“Sherlock” Season 4 DVD extra: ‘Behind 221B’
This is a transcript of new material which appears only on the ‘Behind 221B’ Special Feature of the Season 4 DVD. It does not include a transcript of the clips from the episodes which are shown throughout the feature, nor does it include descriptions of every visual moment, and I didn’t add every instruction spoken by the production crew. I also haven’t transcribed every ‘er’ and ‘um’ and stutter as the interviewees speak but I hope that it may be useful in particular to viewers whose first language is not English and who are unable to access the subtitles.
As always, please remember that some of the comments made by people may look serious in plain print but are actually meant sarcastically or humorously.
If you quote extracts from this elsewhere, a link back to this page would be much appreciated!
Season 4 DVD extra: ‘Behind 221B’
THE SIX THATCHERS
NARRATOR (Rupert Graves): So, they’re back.
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: We pick up sort of where we left off. It’s a very happy unit of three people that then become four.
MARTIN FREEMAN: I think Mary and John are very excited about it. They’re gonna start a family.
UNA STUBBS: I’ll be so excited, because I’ll be doing babysitting duties. (She giggles.)
NARRATOR: And they’re back with a bang.
AMANDA ABBINGTON: It’s unexpected, and funny, and tragic, and beautiful.
RUPERT GRAVES: Gonna take the lid off and watch the whole thing ... (he makes the sound of an explosion) ... explode.
NARRATOR: The new series of “Sherlock” is set to blast onto our screens.
BENEDICT: It’s a very different episode at the beginning to what it becomes by the end.
NARRATOR: “Sherlock” has returned. As filming gets under way in Series 4, the gang are reunited and a new arrival is about to become a member of the Watson household.
AMANDA: Yeah, the impending baby is something that they’re both looking forward to a lot, including Sherlock, actually – despite what he says!
BENEDICT: You’ve got this wonderful event, the birth of this child, their daughter, and Sherlock feels very protective towards them as a family.
MARTIN: I think Mary and John are very excited about it. They’re in a good place. They’re a loving, married couple, and it’s exciting, yeah.
UNA: When we all get back onto the set again after a gap, it’s just lovely because, by now, it’s more like a family, and it’s a very special job. I appreciate that, and I keep reminding myself, ‘Remember, this is special, ’cause it won’t all be like this. Can’t be.’
NARRATOR: After choosing her godparents, John and Mary had one thing left to do for the newest Watson: decide on a name.
MARK GATISS: This is the christening scene. It’s a sort of fun scene; part of the domestic arrangements of John and Mary and Sherlock. I’m trying to encourage it to feel quite light. It’s funny; it’s a funny scene – and, you know, it’s part of the thing of this episode, really, that there’s a lot of ... They’re enjoying each other, really, enjoying being on adventures as a three, really, before things start to curdle.
NARRATOR: Although everything seemed idyllic, in true “Sherlock” style it wasn’t long before there was a gory case to solve and the game was back on for Sherlock, John and the entire production team.
MARK: Well, it’s a lovely spring day in Wales.
SUE VERTUE: You’re quite cold, aren’t you?!
MARK: I’m quite cold! We are at the house of, I think, the Lord High Sheriff, possibly the Grand Poobah, I don’t know! So we’re doing the interiors today.
SUE: And then we’ll be doing stunts.
SUE: And it’s over various days because we need the cars, then we need the explosion, then we need the wrecks. There’s about three different cars, I think.
MARK: So we’re here for three days. There’s a big stunt to come. That will be very exciting. And a melting Power Ranger!
SUE: A blue one!
MARK: The blue one! Which is the working title of the episode: “The Adventure of the Melting Power Ranger”!
STEVEN MOFFAT: Well, what we are doing is a little sort of mini-mystery at the start of “The Six Thatchers” which leads us into the main mystery of the show, which involves that car.
RUPERT: So, typical “Sherlock” case where there’s an absolute conundrum when somebody’s been found dead in their parents’ driveway when he was apparently in the Himalayas, which of course poor Lestrade is in desperate need of Sherlock’s help and so he brings the story to Sherlock.
BENEDICT: It intrigues him, this sort of magically appearing corpse, basically.
RACHEL TALALAY (Director): Part of that story ends up with the car in the driveway exploding.
NARRATOR: And when the “Sherlock” production crew are asked to do stunts, they like to make them as dramatic as possible.
NEIL FINNIGHAN (Stunt Co-ordinator): Today we will be crashing a car. This one has to be specially prepped for the driver. So what we have in here is we’ve got a steel plate in the floor, so if we do get the crumple zone, it doesn’t go too far and take his legs. We’ve got a five-point harness in there. All the airbags have been taken out – disconnected and taken out. In the back here, as we see, we’ve got a camera and an isolator switch for the batteries. We have a small fuel cell; we use a minimum amount of fuel – just enough to do the run and hit the car. It’s as simple as that. So we’re just waiting for the right light and the right timing, and we can crash a car!
NARRATOR: As night time falls, the final preparations are made and Sherlock’s first case of the new series comes crashing onto our screens.
NEIL: Exactly as we planned it. The guy I brought in, Gary, he’s done a lot of car stuff for me before. What I try to do is get the right people in for the job and then it just goes so smoothly. I can just literally stand behind camera, know that they’re gonna do it, so it worked like a dream, yeah, yeah. He’s fine, no injuries. It’s good. I’m pleased. I’m a happy man.
