Episode written by Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Steve Thompson.
Transcript by Ariane DeVere aka Callie Sullivan. (Last updated 28 August 2015)
With all my thanks to verityburns who once again went above and beyond the call of duty as she cross-checked my typing against the recording and made many helpful suggestions on how to improve this transcript.
Please note: Although complete, this is and will continue to be very much a work in progress. Amendments and additions will be made continually as I spot new clever stuff in the background or realise the subtlety of the way that a particular line of dialogue was delivered, or learn something new from commentaries, interviews etc. In the meantime, if you think that I’ve made any errors or have left anything out, do let me know, either in the Comments section below or by PM.
Polite request: If you take extracts from this transcript for use elsewhere, and especially if you repost my own words, it would be kind if you would acknowledge the source and/or give a link back to this transcript. Thanks.
Sherlock, Season 3, episode 2 transcript: The Sign of Three, part 1
Jump to Part 2 / Jump to Part 3 / Jump to Part 4
EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO. A newspaper article is headed, “BANK GANG LEAVE COPS CLUELESS”. The accompanying photograph shows two men outside a court holding their hands up in front of their faces so they cannot be recognised in the pictures. At the entrance to the court itself Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade and Detective Sergeant Sally Donovan walk briskly out through the door.
LESTRADE: They just walked out of there!
DONOVAN: Yeah, I know. I was sort of sitting next to you.
LESTRADE: The whole Waters family! They just walked right out of there!
DONOVAN: Again, I was in the room.
LESTRADE (angrily): How do they always manage that?
DONOVAN: They’re good.
LESTRADE: They’re greedy, and they’ll do it again, and next time we’re gonna catch ’em in the act.
[Transcriber’s note: some of the newspaper articles name Greg as ‘DCI Lestrade’ but in the end credits of the programme he is named as ‘DI Lestrade.’ I am far more inclined to believe the end credits.]
TWELVE MONTHS AGO. A newspaper article is headed, “WHO STOLE OUR TWO MILL?” and shows police officers standing in a cordoned-off area outside a building, with a police car parked behind the cordon. In real life, Greg gets into the driver’s seat of his car parked just outside the cordon and angrily slams the door closed. Sally is sitting in the passenger seat.
DONOVAN: No good?
LESTRADE: They always know we’re coming. (Furiously) How do they always know?
DONOVAN: They’re good. They work at it.
LESTRADE: They’re never gonna stop.
DONOVAN: Well, neither are we.
SIX MONTHS AGO. A new headline reads, “POLICE ARE NO CLOSER TO WATERS GANG CONVICTION” and the photograph again shows the court. Greg storms out of the building with Sally behind him. He lets out an angry incoherent noise as he walks away.
THREE MONTHS AGO. This time the headline reads, “Waters gang walk free – again!” and there is another photo of two men near the court, covering their faces against the photographers. On the steps outside the court, two uniformed police officers stand and watch while Greg repeatedly kicks the living daylights out of the back tyre of his car, grunting with fury. Sally stands beside the driver’s door and helplessly watches him. Finally she has had enough.
DONOVAN (loudly): Greg!
(Greg gestures dramatically at her.)
LESTRADE (loudly): In the act! The only way we’re gonna do this! In. The. Act!
(He kicks the tyre once more and then storms forward and angrily tugs the driver’s door open, inadvertently shoving Sally out of the way.)
YESTERDAY. A man wearing a gruesome clown’s mask and holding a sawn-off shotgun looks around a bank vault and then turns to where a second man, wearing a different but equally horrid-looking mask, straightens up from typing on a laptop. A third masked man is inside a nearby open strong room and is slowly carrying three heavy gold ingots toward the door. The laptop screen shows, “ALARMS OFFLINE”. The second man goes into the strong room where hundreds of gold ingots are stacked up on a couple of pallets. He lifts three ingots on top of each other, then hauls them up in his hands and makes his way out.
On a different laptop the screen shows the same information as the one in the vault but this one now displays a second message reading, “*** HACKING DETECTED***”. In a car outside the bank, Sally sits in the passenger seat with the laptop on her lap. The rooftop lights of nearby police cars are flashing and police officers are walking around. Greg sits beside her.
LESTRADE: You still blocking it?
DONOVAN: Yeah. Very efficiently hacked. They must be bloody pleased with themselves.
LESTRADE: They must be! (He smiles at her.)
(Inside the strong room the third clown is looking down at the two pallets, which are now empty. The second clown walks over to him and puts his hand on his shoulder.
Outside, armed police begin to run into the bank. Greg and Sally are out of the car and Greg gestures to her as they follow the others.)
LESTRADE: Right then?
DONOVAN: Oh, no! No, you’ve gotta make the arrest. This one’s yours, boss.
LESTRADE: You’ve never called me ‘boss’ before.
DONOVAN: Ah, well, look what happens when you’re good!
(They both grin as they walk on.)
LESTRADE: You know how most days aren’t good days? This is a good day.
DONOVAN: Not for the Waters family.
(Greg’s phone beeps a text alert. He looks down towards his pocket and grimaces, but then ignores it.)
DONOVAN: Okay: ten men on the roof; all exits covered; the bank’s closed, so there are no hostages to worry about ...
(Greg’s phone beeps again. Again he grimaces and Sally looks round at him.)
LESTRADE: Sorry, no, go on, go on.
DONOVAN: Um, we’ve got the tunnel entrance covered; and Davies, Willard and Christie are heading up our Response on Mafeking Road.
(Greg’s phone beeps twice more. He takes it from his pocket and stops to look at it.)
LESTRADE: Sorry, I’d better get this.
DONOVAN (continuing onwards with the other officers): It’s him, isn’t it?
(Greg’s face fills with shock as he reads the string of messages he has received:
He looks up at Sally.)
LESTRADE: I-I, I have to go.
DONOVAN (turning back in surprise): What?!
LESTRADE: You make the arrest.
DONOVAN: No way!
