Saturday, January 25, 2014

In Which I Review Dracula (1x10)

"I live in the darkness, but yearn for the light" 

So sayeth Dracula in our season (most likely series) finale of one of the most gloriously horrible (or horribly glorious?) shows of the TV season. Honestly, this show was so utterly pointless that I'm not sure what NBC was thinking when they bought the pilot. Were they hoping JRM's brooding stare and gravely accent would be enough to entice viewers? 10 episodes, very little character development, and the most nonsensical plot I have ever attempted to keep up with and it ended with a literal explosion. I could explain LOST better than I could explain Dracula. And for the first 58 minutes of the final episode, "Let There Be Light," the writers of the show seemed to understand that this was their last hurrah. They tied up the story as neatly as one could when one has created such a disaster. The characters either died or got what they ultimately wanted. But then in the last two minutes of the show it was as if the writers thought, "Who knows. Maybe we'll get renewed?" and tacked on a total cliffhanger for giggles. Because this show has never been about plot (I'm convinced there isn't one) but about character, let's do something different. How did this show end the characters we've come to deride and loathe? 

Character: Abraham Van Helsing
Status: Manic and Vengeful
Ended: How exactly did Van Helsing go from competent medical man to raving lunatic? I don't get his character arc (new drinking game: take a shot every time I write "I don't understand"). When we left him last week, he had kidnapped Monty's (Browning?) kids and held them hostage. For reasons? Yes, the Order of the Dragon killed his wife and children but hurting kids shouldn't be your solution. This week, still fed up with Dracula's attempt to take down the Order with magical coolant (I sympathize), Van Helsing decided to do two things. First, he chopped off the finger of one of the kids, then pumped them full of Dracula's blood. Which naturally resulted in the poor kids being turned into little Vamps. Once Browning found Van Helsing it was only a matter of time before Van Helsing got his final piece of revenge--feeding Browning to his kids. His mania only increased, resulting in a bizarre faux artsy sequence in which Van Helsing burned papers, threw jars of bright sparkly sand (I couldn't make this up if I tried), and danced to a waltz by himself. And for some reason, having got his revenge, he isn't satisfied. He decides that he needs to go after Dracula--hurt him where it counts. Which brings us to....

Character: Renfield
Status: Dead
Ended: WHY? Why would you go and kill the one semi-decent person on this show? It's the day of Dracula's big light show (wut?) and Van Helsing is missing, having lost his marbles. Renfield demands to know where Van Helsing has been and what he has done. Van Helsing, officially off the ranch, takes a knife and STABS Renfield in the gut. And the worst part? No one notices! Shouldn't Dracula wonder where his clever manservant is? Shouldn't he notice that his right hand man is no where to be seen, that he never made it to the great light show? But no. Dracula is too busy making eyes at Mina (like always). RIP Renfield.
Character: Lady Jayne "Ninja"
Status: Dead
Ended:  Lady Jayne has assembled an entire retinue of hunters, including the mysterious Sicilian, who shows up with the world's dumbest glasses. Seriously, what were those?? Oh, he also brought the blood of Christ. What? You don't have that on hand? The hunters have one job: kill vampires (duh) using the blood of Christ. Ninja doesn't even go out with them; her job is to sit in a room with the Sicilian and watch him orgasm-out (I'm not kidding. Go watch the scene and YOU tell me how it came across) locations of vampires. And conveniently enough, the Sicilian gasps out that Grayson is a Vampire--in fact he's Dracula. Ninja takes this in stride because "I knew it all along." Of course you did. Ninja's only task is to take down Dracula, whom she finds and fights to no avail. Dracula tells her to walk away, that he doesn't want to kill her or hurt her. He just wants to live in the light with Mina. When Ninja refuses to back down, he throws her against a stake and dies. But not before they can have one final (super) long conversation about death and life. Dracula decides to be merciful and drain Ninja so she doesn't suffer. Am I supposed to be impressed by his compassion? I would be if he had ever been shown to be a real threat. But Dracula only ever fed or killed on people who were cruel or mean to him first. Not saying that makes it right, but where was the cold blooded killer who tortured for the fun of it? His merciful killing of Ninja is just another reminder that we're not really watching Dracula as conceived of by Stoker.

Character: Lucy
Status: Undead
Ended: Of all the balls this show dropped, this is probably the worse one. There was so much they could have done if they had Dracula turn Lucy earlier and had they made Lucy radically different. Lucy should have been a sweet loving girl, a bit of a flirt but not this lesbian sultry vixen. That should have happened AFTER Dracula turned her. And once he did turn Lucy, they did nothing with her. She spent the entire episode in bed, sick, until the final moments when the Vampire in her took hold for real and she killed her mother. I don't mind the idea of Lucy being a closeted lesbian--it's historically plausable and accurate. What I mind is how it did not serve her character or her transformation into a vampire. I would have loved to see sultry vampire vixen Lucy on the prowl in London, making her way brothel to brothel, trying to fill the hole in her heart where Mina was. And of course her relationship with Mina was swept under the rug entirely in this episode.

Character: Harker
Status: Alive and Sad
Ended:  Can Harker and Renfield switch places? Harker, thinking that he is a grown up man who understands the world, made it his mission this week to mess with Dracula's big light show. He brings in members of the Order who reverse the polarity of the neutron flow (nerd joke) which will cause the machine to explode. Now to Harker's credit, he only thought this would make it malfunction and when he realizes that it will kill dozens of people, his concern is for Mina (how gallant.) Thinking that he can still be the white knight, he swoops in and tells Dracula that the machine is rigged to explode just as all the lights go on. Dracula tells Harker to get Mina to safety, which Harker does manage to do but then insists that Dracula is dead. When Mina rejects him because she is just soooooooo in love with Dracula, Harker pays a visit to Van Helsing. Harker and Van Helsing have a nice little chit chat in the final seconds of the show and Van Helsing tell him everything Harker needs "to destroy [Grayson.] His Dracula." Cut to black! What?? Why would you end your show that way? You know this isn't coming back for another season so why make it seem like Harker and Van Helsing are now going to join together to beat the vampire? While it makes sense if you were doing a literal adaptation of the novel, it makes zero sense given that this show has never once been the novel on the small screen.

Character: Mina
Status: Alive and Annoying
Ended: Mina walked in circles this week. That's not a metaphor. I mean she actually moved from one point on the stage to the next and simpered and smiled. The day of the big light show and Mina is there for her man. Dracula, not Harker. Dracula is her man now. Remember? She is now madly in love with him--Dracula, not Harker. She gives me whiplash. Anyway, when the sparks begin to fly (literally) Mina has to be forced away from Dracula, because she was determined to stay by his side. She makes her way back to Dracula's house where she sees the painting of herself as Eiona. She doesn't even question it, just accpets that it is someone Dracula has loved for a long time, in another life. But Dracula assures her that he isn't going anywhere and together they fall into bed, reunited. Ah, love.

