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His Last Vow

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"His Last Vow"

Series 03, Episode 03

Air Date 12 January, 2014
Writer Steven Moffat
Director Nick Hurran
Viewers 8.8 million [1]
Previous "The Sign of Three"
Next TBA
"His Last Vow" is the third episode of series three of Sherlock. It was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Nick Hurran.

It was first broadcast on 12 January, 2014 on BBC One in the UK[2] and on 2 February, 2014 on PBS Masterpiece in the USA.

Summary Edit

In the final episode of this series, a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates.

Plot Edit

Charles Augustus Magnussen is being questioned by several high-ranking Government officials about his frequent meeting with the Prime Minister. He later meets Lady Elizabeth Smallwood, one of the officials and blackmails her by using information about her husband's past. She reluctantly obliges, and on her way home, decides to seek the services of Sherlock Holmes. 

John Watson wakes up in the morning beside his wife Mary. A distressed neighbour comes to them to ask for help regarding her drug-addicted son, who did not return home the previous night. John and Mary drive to the drug-den, and John finds Isaac, and surprisingly, also an undercover Sherlock. Watson is mad at Sherlock for abusing drugs (which Sherlock denies doing and insists that he is working undercover on a case) and not contacting him for a month after the wedding. John also allows the door guard boy, who he injured, to come along. They all go to Bart's, along with the door guard who was sprained by Watson but thought that his arm was broken. There Molly tests Sherlock's urine for drugs and then repeatedly slaps Sherlock for his reckless behavior. They all realise that the drug-den door guard, Bill Wiggins has impressive skills in deduction.

Back at the apartment, Anderson helps Watson search for drugs, much to Sherlock's annoyance. Mycroft realises that Sherlock is working against Charles Augustus Magnussen, a newspaper owner who blackmails people, and warns him not to. Sherlock is adamant and plans to meet Magnussen; however, his plan does not work out the way he wants it to. Magnussen visits Baker Street to intimidate Sherlock and refuses to enter into negotiations over Lady Smallwood's stolen letters, and is careful to make Sherlock aware that he knows of "Redbeard", but avoids elaborating. The business magnate deliberately urinates in the fireplace, largely to show that he can.

John is also baffled to find Sherlock is now in a relationship with Mary's bridesmaid, Janine, until he learns that Janine is Magnussen's personal assistant and the liaison a ruse. Using her help, Sherlock and John break into Magnussen's apartment, only to find that Janine and a guard are unconscious. Sherlock goes upstairs to investigate, but is shocked to find Mary holding Magnussen at gunpoint. Mary shoots Sherlock, who harnesses all his mental powers to stay conscious. He is taken to hospital. In his mind palace he is fighting to stay conscious with the pain while Moriarity mocks him. While in the real world Sherlock's vitals are dropping as he is rushed to the hospital. His heart stops beating in surgery, and the doctors fail to revive him. When his "mind palace-self" fights back back and escapes Moriarity,  his real world self makes a come back.  He wakes up in surgery and mutters "Mary". The next morning (only hours later) John announces to Mary that Sherlock is stabilised. Mary visits the stabilised, yet in critical condition Sherlock, and tells him to keep the shooting incident between them.  

Janine realises that Sherlock used her and retaliates by turning down his pain medication and talking to tabloids. She visits Sherlock, the afternoon after the shooting, to taunt him, now that he has stabilized and conscious. John begins to suspect something about Mary. John brings Lestrade to the hospital, to question Sherlock about the shooting.

Sherlock runs away from the hospital and arranges a confrontation with Mary, who confesses to having a past as a secret agent and assassin, for which Magnussen is blackmailing her. It is also confirmed she intentionally shot Sherlock in a non-lethal spot and called an ambulance, and she says she is desperate to keep John in the dark as she loves him. John, however, witnessed the conversation and is in turmoil.

Back at Baker Street, Sherlock points out to him he is addicted to a dangerous lifestyle and was most probably attracted to Mary because of her hidden past. The three talk, and Mary gives John a memory stick containing information on her, marked with her true initials. The stick is labelled "A. G. RA". She also tells him the content will destroy his love for her. Sherlock then proves that Mary had called London "999" before John, when Paramedics appear after being told that there was a shooting. Sherlock refers to a shooting that happened prior. With the paramedics present, Sherlock faints from pain from hypovolemia, and is treated on the scene. In the apartment, while the paramedics restart Sherlock's heart, at his request, John thinks over what Mary and Sherlock had explained to him. On Christmas, after sitting on the memory stick for a few months, John decides to destroy it without reading it and to love Mary regardless, much to her relief.

The couple spends Christmas with the Holmes brothers at their parents'. Sherlock drugs everyone, with the help of Wiggins except John and takes him to Magnussen's country property, Appledore, which is supposed to contain his blackmailing archive. During their confrontation, Magnussen explains his purpose in putting pressure on Mary was to arrive at Mycroft via John and Sherlock. Magnussen also reveals he was the one who had John abducted and hidden in a bonfire (in "The Empty Hearse") in order to confirm that John is Sherlock's "pressure point". Sherlock offers to buy his information on Mary with the state secrets contained in Mycroft's laptop, which he has just stolen from him. Magnussen realises immediately Sherlock is setting up a trap: security services looking for the laptop will raid his vaults, find their contents and arrest him as a blackmailer. He reveals triumphantly this cannot work because his vaults are empty: he actually relies entirely on his memory and keeps no physical records. By giving Magnussen Mycroft's laptop, Sherlock and John are now guilty of attempting to sell government secrets whereas Magnussen cannot be charged with anything.

To pass the time, until Mycroft's government forces arrive, he demonstrates his control over Sherlock and John by taunting them while repeatedly flicking John's face. When Mycroft and the police arrive, a distraught Sherlock shoots Magnussen in the head realising he has no alternative if he is to securely protect the Watsons from Mary's past, and save John from being charged with high treason. 

Sometime later, Mycroft convinces the government to spare Sherlock a trial and, as an alternative punishment, press him into a highly dangerous MI6 mission to Eastern Europe. John and Mary fondly bid goodbye to Sherlock thinking that it is their last encounter, and Sherlock boards the plane. However, within minutes TV screens all over England are hacked to broadcast a loop of Jim Moriarty asking "Did you miss me?". Thus Sherlock is asked to return.

Allusions Edit

Notes Edit

  • This episode starts in June, and ends during Christmas of 2013.
  • "His Last Vow" was the most tweeted about single episode of a drama series ever.[3]

Cast Edit

Main Edit

Guest Edit

References Edit

Start a Discussion Discussions about His Last Vow

  • His Last Vow Ending Theories (spoilers)

    20 messages
    • let's talk about moriarty's body. was it ever found? you know the theory anderson had about how sherlock faked his death. anderson thought t...
    • wrote:let's talk about moriarty's body. was it ever found? you know the theory anderson had about how sherlock faked his dea...
  • My theory on how Moriarty faked his death

    10 messages
    • In Anderson's theory where people put a Sherlock mask on Moriarty's corpse (the first one i think). Doesn't that logically mean that Moriart...
    • My theory: Richard Brook is real. What I'm proposing is almost(almost) everytime you see Moriaty, it's Richard Brook, and everytime you ...

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