“Sherlock” Season 3, Episode 3 – ‘His Last Vow’ DVD commentary, part 2
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(As John and Mary hug in the hospital)
MARK: I remember watching this in the edit and thinking it’s suddenly so alarming that we know like this.
STEVEN: And that awful over-the-shoulder look. You think, ‘Oh my God. What is she up to?’ And one of the very very few cut scenes: we barely lost a scene but there was actually a scene where Magnussen goes to visit Sherlock as he sleeps. It was quite a creepy scene.
MARK: He covets his hands, doesn’t he? ‘An artist’s hands.’
STEVEN: ‘A woman’s hands,’ he says. I don’t know quite what he was thinking.
MARK: I think that’s from Blackadder!
STEVEN: Is it?! Oh no!
MARK (quoting from Blackadder): ‘Ah, you have a woman’s hands!’
STEVEN: All my life is a confusing mess of thinking I’m writing other people’s shows.
(As Mary tells Sherlock not to tell John)
MARK: I think it’s a measure of Amanda’s skill that we are intrigued but we don’t hate her. We want to know what’s going on.
STEVEN: Yeah, she’s just so likeable.
(Janine and Sherlock in the hospital room)
STEVEN: This was an interesting scene, wasn’t it? One thing I thought was, she had to kick back at him. I didn’t want her just to be the sorrowing woman. But originally at the end of this scene we had her leaving and they almost make up. She sort of says, ‘Look, obviously we’re not getting married, but if no-one wants us at the age of sixty, shall we just get together?’ and that sort of ties in with the idea of the cottage that we know he’s gonna one day live in.
SUE: With the bees.
MARK: She’s bought a cottage on the Sussex Downs with the money, and he says, ‘Keep the beehives.’ But it was too nice.
STEVEN: He got off the hook. I didn’t like the idea that he’d got off the hook; that he should be made to suffer. Because she takes the comedy revenge of the newspapers, which I think he probably quite admires – finds it faintly embarrassing but admires that she was clever, but the fact that she just skewers him with, ‘You lied and lied. We could have been friends.’
MARK: No, it’s good because it has consequences. I means he’s not just gonna get away with it.
STEVEN: And he does actually like her, but the fact is he’s capable of doing this kind of thing to people he likes. She’s kind, decent and clever, and look how he screwed up. I mean, he could just have asked her to help him. But a really lovely performance, I think.
MARK: But as we know, she’ll be back. Everybody is!
UNA: She’s such fun in real life as well.
STEVEN: I just like the idea that ... I don’t know if we’d ever do it, but Sherlock – if he needs a date for somewhere – will just phone up and say, ‘Come on, I’ll take you to that place,’ and she’ll say, ‘No! I hate you!’ and he’d say, ‘Oh, come on,’ and she’d go and they’d have a great time but he’d still be appalling to her and leave her stranded somewhere! Or possibly she’d leave him!
MARK: [Or] maybe she’d just hang up!
(As Sherlock circles Mary in his Mind Palace)
STEVEN: Evil Amanda.
MARK: Emanda. Doesn’t work.
STEVEN: The same corridors as John Watson ran through in A Study in Pink.
MARK: We’re running out of locations.
STEVEN: On two shows, it must be said.
(As John leads Greg towards Sherlock’s hospital room)
MARK: Actually, I’ve just remembered: there’s another mini-scene here we had to lose, isn’t there? There was a doctor.
STEVEN: ‘He’s taken all the morphine.’ It didn’t actually make sense.
SUE: Did we shoot it?
STEVEN: The gag was, ‘Someone’s taken all the morphine.’ ‘Yeah, he does that.’
MARK: It’s the first scene Rupert and I have ever actually had together.
STEVEN: Is it?
MARK: And that’s it!
STEVEN: Really? I’m sorry, mate. We should have had more scenes! ... What is a blind greenhouse? Write in!
SUE: Have you had a scene with everybody in? I suppose Christmas [in Scandal] you saw quite a lot of people.
(In 221B with John, Greg and Mrs H)
STEVEN: Can I point out a mistake? This scene, I think, doesn’t play quite as strongly because we cut the bit from the beginning where it’s been clear that Sherlock has been to the flat. It says that there’s some food missing, and by cutting that it’s not as immediately impactful that he’s left the perfume bottle. I regret that; I wish we’d kept that. That didn’t occur to me until the screening. So, I resign.
