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Elementary

Elementary – From Russia With Drugs (7×07)

"From Russia with Drugs" -- Holmes and Watson investigate the murder of a criminal who made his living by stealing from other criminals. Also, when Captain Gregson resumes leadership of the precinct, he suspects his interim replacement, Captain Dwyer, is responsible for one of his best detective's suspicious departure, on ELEMENTARY, Thursday, July 4 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured Aidan Quinn as Captain Tommy Gregson Photo Best Possible Screen Grab/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Elementary took a step away from its series ending storyline tonight and delivered a back-to-basics old school episode. Final seasons can often get caught up with wrapping all the flowing stories up that they often forget to take a moment to also reflect on the series as a whole. As an episode with almost no ties to the Reichenbach plot, “From Russia With Drugs” is a perfect example of the procedural style storytelling that has provided this version of Sherlock Holmes with so many cases to solve.

The first scene reinstates Gregson as captain of the precinct and I initially felt like it was a sweet and funny scene. It was simple but touching, complete with the giant badge and a silly story told by Captain Dwyer. Upon learning that Dwyer is a horrible man who does horrible things, though, the scene it becomes less sweet in retrospect.

And that’s great. Too often during these sorts of episodes (the #metoo episodes) the harasser or assaulter is painted as broadly evil. Make no mistake, these are NOT good people and the actions they are committing are evil, but because they aren’t doing horrible things 100% of the time, it can be difficult to spot these horrible people, to the point that even the great Sherlock Holmes didn’t realize that something was wrong.

This is an important lesson we all need to learn. The episode immediately biases the audience to, at the very least, appreciate Dwyer’s friendship with Gregson (as Dwyer tells it). This immediate bias in no way exonerates his behavior, though, and we need to look past the bias to see the man for who he really is (a harassing sexist jerk).

The episode takes the subject matter seriously, dives into the complexities of the topic, but at no point did I feel the show was patting itself on the back for tackling the matter, which is something I have felt other shows have done while exploring the topic. Novacek’s decision was hers to make, she doesn’t feel she was wrong for not wanting to do anything about it, and yet she decides to go through with it anyway. It was direct, to the point, and covered multiple thought processes.

I have a criticism and a half on the storyline, though. The first is that we really don’t know Novacek at all. Elementary has introduced one off cops and characters and irregulars before, so that’s not out of place, but the storyline would have had more weight if Novacek was more developed as a character. As it stands her character was more of a plot device to do this sort of story.

The half criticism is that the entire plot line was viewed from Gregson’s perspective. I believe it is beneficial to get a perspective from the victim of the crime and not just the people surrounding them. This is only a half criticism, though, because on the other hand we get to see a good example of how a friend/bystander should act to combat these problems. Don’t be a bystander. Address the issue, confront the perpetrator, offer support and assistance if needed. It’s important to see this side of these events, and it was an effective way to show that Gregson is a great captain and a good man. We need him in that precinct, and this is why!

Outside of that storyline, though, we have a classic Elementarycase. It was a lot of fun to watch Sherlock, Watson, and Bell work together on a single case again. There was no lingering tension between the characters, solid detective work, witty banter, and even an explosion. Elementary has a knack for taking a seemingly standard murder case and cranking the dial up to “Possible Foreign Government Coverup.” But those are the only cases suitable for the great Sherlock and Watson!  

I was particularly invested in this case because it felt more like a web than a trail of clues to follow. Watson even states as such when she suggests that they are investigating a closed loop. I find these sorts of mysteries more engaging because I can consider the information we already have in a new light instead of just using one piece of info to get to the next. These pieces of information also make me realize how much smarter Sherlock and Watson are than me because I’m not putting the information in the proper light as quickly as they are.

In the end, as much as I love the larger storylines and the character driven moments that the show can provide, an episode like tonight’s reminds of another reason I will miss this show when it comes off the air. I know it’s July right now, but in previous years when the show aired over the winter, Elementary was such an easy show to dive into after coming in from the cold and turning on the fire. It’s just fun watching Sherlock and Watson work.

Other Deductions:

  • I watched tonight’s episode with a friend who had never seen Elementary until now. He wasn’t lost at all and was able to enjoy the hour the same as me, someone who has watched all seven seasons live. This is one of the true strengths of Elementary and procedural television.
  • Sherlock didn’t know who Scrooge McDuck was and I laughed at that.
  • Why weren’t Sherlock and Joan at Captain Gregson’s return party? I thought this would be explored more.
  • The explosion looked pretty good! It had a real weight to it; I actually jumped like Sherlock did. Love a little spice with the mystery like that!
  • In today’s TV landscape, it doesn’t seem as though procedurals are as highly praised as serial television shows. I love serial shows, so I get why this has happened; serial shows have many strengths compared to procedural TV. But procedurals have strengths over serialized shows as well, and this should not be forgotten. Self-contained stories provide a completeness that feels good at the end of an hour, they allow for experimentation, and they are easy for new viewers to join in at any moment, creating a more inclusive series. Elementary has had some great serialized arcs, but it has also been an excellent procedural series throughout its run. It deserves to be recognized for its success as a procedural.