RACHEL: The complexity of designing the crash that can then explode means that trying to do that all in one is basically too difficult. We did the crash on one night so that you can get the stunt guy out, and then we left Special Effects a whole day to take the car apart and make it safe so their explosion is bigger and better and safe.
DANNY HARGREAVES (Special Effects Supervisor): It’s now the following day, allowing myself and the team to prepare the car ready for the explosion this evening. It’s a fabulous house here and I don’t want to be setting things on fire that I don’t want to. It takes quite a bit of preparation to put together, so we would have prepared the vehicle, taken out all the flammable material, all the seats, the covers, the dashboard and stuff like that. You’ll notice that when you look inside the vehicle now, there’s these steel pots. Now, those steel pots is where we contain the explosive charge. Once that’s fired, the pots work like a barrel of a gun; directs the flame outwards. So yeah, we’ll get a nice big rolling orange flame out this evening.
NARRATOR: With only one chance to film the explosion, the pressure is on as the detonators are primed.
FEMALE CREW MEMBER: Keep away from the car, folks; away from the car.
DANNY: Okay, firing. Three, two, one. (The car blows up.) Happy with that.
MALE CREW MEMBER: Power Ranger’s mostly survived it!
SUE: He looks brilliant!
DANNY: Yeah, it went well. The explosion was big, all the glass broke, all the pyros went, the fireball. Nothing got broke, so, yeah, very very happy with that one. Yeah, always nice to do a big explosion, isn’t it? Yeah, so very happy today.
NARRATOR: And the action continues in Episode 1 as the production team bring the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to the capital of Wales and reveal more of Mary’s former life as a trained assassin.
MARK: We are in Tbilisi in Georgia or, as this translates, Cardiff, in an old bank, a brilliant location for the British embassy which is under siege by nameless insurgents. And this is a flashback and the last mission of what Mary Watson used to do in her old job as an agent and assassin. This is AGRA’s last mission which goes disastrously wrong.
AMANDA: You sort of see Mary’s past life, which is really interesting, and you see how ruthless she is, which is great.
SACHA DHAWAN: I play the character of Ajay in “Sherlock.” He’s what you call a freelance assassin, very skilled at what he does; probably the best in the business. I wanted to do this part because it’s very different to me. It’s very physical, which I love doing. And obviously there’s a change in the character of what he was before and what he becomes six years after that. That’s really great to play. It’s been going well so far. I got to shoot some guns. Everything’s a bit more heavier than I am, but I think I’m coping quite well.
NARRATOR: For Mary and Ajay’s gunshots to have real impact, the Special Effects team made sure the hits would definitely draw blood.
(The extras have small explosive packs of blood attached to them.)
RACHEL: Stand by.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (presumably): Running now.
RACHEL: And action. ... (They film the soldiers getting shot by AGRA, and blood flying.) Cut there.
(Two of the shot soldiers fist-bump each other.)
SACHA: The crew on “Sherlock” are so skilled at what they do. As a fan of the show it’s so great to be on it and go, ‘Ah, that’s how they do it!’ So, yeah. Can’t wait for people to see it.
AMANDA: I’m loving every minute of it. Her story in this series is fantastic. It’s a gift of a part for any actress, really. It was great that we had to start with that, because it gave me a good focus for the rest of the series, actually, just because I got a bit of her background.
(Ben and Sacha rehearsing their fight.)
STUNT COORDINATOR: And action.
NARRATOR: As Mary’s past began to catch up with her, it was down to Sherlock to come face to face with escaped assassin Ajay.
BENEDICT: I really enjoy fights; I enjoy choreography; I enjoy all that sort of stuff. I’d done a bit of it on a film that I’d just finished before this began, so I was sort of going ... (excitedly) ... ‘Is there a fight in the script?!’ and so I was very pleased to see there was one. And obviously because it’s against the assassin, Ajay, it had to be pretty good and believable that Sherlock could hold his own against this guy.
NEIL (to the boys): Running water, coming out of the water ... (To the camera) We’ve been arranging a fight between Sherlock and another character, Ajay. We’ve just had Benedict in today, just to run him through the basic moves. Bit of sparring with him so he gets used to fighting. And it’s just that process of building up the fight, building up the fight ’til we get the speed so it looks good for camera.
NARRATOR: After rehearsals, it was time to take the fight to set and put Sherlock’s new moves into action.
NEIL: It’s quite a hard fight. I’m really pleased. It’s vicious. I didn’t want it too stylised – there’s a little bit in there – but I wanted to have a range of things and I just wanted it to look as if it was nasty. And we’ve got guys going through windows, and people smashing faces on tabletops and that sort of thing, and I’m just hoping the day goes really well and we get a really good fight.
NARRATOR: When Sherlock needed to get hands-on with Ajay, Benedict and Sacha were soon to find out if all their hard work would pay off.
SUE: I think Benedict’s looking forward to this hugely. I think they’d probably fight all day if they could! So we’ll just have to keep remembering there’s quite a lot of dialogue to come at the end of the day! There are quite a few stunt days. We quite often have stuntmen turning up and then going home again because they do it themselves, but you often just have to have the stuntpeople there in case we do need them.
MARK: The triumph of Sherlock Holmes here is that he weaponises his intellect, but in this situation – as occasionally in the original stories – he gets on with it. He’s a very good boxer in the original stories; he’s an expert swordsman, so he knows his stuff. And, you know, Benedict loves it and hurls himself into it with vigour. And I personally love a good fight onscreen. I think they’re marvellous, especially if you can think of something that makes it distinctive.