LESTRADE: Sorry. You’ll be fine. I’m-I’m-I’m cool with this.
DONOVAN: Jones’ll get all the credit if you leave now! You know he will!
(Greg hesitates, clearly reluctant to give up his chance for success.)
LESTRADE: Yeah, but d... It doesn’t matter. I have to go.
(He turns and hurries away. Sally watches him for a moment, grimacing, then continues on with the other officers.
Outside, Greg is running for his car, making a phone call as he goes.)
LESTRADE (into phone): Back-up. I need maximum back-up. Baker Street, now!
(He gets into his car and speeds off.)
221B BAKER STREET. Greg races up the stairs and into the living room.
LESTRADE (breathlessly): What’s going on?
(Sherlock is sitting at the dining table looking at his laptop. The fingers of both his hands are pressed into his temples.)
SHERLOCK: This is hard.
SHERLOCK: Really hard. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
(Lowering his hands, he picks up a book and holds it up to show Greg. The book is called “How to write an unforgettable best man speech”.)
SHERLOCK: Have you any funny stories about John?
(Greg stares at him in disbelief. Outside, police cars are sirening their way into Baker Street and screeching to a halt.)
(Putting the book down, Sherlock looks up at him.)
SHERLOCK: I need anecdotes.
(He seems to notice Greg’s expression.)
SHERLOCK: Didn’t go to any trouble, did you?
(Greg stares at him, still breathing heavily. Outside, an ambulance is sirening its way up the road, and a helicopter can be heard approaching. Sherlock’s eyes shift sideways when he becomes aware of the noise outside, and the curtains in the open window behind him billow inwards as the helicopter hovers lower. Sherlock looks round as the billowing curtains knock some sheet music off its stand. Greg closes his eyes in exasperation.)
At 221B Baker Street, violin playing can be heard, playing a gentle waltz. Mrs Hudson comes out of 221A carrying a tray of tea things. She stops, smiling with delight at the sound of the music, then goes up the stairs. The living room door is closed and she stops outside for a moment, then opens the door. Inside, Sherlock isn’t playing his violin as she believed. Instead, wearing a camel coloured dressing gown over his shirt and trousers, he is waltzing around the room on his own, holding an imaginary partner while he dances in time to the music. He glances over his shoulder when his landlady walks in.
SHERLOCK: Shut up, Mrs Hudson.
MRS HUDSON: I haven’t said a word.
SHERLOCK (sighing as he continues to waltz): You’re formulating a question. It’s physically painful watching you thinking.
(He stops dancing.)
MRS HUDSON: I thought it was you playing.
SHERLOCK (gesturing to a music player on the dining table): It was me playing.
(He picks up a remote control, switches off the music player and bends down to make a notation on the sheet music lying on the table.)
SHERLOCK: I am composing.
MRS HUDSON (putting her tray onto the table beside John’s chair): You were dancing.
SHERLOCK: I was road-testing.
MRS HUDSON: You what?
SHERLOCK (throwing down his pen and turning to her): Why are you here?
MRS HUDSON: I’m bringing you your morning tea. (She pours some milk into the teacup.) You’re not usually awake.
SHERLOCK (sitting down in his chair): You bring me tea in the morning?
MRS HUDSON (pouring the tea): Well, where d’you think it came from?!
SHERLOCK: I don’t know. I just thought it sort of happened.
MRS HUDSON: Your mother has a lot to answer for.
(She takes the cup and saucer over to him.)
SHERLOCK: Mm, I know. I have a list. Mycroft has a file.
(Giggling, Mrs H sits down in John’s chair.)
MRS HUDSON (excitedly): So – it’s the big day, then!
SHERLOCK (taking a sip of tea): What big day?
MRS HUDSON: The wedding! John and Mary getting married!
SHERLOCK: Two people who currently live together are about to attend church, have a party, go on a short holiday and then carry on living together. What’s big about that?
MRS HUDSON: It changes people, marriage.
SHERLOCK: Mmm, no it doesn’t.
MRS HUDSON: Well, you wouldn’t understand ’cause you always live alone.
(Sherlock is lifting his teacup to his mouth but stops momentarily.)
SHERLOCK: Your husband was executed for double murder. You’re hardly an advert for companionship. (He drinks.)
MRS HUDSON: Marriage changes you as a person, in ways that you can’t imagine.
SHERLOCK: As does lethal injection. (He smiles pointedly at her.)
MRS HUDSON: My best friend, Margaret – she was my chief bridesmaid.
(Putting his cup and saucer down on the table beside him, Sherlock rolls his eyes.)
MRS HUDSON: We were going to be best friends forever, we always said that; but I hardly saw her after that.
SHERLOCK (standing up): Aren’t there usually biscuits?
MRS HUDSON: I’ve run out.
SHERLOCK: Have the shops?
(He pointedly walks towards the door.)
MRS HUDSON: She cried the whole day, saying, “Ooh, it’s the end of an era.”
SHERLOCK (gesturing towards the stairs): I’m sure the shop on the corner is open.
MRS HUDSON: She was probably right, really.
(Sherlock closes his eyes and grimaces.)
MRS HUDSON: I remember she left early. I mean, who leaves a wedding early? (She shakes her head.) So sad.
SHERLOCK: Mmm. Anyway, you’ve got things to do.
MRS HUDSON: No, not really. I’ve got plenty of time to ...
SHERLOCK (sternly): Biscuits.
(She gets out of her chair, tutting.)
MRS HUDSON (walking towards the door): I really am going to have a word with your mother.
SHERLOCK: You can if you like. She understands very little.
(He closes the door on her, then turns around sighing. He turns his head and looks towards John’s chair for a few long moments, then walks through the kitchen and down the hallway.)
SHERLOCK (taking off his dressing gown): Right, then.
(He walks through his bedroom to his wardrobe, where a morning suit is hanging from the open door. He looks at it.)
SHERLOCK: Into battle.