Character: Dracula
Status: Walking in the Light
Ended: I basically told you Dracula's story this episode by telling you everyone's story. Dracula's attempt to take down the Order with magical coolant failed (shock), but he got the girl in the end. It would have been better if he died, in my opinion. He was billed the entire series as an actual hero--wouldn't kill or turn Mina, was taking down the order through legal economic means. He wasn't a badass in any sense of the word. So kill him and let everyone move on. But no, he and Mina fall into bed and that's it.

Miscellaneous Notes on Let There Be Light

--Such stellar writing:
"I live in darkness but I yearn for light. Life is precious." "No."
"From a past life? But how?" "I have no idea."

--Lots of people died, not just our characters. All because they wanted to see pretty lights

--So do Mina and Dracula ride off into the sunset now? She doesn't even know that he's a vampire! 

--In the end, this show is just tragic. But I can't help myself. If it comes back, I'll be watching.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (1x12) (1x13)

Two hour season finales can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the writers have more time to get from point A to point B. On the other hand, because writers have more time to get to point B they often wildly diverge off the beaten path and visit points A-3, A-67 and B-A-1. In other words, the pacing of a two hour season finale is usually very slow until the last 20 minutes or so, then suddenly so break neck fast that the audience barely has time to process everything that is happening on screen. Sleepy Hollow has been the surprise triumph of the TV season. Promoted as a horror crime drama, it has quickly become less about the horror portion and more about the campy and kooky chemistry of its two leads, Ichabod and Abbie. The two hour season finale, broken into two episodes "The Indispensable Man" and "Bad Blood," was both frustrating slow and epically fast. However, the writers get major credit for the ultimate denouement. 

 The first hour of the finale, "The Indispensable Man," picks up where we left off last week--Team Witness trying to figure out why the Washington Bible is so vital to Moloch. One of the problems I have with the first hour as a whole, is the amount of overly convenient information that drops into the laps of Abbie and Ichabod. In this case, the information comes from Brooks, the head snapped former cop who apparently really loved Abbie. Was this hinted at in even the slightest degree this season? Did I miss the subtle hints that Brooks was in love with Abbie? See what I mean by overly convenient? They had 12 episodes to build the idea of Andy Brooks being in love with Abbie to help explain why Brooks is now helping Team Witness, but instead it failed to come across as anything more than convenient. Brooks's information is that the Bible is important because it has within it directions to a map that will allow Moloch to cross between worlds. Plot point A leads to Plot Point A-1 which leads to Plot Point A-2. Way too much magical hand waving, for me. The Bible has been held up all season has having many secrets and being important except now it's only important to what it leads to and then what that leads to. It's a bit convoluted. Through a flashback remembrance, Ichabod recalls how Washington was fond of the story of Lazarus, often referring to Ichabod as Lazarus since he would rise up against the forces of evil. Looking up the story of Lazarus in the Washington Bible, Ichabod and Abbie discover that it has an additional ten verses in Washington's own hand that explains how he was alive 4 days after his death. Washington knew that Ichabod was a witness and would be a major player in the fight against evil, so to ensure that Washington could pass down his information, Washington used cursed prayer beads to resurrect himself for a short time. During that time he was capable of moving between Earth and Purgatory and so he wrote an instructional map of Purgatory and how to cross the boundary. This is the map Moloch wants. This is also how Ichabod will free Katrina from her damnation.

Now, we get several different scenes leading up to finally finding the map. Ichabod figures out that the prayer beads used to hex Washington into a Zombie belonged to the priest from the pilot. Don't remember him? That's ok, neither did I really. He was a Warlock in Katrina's coven and held onto the head of the horseman for 2 centuries. He was killed very early on and never discussed again so it did feel a bit random to bring him back. Because the prayer beads are hexed, they are full of sin (ok?) so Team Witness calls in our favorite Sin Eater. Hi Henry Parrish! I really like Henry. It's like having Walter back on my screen (except for when the roof gets blown off this episode but we'll get there.) The prayer beads eventually reveal to Henry that Washington's body was carried to a secret grave site and that this is where the map is.
At this point Abbie is very nervous about the map. We must remember that there is a prophecy in place that Ichabod will hand Abbie over to Moloch and that this only happens when they understand the name of the sign (complicated prophecy but it will become clear later.) Abbie wants to know what's more important to Ichabod--his wife or the greater good? If saving Katrina means damning the rest of the world, would Ichabod do it? Could he do it and live with himself? It's a hard call for Ichabod who has never really stopped to think about the consequences of his "I must get Katrina back" venture. Obviously Moloch is holding her for a reason and by saving her, are you risking the rest of the world?

We finally get to the Washington secret crypt of doom (honestly, it took forever to get to this moment) where Ichabod uses his knowledge of the Free Masons and George Washington's personal life to realize that the body of the father of our nation is hidden behind a secret panel. And there's the map, clutched in Washington's dead hands. At this point, Brooks shows up again and decides to go full on crazy for reasons I don't really understand. Was he possessed? He seemed to turn into some sort of demon but in one moment of lucidity, begged Abbie to destroy the map because if Moloch got his hands on it, the world would literally end. So now Abbie is faced with a decision--she must convince Ichabod to destroy the map that would lead him back to Katrina. Team Witness might break apart if Ichabod doesn't see sense. But thankfully, it doesn't take much convincing from Abbie--Ichabod is an honorable man and he cannot betray Abbie's trust and friendship in such a way. "I choose to forge my fate with you." Oh. Well, I'll just sit here and die a shipper's death.

Of course this is only part one of the two part finale, so the map has to come back, right? Ichabod--feeling guilty over abandoning his wife--redraws the map (handy photographic memory is handy) which is actually a good thing because Henry Parrish, our favorite Sin Eater, has had a very disturbing dream. In the dream, Moloch has summoned some sort of creature from a grave. The grave is in front of four white trees (the same ones that Jenny and Abbie saw when they first met Moloch) and up in the sky, the sun went into an eclipse. In the dream, Moloch speaks from the Book of Revelation and calls forth War.  In the present day, it happens to be 13 years to the day since Abbie and Jenny met Moloch and then woke up in the woods, without their full memories of what happened. Henry deduces that the next horseman is on his way--War. Because of all these events converging, Abbie and Ichabod decide that they must enter Purgatory and get Katrina out. It's a very cool visual moment, Earth actually shattering around them like a cracked mirror and Team Witness walking into Purgatory--hand in hand. It was super cute, truth be told. I almost forgot for a moment that they were actually trying to stop the impending Apocalypse. Purgatory is full of crazy--both Ichabod and Abbie are given their own special treatment of a false life that they could have if they gave up the search for Moloch. Abbie sees Corbin and Brooks and a happy family, complete with apple pie; Ichabod meets his father again, who greets him with open arms. The only thing that saves the two is their memory of each other (yeah, you tell me that they aren't meant to be) and they escape their own Purgatory dreamscape.