BENEDICT: I’ve got to do some cool moves, which is always fun. Smash through glass, which seems to be a theme in pretty much every fight I do in any drama at the moment. And it’s nice to see Sherlock being incredibly physical and vicious. It’s always good fun to film those things. They break down technically. They’re hard work, but it’s nice to take a character that’s very cerebral into another sort of much more physical space and to see that he’s as sort of aggressive and brilliant with martial arts punching, any kind of manoeuvre, physically, to get the best of his assailant, as he is on a case with his brain.
MARK: This fight we’ve been shooting for the last two days is really vicious!
SUE: It’s fantastic, isn’t it?
MARK: And exciting, and novel, I think.
SUE: And they really rehearsed it, didn’t they? They knew exactly what they’re doing. It’s great.
MARK: Boys, you know! Boys.
NARRATOR: Despite his new hands-on approach, there was one fight that Sherlock started that he was always going to lose. When Sherlock provoked Vivian Norbury, the result would be devastating.
MARK: This is the big secret emotional climax of the thing. This is the death of Mary and we’ve actually annotated the call sheet so it says, ‘Mary gets cake’!
MARK: ... in case it slips out. ‘Cake’ is now the code for ‘big violent death.’
STEVEN: For death!
STEVEN: And forever we’re stuck with that!
STEVEN: There’s a real moment of Sherlock facing his own worst enemy, and obviously Sherlock’s own worst enemy is himself, is that he can’t stop himself making a series of damaging, hurtful deductions about Vivian Norbury, and the result of that is she slowly riles up. She wants to prove herself as more significant than he is saying. And that’s what kills Mary.
MARK: You know, we’ve been here before, with him saying the wrong thing at the wrong time but now it has, literally, has fatal consequences. It’s also a little key into the original stories, in one of my favourite stories, “The Yellow Face,” where Sherlock gets everything wrong, and it’s set in a place called Norbury, and at the end he says to Doctor Watson, “If you ever think I’m getting a little above myself or too confident in my powers, whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear and I shall be infinitely obliged.” So I made – literally made – Norbury flesh, which is this moment.
UNA: I must say, I was absolutely taken aback that Mary dies.
MARTIN: I’m surprised by so many things when I read these scripts, every time. They’re very bold, Mark and Steven, with who they choose to get rid of and how they choose to do it. I like being shocked, and I was shocked.
BENEDICT: It’s a weird thing when you have a much-loved character taking departure. It’s a shame, you know – I’d got very used to that dynamic, and yet it’s completely right, and it’s right that just when the audience is getting comfortable with that dynamic that they should be reminded of what is very much evident in the stories, is Watson loses his wife. And it’s not very ... not very touched upon in the stories. It becomes a very central part of ours; and Sherlock’s role in that moment is pretty important, and so is the outcome and how it reshapes and redefines what we know of Watson and Holmes.
MARTIN: I think this show has always been quite good at the light and dark, and just when you think you’re being led down a kind of a happy place, it then will pull the rug from under you and someone will die.
BENEDICT: It gives her a very, very interesting couple of character arcs and where we’re left as people after that momentous moment.
AMANDA: As a character, I think she always knew she was gonna die. I don’t think she ever thought she’d live into old age.
MARK: Sue cries literally every time.
STEVEN: Every time. Every time she reads it and every time she sees it.
BENEDICT: Yeah, it is sad. It’s horrible, ’cause Amanda’s a friend as well, so you just think, ‘Oh, I’m not gonna have many more days at work with her,’ which is rubbish.
(On set, Amanda wipes her eyes with a paper tissue after filming her death scene.)
AMANDA: It was really sad, ’cause I’m gonna ... you know, I’ll miss it. I will miss the show, and I’ll miss coming to work and being with everybody. Yeah, it’s a shame Mary has to go. But she has to go, and I’m really glad she does. I’m really glad ... I’m very pleased that Mary leaves and dies ... I’m pleased that she leaves, ’cause she had to. She couldn’t stay. She couldn’t get ... she couldn’t be with those two any more. They had to go off and be Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
THE LYING DETECTIVE
NARRATOR: The shocking death of Mary at the end of Episode 1 left both John and Sherlock heartbroken.
MARTIN: The woman he loved has gone and he is kicking out.
BENEDICT: Sherlock’s state of mind. (He laughs.) He’s under the influence in Episode 2. It’s someone who’s toying with death and doing irreparable damage to himself in the process.
NARRATOR: But as media celebrity Culverton Smith comes to Sherlock’s attention, never have the crime-solving duo needed to be more on the case.
MARTIN: Culverton Smith turns out to be one of our best villains.
TOBY JONES (Smith): You can’t believe how dark the places are that you might have to go.
NARRATOR: And things get even darker when the Holmes family secret is finally revealed.
BENEDICT: The challenges have never been bigger.
NARRATOR: After Mary’s sad departure, both Sherlock and John are now more isolated than either of them have ever been.
MARTIN: John at the beginning of [Episode] 2 is, yeah, still very much in mourning over the loss of Mary. We see quite early on that he is still living very much with Mary.
AMANDA: She’s there, but actually she’s a figment of John’s imagination. He hates Sherlock at that point. He thinks Sherlock’s responsible for Mary’s death. She’s just this guiding light for John to recover and to find his friend again, and to not blame his friend.
BENEDICT: Sherlock’s state of mind in Episode 2 is all over the place. The challenges have never been bigger and yet he’s set himself the biggest challenge, which is to give himself a huge handicap in the sense of just diving into drug use and trying to create a case for Watson.