A man is doing up the buttons on the jacket of his military dress uniform. Although it would seem easier to use two hands to do this, he is only using his right hand. A suitcase is on the nearby bed and laid out beside it is a white webbing belt, a pair of white gloves, a military cap and a ceremonial sword. The man reaches down and picks up the belt and swings it around the left-hand side of his waist and then clamps it to his side with his left arm and now we see why he is only using his right hand. His left hand has been badly burned in the past and is very scarred. It is clear that he is unable to use this hand. Reaching behind himself he tugs the belt around his waist, pulls it tight and does it up. He bends down to the cap, picks it up and puts it on, and we now see that the left side of his face is also severely scarred. He stares ahead of himself as he straightens his jacket.
Church bells peal and the doors to a church open. John and Mary, newly married, walk out followed by Sherlock and the chief bridesmaid, whose name is Janine, then two more bridesmaids and the vicar. A photographer is waiting outside.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Congratulations! Okay, hold it there – I wanna get this shot of the newlyweds.
(John and Mary stop and the bridesmaids stand behind them. Sherlock steps to Mary’s side.)
PHOTOGRAPHER: Er, just the bride and groom, please.
(Sherlock doesn’t move. John looks round at him.)
SHERLOCK: Oh, sorry.
(He walks out of shot.)
PHOTOGRAPHER: Okay – three, two, one, cheese!
(The bridesmaids throw handfuls of confetti into the air and the photographer starts taking pictures. The rest of the congregation come out and the photo-taking continues, including one of John, Sherlock and Greg standing side by side, with a young pageboy – about eight years old – standing in front of them wearing either John’s or Sherlock’s top hat. Later, the photographer takes a picture of Sherlock and Janine. Nearby, Molly stands with her fiancé Tom. She is gazing at Sherlock and if she really believes that she has “moved on,” her expression suggests that she’s not fooling anyone but herself.
After the photographer has finished with them, Janine looks round at Sherlock.)
JANINE: The famous Mr Holmes! I’m very pleased to meet you. But no sex, okay?
SHERLOCK (startled): Um, sorry?
JANINE (laughing): You don’t have to look so scared. I’m only messing. Bridesmaid, best man ... It’s a bit traditional.
(She gently punches his arm. He looks down with distaste.)
SHERLOCK: Is it?
JANINE (a little awkwardly): But not obligatory(!)
SHERLOCK: If that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for ... (he jerks his head towards one of the wedding guests) ... the man over there in blue is your best bet. Recently divorced doctor with a ginger cat ... (there’s a close-up of a ginger cat hair stuck on the man’s suit, and the sound of a miaow) ... a barn conversion ... (close-up of sawdust on the man’s footwear) ... and a history of erectile dysfunction.
(The close-up pulls out a little to reveal that the man is wearing cowboy boots. There’s the sound of a bullet ricocheting off something with a high-pitched ping, like in a Western movie. Sherlock blinks.)
SHERLOCK: Reviewing that information, possibly not your best bet.
JANINE: Yeah, maybe not.
SHERLOCK (looking puzzled): Sorry – there was one more deduction there than I was expecting.
JANINE: Mr Holmes ... (she takes his arm) ... you’re going to be incredibly useful.
(Again Sherlock looks down at her hand. He frowns.)
Later, John and Mary, with Sherlock at John’s side, are standing outside the venue for the reception, greeting the guests.
MARY (shaking a man’s hand): Hello. Lovely to meet you.
(She then kisses a woman. The woman moves on to kiss John, and another man moves in to kiss Mary.)
MARY: How are you?
MAN: You look beautiful, Mary.
MARY: Thank you!
(More guests move past the three of them, then a man wearing a lurid purple tie comes forward. Mary looks at him with delight.)
(She reaches out her arms ready to hug him. He leans away, laughing nervously, and just clasps her arms briefly.)
DAVID: Mary. Congratulations. You look, um, very nice.
(He quickly moves away from her. Mary looks puzzled. He shakes John’s hand.)
DAVID: John, congratulations. You’re a lucky man.
JOHN: Thank you.
MARY: Um, er, David, this is Sherlock.
(Sherlock smiles at him, tight-lipped.)
DAVID: Um, yeah. We’ve, um, we’ve met.
(He looks down nervously.)
FLASHBACK. David, sitting at the dining table in 221B, looks around the room and then turns to where Sherlock is sitting opposite him holding a pen.
DAVID: So, what exactly are my duties as an usher?
(He picks up the Sudokube [Click for image] from the desk and idly plays with it. Sherlock frowns disapprovingly, then puts down his pen and folds his hands.)
SHERLOCK: Let’s talk about Mary, first.
DAVID: Sorry, what?
SHERLOCK: Oh, I think you know what. You went out with her for two years.
DAVID: A-ages ago. We’re j... we’re just good friends now.
SHERLOCK: Is that a fact?
(He looks down at his notes in front of him.)
SHERLOCK: Whenever she tweets, you respond within five minutes regardless of time or current location, suggesting you have her on text alert. In all your Facebook photographs of the happy couple, Mary takes centre frame whereas John is always partly or entirely excluded.
DAVID (laughing uncomfortably): You can’t assume from that I’ve still got some kind of interest in Mary.
SHERLOCK: You volunteered to be a shoulder to cry on on no less than three separate occasions. Do you have anything to say in your defence?
(David opens his mouth but is unable to speak.)
SHERLOCK (looking down and making a note): I think from now on we’ll downgrade you to ‘casual acquaintance.’ No more than three planned social encounters a year, and always in John’s presence.
(He puts the pen down and folds his hands again, looking intensely at David.)
SHERLOCK: I have your contact details. I will be monitoring.
DAVID (a little wide-eyed): They’re right about you. You’re a bloody psychopath.
SHERLOCK: High-functioning sociopath ... with your number.