The two finally get to Katrina, who is in her special church lighting candles for her dead son Jeremy. Katrina fears that she cannot go with Ichabod and Abbie because the only souls who are allowed to leave Purgatory are those who have been forgiven of their sins. Except there is a loophole. Of course there is! If another stays in Katrina's place, then Katrina can leave. Don't do it, Abbie!! She's not worth it!! But Abbie is a good soul and stays behind to let Katrina go. Her goodbye with Ichabod is very moving; Ichabod promises to come back for her and tells her to hold on to their connection, it will save her. Katrina and Ichabod flee Purgatory and Abbie retreats further into a "safe house" where she meets her younger self. Her younger self offers to show Abbie exactly what happened on that day 13 years ago, the part that Abbie has blocked from her memories. Not only did Abbie and Jenny see Moloch, they saw Moloch raise a creature from the ground and bring it back to life. Sound familiar? It should. It's exactly what Henry Parrish saw in his dream, which he said was the coming of War. But what the vision Abbie has tells is that WAR is already here.

Speaking of Henry, let's do the big denouement. Ichabod, Katrina and Henry run to the four white trees, expecting that War will rise from the ground at any moment and they must stop it. But nothing happens when Katrina tries to cast her spell. And then Henry, who has suddenly stopped being old and cute and instead is sneering and looking positively pleased with himself, tells Ichabod and Katrina that the reason Katrina can't bind War is because he is already there. And then he ties Ichabod and Katrina to two of the white trees and we get a lot of exposition. Henry has been playing on Ichabod's desire to reunite with his wife and playing on Abbie's faith that the strange occurrences in her life must mean something, but it was a con. A long con. Who is Henry? Just like the first horseman--DEATH--was once a mortal man (Abraham von Bromes) so too was WAR once a mortal man. Henry, in fact. Yes, Henry is a horseman. But, that's not all. He was raised from the ground 13 years go and waited until Katrina and Ichabod were together. Why, you ask? Because he is also Jeremy, their son. The hex put on him did not kill him but left him in a state of near death for 200 years until Moloch raised him. Pretty sure at this point, my jaw hit the ground. Jeremy resents his parents who were never there for him and who abandoned him. He now considers his true father to be Moloch. Why the name Henry Parrish? Because the name of the sign--when Henry/Jeremy was brought back out of the earth and he went running into town to hide, he passed a church and took its name for his own--St. Henry's Parrish. Twisted, no? And now Jeremy/Henry has his revenge against his parents--the Headless Horseman arrives for his prize, Katrina and Jeremy casts Ichabod into the earth, doomed to stay in his son's coffin for all of time. In the final second, Jeremy breaks the second seal and it's on--war has come to Sleepy Hollow.

See everyone in the fall.

Miscellaneous Notes on "The Indispensable Man" and "Bad Blood"

--Some good light hearted moments in the form of Ichabod interacting with the modern world. Specifically getting a text from Abbie and reading it out loud: "I am on my way... colon closed parenthesis." *tilts phone* "OH! It's a man's face!!"

--A few minor subplots that I need to address. The first is that Captain Irving turns himself in for the murders at his cabin last week. It was really Macy, but Irving can't let his daughter take the fall. The second is that I'm fairly certain Jenny died. She was on her way back to meeting Abbie, having discovered the Church sign with Henry's name on it, revealing that he is a fraud when the Headless Horseman blew out the tires on her truck and sent her truck flying. RIP Jenny.

--Ichabod solved his dry cleaning problem. He bought the exact same outfit. But now it's shiny!

--Loved the hipster reference by Ichabod in regards to his coat. That coat is fairly epic.

--"I married a witch!" Atta boy, Ichabod.

--Overall the season gets a B- from me. What really sells it isn't the twisty turny mythology but Abbie and Ichabod themselves. The plots are often confusing and contrived but still good fun. The show doesn't take itself seriously, and I appreciate that. Looking forward to the second season!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

In Which I Review Dracula (1x9)

Every week, my friend Jo and I sit down together to watch Dracula and each week we have the same conversation:
"This is it!"
"This is the week!"
"Tonight, he'll turn Lucy!!"
"It has to happen tonight!" 

In the original novel, the slow draining and eventual turning of Lucy is a way to demonstrate to the reader that Dracula is for real; that the count is really a vampire draining a sweet lovely woman of her life force and turning her into a wanton strumpet. For 8 episodes, I have been waiting for this to begin, each week becoming more and more convinced it wasn't going to happen. This show has changed so much about Dracula already, why not remove something as iconic as little Lucy being changed. But then this week, in "Four Roses," it finally happened. Lucy fell prey to Dracula's teeth and her eyes were opened to the darkness. 

This episode, the penultimate of the season (most likely series), was a declaration of war. Tired of being countered at every turn, Dracula wants to declare open war against the Order of the Dragon. Refusing to listen to reason Renfield, Dracula is convinced that the Order is responsible for what happened to Mina-- attempted burning off the lovely skin of a young woman is totally keeping in line with the Order's past machinations. Never mind the fact that it wasn't actually the Order who went after Mina but Lord L's father, hell bent on revenge for his son's death. Dracula has decided that "blood will flow." How trite and cliche. Of course blood will flow. You're a vampire. I'd be more concerned if blood didn't flow.
In the meantime, Dracula has been visiting Mina in the hospital where dreams and memories of the night she was almost scalded by acid continue to haunt her. She seems to realize that it was Dracula who saved her, but she still can't grasp why. Because Mina is an idiot. I'm serious. The show billed her as a modern Victorian woman who was Dracula's equal--she was courageous and a bit of spitfire; she refused to stay within the mores of Victorian society by going to medical school, but yet she can't figure out that Dracula is obsessively in love with her. With every visit, Dracula bring Mina a rose, placing it in her palm as she sleeps (and he sits and stares at her, waiting for dawn). And the nurses and doctors aren't bothered by this? Were visiting hours not a thing? Did the employees not wonder why Mina's fiancee's boss was there all the time? Did they not speak to him, tell him to go home and stop being such a creep? The illogical actions of the background characters in this conceptual world are really worrisome. Anyway, that's why this episode is called "Four Roses." Because Dracula brings her three roses. Yeah, I'm not kidding. There were only three roses by her beside by my count (I should note that I am more than capable of counting to four.) So where is the mysterious fourth rose? Is the fourth rose a metaphor? Am I supposed to try and work out where the other rose is?

