At the end of this episode, I was literally speechless. It was brilliant – absolutely, incredibly brilliant. The acting was fantastic, the plot was fantastic, the dialogue was fantastic, and the ending…well…
First, I’ll start with Magnussen. There was some real concern, which I shared, about whether anybody could ever live up to Andrew Scott’s Bafta winning performance as Moriarty. The concern was unwarranted. Lars Mikkelsen’s Magnussen was one of the most revolting characters I have ever seen portrayed on screen. There is a scene near the end of the episode where Magnussen just makes Watson stick his face out while he repeatedly flicks it with his finger. Over and over. Why? Because he can. And you really hate him for it.
Character development was the name of the game this season, and the set-up that the first two episodes offered paid off in spades this time around. Martin Freeman deserves (another) Bafta for his heartbreaking performance following a huge reveal about his wife, Mary Morstan (played excellently by Amanda Abbington). Freeman is the master of conveying emotion through facial expressions. The direction their relationship takes after the events of the beginning of the episode is both frustrating and entirely understandable.
One of the highlights of the episode was what the show termed in season 2 Sherlock’s “mind palace” sequence – what they call it when we get a glimpse into the inner working of Sherlock’s mind. In this case we got to see what went through his head immediately after getting shot in the chest at point blank range. It was extremely tense, fascinating, and incredibly well-directed. Especially effective was the specter of death manifesting itself as Moriarty inviting Sherlock to join him chained up in a dungeon.
The climax of the episode was both 100% inevitable from the beginning and utterly, brutally effective in its execution. Once again, as in Reichenbach, Sherlock is willing to throw it all away for John. Except that this time it’s no trick. Sherlock is doing this knowing what the consequences have to be. You can’t come back from the dead twice. Now that would be cheating. And anyway, in this case, it just wouldn’t work.
And so everything is set up for a dramatic and heartbreaking ending, and after an emotional scene with John we’re left in the same place that we were at the end of series 2: Wondering what’s going to be next for Sherlock.
Well, kind of. Then the writers had to add a post-credits scene that turned the entire world on its head and had me gaping open-mouthed at the screen in shock.
This really is such a great show.