MARK: And with that ...
STEVEN: Goodbye. Wouldn’t that be great? Have to do no more writing!
SUE (to Una): That’s a lovely kettle you’ve got there!
MARK: Ah, the saga of Leinster Gardens. I found it in my Tube research, this amazing fact that there is these two houses which are totally fake and are meant to cover a vent from when the Tubes were steam trains. D’you remember, I rang you up and said, ‘This is the most amazing thing.’ Desperately tried to fit it in The Empty Hearse where it was supposed to be.
STEVEN: I remember you told me and actually I think I was in Cardiff, so when I got back to London I went straight there and looked and I thought it was the most ... I don’t know quite why I find it so haunting or so thrilling.
UNA: So do we see it?
SUE: It is actually there.
MARK: This is the real thing. The windows are painted, there’s no letterboxes, it’s only five foot deep and, as you see when [the camera goes] over, it’s just a vent for the Tubes.
STEVEN: People live there and don’t know.
MARK: They live next door and they don’t know.
(As the camera rises up and over the roof)
STEVEN: This is real. This isn’t CGI. The shot is actually reversed, it was [filmed] the other way. We tried so hard, right up to the shoot, to get it into The Empty Hearse and then we had a flailing attempt to get it into The Sign of Three, remember? And I remember emailing you, ‘I think I’ve got a way to get it into His Last Vow!’
MARK: But it’s one of those things actually – that’s why it’s slightly annoying that Sumatra Road isn’t really there, ’cause it’s quite nice to actually be able to say to people, ‘You can go and look at that.’ It’s so brilliant.
STEVEN: I should specify: there isn’t really an interior.
(Inside the house)
MARK: This is now the studio version.
SUE: Yeah, we made this.
UNA: And the neighbours don’t know?
MARK: Apparently, in the book I found it in, the guy went to talk to people [and] they’d say, ‘The wot?’ and he’d go, ‘It’s there’! And actually the hotel that we were based in there for filming – apparently when he spoke to them, they didn’t have a clue. He was like, ‘This! Here!’
UNA: I want to go tomorrow now.
SUE: It’s very close to Paddington.
STEVEN: If I could just complain to Sherlock fandom, I don’t think people have got excited enough about this. Maybe they don’t realise it’s real.
MARK: But we’re not monitoring them going every day.
STEVEN: That’s true.
(Inside the house)
MARK: Ooh, this is exciting, this bit. I love this.
STEVEN: It’s all sort of joyously mad, isn’t it? We’re now inside a façade.
MARK: This bullet is the world’s largest metaphor!
STEVEN: I cut a couple of lines there [which] I wish I’d kept in, where he says, ‘You saved my life,’ [and she says,] ‘I nearly killed you,’ and he says, ‘And you didn’t hit the middle of the coin. Nobody’s perfect.’ It slightly covers the fact that, although she saves his life, she also nearly killed him. In Sherlock’s defence, he’s really quite forgiving as far as ...
MARK: ... assassins go. Would-be assassins!
STEVEN: I think I would be crosser! I think I would maintain froideur for a longer period!
MARK: I don’t think he’s got the energy! That’s the key to it all! He doesn’t look so well.
STEVEN: He does all that really well, doesn’t he, Benedict?
MARK: Now, my favourite bit coming up is that, in the midst of all this great emotional trauma, John is still mostly concerned with putting his hair right! It’s pure Martin, that.
(As Mary and John stare at each other)
MARK: Oh God. It’s just dreadful.
STEVEN: This is froideur. This is a moment of tension, I think.
MARK: This is another lovely bit; that decision to just go well away, so you can go back.
STEVEN: D’you know, in all honesty I don’t know why that works. I remember thinking as I was writing it, ‘I have to cut forward. I need to get out of here,’ but then you have to go back.
MARK: But it sort of makes you look forward to it.
STEVEN: But it felt odd to me. I kept waiting for the note, ‘Don’t do that,’ and it never came.
STEVEN: How warm was it on that Christmas Day?!
SUE: Oh God, wasn’t it?!
MARK: Yes, that was a very hot Christmas. So much greenery around!
SUE: You had to remind them that it was a Christmas thing and at some point said, ‘Can you not pan off that rose?’!