The episode is more or less smaller moments in between Dracula's visits to Mina. The first finds Dracula's house under search and seizure by the coppers who are looking for Monty's Browning's children, kidnapped last week. Browning is convinced that Grayson is behind the assault to his family. Because business rivals often kidnapped the children of their competitors? Honestly, the plot of Dracula taking down the Order through business practices has been so wholly diluted that it's hard for me to understand why exactly Browning sees Dracula as a threat. He hasn't actually done anything to them, apart from snacking on a few of their members. Any plots that have come up in his quest to destroy the Order have been overshadowed by the sexy fun times of the characters hooking up with one another so I'm not sure when exactly Browning decided Grayson was a legitimate threat, and certainly not enough as to suspect that Grayson kidnapped his children. Of course, Dracula doesn't have the kids (to no one's surprise, Van Helsing does). The second moment comes when Dracula decides to move forward with his "blood will flow" plan.

Dracula pays a nice little social call to a gentleman's club frequented by members of the Order and locks them in a room with hungry baby vampires who have quite the happy picnic. The resulting masacre, which is being called a yachting accident (wut??) by the Order, also results in the Order calling in an expert hunter (guy with face tattoo) and some sort of ancient Latin relic. I have no idea what this relic does or how it will be helpful to them. I also have no idea why they called in another hunter when they have Ninja running around London in her leather miniskirt and thigh high boots, slaying vampires left and right. Why the 11th hour appearance of another slayer? And one with a name I don't know.

Before Dracula's final visit to Mina, a few things happen that we have to talk about first. The first is that Harker joins the Order of the Dragon. Again, I'm not 100% sure why. I get that he's pissed with Dracula for playing him and that he is beginning to recognize that Mina is in love with Dracula, but it seems like quite a jump to join a secret order that makes you swear a blood oath to join their ranks. What happens when you take down Grayson? You're still a member but your usefulness to them is over. They'll probably just kill you. Which I'm ok with. Harker is a dull man with little to recommenced him. And of course there is Lucy and Harker, the former horrified by what she did and the latter guilt ridden but also uncaring. He leaves Lucy the morning after and just goes about his business. He doesn't even go to see Mina in the hospital! Something she questions when she decides to break out of the hospital and confront him. Why the Harker/Mina confrontation? Because Lucy spills the beans about the sex-ing. Lucy continues to be the worlds greatest best friend by visiting Mina in the hospital and subtly hinting (by way of tears and furtive looks) that she and Harker have slept together. When Mina demands an explanation from Harker, his only response is "because you love Grayson." So you slept with her best friend in retaliation? Douche move, bro.

Which leads to the final night in the hospital between Mina and Dracula. After eight episodes, countless pointless plots, finally Mina and Dracula talk about the elephant in the room: they love each other. Mina wants to know why Dracula keeps coming back and Dracula says he can't explain it, but Mina reminds him of a woman he loved very deeply once. Side note but this is what woman LOVE to hear. "You remind me of my ex. Let's hook up."

When Mina presses Dracula about this old flame, he tells her about Eiona to which--wait for it--Mina exclaims in surprise that she knows all about Eiona because she's been dreaming about her since she was a little girl and "she looks just like me!" Oh. My. God. WELL OF COURSE YOU HAVE MINA. Because this isn't the most convenient and nonsensical plot device in a show full of convenient and nonsensical plot devices. Lazy lazy LAZY writing, that is. Talk about robbing any real character development by just having Mina randomly already know all this information. The only connection she hasn't made is that she is Eiona, reborn. Because, again, Mina is an idiot. So why can't Dracula and Mina ride off into the sunset? Mina wants to know the same thing: "Do you love me?" But Dracula can't answer because first he owes Eiona a great debt and he must pay before he can move forward (ie: kill the Order of the Dragon.) But Dracula also expresses surprise that Mina wants him because--you know--Harker, her fiancee up until 5 second ago? Ah but that's over, explains Mina, cause he banged my best friend.

Ut oh. Dracula doesn't like Mina being hurt. So while Lucy relaxes in a bath, Dracula breaks into a locked room with no windows (wut??) and tells Lucy that if she wants to be a monster, he'll help her out. And then he bites her, drains her, and make her drink his blood. And thus a new Lucy will rise. (I don't know how this one will be any different seeing as she's already a vixen.)
One more episode and it's over. What happens next? Will anything make sense??!

Miscellaneous Notes on Four Roses

--Seriously. Where is the fourth rose? This bothers me more than it should.

--Van Helsing almost killed children but settled for a ransom note.

--Lucy came out to her mother. In possibly the worst but most hilarious way ever. Come on, Lucy. Did you really think Momma would be ok with this? How many lesbians in Victorian England have you met? 

--"Aren't you American?" So glad that line was thrown in. For a second I was worried that JRM had just given up and dropped his attempt an American accent. 

--"I've summoned the Sicilian." That's nice Ninja but I don't know who that is. Or why he is being brought on in the last few moments.

--"I hate hospitals" Someone please kill Mina.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (1x11)

And we're back, Sleepy Heads! It has been a few weeks now since we last checked in with Ichabod Crane and his Leftenant, Abbie Mills. When we left for the holidays, Ichabod had learned that he had a son who was apparently killed by Katrina's coven (if that is actually true, I'll eat my hat); the war against evil was in full swing in Sleepy Hollow and Moloch told Ichabod that he and Abbie would turn against one another in the final days. With only two episodes to go after this weeks installment, "Vessel," it looks very likely that the Apocalypse will begin properly soon enough. 

I think for a first episode back after an extended hiatus, I expected more. It was a rather sleepy (pun intended--it was low hanging fruit) episode. It's not surprising, though. Episodes before major season finales tend to be more about getting characters in a certain emotional place rather than being mythic heavy. This episode did tie up some loose ends which is always appreciated. The episode begins with Team Witness in their cabin discussing Moloch's prediction that one of them will betray the other. Ichabod is worried, but Abbie thinks Moloch may be presenting them with a boondoogle--a fool's errand, in other words. If Moloch can keep them distracted with the idea of betrayal then Team Witness can't focus on stopping the end of days. It's not a bad idea, really. Abbie is quite intelligent and I think that's why we like her--she's smart and sassy and can match Ichabod's dry wit note for note. Speaking of Ichabod, holy skinny jeans, Batman. While Abbie's logic that if they put Ichabod in a disguise, Moloch won't know it's Ichabod was sound to a certain extent, the real gold of that scene was the absolute hilarity of Ichabod in the world's smallest and tightest skinny jeans known to man. I'm think they may be tighter than Wolowitz's skinny jeans on The Big Bang Theory. It was a nice play to the fandom who are obsessed with Ichabod's clothing. Of course Ichabod can't stomach the clothes and quickly changes back, thank the lord. Never change your clothes, Ichabod.

