Saturday, February 15, 2014

BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode # 3 "His Last Vow" - Canonical References [Part II]

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

This is the second post listing the nods to the Sherlock Holmes Canon in “His Last Vow.

Click here to read the first post. 

The main antagonist, Charles Augustus Magnussen (CAM) is based on the character of Charles Augustus Milverton (The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton). 

Here are the references to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories:

1. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) referring to Janine's love for him as a human error – Dr John Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes' attitude towards love in A Scandal in Bohemia: “All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind... He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer... But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his.”

2. Sherlock refers to John (Martin Freeman) as the expert on women - In The Sign of the Four, Dr John Watson refers to his “experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents”. Sherlock Holmes refers to Dr Watson's “natural advantages” with the fairer sex in The Adventure of the Retired Colorman. In The Adventure of the Second Stain, Holmes refers to the fair sex as being Watson's “department”.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

3.  Sherlock displaying his knowledge of the different brands of perfume (Versace, N°5, Prada, Dior, Claire-de-la-lune) based on their scent in Charles Augustus Magnussen's office – Sherlock Holmes tells Dr John Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles: “There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.”

4. Mycroft's statement to Sherlock (in his mind palace) after he is shot by Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington): “East wind is coming, Sherlock. It is coming to get you.” Towards the end, Sherlock elaborates on this when he tells John about the story about the East wind told to him: East wind takes us all in the end. East wind is terrifying force that lays waste to all in its path. - Sherlock Holmes states to Dr John Watson in His Last Bow: “There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared. ”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss as Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

 5. Janine (Yasmine Akram) expresses her anger at Sherlock repeatedly lying to her. She in turns sells the details of their time together to a newspaper and also tampers with his morphine supply. She also indicates about making up stuff to tell on an upcoming interview with “The One Show”. She summarizes as: “Nothing hits the spot like a revenge for profits” – In A Case of Identity, when Dr John Watson asks him if he will inform Mary Sutherland, his client about the deception carried out James Windibank, her stepfather: “If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the old Persian saying, 'There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatcheth a delusion from a woman.'”

6. Janine informs Sherlock about her intentions of buying a gorgeous cottage in Sussex downs and the presence of bee hives nearby, that she will get rid of soon - Dr John Watson mentions in The Adventure of the Second Stain: “...but since he has definitely retired from London and betaken himself to study and bee-farming on the Sussex Downs, ...”
7. Sherlock is seen injecting a fresh dose of morphine and tells Janine that being in hospital and being attached with drugs is not good for working. As soon as she leaves, he removes the morphine supply and is back to work in his mind palace – Sherlock Holmes explains to Dr John Watson, why he needs a dose of cocaine in The Sign of the Four: “My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession,—or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world”

Martin Freeman as John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

8. John mentions to DI Greg Lestade (Rupert Graves) about Sherlock babbling due to being drugged up. Obviously, Sherlock is acting out to John to avoid telling the truth about Mary. – In The Adventure of the Dying Detective, Sherlock Holmes fools Dr John Watson into believing that he is delirious. He explains: “Malingering is a subject upon which I have sometimes thought of writing a monograph. A little occasional talk about half-crowns, oysters, or any other extraneous subject produces a pleasing effect of delirium.”

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9. John remarks about the difficulty of finding Sherlock in London - The Canonical Holmes has intimate knowledge of London 

10. Bill Wiggins (Tom Brooke) explains to Mary that working for Sherlock will keep him off the street. Mary responds that won't be the case – In the Canon, Wiggins is the head of the Baker Street Irregulars, the unofficial force. According to Holmes: “There's more work to be got out of one of those little beggars than out of a dozen of the force.... These youngsters, however, go everywhere and hear everything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all they want is organisation.”

11. Sherlock refers to 23 and 24 Leinster gardens as empty houses, where he sets up the meeting with Mary – Possible reference to The Adventure of the Empty House 

Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

12. Sherlock tells Mary after projecting her face on the building: “Sorry, I never could resist a touch of drama” -
 Sherlock Holmes states in The Valley of Fear: “Watson insists that I am the dramatist in real life,... Some touch of the artist wells up within me, and calls insistently for a well-staged performance.” 
Sherlock Holmes explains to Percy Phelps in The Adventure of the Naval Treaty: “.... but Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.” 