(He grins manically, showing a lot of teeth, then drops the smile and steeples his hands in front of his chin, looking sternly at David. David looks down, then lets out a nervous breath and gets up and walks away. Sherlock picks up the Sudokube and puts it back into its proper position on the table.)
THE PRESENT. David makes a couple of anxious noises, waves briefly to Mary and goes indoors. John looks round at Sherlock with a curious expression but Sherlock raises his head and looks inscrutable. The next guest approaches.
(The greetings continue. A woman in a black and white dress approaches and kisses Mary.)
MARY: Pleased to see you.
(The woman moves on to kiss and hug John.)
JOHN: Thanks for coming, thank you.
(The young pageboy is standing a few paces away. Mary smiles down at him.)
MARY: Hello, Archie!
(The boy’s eyes are fixed on Sherlock and the moment he has a clear route he runs straight to him and wraps his arms around him, smiling happily. Sherlock looks awkwardly down at him.)
SHERLOCK: Mm, yes, um, well done in the service, Archie.
(The woman in the black and white dress, obviously Archie’s mother, smiles at them.)
MUM: He’s really come out of his shell. I don’t know how you did it.
SHERLOCK: Um ...
FLASHBACK. 221B. Sherlock sits in his chair and looks at Archie sitting in John’s chair. They stare straight-faced at each other for a moment, then Sherlock draws in a breath.
SHERLOCK: Basically it’s a cute smile to the bride’s side, cute smile to the groom’s side and then the rings.
ARCHIE (instantly): No.
SHERLOCK: And you have to wear the outfit.
ARCHIE (instantly): No.
SHERLOCK: You really do have to wear the outfit.
ARCHIE (instantly): What for?
SHERLOCK: Grown-ups like that sort of thing.
ARCHIE (instantly): Why?
(Sherlock pauses for a moment.)
SHERLOCK: ... I don’t know. I’ll ask one.
ARCHIE (more slowly, thoughtfully): You’re a detective.
SHERLOCK: Yep. (He pops the ‘p’ loudly.)
ARCHIE: Have you solved any murders?
SHERLOCK: Sure. Loads.
ARCHIE: Can I see?
SHERLOCK (after only a momentary hesitation): Yeah, all right.
(They get up and go over to the laptop on the dining table. Sherlock shows him a series of pictures – which we can’t see – and after a while Archie leans in to look more closely at an image.)
ARCHIE: What’s all the stuff in his eye?
SHERLOCK (looking at him for a moment): Mm!
THE PRESENT. Archie is still hugging Sherlock.
MUM: He said you had some pictures for him, as a treat.
SHERLOCK: Er, yes ... (he pats Archie’s head) ... if he’s good.
ARCHIE (turning to look at his mum): Beheadings.
SHERLOCK (quickly): Lovely little village.
(He unwraps Archie from around him and gently pushes him towards the entrance.)
MUM: Hmm? (She looks down at Archie as they go inside.) What did you say?
INSIDE. Molly is canoodling with Tom, repeatedly kissing his cheek. Tom indicates that the photographer is approaching them, and she turns and smiles into the camera while he takes some pictures.
(He moves on to the next nearest couple, who are Mrs Hudson and what must surely be Mr Chatterjee from the sandwich shop. Apparently Mrs H has forgiven him for already having two wives – or she hasn’t yet found out about the one in Islamabad. She smiles happily for the camera; Mr Chatterjee doesn’t look quite so happy to be there. The photographer turns and snaps several pictures of Greg who is sitting at a table and drinking. Greg, looking a little glum, raises his glass to him.
John and Mary are standing nearby. John indicates as a waiter approaches with a plate of canapés.)
JOHN: Oh, d’you want ...?
MARY (taking one from the plate): I’m starving.
JOHN (declining the waiter’s offer of the plate): Thanks.
MARY: Had to lose so much weight to get into this dress.
(John chuckles. Sherlock and Janine are standing together a short distance away. Janine looks admiringly at the waiter as he walks past.)
JANINE: He’s nice.
(Sherlock sniffs deeply.)
SHERLOCK: Traces of two leading brands of deodorant, both advertised for their strength, suggestive of a chronic body odour problem manifesting under stress.
JANINE: Okay, done there. What about his friend?
(Sherlock turns to look where she’s looking. In the nearby kitchen, another waiter is carefully pulling out the skewer from the middle of a large joint of roast beef.)
SHERLOCK: Long-term relationship, compulsive cheat.
SHERLOCK: Waterproof cover on his smartphone. (Close-up of the phone in the man’s jacket pocket.) Yet his complexion doesn’t indicate outdoor work. (Close-up of the man’s face.) Suggests he’s in the habit of taking his phone into the shower with him, which means he often receives texts and emails he’d rather went unseen.
JANINE (smiling admiringly at Sherlock): Can I keep you?
SHERLOCK: D’you like solving crimes?
JANINE: Do you have a vacancy?
(Sherlock’s eyes drift over to John, then he looks away again.
Mary puts a hand on John’s shoulder.)
MARY: So, Harry?
JOHN: Er, no. No show.
MARY: Darling, I’m so sorry.
JOHN: It was a bit of a punt asking her, I suppose. Still, free bar – wouldn’t have been a good mix.
(He looks down, then raises his eyes towards the entrance and looks surprised.)
JOHN: Oh, God, wow!
(The scarred uniformed man we saw earlier has just walked in.)
MARY: Oh, G... Is that ...?
JOHN: He came!
(While Mary smiles with delight, John walks over to the man and they salute each other. Sherlock walks over to Mary.)
SHERLOCK: So that’s him. Major Sholto.
(His voice sounds disapproving.)
(Sherlock narrows his eyes as he looks at the two men.)
SHERLOCK: If they’re such good friends, why does he barely even mention him?
MARY: He mentions him all the time to me. He never shuts up about him.
SHERLOCK: About him?
(She takes a drink from her wine glass, then grimaces.)
MARY: Urgh. I chose this wine. It’s bloody awful.
SHERLOCK: Yes, but it’s definitely him that he talks about?