STEVEN: I have threatened to do special classes for all directors and DoPs about what happens to leaves at Christmas!
MARK: Now why, why, is Sherlock her favourite? That’s what I want to know. Clearly he is.
STEVEN: Well, he’s, you know ...
MARK: ... younger ...
STEVEN: ... younger, glamorous ...
MARK: Oh God.
STEVEN: ... better looking ...
MARK: Get out!
STEVEN: You’re a stuffy old civil servant. He’s a detective! I mean, really!
UNA: I love the fact that [Tim] insisted on that bowtie.
STEVEN: That’s because he’s getting ready to watch Doctor Who!
MARK: He said he does that to Benedict to embarrass him. He wears musical socks and silly bowties.
UNA: He’s a dear!
STEVEN: It’s just a thing that fathers do. I do it – just be even worse than normal to faintly embarrass your sons.
MARK: You get to that stage when you’re older – at Christmas you think, ‘Oh, I’m the one in the corner now. My duty is to embarrass [everyone].’ Suddenly it all becomes clear!
UNA: Fall asleep and snore!
STEVEN: It’s very liberating, isn’t it?!
(As Mr Holmes leaves Mary and John alone)
MARK: Oh, I love this. I think it’s desperately moving, and so real, actually. After all they’ve been through. I think it’s terribly real. And also it’s great that we don’t actually have to go through all those months of silence. You can just sketch it in.
STEVEN: I know we hesitated over it, with Benedict there saying, ‘They’ve had their ups and downs.’ It’s just a very honest answer. You don’t often see Sherlock Holmes having to deal with real life as it is.
SUE: It’s fantastic, this scene.
STEVEN: One thing to note in this extraordinary scene where all four of you are just amazing, is that Amanda has one word, and look at what she puts into it.
MARK: It’s great, ’cause [Mrs H] is so bewildered! Everybody else is having the biggest crisis of their lives ...
MARK: ... and she’s worried about the neighbours!
STEVEN: I remember getting the rushes of this and thinking it’s just the best acting I’d ever seen. And I have to say Nick’s blocking of it, allowing Martin the floor and there’s Sherlock standing in the doorway of his own lair, almost nervous to come in.
MARK: Even though we’ve just seen what he’s been capable of, he’s very nervous about this.
SUE: It did take a while on this cut, didn’t it, because you could go so many different ways about how the anger’s shown.
MARK: And, as ever, Martin gives you loads and loads of different possibilities.
STEVEN: We worried about the YouTubeing line, didn’t we, but I think just keeping the thing going of Mrs Hudson not really joining in with the angst.
SUE: Again, beautiful music.
STEVEN: We haven’t talked enough about the music. It’s astonishingly good.
MARK: That’s David Arnold and Michael Price being absolutely fantastic. When we need it to be extremely exciting, but they have such a wonderful touch with the melancholy.
STEVEN: Yeah, with the heartbreak.
MARK: Irene’s theme from Scandal, but this theme is just wonderful.
SUE: There were some girls yesterday in Richmond, a string quartet by the station, playing the Sherlock music.
STEVEN: Just when they saw you!
MARK (as the girls): She’s gone, she’s gone. ... It’s Lenny Henry, quick, um ...!
STEVEN: I was at the orchestra recording for this, and it was just heartbreaking hearing it – all the stuff as it swells towards the end of this scene. It’s absolutely extraordinary.
SUE: I love those recordings, because there’s nothing you can do in there, is there? Just listen.
STEVEN: You do sort of think musicians are just more talented than other people, because they see this music for the first time that day. They sit with a bunch of people they don’t know all that well and they all play it at once, like they’ve got a hive mind.
MARK: We were at David Arnold’s concert the other week. Sometimes it’s difficult to realise they’re in front of you playing it. The sound is so complete, so full, it’s sort of like you’re just listening in the cinema.
SUE: And he said they got that music that morning.
MARK: Now, ‘A.G.R.A.’, Agra, is of course a back reference to the great Agra treasure which was Mary’s inheritance in the story she first appears in.
STEVEN: The Sign of Four.
MARK: Here, it’s her initials. Amanda ... Google ...
STEVEN: ... Rampant ...
MARK: ... Abbington!
SUE: She’s got a necklace there, hasn’t she?
MARK: Yes. We’ll have to explain that at one point.