MARTIN: I think John is driven mad by Sherlock’s drug use, absolutely barmy, ’cause it’s such a waste as far as John’s concerned, and all the people who really care about Sherlock know it’s a great waste of his mental skills. And he’s ruining himself, not just for John, you know, but for Mycroft, for Molly, for Mrs Hudson. You know, they wanna see Sherlock be on fire, be at his best.
BENEDICT: It’s overuse of drugs to create the scenario where Watson has to save him, and yet at the same time he – by accident or not – stumbles across a massively important case.
NARRATOR: The case Sherlock stumbles across introduces one of the series’ darkest villains to date, media personality Culverton Smith.
LOUISE BREALEY: He probably ought to stop using all of those drugs ’cause he’s close to the point of no return, I think that’s fair to say.
BENEDICT: He’s malnourished, he’s having organ failures, he’s hallucinating, he’s passing out.
MARTIN: It’s all part of Sherlock’s plan, you know, to galvanise John into doing something good. Culverton Smith is a very famous celebrity on the TV and as a writer and a broadcaster who turns out to be one of our best villains, I think, played by Toby Jones.
BENEDICT: I think what Toby Jones did brilliantly was create this hidden-in-plain-sight psychopath who really you should believe is innocent, partly because of Sherlock’s state of mind but partly because of how convincing he is as somebody who almost double-bluffs everyone in his life into believing that he’s innocent.
TOBY: Mark texted me and said, ‘Steven and I have written a role with you in mind. I hope you really enjoy it.’ And I think he knew then that it would be right up my street.
NARRATOR: And creating yet another unforgettable criminal character was a challenge the “Sherlock” writing team just couldn’t resist.
MARK: It’s a very modern villain ...
MARK: ... from an original source, this idea of this sort of untouchable media personality. It’s about the way that someone with that amount of money and that amount of influence and that amount of, kind of, magnetism can recruit people.
TOBY: He’s across all media; he’s across all power; he’s got fingers in every pie. I think he believes he’s entertaining and attractive, and I think he’s persuaded the world that he is those things.
MARTIN: He’s very creepy. He is ... well, I suppose quite demonically evil, really, but it’s all done under this kind of rather false bonhomie, being, you know, friend to children and friend to, you know ... just the housewives’ favourite, sort of thing, but he’s actually a deeply unpleasant man.
TOBY: Some scripts you read and you can’t believe how dark the places are that you might have to go. And so it’s very exciting. You think, ‘I hope I’ll be able to explore a whole area that I haven’t explored before,’ and certainly with this character that was the case.
STEVEN: The way in which fame and popularity and sort of self-mythologising can make you kind of untouchable, people don’t think you could also be evil, despite the available evidence.
TOBY: I hope the character’s pretty sinister, really unpleasant, because those are the characters we like watching.
NARRATOR: But Sherlock himself might not have been watching things as closely as he should. When his plan to gain Culverton’s confession doesn’t work out as expected, faith is lost, and John and Sherlock’s friendship begins to die a death of its own.
MARK: John is absolutely furious and does blame Sherlock. He suppresses that completely but by the time we get to the scene in the morgue when he just snaps ...
BENEDICT: It’s interesting, isn’t it, ’cause John’s release is in the morgue and it’s when I’m seemingly out of control and he then becomes out of control.
MARTIN: I think John, for the bulk of Episode 2, is allowing himself to blame Sherlock. I think it’s just easier for John to hold Sherlock fully responsible so that he can just sort of wash his hands of that friendship. I don’t think he’s in any mood to discuss the finer points of whose fault it really was. I think he’s just laying all the blame at Sherlock’s door.
MARK: Sherlock appears to have completely ballsed it up about Faith and everything, and he just suddenly thinks, ‘Have I just been taken in by a drug addict. Is he just crazy?’ And he beats him up.
MARTIN: Yeah, the fight in the morgue ended up being quite choreographed, I guess, you know, just due to what cameras are gonna see; angles and all that. It’s always good fun doing a fight. (He stops and thinks about it.) No it’s not. It’s often not good fun doing a fight, but this was quite good fun ’cause it was contained and it was just Ben and I.
MARTIN: So I’m gonna push Ben into that?
STUNT CO-ORDINATOR (probably): Yes.
MARTIN: But that’s all right to have a bit of an impact between you two?
STUNT CO-ORDINATOR: Yes please.
MARTIN (in interview): And we sort of ... we knew what we were doing. For John, it’s a cathartic kind of release of all his anger and all his rage at Sherlock. You know, the woman he loved has gone and he is kicking out at the world for it. Sherlock allows himself to be ... he doesn’t fight back. So he doesn’t defend himself. He .. I think Sherlock is full of enough self-loathing and full of enough knowledge that this is what John needs to do to let it happen. You know, Sherlock and John are both at a very, very low point there. And from there, really, their relationship can only sort of rebuild. That’s the absolute worst it can get. They’ve hit rock bottom.
BENEDICT: I don’t imagine anything so seismic will ever happen to the two of them again. I think it’d be hard to imagine a wife getting shot because of a best friend provoking a woman with a gun.
NARRATOR: But when John and Sherlock have nowhere left to turn, Britain’s favourite landlady is driven to steer things back in the right direction.
UNA: I’m quite responsible for bringing the boys back together again, in really difficult ways, and I manage it.
STEVEN: Well, today’s the big car chase scene which is gonna involve police cars, a helicopter and a drone to film the helicopter.
SUE: So we’ve got the Aston Martin driven by a stunt driver. We have two police cars driven by stunt drivers, and we have various other action cars that are all ours, under our control. Then those are followed by a helicopter, which is parked over there, and that’s followed by a drone, which will be down there.