(At the entrance)
JOHN: I’m very, very glad to see you, sir. I know you don’t really do this sort of thing.
SHOLTO: Well, I do for old friends, Watson ... John. It’s good to see you.
JOHN: You too.
(Sholto nods, then looks around the room.)
SHOLTO: Civilian life suiting you, then?
JOHN: Er, er, yes, well ... (he gestures towards Mary) ... I think so, sir.
SHOLTO: No more need for the trick cyclist?
JOHN: No, I-I go now and then. Sort of a top-up.
JOHN: Therapy can be very helpful.
(Sholto awkwardly looks away.)
JOHN: Where are you living these days?
SHOLTO: Oh, way out in the middle of nowhere. You wouldn’t know it.
(Back at Sherlock and Mary)
SHERLOCK: I’ve never even heard him say his name.
MARY: Well, he’s almost a recluse – you know, since ...
MARY: I didn’t think he’d show up at all. John says he’s the most unsociable man he’s ever met.
SHERLOCK: He is? He’s the most unsociable?
SHERLOCK: Ah, that’s why he’s bouncing round him like a puppy.
(Mary grins and hugs his arm.)
MARY: Oh, Sherlock! Neither of us were the first, you know.
(He looks round at her.)
SHERLOCK: Stop smiling.
MARY (indignantly): It’s my wedding day!
(Rolling his eyes, Sherlock pulls free and walks away. She takes another drink from her wine glass, then pulls a disgusted face at the taste.)
Elsewhere, the camera pans across the interior of a grand building and into a room with a large old painting on the wall and a suit of armour standing nearby. A steady regular thumping sound can be heard. The camera pans around the corner and reveals a running machine. Mycroft – dressed in gym clothes – is jogging on the machine. After a while he switches it off and jumps off, breathing heavily. He walks a few paces away, then stops and lifts his top to examine his stomach, patting it reflectively and looking quite pleased with himself. On a nearby table, his phone rings. He picks it up and answers.
MYCROFT (breathlessly): Yes, what, Sherlock?
SHERLOCK (walking through the wedding reception room as he talks into his phone): Why are you out of breath?
SHERLOCK: Either I’ve caught you in a compromising position or you’ve been working out again. I favour the latter.
MYCROFT: What do you want?
SHERLOCK: I need your answer, Mycroft, as a matter of urgency.
SHERLOCK: Even at the eleventh hour it’s not too late, you know.
MYCROFT (sighing): Oh, Lord.
SHERLOCK: Cars can be ordered, private jets commandeered.
MYCROFT: Today. It’s today, isn’t it? No, Sherlock, I will not be coming to the “night do,” as you so poetically put it.
SHERLOCK (insincerely): What a shame. Mary and John will be extremely d...
MYCROFT: ... delighted not to have me hanging around.
SHERLOCK: Oh, I don’t know. There should always be a spectre at the feast.
MYCROFT (picking up a glass of juice from the table): So, this is it, then. The big day. (He sits down in an armchair.) I suppose I’ll be seeing a lot more of you from now on.
SHERLOCK: What do you mean?
MYCROFT: Just like old times.
SHERLOCK: No, I don’t understand.
MYCROFT: Well, it’s the end of an era, isn’t it? John and Mary – domestic bliss.
SHERLOCK: No, no, no – I prefer to think of it as the beginning of a new chapter.
(Mycroft simply smiles.)
SHERLOCK: I know that silence. What?
MYCROFT: Well, I’d better let you get back to it. You have a big speech, or something, don’t you?
SHERLOCK (still demanding an answer to his previous question): What?
MYCROFT: Cake, karaoke ... mingling.
SHERLOCK (angrily): Mycroft!
MYCROFT: This is what people do, Sherlock – they get married. I warned you: don’t get involved.
SHERLOCK: Involved? I’m not involved.
MYCROFT (disbelievingly): No.
SHERLOCK: John asked me to be his best man. How could I say no?
MYCROFT (insincerely): Absolutely!
SHERLOCK: I’m not involved!
MYCROFT (insincerely): I believe you! Really, I do! Have a lovely day, and do give the happy couple my best.
SHERLOCK: I will.
(He lowers the phone, about to switch it off when Mycroft speaks again. Sherlock lifts the phone to his ear once more.)
MYCROFT: Oh, by the way, Sherlock – do you remember Redbeard?
(Sherlock’s jaw tightens.)
SHERLOCK: I’m not a child any more, Mycroft.
MYCROFT: No, of course you’re not. Enjoy not getting involved, Sherlock.
(Sherlock hangs up. He looks down for a moment, then walks across the room towards the top table.)
Fast-forward – literally – through the wedding meal as the guests eat their way through the three courses and drink lots of champagne, and then the Master of Ceremonies – or possibly just the head waiter – taps a spoon against a champagne glass to get everyone’s attention.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Pray silence for the best man.
(The guests applaud and cheer as Sherlock rises to his feet at the top table. John and Mary are sitting to his right; Janine to his left. He buttons his jacket, looking a little uncomfortable.)
SHERLOCK: Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends ... and ... erm ... others.
(He stops and blinks. There’s an awkward pause.)
SHERLOCK: Er ... w...
(John narrows his eyes and looks up at him.)
SHERLOCK: A-a-also ...
(Mary lifts a thumb to her mouth, rubbing it on her top lip. Mrs Hudson looks nervous and Greg sits back a little, looking concerned.)
FLASHBACK. Greg walks into Molly’s lab at Bart’s.
MOLLY (turning to him): I just had a thought.
(She is holding a large metal bowl in front of her. He looks into it.)
LESTRADE: Is that a brain?!
MOLLY: What if John asks Sherlock to be his best man?
LESTRADE: Well, he will, won’t he? He’s bound to.
MOLLY: So he’ll have to make a speech in front of people.
(Greg gazes into the distance as if realising the ramifications of this for the first time.)
MOLLY: There’ll be actual people there, actually listening.
