Seriously, if you do not want to read spoilers about “The Final Problem”, do not scroll down this post.
No seriously, don’t.
At the BFI last Thursday, some notable cast and crew from Sherlock talked about “The Final Problem” following a special screening of the episode.
And yes, that included Andrew Scott (Moriarty). Steven Moffat (Sherlock co-creator and writer), Mark Gatiss (co-creator, writer, and Mycroft), and Sue Vertue (producer) were there at the Q&A, along with Benjamin Caron (director), Rupert Graves (Lestrade) and Siân Brooke (Eurus).
Here is what was discussed:
1. Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is still 100% dead.
In “The Final Problem” we saw Moriarty return, though it was only a flashback to five years ago. All other moments of him in the episode were recorded before his death in “The Reichenbach Fall.”
Moffat said: “Can we point something out? In total fairness: We didn’t lie. He’s dead. He’s actually dead. Bang. Gone. That was a flashback. You see?”
Quizzed by the host of the BFI screening about how Moriarty’s return has been under wraps, Scott responded: “I’ve spent the last six years under wraps.”
2. The gut-wrenching scene when Sherlock rung Molly was written at the last minute and replaced a scene that Moffat says the Sherlock crew hated.
“Two people liked it” said Moffat. “It was me and Mark [Gatiss] and everybody else hated it. And we kept saying, ‘No, it’s good.’ And there was a tidal wave of ‘We don’t like this scene.’
“And on the very last day we spent writing this episode and we sort of looked at each other and said, ‘Look, do you know what? Everybody thinks this is shit except you. Let’s just go to our office and think of something else.’”
The Molly scene replaced a puzzle involving a coffin, similar to one we had just seen before. “It was a puzzle. We liked it very much. Everybody else was right.”
3. It appears that Moffat doesn’t see Sherlock and Watson becoming romantic in the future.
When asked by a member of the audience about Watson’s and Sherlock’s future relationship, implying that they get together, Moffat responded: “Solving crimes. That’s what they do.”
“Look it’s sorted for you. This is 100 years old. You can go and see what happens, honestly. At some point Dr Watson lives on Queen Anne Street and then Sherlock Holmes, for reasons never covered by Arthur Conan Doyle, is that he keeps bees on the Sussex Downs. I don’t know why he does that.”
4. The creators really want more episodes of Sherlock, but whether they’ll happen is down to the stars’ availability.
“If this is the last time, and we are not planning to be, but it might be. And we could end it there” said Moffat. “We couldn’t have ended it on any of the previous series because they always ended with walloping great cliffhangers, usually about Andrew [Scott].”
Similar thoughts have been said by Moffat and Gatiss for weeks, including at the screening for “The Six Thatchers” in December (just see this report in The Guardian).
BuzzFeed UK also chatted with Moffat following the Q&A and it appears he is being honest about this. He does want more episodes. So does Gatiss. They just don’t know if they can pull it off yet.
5. “The Final Problem” episode is all about Sherlock realising that he is stronger than Eurus and Mycroft.
“Sherlock finally understands he’s stronger and smarter than Mycroft. Not actually because he is smarter – he is less smart.” said Moffat. “It is because his emotions, his connections to other human beings, the wisdoms he has gained from the connections he has made in the world, makes him stronger.
“He sees that partly because the extremes of Eurus, who has no connection with anything and is just pure brain and not understanding anything about what it is to be human. It makes him realise that everything that he has worked towards, everything that he has tried to step away from himself and tried to deny about himself, is what makes him the strongest one.”
The episode is also Sherlock becoming more like the other famous Sherlocks adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. “That is him becoming the Sherlock Holmes of Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett.”
“The one we are used to. The wise old man of Baker Street. Who is still terrifying, who is still cold, but has a heart that you never doubt.”
6. Redbeard not being a dog but rather a person was a plot twist dating back for quite a while.
“I remember being in Beryl’s [Vertue’s] flat [Sherlock’s executive producer] and we were talking about something else and I said, ‘What if Redbeard is not a dog?’ And then everything clicked from there.” said Gatiss.
“Redbeard began as a joke. It was a little reference to the fact that Sherlock had been convinced that his pet dog had gone to live on a farm and we sort of took out the cruelty of Mycroft tormenting him and then it became this thing.”
7. Mycroft said this scene in “His Last Vow” was a specific reference to the Eurus/Redbeard storyline.
This line was never written in the script for that episode. “I just did the scene and said that I’m saying this now. That’s the way to keep secrets, to never write anything down. And it just sort of rolled from there.”
8. If “The Final Problem” is the final Sherlock episode, Gatiss sees the show being an entire backstory of how Sherlock and Watson became the men in the books.
“What we think has happened, and it is entirely accidental, is that our original intention with this series was to go back to the beginning and see themselves as younger men,” says Gatiss. “And start on the first meeting which is never done and restore to its factory settings and see where we got to. But I think what has actually happened is that we have now done the story of how Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson you’ve always known became those men.
“And it’s actually weirdly a backstory. We never intended it to be but the reason we leave it at Rathbone Place is that if that actually we do come back and we would love to come back, we could absolutely very easily start it with the knock on the door and Sherlock saying to John, ‘Do you want to come out and play?’
“They have become the heroes we always knew them to be and we’ve accidentally done their backstory.”
9. Siân Brooke (Eurus) auditioned for three separate roles and only found out that all three roles were one person after being given the role of Eurus.
Gatiss said: “It was only the absolute 11th hour that we said actually they are all the same person.”
Vertue, Sherlock’s producer, joked to Brooke: “You must have thought that we couldn’t make up our minds!”
10. Moffat, in a passionate speech, says that the show’s success is all down to Sue Vertue.
“If we never come back, and we never do another panel about Sherlock, which seems improbable, there is one thing I would like to say. And that is, and it is not said enough, and it sort of goes by unnoticed, is the boss of Sherlock, the number one person on Sherlock, sitting in front of you right now, isn’t me or Mark in any way, is the person to whom I am married. It’s Sue.
“I’m not saying that for any other reason than it is absolutely true. She’s the person who runs all of Sherlock, she’s the person who either kicks us up the arse or restrains us depending on whether we are being insane or lethargic, she’s the person who made us write it in the first place. It has been her project from the very beginning. She manages the estate of Sherlock, every single day. She is the general. The chief executive officer. She is absolutely ultimate boss of this show.”