NEIL (to the drivers): Okay, gentlemen of the stunt team, we’ll just go through what the action’s gonna be this morning.
SUE: There’s a whole sequence goes on and it’s all being choreographed, and there should be some sliding round of the Aston Martin.
NEIL (demonstrating to the drivers what he wants with toy cars on a chalked-out road): Get it sideways.
STEVEN: We’re doing a big chalk outline on the ground and working out with our model cars how it’s all gonna work.
NEIL (dragging the toy cars into position): We go around the roundabout, then you follow on so now we have a two-car police chase.
STEVEN: It looks like we’re planning a bank heist. It’s fun.
SUE: We’ve had quite a lot of meetings about this, they’ve had quite a lot of rehearsals, and it costs quite a lot of money. So hopefully it’ll be worth it.
NEIL (giving a thumbs-up to the camera): Brilliant!
UNA: There’s a magnificent car chase. I mean, magnificent. The drivers are Bond drivers. They done all the Bonds, so that’s exciting.
MARK HIGGINS (stunt driver): I’ve done the last three James Bond films, so have quite a good relationship with Aston Martin. The car we’re driving today is the V8 Vantage. It’s a manual gearbox, nice big engine. Engine at the front, rear wheel drive, goes sideways quite easily, so from a driver’s point of view it’s perfect for this job.
SIMON WERY (Aerial Camera): The object today is that we’re a police helicopter, so we’re kind of looking to see who’s in the car and we’re part of the action sequence.
NARRATOR: With a whole lot of budget on the track, including drones, helicopters and sports cars, the crew make their last preparations, ready for a take. As the engines are started and everyone moves into their final positions, the chase is finally on.
MARK HIGGINS (after the scene has been filmed): It’s gone really well today so far. Location’s been great; weather’s been great; and the car’s been great, so it’s all gone to plan, I think. The helicopter shot was really interesting. Yeah, so far, so good.
SIMON: The thing about high-speed car chases is it’s gotta be exactly that; it’s gotta be high-speed. We can turn quite tightly around the top of ’em, especially on the roundabout, and still hold the car in frame.
PETER HALL (Pilot): We enjoy ourselves when we’re up there.
UNA: I must say, I was in my trailer and the helicopter was going round and round and round and round and I thought, ‘It’s chasing me!’ So I felt quite proud of that, ’cause it’s quite a big episode for me.
(Outside the therapist’s house)
SUE: So this is now the end of the whole stunt sequence that we did this morning. Mark, the stunt guy, drove in – you can see the skid marks there where he did the doughnut – faced it the other way; very good driving, and now we see who’s getting out of the car.
STEVEN: And of course the big reveal that the sports car is being driven by Mrs Hudson. You finally get to see where all that money from her husband’s drugs business went.
UNA: The boys are bewildered why she has such a posh car and then I tell them, ‘Well, because my past life. I earned money.’ You know, I’m the widow of a drug dealer and I have property in central London. So she’s not short of a penny or two. That’s new to them, I think.
SUE: Then there’s somebody else in the boot. Sherlock’s in the boot.
UNA: Obviously Sherlock is in a really bad way in this episode, so it’s a really difficult task for her to help him. He’s really worrying for her. She goes to great length to rescue him. (She punches the air triumphantly, grinning.) Ta-da!
NARRATOR: Although Mrs Hudson helped save Sherlock from himself, his life was soon under threat again at the hands of Culverton Smith.
TOBY: What’s great about this is they’re long, you know; they’re good, proper scenes that have arcs in them, more than one arc in them, and you can really explore the shifting power relations between the different characters.
BENEDICT: Culverton Smith is that really toxic combination of controlling, seemingly very nice and polite but with a really nasty, palpably nasty, undercurrent of control and darkness. It only really manifests itself truly in the moments where he confesses to Sherlock, who he believes to be dying at his hands, what his true motivations are.
TOBY: Obviously Culverton reveals that he has really dreadful desires that are almost ... I’m not sure that we’ve ever seen on TV, implied on TV, and so that was pretty exciting to do.
BENEDICT: He enjoys it. He actually enjoys ... It just makes him incredibly happy – it’s what he says – to kill people. There’s no political motivation, he doesn’t want power, he doesn’t want to toy with Sherlock’s mind, there’s no game involved. It’s just about his pursuit of happiness. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s quite terrifying.
NARRATOR: In order to end Culverton’s dark lifestyle, Sherlock was forced to play the long game and put his own life on the line. When his complex plan came together, he cleverly managed to gain the murderer’s confession and ultimately fulfil Mary’s request to save John Watson.
MARTIN: Mary’s posthumous advice to Sherlock is to get John to get back in the action, and Sherlock knows a way to get him back in the action is basically to save his life. So he knows that John will come through for him, and he has to break down a door and get Culverton Smith away from him, and he’s brought the police with him, so it’s like the cavalry arriving. It’s all been very, very cleverly planted by Sherlock to happen. It’s a brilliant piece of plotting and writing, I think.
NARRATOR: Despite having saved Sherlock’s life, when the Holmes’ hidden family secret is finally revealed, it seems it’s John’s life that is really at risk.
MARK: We’re just about to shoot the big reveal, end of Episode 2.
MARTIN: Yeah, the end scene was great. Yeah, the end scene is really great. Every time we did that scene I was just like, ‘Yeah, this is really exciting.’