LESTRADE (tentatively): Well, what’s the worst that could happen?
MOLLY: Helen Louise probably wondered the same.
LESTRADE: Helen Louise?
(Molly pointedly looks down at the brain in her bowl.)
FLASHBACK. Mrs Hudson, sitting in her kitchen, answers the phone.
MRS HUDSON: Oh, hallo, dear.
(Molly is on the other end of the line, again in her lab. She is wearing safety goggles and there is blood spatter on her lab coat. She is holding an electric bone saw in the blood-covered glove on her other hand.)
MOLLY (into phone): I was just thinking. If-if John does ask Sherlock ...
MRS HUDSON: What, the speech, dear? No, it’ll be fine.
MOLLY: It-it’s not just the speech, though, is it?
Shortly afterwards, John lets himself in the front door of 221 and walks towards the stairs. High-pitched hysterical noises are coming through the open door of 221A. As the noises continue, punctuated with an occasional squeal of, “Oh, dear!” and “Oh, brilliant!” John goes into her flat and looks into the kitchen in concern.
JOHN: Mrs Hudson?
(She waves to him from where she is sitting at the table, laughing hysterically.)
MRS HUDSON: Oh, hello, darling! (She continues to giggle.)
JOHN: You all right?
(She covers her mouth, laughing.)
JOHN: I was – I was coming to see Sherlock, and I thought you were ...
MRS HUDSON (giggling): Go!
JOHN: ... possibly dying. (He grins at the sight of her mirth.)
MRS HUDSON: Oh, sorry!
(She continues laughing.)
JOHN: What’s wrong?
MRS HUDSON: The-the telegrams!
JOHN (grinning but clearly with no idea what she means): Sorry, what?
MRS HUDSON (giggling): Oh, sorry, dear!
(Standing up, she pats his arm and walks away, still shrieking with laughter. John looks bemused.)
THE PRESENT. John closes his eyes in realisation.
JOHN (quietly): Telegrams.
(Mary looks at him and Sherlock jolts out of his blankness.)
SHERLOCK: Right, um ...
(He pats his pockets, then seems to realise that the telegrams are in a pile in front of him. John clears his throat. Sherlock does likewise and looks at the guests, swallowing hard.)
SHERLOCK: First things first. Telegrams.
(He picks up the cards and shows them to the guests.)
SHERLOCK (quick fire): Well, they’re not actually telegrams. We just call them telegrams. I don’t know why. Wedding tradition.
(He lifts the first card.)
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): ... because we don’t have enough of that already, apparently.
(John narrows his eyes a little.)
SHERLOCK (reading): “To Mr and Mrs Watson. So sorry I’m unable to be with you on your special day. Good luck and best wishes, Mike Stamford.”
JOHN: Ah, Mike.
SHERLOCK (reading the next card): “To John and Mary. All good wishes for your special day. With love and many big ... (he breaks off, then continues slowly) ... big squishy cuddles, from Stella and Ted.”
(He looks up, blinking rapidly. Greg sniggers and Molly smiles.)
SHERLOCK (reading the next card): “Mary – lots of love, ...”
(He breathes out an almost silent ‘Oh.’ John and Mary look up at him.)
SHERLOCK (disparagingly): “... poppet ...”
(He loudly sounds the ‘t’ at the end of the word. John and Mary giggle.)
SHERLOCK: “... Oodles of love and heaps of good wishes from CAM.”
(Mary’s smile fades. Sherlock continues reading the message.)
SHERLOCK: “Wish your family could have seen this.”
(John looks round and sees Mary’s face. He reaches out and takes her hand.)
JOHN: Hey. Hmm?
(She smiles reassuringly at him.)
SHERLOCK (looking at the next card): Um, “special day” ... (he drops the card onto the table and looks at the next one) ... “very special day” ... (he drops that one, then continues working rapidly through the next ones) ... “love” ... “love” ... “love” ... “love” ... “lo...”; bit of a theme – you get the general gist. People are basically fond.
(There’s some laughter from the guests.)
SHERLOCK (looking at them): John Watson. (He gestures towards John.) My friend, John Watson. (He looks down for a moment, then looks at John.) John.
(John smiles at him. Sherlock turns to his audience again.)
SHERLOCK: When John first broached the subject of being best man, I was confused.
FLASHBACK. John trots up the stairs to 221B.
SHERLOCK (from the kitchen): What was that noise downstairs?
(John turns into the kitchen. Sherlock is standing at the table in his camel coloured dressing gown. Wearing safety glasses, he is holding an eyeball with a large pair of tweezers and is holding a lit blowtorch near to the optic nerve dangling behind it.)
JOHN: Er, it was Mrs Hudson laughing.
SHERLOCK: Sounded like she was torturing an owl.
JOHN: Yeah. Well, it was laughter.
SHERLOCK: Could have been both.
JOHN (looking at what he’s doing): Busy?
(Sherlock sighs heavily.)
SHERLOCK: Just occupying myself. (He lifts his head and looks dramatically towards the ceiling.) Sometimes, it’s so-o-o hard not smoking.
(The eyeball slips out of the tweezers and drops with a splash into a mug on the table. Sherlock looks down at it.)
JOHN: Mm-hmm. Mind if I interrupt?
SHERLOCK (putting down the tweezers and gesturing to the chair at the end of the table): Er, be my guest.
(He switches off the blowtorch and puts it down while John walks over and pulls back the chair from the table. Sherlock picks up the mug and offers it to him.)
JOHN: Er ...
(He shakes one hand to decline the offer. Sherlock puts down the mug and takes off his glasses.)
JOHN (sitting down): So. The big question.
SHERLOCK (turning to face him): Mm-hm.
JOHN (folding his hands and putting them onto the table in front of him): The best man.
SHERLOCK: The best man?
JOHN: What do you think?
SHERLOCK (instantly): Billy Kincaid.
JOHN: Sorry, what?