STEVEN: There’s quite a lot of things we’ll have to explain, Mark! I’ve got a list somewhere.
[There is an interesting Tumblr post here discussing the necklace.]
MARK: We had to think, has Mary herself made a decision to change her life? I mean, she meets John Watson and she thinks he’s a very decent man. Is she actually intending to go straight ...
SUE: I think so.
MARK: ... or is it always murky?
STEVEN: My feeling was [that], a bit like John, she can’t really keep away from that. She fits in with these two blokes because she’s got exactly the same problem. ‘I can spend six months without having an adventure, but not seven.’ What other wife is gonna be sending John out to play with Sherlock, and then tagging along? The way she behaves in The Sign of Three is preposterous for a bride at a wedding. She likes that world better.
MARK: In my head, though, she’s sort of like Callan. She’s a troubled assassin. I don’t want to think she’s being totally evil.
STEVEN: I think the Callan comparison’s terrific – the idea that she’s done bad things but not because that’s what she wants to do.
(Flashback to Magnussen’s apartment)
STEVEN: I love this shot coming up, the one where she hits Magnussen.
MARK: When she hits Lars, yes, it’s amazing. And the glasses flew off in the most perfect way!
STEVEN: These were fun rushes to watch.
SUE: The Phantom is such a great camera, isn’t it?
MARK: Should mention Claire [Pritchard] here, our great make-up designer who did the first series and then couldn’t do the second series, who’s Arwel’s wife. There’s no nepotism at all(!)
STEVEN: There was a point – which read-through was that? – where we worked out how many married couples there were around the table.
MARK: I think particularly the stages of Sherlock’s recovery ... he looks properly ghastly and then, as he does here [in 221B], sort of feverish. It’s not a good idea to be walking around at this point! ... The entire Magnussen plot has taken a back seat here, for quite a while, but you don’t mind because the emotional stakes are so huge.
STEVEN: Well, it’s the way it leads you from one story to another. You’re investigating Magnussen and then it turns out, oh dammit, you’re actually investigating Mary.
STEVEN: I remember when I was watching this being filmed, I was wondering why Nick had put Christmas lights in Baker Street, and it was just to make the transition work. Very clever.
(Back at the Holmes cottage)
STEVEN: Oh, this is altogether too moving.
MARK: It’s him from the spare room. This is very clever, Steve, I must say – the curse of saying things that you wouldn’t say in real life. I remember Martin at the graveside in Reichenbach saying, ‘I genuinely find this really difficult,’ and then eventually I then quoted him in the Tube station saying exactly that, because they’re the sort of things you don’t really say but you have to say it; but then to actually work out a way of saying, ‘I’ve thought about this. These are prepared words,’ is kind of the perfect escape because it means so much but he couldn’t just do it on the hoof.
(The pen drive lies on top of the burning logs)
MARK: There’s actually five Doctor Who scripts on that memory stick.
STEVEN: Damn! Is that where they went?! No wonder we’re behind!
STEVEN: But also it’s a fun thing, isn’t it, because I think this whole sequence is being rather wonderful, but the truth is, structurally it allows you to get past the fact that Mary has shot Sherlock and been revealed to be a villain and now is gonna be forgiven, in a relatively short space of time! And you sort of buy it. Curiously, I think if we did that in a linear way, you’d think that not enough time has passed.
(The Holmes boys smoking outside the cottage)
STEVEN: A lot of people’s favourite [scene] there. You’ll note that we’ve Christmased the background. Sometimes you see in the wider shots here and there [there’s] frosting and bare trees.
SUE: We had a special de-leafing man, didn’t we?
MARK: The anti-Christmas man. Jack Frost. He came in and he was made of sticks. My abiding memory of this scene: I don’t smoke, so we were smoking those horrific herbal cigarettes, and then Benedict saying he needed real ones ...
MARK: Well, [the herbal ones were] affecting his breathing or something, and he wanted real ones and then he said it was making him a bit spacey, and I was just standing there having smoked, like, eighty-five of [the herbal ones]: ‘I’m all right!’
UNA: Smelling like a bonfire.
MARK: Oh, they’re so horrible!
(As Mycroft says ‘Your loss would break my heart’)
MARK: It’s all right, it’s only the punch talking, isn’t it?!