The main thrust of the episode involved Captain Irving and his daughter Macy being chased by a demon. When we last saw them, Captain Irving received a creepy but cryptic message from a demon that they were coming for Macy's soul. Irving already blames himself for his daughter being in her wheelchair, so protective cop daddy goes into overdrive, taking his family to a safe house cabin the middle of the woods. Sadly, the demon can jump bodies so they've actually brought the demon along in the form of Detective Morales.

It was just a matter of time before the demon got to Macy, though I'm not clear as to why they want her specifically. Is she marked in some way? Does she have something to do with the end of days and Moloch's plan? We know Moloch is a demon who uses/goes after children so does the big bad demon think Macy will be super helpful in taking down Ichabod and Abbie?

Speaking of Abbie and her continued "my family is really messed up" drama, Crazy Sister Jenny returns. It turns out that the demon possessing Macy is familiar to the unhinged Mills sister. About seven years ago the same demon, who we learn is named Ancitif, possessed Jenny and tried to get her to hurt Abbie. Poor Jenny. She really can't catch a break, can she? Corbin, the now headless and deceased former sheriff, rid her of the demon through an exercisim but not before Jenny predicted his death and threatened to kill Abbie. It's interesting that while Jenny doesn't want to kill her sister currently, the demon, during the confrontation, seems to think that Jenny still has darkness inside her. Is Jenny going to be a helpmate or a hindrance in the coming days? I go back and forth on her a lot. I think she does have a lot of resentment toward her sister, even though she does a great job of covering it up. But she also has a lot of anger toward the demonic world so the question becomes "what matters more?" Revenge against your sister or taking down the big baddies? The demon, we learn, is an ancient one who is a leader in Moloch's army and has been sent to destroy Moloch's enemies. So why go after Macy unless she is seriously important to the side of good? The only way to get rid of the demon is to trap it in a lantern from 14th century France, given to Benjamin Franklin during the 18th century American Revolutionary War. Sure. Makes total sense.

The magic lantern of doom is inside a heavily fortified compound of an end-of-the-world fanatical group, so naturally Abbie and Ichabod have to break in. This is what I mean by a rather sleepy episode. It more or less plodded along from set to set, problem to problem. I was far more interested in the actual demon possession of Macy (because wicked cool visuals and makeup) than I watching Icabbie and Jenny go take on some militia doomsday. They have a stand off but Jenny gets them out of it rather quickly and they end up back at the Archives. The demon inside Macy wants Washington's Bible. According to Abbie and Ichabod, the Bible hasn't yielded much in the way of secrets but if the demon wants it then it must have something important in it. They can't afford to let it fall into Moloch's hands. The demon is cast back into hell by Team Witness and Macy is returned to normal. And now she can look forward to a lifetime of therapy! Knowing that the demons want the Washington Bible, Abbie and Ichabod begin studying it in earnest and Ichabod realizes the secrets were written in invisible ink. Using some lemon juice (which he first squirted into his eye accidentally, adorable man) Abbie and Icahbod reveal the first secret of the book: a date! December 18, 1799. The secret is written in George Washington's hand and Abbie, who apparently has Wikipedia in her head, notes that Washington DIED four days before this note was written so how could it be Washington's handwriting?

Oh please tell me that George Washington is somehow still alive. That would be the ridiculous cherry on top of the crazy ice cream sundae.

Miscellaneous Notes on Vessel

--A rather slow episode but next week is the two hour season finale. I expect epicness will ensue.

--"One sign of the Apocalypse is surely skinny jeans."

--"I have tow words for you: dry cleaning"
"Say two words that I understand"

--"Mastering the remote. You're officially a modern man." 

--Ichabod discovered bras.

--The high point of the series continues to be Ichabod and Abbie's interaction over any sort of myth or plot. While the latter is fine, if absurd, the former is the real selling point.

Monday, January 13, 2014

In Which I Review Sherlock (3x3)

Do you ever get through watching an episode of TV and wonder what the heck you just saw? When I watch the shows I review, I have a pretty set pattern. I watch, take about a full page of notes on plot and observations, leave it overnight to settle in my brain and then write the review. With this season finale of Sherlock, "His Final Vow," I figured I'd have to see the episode a few times before I felt comfortable enough to type a review but I never expected to be completely flabbergasted at the end of the first viewing. I sat in shock for 90 minuets and the only note I took on the initial watch was, "Steven Moffat is an evil SOB who literally hates all of mankind." When it was over, I instantly re-watched knowing that I probably missed a thousand and one things in my effort to just keep up with the fast paced, mind bendy, timey wimey, unbelievably GOOD episode of Sherlock. Like all season finale episodes of Sherlock, this one took several turns, had gasp worthy moments, had me both screaming in anger and frustration, laughing with mirth, and sobbing with joy and sadness, both. That's the mark of good writing, folks. When you can feel ALL the things, the writers have done their job. This final episode of the third season puts Sherlock's final vow he made at the Watson's wedding to the test. How far will Sherlock go to ensure John and Mary's happiness and safety? What would he sacrifice for them? The answer is easy and you already know it: everything. 