SHERLOCK (quick fire): Billy Kincaid, the Camden Garrotter. Best man I ever knew. Vast contributions to charity, never disclosed.
SHERLOCK (quick fire): Personally managed to save three hospitals from closure and ran the best and safest children’s homes in north England.
(John tiredly rubs his fingers over his eyes.)
SHERLOCK (grimacing briefly): Yes, every now and again there’d be some garrottings, but stacking up the lives saved against the garrottings, on balance I’d say ...
JOHN (interrupting): For my wedding! For me. I need a best man.
SHERLOCK: Oh, right.
JOHN: Maybe not a garrotter.
SHERLOCK: Gavin Lestrade? He’s a man, and good at it.
JOHN: It’s Greg. And he’s not my best friend.
SHERLOCK: Oh, Mike Stamford, I see. Well, he’s nice, um, though I’m not sure how well he’d cope with all ...
JOHN (interrupting): No, Mike’s great, but he’s not my best friend.
(Sherlock looks thoughtfully at him as if he can’t think of another friend to suggest.)
JOHN: Look, Sherlock, this is the biggest and most important day of my life.
SHERLOCK (dubiously, pulling a face): Well ...
JOHN: No, it is! It is, and I want to be up there with the two people that I love and care about most in the world.
(John nods. Clearly oblivious, Sherlock waits for him to tell him who these people are.)
JOHN: So, Mary Morstan ...
JOHN (sighing tightly): ... and ...
(He looks up at Sherlock, who is still patiently waiting for further information. Eventually John pulls in a long breath.)
JOHN: ... you.
(Sherlock blinks rapidly several times but otherwise doesn’t move or react.)
SHERLOCK: I confess at first I didn’t realise he was asking me. When finally I understood, I expressed to him that I was both flattered and ... surprised.
FLASHBACK. Sherlock has frozen solid, staring blankly in John’s direction but not actually looking at him. John taps his foot patiently.
SHERLOCK: I explained to him that I’d never expected this request and I was a little daunted in the face of it.
FLASHBACK. Sherlock is still motionless.
(Sherlock doesn’t react.)
SHERLOCK: I nonetheless promised that I would do my very best to accomplish a task which was – for me – as demanding and difficult as any I had ever contemplated. Additionally, I thanked him for the trust he’d placed in me ...
(John frowns as if unable to remember this conversation.)
SHERLOCK: ... and indicated that I was, in some ways, very close to being ... moved by it.
FLASHBACK. Sherlock is still fixed in place, staring sightlessly ahead of him. The silence drags on for long seconds.
JOHN: That’s getting a bit scary now.
SHERLOCK: It later transpired that I had said none of this out loud.
(John laughs, and some of the guests join in.)
FLASHBACK. Sherlock’s brain finally begins to reboot and he takes a breath. He swallows and narrows his eyes slightly as he refocuses and looks at John.
SHERLOCK: So, in fact ...
(He thinks for a moment.)
SHERLOCK: You-you mean ...
SHERLOCK: I’m your ...
SHERLOCK: ... best ...
JOHN: ... man.
SHERLOCK (almost simultaneously): ... friend?
JOHN: Yeah, ’course you are. ’Course you’re my best friend.
(He smiles. Without looking down, Sherlock absently picks up the mug from the table and raises it towards his mouth. John watches with interest while he takes a long slurping drink and then swallows.)
JOHN: Well, how was that?
(Sherlock licks his lips, thinks about it for a moment, then nods.)
SHERLOCK: Surprisingly okay.
(Inside the mug, the eyeball pops up to the surface of the tea.)
JOHN: So you’ll have to make a speech, of course.
(Sherlock offlines again for a moment, then looks at John.)
RECEPTION. Sherlock reaches into his jacket pocket, clearing his throat, and takes out a handful of cue cards, looking at each one and putting it onto the table as he talks to himself.
SHERLOCK: Done that. ... Done that ... Done that bit ... Done that bit ... Done that bit ... Hmm ...
(He looks up at the guests again, then turns to John.)
SHERLOCK: I’m afraid, John, I can’t congratulate you.
(Mary looks surprised and John looks up at him.)
SHERLOCK (looking at the guests): All emotions, and in particular love, stand opposed to the pure, cold reason I hold above all things. A wedding is, in my considered opinion, nothing short of a celebration of all that is false and specious and irrational and sentimental in this ailing and morally compromised world.
(The guests begin to look uncomfortable and some of them start murmuring quietly to each other. Greg and Molly look at Sherlock in horror.)
SHERLOCK: Today we honour the death-watch beetle that is the doom of our society and, in time – one feels certain – our entire species.
(The guests stare at him. Sherlock pauses for a moment.)
SHERLOCK: But anyway ... (he looks down at his cards) ... let’s talk about John.
JOHN (quietly): Please.
SHERLOCK (looking up again): If I burden myself with a little help-mate during my adventures, it is not out of sentiment or caprice – it is that he has many fine qualities of his own that he has overlooked in his obsession with me.
(Greg laughs silently.)
SHERLOCK: Indeed, any reputation I have for mental acuity and sharpness comes, in truth, from the extraordinary contrast John so selflessly provides.
(John sighs heavily, while Mary frowns.)
SHERLOCK: It is a fact, I believe, that brides tend to favour exceptionally plain bridesmaids for their big day. There is a certain analogy there, I feel.
(Janine stares up at him and the other two bridesmaids look uncomfortable.)
SHERLOCK (moving on to his next card): ... and contrast is, after all, God’s own plan to enhance the beauty of his creation ...
(The vicar smiles.)
SHERLOCK: ... or it would be if God were not a ludicrous fantasy designed to provide a career opportunity for the family idiot.
(Mary face-palms and John is half-hiding behind his clasped hands. The vicar looks at Sherlock grimly, and more guests are muttering amongst themselves. Sherlock pauses for a moment.)
SHERLOCK: The point I’m trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant and all-round obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet.