STEVEN: Yeah. D’you remember when we debated about that, ’cause I wasn’t sure and you weren’t sure and we thought, he actually has been drugged, maybe he’s just a bit ...
MARK: That’s all right, then. Actually, in a funny way, it’s about both of them being high, very briefly!
(Back in the sitting room)
MARK: This is one of my favourite bits. After an amazing emotional, devastating thing, and then Sherlock just pops in and says, ‘Don’t drink [Mary’s tea].’ It’s horrible!
STEVEN: But when we showed it at the BAFTA that night – you weren’t there, Mark – it gets a huge laugh, the ‘Don’t drink the tea’! Just in case you’d forgotten that you were watching Sherlock Holmes!
MARK: Just checks to see if his dad’s still breathing ... that’s okay. Had he not been breathing, he’d have carried on.
(The restaurant flashback)
STEVEN: I don’t know why, I always forget this scene is coming.
MARK: This restaurant in Cardiff, which I’ve eaten in many times, has the most brilliant thing. You know that often Italian restaurants – always Italian restaurants – have pictures of visiting stars, and I’ve always loved that ... there they are [in the shot] there. This one has so many pictures of Tom Jones, it’s like a flick-book of his life and you watch him age!
SUE: I’m assuming now there’s a picture of Benedict on there!
MARK: As Tom Jones!
STEVEN: I’ve still got the card from that restaurant, ’cause it’s got a little magnifying glass in the card, which enables me to read things now and then!
MARK: I noticed that magnifying glass that I gave you for your fiftieth, it’s on your desk next to any given piece of news print!
SUE: We use them all the time.
STEVEN: I’m afraid so! I do need it! It’s not a joke.
UNA: I’ve got glasses, and I still need the magnifying glass!
STEVEN: I’ve never eaten in that restaurant. Is it nice?
MARK: Yeah, it’s very nice.
SUE: I’ve eaten there. It’s good.
STEVEN: Other restaurants are available.
MARK: We haven’t named it, it’s all right. It’s just ‘that restaurant.’
MARK: Now this is also nice, because it’s one of those things which we’ve always driven to keep in, which is that Sherlock makes mistakes. He’s not a super-human, he’s not totally omniscient, he gets things wrong – and this is a biggie, ’cause he’s totally failed to realise how like him Magnussen is.
STEVEN: Yeah, the one thing he is blind to is what he’s like.
MARK: We had a lovely discussion as well about the point here where Lars invasively puts his hand in his food and eats an olive and then he washes his fingers in his glass. It’s so disgusting.
STEVEN: Well, it’s just the sense of entitlement, isn’t it?
SUE: Lovely stillness, as well.
STEVEN: He had such a good time on this show, didn’t he, Lars? He really loved doing that. [Magnussen’s] horrible! He’s just disgusting!
MARK: You can imagine, though, when someone’s that powerful, they become ... Well, it’s the story of all kings etc; they completely lose touch with reality and think that everything is their plaything.
SUE: It’s like when you’re watching the tennis, and you’ve always got the ball boys that give them a towel, and they never say, ‘Thank you,’ do they?
UNA: That really annoys me! I shout out, ‘Thank you!’
(As the helicopter flies over the cottage)
STEVEN: See, a leafless tree there – because we care.
SUE: The conversations I had about, ‘Are you sure they can’t go in the helicopter a bit?’ ‘No.’ ‘Tiny bit?’ ‘No.’
(During the ‘But it’s Christmas.’ / ‘I feel the same ... Oh, you mean it’s actually Christmas,’ routine)
STEVEN: Hoary old gag there. I apologise, but it makes me laugh.
(Everyone cracks up at the ‘Is it in your coat?’ / ‘Yes,’ lines.)
UNA: They’re wonderful together, aren’t they?
STEVEN: Yes, it’s hard to imagine there was a time in television when those two weren’t sparring.
(As the helicopter flies over Appledore)
SUE: We couldn’t fix all those trees.
STEVEN: Yeah, but you can’t tell. Once you’ve established ... there’s one there ...
MARK: I’ll say two words: climate change.
SUE: And some of them are evergreen, obviously.
(In the long shot of the helicopter landing, there are three large trees beside the house with bare branches.)
SUE: We did those trees, there, look.
UNA: And you’re watching the scene [and not the trees].
MARK: Here’s a Bond fact. This [security] guy with the long white ponytail is one of the other poker players in Casino Royale.