Meet Charles Augusts Magnussen--newspaper magnet, billionaire, and our evil genius for season three. In the original Doyle work, he went by Milverton but was just as manipulative and intelligent. Magnussen deals in knowledge. He is an expert blackmailer, capable of getting individuals and countries alike to bend to his will simply because he knows the weakness of every important person in the western world. He calls these weaknesses "pressure points" and he has them all locked in his Appledore vaults. The vaults, believed to reside under his house, are a veritable Alexandrian library of knowledge. Files upon files of secrets that Magnussen can trot out any time he wants to get what he desires. It's not easy to NOT compare Magnussen to Moriarty, the latter being our villain for the first two seasons of Sherlock and probably the most recognizable villain in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Moriarty, consultant criminal, got off on the intricate planning and crime work. He loved being bad for the sake of being bad. A true sociopath he cared very little about the people he hurt or the lives he wrecked. But his own weakness was that he was drawn to Sherlock as his equal. With Moriarty and Sherlock, it was a game of chess between two equally skilled opponents. Both knew that they might lose the game because the opponent was a worthy advisory. And it created a sense of respect between them. Moriarty was, I think, a little bit in love with Sherlock and Sherlock admired Moriarty's ability to turn off all feelings and just be a cold, calculating and a down right nasty bastard. Magnussen is different. Moriarty loved chaos for the sake of chaos but never got his hands dirty. Magnussen is right in the thick of things but at the same time you can't touch him. Magnussen doesn't need to create chaos to stave off boredom. He just needs people to think that he can.
Magnussen doesn't need a vast network, he just needs his Appledore files. He loves knowing that he can topple your whole world with the right publication in one of his many newspapers. And when it comes to Sherlock, it's not a chess game because Magnussen believes Sherlock to be totally inferior. Sherlock won't win against Magnussen because Magnussen simply doesn't consider him a threat. Sherlock is a pest, someone buzzing around trying to be self-important but, to Magnussen's delight, Sherlock has many pressure points from the small--Red Beard--to the greatest one of them all--John Watson. For example, when Magnussen shows up at Sherlock's flat (calling it HIS new office), Magnussen toys with Sherlock while Sherlock is trying to maintain the upper hand and remain rational, something that is hard to do when Magnussen decides to take a piss in Sherlock's fireplace while John and Sherlock are almost too shocked to respond. While I prefer the over the top theatrics of Moriarty and the raw chemistry Sherlock and Moriarty have, Magnussen turned my stomach, much like Sherlock's. He won't ruin your life, he'll just threaten to and you'll bend because what he has on you is that devastating.

So to set up a few things for the episode: Lady Smallwood, a member of the British government has hired Sherlock to help her deal with Magnussen, who is blackmailing Smallwood with letters (which Magnussen apparently carries on his person) about her husband and an illicit love affair with a 15 year old.  Sherlock knows that in order to make him more appealing to Magnussen, he will need a pressure point. And because Sherlock is sometimes very stupid (for being a genius) he turns to his drug habit. In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes has a very serious drug problem, though due to time of publication Watson's disapproval comes off more cautionary rather than down right anti-drug . However, our series has yet to really deal with this aspect. It has been alluded to several times in the first two seasons, but Sherlock, we are given to understand, is clean and free of his coke habit. It has been about a month since the Watson wedding and John and Sherlock haven't seen each other in that time. Life moves on. John is living in the suburbs with Mary, going to work, and living a totally normal existence. Which galls John Watson, though he's loathe to admit it. So when danger comes knocking--in the form of a next door neighbor worried about her drug addict son who didn't come home--the good Dr. Watson jumps in his car to go to a drug den and rescue the boy. While there, he fights a drug addict and generally acts very reckless, getting right in the face of drugged out stoners with knives. All of this ties into John's psychology, which we'll talk about in a bit, but the really important part is who else John finds in the drug den: a very high, very drugged out, very hobo-looking Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock insists that he is high because it is part of his case and he is undercover, but John thinks there are some lines Sherlock can't cross and drugs are one of them.

Sherlock high is quite alarming. It's not something we've seen before and something I never want to see again. He's even more condescending and frankly violent, grabbing Mycroft and shoving him up against a door frame. Sherlock is acting like Sherlock but a heightened version of him. He is doing things that Sherlock PRE-John would have done, not the Sherlock who has grown emotionally over the course of the past few years because of John. While he claims it's all for a case, it's hard to watch. Especially when Jeanine (Mary's maid of honor) comes trotting out of Sherlock's bedroom in nothing but a dress shirt. Like John, I was slightly appalled, confused, horrified, and desperately trying to look anywhere but at the kissing smile-y couple. Sherlock shouldn't be kissing people! (Unless it's Molly, John or hell even Moriarty!) My first instinct was that Sherlock was faking a relationship with Jeanine in order to do couple things with Mary and John--an attempt to reinsert himself into the Watson's life the only way he knew how. It took watching the episode twice to really get the subtle ways Sherlock changes in the presence of Jeanine. When she's there in the flesh, he's sweet and tender and lovey-dovey. But the second she leaves, he's our Sherlock again, caring only about Magnussen and the game. Nothing is ever as it appears with Sherlock--perhaps one of the most enduring themes of the show as a whole. Everything is a facade with something swimming underneath.

The real story of Sherlock and Jeanine is cold, through frankly, not wholly out of character for Sherlock, but rather a low character point I didn't expect in season three. Jeanine is the personal assistant to Magnussen in his newspaper office. She is an access point to Magnussen, nothing more. Sherlock manages to convince her to let him into the office, through a surprise marriage proposal--much to John's horror who balks at his best friends depiction of using "human error" against the person in question. It's a little disturbing to be honest. How is this not like what Magnussen does to people, exploiting them for gain? Like John I was a little taken aback at how low Sherlock could go when it comes to getting into an office. Once they get into the office, though, they find Jeanine knocked out on the floor, bleeding from the head. Sherlock knows they aren't alone and leaves John with an unconscience Jeanine while he goes to investigate. Finding Magnussen's bedroom, he sees the newspaper man on his knees, with someone pressing a gun to his head. Sherlock thinks it must be Lady Smallwood, seeking revenge on Magnussen for upsetting her life. But then the person in black turns around and it's not Lady Smallwood. It's not Lady Smallwood at all.

It's Mary. And the look of absolute horror and shock on Sherlock's face is only matched by me screaming in surprise. Because Sherlock Holmes, the man who can deduce anything about anyone, can't see past the end of his nose when it comes to the people he loves. And god help him, he does love Mary. He cares for her because she is John's pressure point and he knows it. He knows that John loosing Mary would absolutely break his best friend and therefore if John cares about Mary then so will Sherlock. Sherlock never even considered that Mary could be a two timing agent. She dazzled all of us. In the first episode of this season, I remarked that there was something suspicious about Mary but didn't really give it much thought. In the second episode, I was so totally enamored of Mary and her desire to not break up JohnLock that any doubt I had about her was washed away. She was a member of the family now. She belonged with John and Sherlock and that's all there was to that. Again, that's the mark of good TV writing. That I could, in the span of one episode, forget the slight oddness that was Mary's original appearance (knowing skip code for instance) just because she made the two main characters so happy only to have it turned upside down in the very next episode is startling. And then it gets worse because Mary shoots Sherlock and all the feelings and emotions came crashing down.

