlock is shot, his mind immediately goes to his mind palace, where his friends are all giving him advice on how to live through the bullet. Molly and Anderson are in his head giving him directions including which way to fall, and how to deal with the shock and pain. Mycroft’s there to help as well, but also to remind him of his past – Red Beard, his dog — most likely to also show a sort of life flashing before his eyes. Sherlock’s dog was his best friend, why wouldn’t he flash before his eyes.
We go deep into Sherlock’s mind palace, which is a solitary confinement prison holding Moriarty. Andrew Scott gives a phenomenal performance as a true psychopath, and says the one word that Sherlock needs to hear: “John.” It’s because of John that he fights his way back from death, despite having flat lined. Mary, finding out that Sherlock made it, quickly tries to figure out where Sherlock may have gone. He has too many hiding places, but finally finds the right one. A building painted to look like a residential building.
In the building, Sherlock tells Mary everything he had deduced about her, and she tells Sherlock that John can’t ever know that she lied to him. However, there was a monkey wrench thrown in. John realized it was Mary when his chair was back in the flat after previously be removed, and there was a bottle of Mary’s perfume next to it. What does that mean? It means that John was there, hiding, listening to Mary confess to Sherlock about Magnussen. John walks out, leaving Mary alone.
The episode then skips to Christmas, where the entire Holmes family, including Mary and John – who are still together, shockingly. Sherlock and Mycroft exchange a brotherly conversation, where Mycroft tells Sherlock that he wouldn’t know what would happen to him if he got killed. John confronts Mary, and tells her that her past doesn’t matter to him, only her future, which he wants to be involved in. This surprised me a bit, I was hoping a bit more dramatics from Moffat, but I guess there’s nothing more to say.
Not able to have a holiday without drama, Sherlock drugs everyone except John, planning to go to Magnussen and go into his archives, where supposedly is the secret to everyone in the United Kingdom. He wants to get rid of the files on Mary, and in exchange, Sherlock will give Magnussen Mycroft’s laptop. These are archives are legendary, and he knows it’s his only way to help Mary.
Once they get to Magnussen, he shows them the vault – an empty room. The vault was his own mind palace, and he had successfully tricked Sherlock. The GPS on the laptop brings officials to the house – including Mycroft – and that leaves Sherlock with only one thing left he can do – he kills Magnussen. He is then sentenced to go to Eastern Europe on a mission that will most likely kill him in six months.
While on the runway, saying goodbye to Mary and John, he makes jokes about baby names with John, and shows no remorse for Mary. In fact, the episode seemed to about to end too okay. No! It’s not okay that Mary shot Sherlock, even if it was intentionally only to incapacitate him! It’s not okay that Sherlock is going away! I felt myself to begin to feel left down as the plane sped up, and thinking that what was left was just going to be a preview for Sherlock that will be two years away.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
This article was first posted on January 13, 2014