STEVEN: Is that where I know him from?!
MARK: ... with Lars’ brother, so there’s a strange Bond connection.
MARK: It’s good because the place, despite its luxury, is soulless, just like [Magnussen]. I think it’s kind of clinical.
STEVEN: Also partly because it isn’t lived in.
MARK: [It’s] like an art gallery.
STEVEN: He’s watching The Empty Hearse, look!
MARK: Yes, he loves it!
STEVEN: He’s a Sherlock fan!
SUE: He’s just catching up on bits he hasn’t seen.
STEVEN: We’ve had a whole episode since then! You’ve missed one!
MARK: Other detective shows are available.
STEVEN: No, they’re not.
MARK: Again, Sherlock thinks he’s being very clever, but he’s miscalculated here rather badly.
STEVEN: I suppose, in the end, Magnussen’s miscalculation is the bigger one. ‘There’s no way to defeat me.’ Bang. His last thought must have been, ‘Bugger! Ow, yeah, good one. Shoot me in the face – that works.’
MARK: You’ve just ruined it, ruined it!
STEVEN: Ah no, but no-one’s watching it for the first time listening to us wittering, are they? And if they are, then they’re fools! Or maybe they didn’t know – just thought the dubbing was bad or something.
MARK: That’s a very interesting point, though, the idea of the leverage on people. That’s, in fact, how it must always work. If you think someone’s untouchable, they’ll have a weakness because of their fondness for someone or something, you get that, you lean on that, and eventually you’ve got the person. It makes horrific sense, doesn’t it?
STEVEN: I’m sure it’s true. It doesn’t even have to be their wife, doesn’t have to be their wife’s friend, but if the wife’s friend’s friend ... and then you’ve got the dominoes falling.
STEVEN: One thing I always think’s very wrong when people talk about writing is fear of exposition. Exposition’s actually really quite interesting, particularly towards the end, ’cause that’s all exposition, and it’s interesting. You want to know it.
MARK: Well, people always get rightly frustrated if they don’t know what’s going on. It’s just about how you do it, I think.
SUE: What’s annoying is when people feel they have to tell you everything about their back story and it has nothing to do with it!
STEVEN: ‘And here’s a poignant incident from my childhood which mystically accounts for why I’m behaving like this.’ That’s my least favourite ... especially when I do it.
MARK: In the original story, it’s a curious ending, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful story, Charles Augustus Milverton, but Holmes and Watson break into Appledore Towers, his home, in order to get all the stuff. They’ve been commissioned, but then what happens while they’re hiding behind the curtains, Milverton comes in and then a totally random other victim, a woman, comes in and confronts him and shoots him and grinds her shoe into his face.
MARK: It’s wonderful. And then the servants come ...
SUE: Benedict refused to wear high heels!
MARK: ... and Sherlock and Doctor Watson flee and nearly get caught and it’s very exciting, but it’s a curious thing – again it sort of led to this ending – that it feels a bit like Doctor Watson, narrating that story, slightly altered the truth. ’Cause you think, ‘Well, who really killed him?’
SUE: I didn’t realise it was Appledore in the original. I’d have known if I’d read the original!
STEVEN: Not worth worrying at this late stage, darling!
(As Magnussen walks into the white room)
MARK: Oh dear.
STEVEN: It’s just a toilet! Now those doors were made out of one ...
SUE: All the doors in the house are all made from one tree, so if you look at them, they all match. They were just priceless, so if you scratched one ... oh gosh ...
MARK: Cold sweats! All that stuff going in and out.
SUE: And that table as well.
STEVEN: That’s why he’s sitting there in that quite cheap chair.
MARK: It’s not a cheap chair! And the actual vault is in the University, isn’t it? That’s where we took our door.
STEVEN: That’s right – same day!
MARK: It’s a shot ...
STEVEN: Oh, so embarrassing.
MARK: ... just before Janine comes out [of Sherlock’s bedroom]. I think Nick wanted to see Martin’s hand going to open it, but we just couldn’t work out what he was talking about.
STEVEN: We worked out very cleverly what he must have meant, and delivered a completely useless shot.
SUE: Yeah, the two of you took a whole crew off to do a useless shot!
MARK: I shot all these, though [the shots of Magnussen sitting in his chair with John and Sherlock with their backs to camera]. That’s not Martin. That’s Dai Barton.