SIAN BROOKE: My character takes a few twists and turns along the way. She is full of possibilities. We’ll have seen her in many different guises. She plays Faith ... and Elizabeth [the woman on the bus] ... and Elsa [the therapist]. She tries to infiltrate their world. This is the first time that we meet Eurus, the first time that she reveals her true self to Watson.
MARK: Actually, after all that, she is Sherlock and Mycroft’s secret mad sister.
MARTIN: Um, it’s amazing, and I hope it’ll be amazing for the audience. It was amazing for all of us when we read it. You know, I got a chill down my spine when I read it. I thought, ‘This could be fantastic. It could be one of the best moments of the show’s history, I think.’
SIAN: I think she’s there to definitely shake their foundations.
THE FINAL PROBLEM
NARRATOR: At the end of Episode 2, we finally found out exactly who she is, and in Episode 3 we find out exactly what and who she knows ...
ANDREW SCOTT: Moriarty is back.
BENEDICT: I think the greatest of all villains is Eurus.
NARRATOR: ... and discover just how dangerous Eurus Holmes may be.
ART MALIK (the Governor): Her incarceration has resulted in the fact that she’s actually taken over the asylum.
MARTIN: It’s one of the most traumatic episodes, maybe the most traumatic episode, actually, that we’ve ever done.
NARRATOR: The East Wind has arrived and is destroying everything in her path.
SIAN: I think she’s there to definitely shake their foundations.
MARK: You join me in Mycroft’s private cinema in his palatial house – the third Mycroft house we’ve had. All of them have panels and suits of armour, so you can never tell the difference! This one is extremely fine. There’s a big window, and it’s probably haunted. It’s about half past two in the morning on a gruelling night shoot in which I am being menaced by a tiny girl; and later on, soon, a terrifying clown. And because I’ve started to tell you this, they are now calling for me to do the shot, because that’s the way it goes!
BENJAMIN CARON (Director): Mark Gatiss is a life-long fan of horror, so I felt a certain responsibility to get this right.
MARK: Turns out to actually be a set-up by Sherlock to scare the pants off him. From the beginning, Steve and I conceived this script as being full of transgressions, so you sort of think, ‘Oh, heavens, they’re showing that; they’re revealing that; they’re doing that. Oh my God. There’s no way back.’ So one of the things people have asked me over the years – of course they assume there must be something in Mycroft’s umbrella, as I have always got one, but it has in fact got a sword in it, as people have often speculated. However, it’s a two-stage joke, and then when I’m menaced by the clown upstairs, I take the blade out, revealing it to be a very cool gun with a bamboo handle. Unfortunately, Sherlock’s taken the bullets out. So that’s the end of my game.
BENEDICT: The massive missing piece in Sherlock’s mind that’s been there all the time, that’s driven so much of who he is, is his sister, and the death of his friend caused by his sister; the first case he didn’t solve. That, to me, has motivated everything that he’s become since then.
SIAN: Eurus is a monumental genius, and so, I suppose, having spent that many years in an institution where you are on your own, there’s no motherly love, no parental guidance, no nothing, no human contact, I think it would probably send somebody a little loopy. Her objective – to be able to get somebody to bring her home, to reach out to Sherlock – has sort of overridden any rationale, really. She’s just ... that’s sort of superseded any sort of normal way of thinking and so she behaves a little crazy and, yeah, a little extreme, one might say!
MARK: This is where the episode goes even more crazy, and Mycroft has explained about Eurus but then, just at that moment, the window smashes and in comes a drone with a grenade on it!
DANI ROSE (Drone Pilot): All we’re using here is just a modified race pod. It’s good for getting through the windows and the doors. I’m quite comfortable with these things but obviously, like you say, the pressure’s on when you’ve got Hollywood stars right there and, you know, you wanna try and not ...
MAN: ... maim them.
DANI: ... maim them! No, it’s fine. It’s all very controlled, it’s all very safe, and what we’ve been asked to do is quite straightforward. Yeah, it’s quite cool.
MARK: We’re all just coping with the drone. It’s actually behaving very well. Hasn’t sliced anyone’s eye out.
(Dani, crouched beside Mycroft’s seat in the living room, flies the drone in the kitchen. It smashes into something and drops to the floor. Ben claps his hands to his head in horror.)
(Mark mimes the flat blowing up.)
MARK: And now it moves into the total destruction of two hundred and twenty-one B Baker Street, which is strange and awful and exciting. And this amazing stunt as John and Sherlock pitch themselves through the window onto the awning of Speedy’s. Boop! And they’re fine.
[Yeah, Mark, tell yourself that. Unfortunately the final footage clearly shows that the boys are thrown way further forward than the bloody awning.]
NARRATOR: Blowing up the iconic bachelor pad requires hours of planning and preparation to ensure that Benedict and Martin can dive safely out of the first-floor window of 221B Baker Street.
BENEDICT (on the rostrum that he and Martin are going to dive off, talking to Benjamin and other crew members): And by the time we’ve got our launch off whatever it is here, we’re kind of blown out that way.
NEIL: We have the scene where Martin and Benedict try and avoid an explosion in the apartment, and the only way they’re getting out is to dive through the windows and into the street below. So what we’ve got for them today is a box rig which is basically a very simple deceleration system. People look at it and think, ‘What the hell are we doing with that?!’ but it’s such a simple and effective thing to use. My thing for the day is just to make sure that they’re both happy to dive from the rostrum onto this box rig and they’re both, you know, it’s nice and comfortable and we don’t get them hurt.