13. Sherlock informs Mary about how he won the empty house in a card game with the Clarence House cannibal - Possible reference to The Adventure of the Wisteria Lodge, in which a mulatto cook indulges in animal sacrifice. Sherlock Holmes quotes from Eckermann's Voodooism and the Negroid Religions: The true voodoo-worshipper attempts nothing of importance without certain sacrifices which are intended to propitiate his unclean gods. In extreme cases these rites take the form of human sacrifices followed by cannibalism.”

14. Mary mistaking John Watson to be a dummy being used by Sherlock to fool her - Possible reference to The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Sherlock Holmes uses a dummy to fool Colonel Sebastian Moran into making an attempt on his life. In The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, Holmes uses a dummy to retrieve the titular jewel from Count Sylvius at 221 B Baker Street

Benedict Cumberbatch with his real life parents Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton, and Mark Gatiss as the Holmes family in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

15. Sherlock's mother (Wanda Ventham) is revealed to be a mathematician who has written the book: “The Dynamics of Combustion” - In The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes describes Professor Moriarty: “Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it?”

16. Sherlock's comment about John: “John, you are addicted to a certain lifestyle. You are abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people” - 
Dr John Watson reacts to Sherlock asking him to accompany Sir Henry Baskerville to Dartmoor in The Hound of the Baskervilles: “The promise of adventure had always a fascination for me, and I was complimented by the words of Holmes and by the eagerness with which the baronet hailed me as a companion.”.
Sherlock Holmes tells Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Red Headed League: “I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life”.

17. John has a flash drive with the name “A.G.R.A” inscribed on it. Mary confirms them to be her initials – The plot of The Sign of the Four involves the Agra Treasure, which is the object of pursuit by Jonathan Small assisted by Tonga, his confidant

Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington as John Watson and Mary Morstan in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

18. Sherlock drugs his own family and Mary, before leaving with John to Appledore – Sherlock Holmes remarks to Lord Cantlemere at 221 B Baker Street in The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone: “My old friend here will tell you that I have an impish habit of practical joking. Also that I can never resist a dramatic situation.”

19. John is not sure about Sherlock's plan to stop Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) and asks him: “Have you lost your mind?”. Sherlock's reply: “I would rather keep you guessing.” - Dr John Watson writes in The Adventure of the Illustrious Client: “There was a curious secretive streak in the man which led to many dramatic effects, but left even his closest friend guessing as to what his exact plans might be. He pushed to an extreme the axiom that the only safe plotter was he who plotted alone.” 

Lars Mikkelsen as Charles Augustus Magnussen in BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode 3 His Last Vow

20. Charles Augustus Magnussen refers to Mycroft Holmes as being “the most powerful man in the country.” - Sherlock Holmes explains about Mycroft Holmes in The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans: “Mycroft draws four hundred and fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions of any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the most indispensable man in the country.”

I welcome the readers to add any other references that might have been missed.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock. 

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Image Sources: BBC Wales, Hartswood Films, Masterpiece Theatre


  1. The part with the dummy which is actually a human is from the Mazarin Stone (though it is important to know that this story is based on a play in which the villain was still in a way it is a reference to the Mazarin Stone which in turn references to The Empty House).

    I think the "I can never resist a touch of dramatic" has a better match up at the end of The Naval Treaty.

    Will you write a review of the season three episodes soon? I look forward to reading what you think.

    1. I agree about The Mazarin Stone.

      I always use the "touch of dramatic" quote from The Naval Treaty for such references. I thought this time I will use a different one.

      I will be reviewing the episodes soon. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Thanks for the explanation of the "East Wind." Since it was mentioned several times in the episode, I was wondering it referenced in the source material somewhere. So, do you plan to review each episode of the season?


    1. You are welcome, James.

      I will be reviewing the episodes in the near future.


  3. Janine mentions she purchased a cottage on the Sussex Downs (and there are bees), this is an allusion towards His Last Bow and The Lion's Mane, in which Sherlock has since retired to a small cottage, and has taken up bee-keeping.

    1. I have mentioned this in point # 6 in the post.

      Thanks for stopping by and the comment.