STEVEN: Is it?!
MARK: I don’t remember whether it was Benedict.
MARK: I’m sure we’ve said this before – the very first time I came across the idea of a Mind Palace was in Hannibal, the novel by Thomas Harris, ’cause Hannibal Lecter does it.
STEVEN: It’s all strangely become linked together!
MARK: That, to me, is the most chilling line, really, ’cause that’s absolutely true. ‘I don’t need proof – I’m in news.’ That’s frightening.
STEVEN: ‘I don’t have to prove it; I just have to print it,’ which, again, has been pointed out that I wrote exactly the same line in Press Gang many many years ago. I didn’t know I’d written it before – I thought I’d made it up new! I’m just going in circles!
(A quick shot of the table behind John and Sherlock)
SUE: That table!
(As Magnussen goes out onto the patio)
SUE: Now we shot this scene over three nights, didn’t we, because we could only have it at certain light.
MARK: And the helicopter for a certain time. I remember the amazing thing about the helicopter – that guy could literally land it on a pound coin, he was amazing; but then, when his time was up, he just went!
SUE: He suddenly said, ‘I have to go now,’ and then we went, ‘What? Hang on a minute!’
MARK: We actually turned the camera on it, saying, ‘At least get him going away!’
SUE: It’s all to do with where they have to get back to, and they haven’t got lights, they can’t fly at night.
(As John walks closer to Magnussen)
MARK: This is the most upsetting scene, isn’t it?
STEVEN: It’s horrible, isn’t it? Which is again interesting, ’cause it’s nothing. It’s not exactly severe torture, is it, it’s just ...
STEVEN: ... horrible.
(When Magnussen starts flicking John’s face)
STEVEN: It’s a brave man who’d do that to Martin.
SUE: Yes, he was quite sore after three nights of this, wasn’t he?
MARK: But I think they worked out the way it would be least horrific.
STEVEN: He’s just a bully, really. And he’s sort of trivial. As he says, he doesn’t have a master plan, he’s not about to conquer the world, he’s just acquiring stuff.
MARK: And also he doesn’t know he’s a baddie.
STEVEN: No, not at all. He doesn’t think other people matter enough for it to be evil to abuse them – a bit. But he’s never killed anyone, as Sherlock is about to. Having said that, personally I’d shoot him in the face.
MARK: A long time ago.
(When Magnussen switches to John’s eye.)
UNA (sympathetically): Oh.
MARK: It’s horrible, horrible. Genuinely upsetting.
UNA: So humiliating as well, never mind the pain.
STEVEN: Don’t worry – a bad thing’s gonna happen to him. I’m fairly confident.
MARK: We ended the helicopter close-ups with me arriving, at the airport in a plane!
SUE: Which I then directed! We all had a go!
MARK: We didn’t have time. I was supposed to go into the helicopter but we ran out of time, so it was done several weeks later.
MARK (as Sherlock): I’m a low-paid archaeologist. Happy birthday, merry Christmas, goodbye.
STEVEN: Benedict got slightly lost in his lines at one point!
MARK: It’s full of hero shots, this ending, isn’t it? It’s fantastic.
STEVEN: It’s awfully good, this show, I tell you. I know I’ve said that before.
(Sherlock shoots Magnussen.)
STEVEN: Yeah, deduce that, bitch!
(Mycroft yells, ‘Don’t fire!’)
STEVEN: Yeah, you useless bunch of numpties, what were you doing?! [As the marksmen] ‘What are we supposed to do now with our guns?’
STEVEN: D’you remember Benedict was asking for various other ways of killing Magnussen?
MARK: Yes, he wanted to twist his head off.
STEVEN: Yes, he’s gone a bit Khan.
(As Sherlock turns away from John)
SUE: It makes me cry every time. The beautiful music again.
STEVEN: It’s probably because that handsome young man is about to turn up.
(They fall silent for a few seconds.)
STEVEN: I’m just watching now. We’re useless.
(Young Sherlock is on the patio.)
STEVEN: There he is!
SUE: Oh, the little blue eyes.
STEVEN: I had that shot on my iPhone for ages. A picture of my son crying! No, the one from behind where he’s got his hands up, and I thought, ‘I’ve got a picture on my iPhone of my son being held at gunpoint by a helicopter! That’s not healthy!’