What happens next is, as I wrote in my notes, a surreal exercise in Sherlockian deduction. It's important to remember a few things: first, Sherlock is probably one of the smartest people on the planet. His brain works lightening fast so that what is actually several minuets on screen is only less than a second in his brain. Second, Sherlock's mind palace (super important foreshadowing is super important) is a magical place that is inhabited by various people. In the time it takes Sherlock to fall because of the gunshot wound, his mind palace has gone into overdrive trying to analyze which way to fall and which memory he needs to conjure up to remain calm in the face of shock. He is assisted in this endeavor by Molly, Anderson, and Mycroft. There is one more, but I'm going to save that for a moment. It's a very bizarre sequence and the first time I watched it, I was very put off by the almost overly indulgent artsy nature of it. There are bright white lights, disjointed camera angles, and the trademark fast/slow of Sherlock. But I think it's important to remember that this is taking place inside Sherlock's mind, an organ scientists still don't fully understand. We do learn that Red Beard was Sherlock's dog as a little boy, a dog that had to be put down. The lowest level of Sherlock's mind palace is a padded cell. One guess who is in that cell.

Did you guess Moriarty? A very deranged, crazed Moriarty but Moriarty nevertheless. So why is "Moriarty" (remember: this is Sherlock's sub conscience) chained to a wall in Sherlock's mind? Well, Moriarty has always represented what Sherlock COULD be. Like I said above, Sherlock and Moriarty are more equally matched than Sherlock and Magnussen. The world's greatest detective and the world's greatest criminal, and as Moriarty said, "we're made for each other, Sherlock." Moriarty represents what Sherlock is capable of if he didn't have the world's greatest heart. Despite Sherlock's constant claim that he's a high functioning sociopath, it's sometimes really hard to see. Sherlock likes to think that his brain is his greatest asset, but it's heart. Ever since meeting John, it has been his heart. Remember what Mycroft said in the second season: "my brother has the mind of a philosopher or a scientist. Yet he elects to be a detective. What do you think that says about his heart?" That doesn't mean that Sherlock doesn't long to lock away all his feelings and be as cold as he wishes he could be, though. And that's what Moriarty is. If Sherlock could lock up his love for John and his own sense of heroism, he'd be Moriarty. Easily. That part of Sherlock's mind screams to Moriarty, "you never felt pain!" But Sherlock does. You really only need to watch Benedict Cumberbatch's performance this episode to see how much pain Sherlock can feel.
But it is this crazed portion of Sherlock's brain that reminds him why he simply isn't allowed to die from this gunshot: John. All "Moriarty" has to say is that John will cry buckets and buckets and that if Sherlock dies (again) John will be in danger and Sherlock, so ready to give up and die, fights his way back up out of his mind palace. He won't leave John again. On John's wedding day, Sherlock stood in front of everyone and declared that no matter what, he'd always be there for John and Mary. Dying...that's so two years ago.

So. Who the bloody hell is Mary Watson? Even though he has been shot, Sherlock breaks out of the hospital determined to find the truth. He arranges a meeting between Mary and himself in which we learn that Mary Morston was a still born baby who died some 30 years ago. Mary, who is no longer hiding that she is some sort of super solider, tells Sherlock that she'll do whatever needs to be done to ensure that she doesn't loose John. But Sherlock, ever one step ahead, has made sure that John is listening to the whole conversation. John now knows that his wife is not who she says and is as far from the sweet funny Mary as one could get. But is Mary a villain? Not really. She's a woman in trouble. Magnussen obviously has something on her, her own file of secrets stashed away. Magnussen could upset Mary's new life and that's why she went after him. Knowing that there is much to talk about, Sherlock, John and Mary go back to Baker Street.

There is some timey wimey stuff here (this IS a Moffat episode after all) but I want to take this in linear order. Back at Baker Street, John is enraged. As he has every right to be. John can't figure out what he did to deserve this--of all the women in the world, why did he fall in love with a psychopath who used to kill people for a living? Let's talk about John Watson for a moment. John is NOT and never has been the average man some adaptations make him out to be. He is not as smart or deductive as Sherlock, but he's not the everyman. John is an addict of a different sort. But it's not drugs. It's danger. John Watson needs, craves, demands a life of danger. This is something he tries very hard to deny. What John wants and what he needs do not align. He wants the life in the suburbs with a doctor's wife and to live as everyone else. But that's not what he needs. What he needs is the thrill of the chase, the blood pounding in his ears, the constant imminent threat of death. As Sherlock says, "you're a doctor who went off to war, a married man who couldn't live in the suburbs for more than month before you went into a drug house of junkies and a man with a best friend who solves crimes as an alternative to getting high. Even our landlady was part of a drug cartel!" So of course, subconsciously, John was looking for a woman who is the exact same, she's another kind of fix. As John begins to cry and whispers to Sherlock, "but she wasn't supposed to be like this. Why is she like that?" Sherlock's answer is simply: "because you chose her." Think about all the previous girlfriends John has had over the past two seasons: dull, dull and dull. He can't keep them, not because--as he pretends--Sherlock constantly gets in the way, but because John's desire and need to live that dangerous life with Sherlock gets in the way. He will always choose Sherlock and the game not only because he loves his best friend but because he loves living on the edge.
So what to do with Mary? As Sherlock points out, now that they are back in Baker Street, Mary is one thing: a client. She will be made to sit in the client chair and tell her story. And then, and only then, will Sherlock Holmes and John Watson decide if they want her or not. She has broken the family and now she's either in or she's out. Sherlock sits in his chair, John in his. A team despite the fact that John is livid with his best friend for not automatically taking his side. Mary has a flash drive with her whole life story on it but Sherlock's deductions are right. She's a former spy and despite having a very convincing British accent, she's not. She has worked at times for one nation and freelance, murdering for money. At some point she made one enemy too many and had to go on the run, landing in London and adopting the name of Mary Morston. The entire affair is interrupted by Sherlock bleeding internally but before he passes out, he insists to John that Magnussen is the only thing that matters and that they can trust Mary: she could have killed him in Magnussen's office but she chose not to.

Timey-wimey time. We jump ahead a few months to Christmas at the Holmes's household. John and Mary haven't spoken in months but she has been brought along for Christmas dinner. John arrives and wants to talk to Mary and after months of thinking it through, he only has one thing to say, you past is your past. But your future is ours. John won't read her flash drive and throws it into the fire. He loves her too much to let her go. It was a very tear jerky moment with Mary crying, "you don't even know my name!" and John answering, "is Mary Watson good enough for you?" This lovely moment is interrupted by Sherlock having drugged everyone with punch so that he and John can get away to see Magnussen. So long as Magnussen has a file on Mary in his Appledore vault, Mary and John will never be safe and happy. And Sherlock needs them to be safe and happy. Sherlock made a deal with Magnussen the last time they met: Sherlock will bring him Mycroft's laptop which hold the secrets of the British government IF Magnussen hands over everything he has on Mary in the Appledore vault.