(He looks at the vicar.)
SHERLOCK: I am dismissive of the virtuous ...
(He turns to Janine.)
SHERLOCK: ... unaware of the beautiful ...
(He turns towards Mary and John.)
SHERLOCK: ... and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. So if I didn’t understand I was being asked to be best man, it is because I never expected to be anybody’s best friend.
(The guests have fallen silent again and are listening intently. Molly and Greg exchange a long glance.)
SHERLOCK: Certainly not the best friend of the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing.
(Mary smiles proudly at her husband. Several of the guests make appreciative “aww” sounds.)
SHERLOCK: John, I am a ridiculous man ...
(John smiles and nods his agreement.)
SHERLOCK: ... redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship. But, as I’m apparently your best friend, I cannot congratulate you on your choice of companion.
(He looks down for a moment, then smiles a little.)
SHERLOCK: Actually, now I can.
(The guests murmur again, but now their tone is much more approving. John and Mary smile.)
SHERLOCK: Mary, when I say you deserve this man, it is the highest compliment of which I am capable. John, you have endured war, and injury, and tragic loss ... (he leans closer to John) ... so sorry again about that last one ... (he straightens up again) ... so know this: today you sit between the woman you have made your wife and the man you have saved – in short, the two people who love you most in all this world. And I know I speak for Mary as well when I say we will never let you down, and we have a lifetime ahead to prove that.
(Mrs Hudson whimpers and holds a tissue to her nose. Molly wipes tears from her eyes with her serviette. Other guests – even some of the men – sniffle. John turns to Mary and whispers to her.)
JOHN: If I try and hug him, stop me.
MARY: Certainly not.
(She pats his arm. Sherlock moves on to his next card.)
SHERLOCK: Ah, yes. Now on to some funny stories about John ...
(He trails off as he looks up and sees so many of the guests crying.)
SHERLOCK (quick fire): What’s wrong? What happened? Why are you all doing that? John?
(Molly smiles proudly at him.)
MRS HUDSON (tearfully): Oh, Sherlock!
(Sherlock looks down at John.)
SHERLOCK: Did I do it wrong?
JOHN (standing up): No, you didn’t. Come here.
(He pulls him into a tight hug. The guests break into applause. The fandom goes crazy.)
SHERLOCK: I haven’t finished yet.
JOHN: Yeah, I know, I know.
SHERLOCK (holding up his next card and talking over the applause as John releases him): So, on to some funny stories ...
JOHN: Can you – can you wait ’til I sit down?
(Sherlock nods as the applause continues. John sits down, clearing his throat, and the applause finally fades.)
SHERLOCK: So, on to some funny stories about John.
(John chuckles. Sherlock looks at the guests.)
SHERLOCK: If you could all just cheer up a bit, that would ...
(The guests laugh.)
SHERLOCK: ... be better. On we go. So, for funny stories ... (he reaches into his pocket and takes out his phone) ... one has to look no further than John’s blog.
(He holds up the phone. John laughs and turns to speak quietly to Mary.)
JOHN: Here we go.
SHERLOCK: The record of our time together. Of course, he does tend to romanticise things a bit, but then, you know ... (he looks down at John and Mary and half-winks at them) ... he’s a romantic. We’ve tackled some strange cases: the Hollow Client ...
FLASHBACK. John and Sherlock walk up the stairs and into the living room of 221B, then stop dead at the sight which greets them. In John’s chair which is facing towards the door is a suit, laid out exactly as it would appear if there was actually anyone inside it and sitting in the chair. There is even a pair of shoes at the bottom of the trousers.
SHERLOCK: ... the Poison Giant ...
FLASHBACK. A man is running across a rooftop. As he comes into full view we see that he is a person of short stature. He stops and raises a blowpipe to his lips.
SHERLOCK (offscreen): Get down, John!
(The man blows into the pipe and on the other side of the roof Sherlock and John duck down to avoid the dart which flies out of it. They immediately jump up again and run on in pursuit of the man.)
SHERLOCK: We’ve had some frustrating cases ...
FLASHBACK. In 221B John sits down at the dining table with a mug of tea. He looks across to Sherlock sitting in his chair, who is running his finger across his top lip and frowning down thoughtfully at a matchbox held in his other hand.
JOHN: What is that?
(Sherlock looks at him.)
SHERLOCK: A French decathlete found completely out of his mind, surrounded by one thousand, eight hundred and twelve matchboxes – all empty except this one.
JOHN: And what’s in that one?
SHERLOCK (looking at the matchbox): The inexplicable.
(He slowly pushes open the matchbox. Whatever is inside glows brightly, illuminating Sherlock’s face. He grins with delight.)
SHERLOCK (rolling his eyes): ... ‘touching’ cases ...
FLASHBACK. John is standing at the window of 221B looking down into the street.
JOHN: She’s going to ring the doorbell.
(He’s looking at a young woman who is hovering outside Speedy’s and looking towards 221’s front door. She stops and then turns around.)
JOHN: Oh, no. She’s changed her mind.
(The woman walks away a few paces, then stops and turns around again.)
JOHN: No, she’s gonna do it ... No, she’s leaving. She’s leaving. ... Oh, she’s coming back.
(Sherlock is sprawled in his chair with his head raised towards the ceiling. His eyes are closed.)
SHERLOCK: She’s a client. She’s boring. I’ve seen those symptoms before.
SHERLOCK: Oscillation on the pavement always means there’s a love affair.
SHERLOCK: ... and of course I have to mention the elephant in the room.
FLASHBACK. The boys stand in the doorway of what looks like a fairly ordinary room somewhere. They stare up wide-eyed at what they can see inside. Sherlock opens his mouth. Offscreen, an elephant trumpets loudly. Sherlock closes his mouth again.
SHERLOCK: But we want something ... very particular for this special day, don’t we?
(He looks down at his phone, then raises his eyes again.)
SHERLOCK: The Bloody Guardsman.
On to part 2