(In the government building)
STEVEN: Weren’t you rather ill when we did this?
MARK: Yes, this was just before my physical collapse at the end of the series when I got conjunctivitis and a terrible cold. That’s the wonderful Simon Kunz there [as Sir Edwin].
STEVEN: Yes, he’s great!
MARK: ‘You know what happened to the other one.’ What did that mean?
(Mycroft says, ‘The alternative, however, would require your approval.’)
MARK: ... for some reason!
STEVEN: Because she’s the head of approvals ...
MARK: Because she’s wearing Sarah-Jane Smith’s top from Planet of the Spiders(!) There’s a little Bond reference at the top of that which we’ve not talked about.
STEVEN: Oh yes! Is it ‘M’ that says of Bond, ‘This country needs a blunt instrument’?
(At the airfield)
MARK: So this is it: the great goodbye.
STEVEN: Well, he leaves at the end of most series, so ...
MARK: This is the one we thought, ‘Well, at least we don’t have to go back and re-shoot this again!’ Now this plane belongs to Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden.
SUE: Yes, but wasn’t it going back to Denmark? They said, ‘Oh, we could have taken Lars back’!
MARK: Yeah. [Bruce] lent us his plane, which was very kind of him.
MARK: We did have a long talk about this, didn’t we, that they should just have a handshake. Of course, we forget this episode’s called His Last Vow which is a version of His Last Bow which is canonically the last story.
STEVEN: The last time we see them together.
MARK: Just before the first World War and Sherlock is in disguise and it’s about a German spy and Doctor Watson is involved, and when it’s all sorted they have this fantastic famous scene on the balcony, looking out over the sea, and he says, ‘There’s an East wind coming, Watson,’ and [Watson] says, ‘No, I think it’s going to be quite fair.’ ‘Good old Watson, the one fixed point in a changing age.’ And this is really the only bit of it that’s in the episode.
STEVEN: Yeah, it’s a terribly moving scene in the original, because – unlike this – it really is the last time they speak, ’cause Holmes says to Watson, ‘This may well be the last quiet chat we ever have,’ the implication being that Holmes is going back under cover.
MARK: In the war to come.
STEVEN: [Our Sherlock] gives the name William Sherlock Scott Holmes. That comes from the W. H. Baring-Gould’s biography of Sherlock Holmes ...
MARK: ... in which he worked out that that’s what he must be called. Whether it’s true or not, who knows? We never actually worked out how two normal parents managed to give them such strange names! There must be some reason!
STEVEN: Yeah, but William Sherlock ...
MARK: Oh, but I don’t like that; I’ve never liked that. To me it’s like that bit at the end of Last Crusade when you discover that he’s not called Indiana Jones; he’s called Henry Junior – the dog was called ... I never liked that. ‘No! That’s his name!’
SUE: Are there any other Sherlocks or Mycrofts as real people?
MARK: No – unless they’ve been named after them.
STEVEN: I quite like the fact he chose ‘Sherlock.’
MARK: Maybe he did. We’ll leave it in the realms of speculation!
STEVEN: But I do like the idea that everyone calls Mycroft ‘Mike’! That is true – people would call him ‘Mike’!
SUE: This is where we were going, ‘Can you just bring the plane round again?’
STEVEN: Yes, I objected to some piece of blocking and Sue said, ‘Okay, bring the plane back’! The benefits of sleeping with the Producer.
(As Sir Edwin tells Lady Smallwood that the broadcast is on every screen)
STEVEN: And indeed in fact it’s the second time [Jim’s] returned this episode, so that’s pretty impressive!
(As Mycroft says, ‘Hello, little brother’)
MARK: That didn’t last long, did it?!
(As we see Jim’s repeated ‘Did you miss me?’ message)
MARK: How did he do it?!
STEVEN: It’s a shocker to me!
MARK: He just keeps coming back, doesn’t he?! D’you remember, we were in the edit with Nick and I said, ‘We should put the very last thing after the credits, just so we’ve got something else to look forward to.’
STEVEN: Well I thought that was great! It’s been my favourite television programme – apart from the other one, which is also my favourite!
(Jim appears after the credits)
MARK and STEVEN: Yay!
A full list of episode transcripts, DVD commentary summaries/transcripts, and transcripts of the DVD special features can be found here.