I want to take pause here and talk a little about Sherlock and Mycroft because their relationship is just as important as Sherlock and John's if wholly different. It's easy to view the Holmes brothers as adversaries. It's how they are presented on the surface: two egomaniacal geniuses constantly trying to get the better of the other. But, this is Sherlock. Nothing is ever what it seems. Everything is a facade. I want to break this analysis into two parts: how Sherlock views Mycroft and then, in a bit, how Mycroft views Sherlock. For Sherlock, Mycroft is a rubbish older brother. He has never done anything that older brothers are supposed to do. Mycroft never protected him, never loved him, always taunted him and made fun of him, insisting that Mycroft was the smarter of the two. In Sherlock's eyes, he and Mycroft are family in name only and they care for each other very little. So when Mycroft is given to sentimentality--"your loss would break my heart"--Sherlock has no idea what to do with it because Mycroft has never shown any sort of brotherly love. To Sherlock, Mycroft views him as a little annoying kid who trails after his older brother. Oh Sherlock. You really are quite dense, you know that? Bear all this in mind when I return to the Holmes brothers.

John follows Sherlock to Magnussesn's--a gun in John's coat pocket just in case--prepared to go along with the deal Sherlock struck if it means he and Mary can live their lives. And then the big reveal--showing Sherlock the Appledore vault. Remember when I said to keep the mind palace in--well--mind? Guess what doesn't REALLY exist? The Appledore Vault. The prized vault full of everyone's darkest secrets is Magnussen's mind palace that he can access anytime he wants but no one else can. This whole venture has been nothing more than playing off people's pressure points. What does Magnussen want? He's a business man. He wants to sell papers and revel in the knowledge that he can control anyone. He has now successfully set up Sherlock and John as traitors to the state. Mycroft, the drugs in his tea having worn off, tracks down his laptop and goes after his brother realizing that Sherlock is about to sell state secrets--at least that is how it looks. It's all leverage. Magnussen wants to own them all. He used Mary to get to John which gets to Sherlock which gets to Mycroft. They are all part of his collection now. Instead of saving John and Mary, Sherlock has fallen into a trap that will take John away from Mary forever.

And this is where we must remember Sherlock's final vow at the wedding. No matter what it takes, he will always be there for John and Mary. No matter what he has to sacrifice, he will ensure that they get their happy ending. With Mycroft descending en masse to arrest John and Sherlock, Sherlock does the only thing he can: destroy the Appledore vaults. While Magnussen taunts the pair about Sherlocks' heroism, Sherlock grabs the gun from John's jacket and says maybe one of the best lines of the entire series: "Do you research! I'm not a hero. I'm a high functioning sociopath! MERRY CHRISTMAS!" and blows Magnussen's head off. And it will cost him everything but the true heroism is that sacrifice. Now that he has committed murder, Sherlock will be taken into custody and John will be free to go back to Mary. Sherlock has to protect them. Recall the very first episode of the series where Detective Sally Donovan tells John, "someday they'll be a body and it will be Sherlock Holmes standing over it. He gets off on this." This is the first time (and probably only time) Sherlock has committed murder but it wasn't in the name of boredom but of love. His unending love for John. Character development. It's a beautiful thing.

Mycroft, watching from a helicopter is just as lost as his brother. So how does Mycroft view Sherlock? Yes, as a child, but not in a condescending way. This is his baby brother and he loves him. Wholly and completely. What is Mycroft's pressure point? As Magnussen points out, "his junkie detective brother." Think about all the interactions we've seen from Mycroft over the years. The first time we meet him, it isn't in an adversarial role. Yes, it's odd and a little creepy but it's Mycroft trying to get John to spy on Sherlock because Mycroft is concerned for his brother. Anytime Sherlock is in danger, Mycroft drops his busy life and comes running. He even took a morning off under the pretense of discussing the terror alert only to be sucked into playing "Operation." When John got married, Mycroft seemed almost delighted that he would have his little brother back in his life again. The pretense Mycroft puts on about thinking himself superior to Sherlock and having little in the way of sentiment toward his baby brother is--you guessed it--a facade. And thus, when it comes time to punish Sherlock for his crimes, Mycroft ensures that his brother is not sent to jail but exiled out of London. It may hurt, but this is how he will protect his little brother.

And so now it's off to Eastern Europe for Sherlock with a job from MI-6, something that is predicted to kill him, but something I think Mycroft secretly believes Sherlock can survive. The goodbye between John and Sherlock isn't as emotional as fans would want it to be. There was no declaration of love for the two, no JohnLock hug. But JohnLock hugs are rare creatures that one only sees once in a blue moon. Instead, it's more lighthearted and jokey. John isn't alone anymore. Not this time. He has Mary and a child, and John will miss his best friend--of course he will--but Sherlock isn't leaving him devastated and alone like last time. And so Sherlock hops on a plane and flies off into the great blue yonder. The end. Show over. It was fun.

Oh wait. What's that? There is another scene?! Only four minutes into his exile and Sherlock Holmes is recalled to London because guess who is alive?? Yup. Moriarty. Let the game begin once more. It's on.

Please don't make me wait two years, BBC.

Miscellaneous Notes on His Final Vow

--Well this was a long one. But it was maybe one of the best hours of Sherlock I've seen. This whole season has been nothing but perfection. Normally in Sherlock, there is one episode that resonates with me less than the others. Not this season. Everything was pitch perfect. Awards for everyone--especially Martin Freeman. His portrayal of John Watson has been magnificent to watch.

--The look on Sherlock's face when he makes his decision to save John and kill Magnuseen (the image above) was just heartbreaking. It's a silent goodbye.

--Some quotes:
"Don't appall me, brother mine, when I'm high."
"Your loss would break my heart" (this one made me just cry and cry)
"Why would I bring a gun to your parents for Christmas dinner?" "So it's in your coat, then?" "Yes."
"Give Mary my love. Tell her she's safe."

--The face flicking scene was super awkward but I think it was supposed to be. In that moment, you're a lot like Sherlock who has to stand in the background watching your best friend be humiliated and know that there is nothing you can do about it.  I wonder how many takes that took.

--William Sherlock Scott Holmes. My god. Even his full name is sexy as hell. 

--Molly broke off her engagement to Tom. (yay!) And YAY for Molly being the one to literally try and slap sense into Sherlock about drugs.

--Random trivia but Sherlock's parents are played by Benedict Cumberbatch's real parents. And Mary is played by Martin Freeman's real life wife.

--According to rumors there will be two more seasons of Sherlock. Praise the lord.

--Is there another Holmes brother? Mycroft made a very passing reference to it. Betcha it comes up in S4 or S5. 

--How did Moriarty survive blowing his head off? Your guess is as good as mine.