JEAN-CLAUDE DEGUARA (Visual Effects Supervisor): Today’s greenscreen element is just the two actors leaping through. We sat down with Ben, the Director, planned out two shots to contain this sequence in. One is a front-on shot, and then there’s an aerial shot looking down which is ... where it’s more about the smoke billowing out of the room and it goes and engulfs the camera. (Explaining the latter shot) This shot, the main shot, you won’t see that it is the two actors because of the angle, so we’re using the two stunt guys and we’re doing the fireball at the same time because the flames will engulf them.
NARRATOR: With the stunt performers in place, the flames are turned up full; and when the smoke has cleared, the sequence leaves everybody blown away.
MARK: It’s going awfully well ... so far.
ANDREW: Moriarty is back, and this time he’s escaped from the Mind Palace and we have a flashback to five years ago where he’s being brought in as a sort of bait for Eurus.
MARK: Well, it’s July the 5th. You wouldn’t know it. (He and Sue laugh.) We’re on the beach. Whereabouts are we?
SUE: We are. We are in ...
MARK: What’s it called?
SUE: Og...more. We’re in Ogmore.
MARK: Ogmore beach. And we’re doing the arrival of a helicopter which will carry Sherlock to Sherrinford Island, and also Moriarty in the flashback. Tenby Island is the actual location, but we’re substituting this. That’s for future reference for anyone trying to find the location. It’s not in Tenby.
SUE: Mark’s quite excited, aren’t you, about potentials of fossils.
MARK: Very excited. Fossil potential of this beach is apparently renowned, so that’s where I’ll be all afternoon.
ANDREW: Mark directed this little section where I said, ‘Did you miss me?’ and that had such huge impact, you know, even though that was only a little tiny section of filming one day, and I’m so grateful that the screen time that I’ve had has had such effect. And it’s really down to Mark and Steven really treating the character with such respect, and that’s ... as an actor you’re in total need of that because you can spoil the power of a character by overuse, you know. The real chief pleasure of it is that I feel like I’ve played lots of different parts, and he came in as a little geeky guy in Series 1. I mean, that just seems like so long ago. And, yeah, I’ve shot myself twice and I’ve been in a straitjacket and I’ve worn a wedding dress, and just so many things. (He laughs.)
NARRATOR: With a back catalogue of this scale, when the consulting criminal returned, he was always bound to make an impressive entrance.
ANDREW: I’ve just landed from a helicopter like a rock star.
BENJAMIN: I loved Andrew Scott. I saw him in lots of theatre where he plays this sort of rock star, and so when you see him come out of the helicopter I think there’s a little bit of that going on there. He brings a kind of deadly charisma to that role.
SIAN: Eurus received, one year, a violin; and another year she asked for Moriarty and she asked for five minutes, unsupervised, with him in her cell as a Christmas present. And then it all happens.
ANDREW: Is anyone as dangerous as Moriarty? I’m gonna say no. (He cackles.)
BENEDICT: Moriarty is, without a doubt, I think, the most iconic; clearly the one that haunts and matches Sherlock. But I think the greatest of all villains is Eurus.
ANDREW: She’s very dangerous and, you know, she’s kind of like ... there’s a literal scene that we do where they mirror each other. It’s good – I like that fact that those little themes and those little vignettes can be sort of mirrored in a sort of visual way, ’cause I think it does a lot of the work for us.
SIAN: She wants to reach out to her family, to reach out to Sherlock, but yet also she wants revenge for the years and years that she’s been held captive on her own. And also the scientific side of her, and the scientific side of the Holmes children ... they’re lab rats, and it’s an experiment. So this island – she’s sort of flipping everything they are now. The patients, they are now the rats in this asylum.
SUE: So we’re using Saint Catherine’s Island here, which is going to be – by the time the tide comes in – an isolated island, which we’ll see tomorrow with the helicopter flying over it. At the moment we are just rehearsing a scene where the two fishermen have been tied up and the guards all come round and they see the message on the sand. Yeah, I mean it’s quite hard to get down here, obviously, because it’s sand everywhere, so we’ve got a sort of fleet of Land Rovers, some of which have already got stuck, so we’re putting all the equipment into the horse boxes and then bringing those down, and everything has to be manhandled up there. And then tomorrow there’ll be certain bits where they’re gonna get off with a boat because we want to get some shots over there; helicopter there. The weather’s gonna be awful, so we may get none of that, in which case you’ll never see this bit.
(The next day: it’s lashing down with rain.)
SUE: Well, the helicopter’s out there, and our guards are out there in the rain, in the wind. We’re fine, ’cause we’re in here. But yes, obviously ’cause the helicopter’s there and they’re filming the island, we can’t be out there, so we’re all just staying in the warm while they’re filming all the background action in the cold. So I think we’ve won!
MARK: The name ‘Sherrinford’ which you glimpse in Mycroft’s little book: that’s Doyle’s original name for Sherlock Holmes – Sherrinford Holmes, so somewhere along the line in Sherlock Holmes scholarship, someone decided there was another brother, and now that’s just become one of those things that you draw on, and we’ve drawn ... Steve and I have drawn on, and we’ve just been pushing this idea for ages. But now, you see, if you just look at that scene in His Last Vow, Mycroft says, “I am not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one.” And happily everyone has fallen for the trick of assuming that means another brother, but of course you can have brotherly affection towards a sister.
SUE: We are now underneath Sherrinford Island. So when we were in Tenby we were at the top. We’re now underneath and we’re in studios.
ART: The governor’s somebody who’s trying to sort of hide the fact that actually she’s in control and she has taken over. I’ve done something which I shouldn’t have done; I was told not to sort of interview her, not to talk to her, to have no connection with her at all because she’s very manipulative. He is in cahoots with Eurus; he’s actually started to believe her and everything she stands for.
ART (as the governor – while John makes a break for it – saying lines which were cut from the final edit): Doctor Watson, there is no point. There is nowhere you can go.
ART: He then facilitates the point at which Sherlock, Mycroft, John and myself are all inside the cell, which is the cell that she used to be in. She has now taken over.
MARK: We’re doing the progression of scenes through the cells in Sherrinford. Very unusually for shooting anything, we’re actually doing them in chronological order, which is brilliant for taking the energy of each scene from room to room. It’s not picking up bricks, but it’s genuinely very gruelling for everybody concerned, the actual slog of the shooting but also the actual, you know, the emotional impact of what Eurus is doing to us all. It is really quite difficult stuff, and big stuff. It’s, you know, having to be eternally tense and quite emotional.
LOUISE: One of the trials that Sherlock goes through is that he has to get Molly to say, ‘I love you,’ on the phone in order to save her life.
(Loo is on the set, narrating her lines over the cell speakers.)
LOUISE: When I read it I was really happy, because there’s a point in the scene where she turns the tables on him and says, ‘I’m not gonna say that unless you do.’
MARK: But we have to be left uncertain as to, when he says, ‘I love you,’ does he actually mean it, or is he just saying the right thing to save her life? You’ll never quite know.
BENEDICT: I become out of control over Molly Hooper. Now does that mean I love Molly Hooper? I don’t think I’ve made that decision yet. I don’t think we’ve ever seen his emotions as out of control as in that moment, but I think that’s because he’s brought to boiling point by the situation rather than it being some kind of cathartic turning point. Because he’s still got a lot further to go before he discovers the ultimate truth of Eurus’ existence and why she’s in the mental institution.
MARK: Yeah, the smashing of the coffin is interesting. When Steven and I were writing this, I was very aware that it was sort of relentless. It’s just ... it really is quite gut-wrenching, and you often need a kind of moment of breath. It’s like that moment in a vampire film when the sun comes up and you can sort of settle down for a bit, however briefly, and I think we needed that. And I wanted Sherlock to have a kind of release of the fury he’s feeling at being manipulated like this. You know, Eurus knows what she’s doing; she knows the buttons to push to make Sherlock emotional.
BENEDICT: Eurus’ arrival and the horrific TV game show death that we kind of get entered into, the three of us – Watson, Mycroft and Sherlock – it re-exposes Sherlock as somebody who we’ve seen be humanised by Watson but who was actually, underneath it all, always suppressing a human nature which has been his vulnerability. And that’s all been utterly buried and monitored by Mycroft all this time, and it rises to the surface in terrifying form.
NARRATOR: As Eurus forces Sherlock to make the most difficult choice of his life, John demonstrates a soldier’s bravery.
MARTIN: Yeah, he’s prepared to give up his life in this episode, you know, and he’s prepared to do it in a premeditated way, and to save Sherlock’s brother. It’s one of the things I really like about John, is that he’s a thoroughly decent man. He’s a very, very brave, decent, loyal man and, yeah, I like that about him.
NARRATOR: When the games are up, a more compassionate Sherlock begins to emerge, and the family’s extreme history begins to be put to rest.
SIAN: We find Eurus back in her cell again. All she wanted was for him to listen to her and to bring her out of her head, out of her thoughts.
BENEDICT: She’s very damaged but there’s some form of communication and salvation, and I think it’s music. A lot of people would testify to that being something that does work to heal and bring some kind of understanding, and can literally cross the boundary between sanity and insanity, between freedom and incarceration, and is a way of acknowledging what was missing in that child’s life from the very beginning, which was a brother that she wanted to be a friend.
SIAN: They’re just playing together, because that’s what she wanted from the beginning. She wanted him to play with her. So I think, yeah, the change is there and there’s some form of forgiveness, I suppose.
STEVEN: We had a sort of story idea for the whole series, which is, ‘How do Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson get to be the heroes that we’ve always known?’ Up until this point, they’ve still been sort of half-formed, not quite there yet. So this is ... this kind of is the story that ends the process of them kind of living up to the legend. Sherlock Holmes figures out that’s who he is. He’s just gonna be that now.
MARK: What’s going on, Sue?
SUE: This is the last shot of Episode 3.
MARK: The last shot of Series 4.
SUE: And the last shot of Series 4.
MARK: So this is our Butch and Sundance moment.
SUE: They should come out running. They shouldn’t fall over.
BENEDICT: I think by the end of this series, you have as complete an understanding of Sherlock as you could ever have.
MARTIN: It’s like a new beginning for them, you know. They’re gonna be back on adventures, solving crimes, as friends, which is, you know, a lovely thing.
(Ben and Martin run out of Rathbone Place and trot to a halt as all the crew applaud. It seems that they filmed two shots of that final run and in this one Ben is wearing the deerstalker.)
BENJAMIN: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last shot of “Sherlock” Series 4 for Mr Benedict Cumberbatch!
(Ben takes off the deerstalker and tosses it high into the air.)
End credits, then the screen fritzes and goes black.
MORIARTY (offscreen): Surprise.
(He appears on the screen, looking straight into the camera.)
MORIARTY: You didn’t think I would just disappear, did you?
(The screen fritzes again and goes to the end card.)
A full list of episode transcripts, DVD commentary summaries/transcripts, and transcripts of the DVD special features can be found here.