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Elementary

Elementary – Their Last Bow (7×13)

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“I’m pretty sure you’re going to live forever.”

Watson speaks of the immortality of the world’s greatest detective in the final entry of Elementary, the umpteenth adaptation of Sherlock Holmes since his creation well over 100 years ago. Sherlock Holmes, the character, will likely exist in one form or another for as long as storytelling exists. He was resurrected from his initial death by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and has been resurrected countless times since.

Our version of the great detective was resurrected tonight to grace our screen in this form for one last bow.

The episode begins with a three year jump to the future. This isn’t an uncommon technique for final episodes to take when wrapping up a series. While not wholly original, it’s an affective way to provide a slow down from a climax and still provide some tension.

Television finales can be difficult compared to film endings because a film has the luxury of proper pacing. Normally when a story reaches its climax, there is a denouement to wrap up the lingering storylines and character beats. The climax of a film normally happens about 10-20 minutes before the end of the film, with the last scenes being of slower pace and less action.

Television gets wonky because normally there is so much happening near the end of a show that 10-20 minutes isn’t quite enough to wrap everything up neatly, so often times the climax of a series will happen a few episodes before the ending (such as Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias”), with Elementary having its climax on the bridge in the previous episode “Reichenbach Falls.” However, if a series has an entire episode of denouement, that doesn’t make for the most exciting block of television.

The time jump solves this issue by providing us enough new material to excite us while still allowing us to resolve lingering character conflicts, such as Sherlock’s faking of his death and the limbo he left his friendships in and Reichenbach’s sentencing. Reichenbach is wrapped up immediately and the focus shifts to Watson’s new life and the return of her partner.

Sherlock’s return was an obvious callback to their first meeting – but you just HAVE to do stuff like this in a finale, no? It feels so good when a story comes full circle, and imagery like Sherlock watching all his televisions is the perfect image to bring us back to the start of the series.

His commitment to Watson, however, is entirely different than it was at the start. He shows up just hours after Watson calls for him (by smashing his grave! Very symbolic and very Sherlock), despite the long absence of communication and with zero regards to the risks it poses.

Their reunion is understated and normal to the point that I almost felt they had seen each other regularly, which only further speaks to their bond. Watson may have been angry Sherlock stopped communicating (angry enough to write a book about him, which was another great callback to the original tales), but she knows him and understands him, and knows that he is there for her despite falling out of touch.

Bell, on the other hand, punches him in the stomach. Bell has done a lot for Sherlock and considered him one of their own, and between Gregson, Watson, and Bell, Bell is the most “friend” like of the group. Gregson is more of a father figure, tough and understanding, and Watson is Sherlock’s heart and soul. But Bell is just a friend. This is not an insult, but in fact a compliment, since Sherlock doesn’t have ANY other people in his life who are “just” friends. Because their relationship is based in friendship, I believe Bell took Sherlock’s fake out more personally. He still smiled before he punched him, though; they’ll be working together again soon enough. We’ve seen enough ups and downs between the two to know it, and so has Bell. Bell’s grudge is proven to be minor when he asks Joan if she’s going to tell Sherlock about her cancer. He clearly still has an interest in Sherlock’s feelings.

Gregson’s meet up is much friendlier, and was probably my favorite scene of the hour. As I stated earlier, Gregson is somewhat of a father figure for Sherlock, and the guidance and trust shown here is the perfect place to leave their relationship. Gregson wants what’s best for Sherlock and what’s best for Watson. He knows that Watson will make the decisions best for her, but Sherlock…he needs a push sometimes. Gregson compares Sherlock and Watson’s relationship to his relationship with his wife.

They discuss love, but it is clear that it is never in the context of romance (though if you want to read it that way, as I’m sure some people do, I can’t stop you. Enjoy it!). Gregson knows first hand that Sherlock loves Watson unlike anyone Sherlock has ever known. At the end of season six, Sherlock is willing to go against the captain for Watson. It’s a powerful argument between the two and its made clear that Sherlock will do anything for her. Gregson tells him that when you feel that way about someone, you need to let them choose. Give Watson the choice whether or not Sherlock stays.

Sherlock has also come to a place with the captain where he can reveal that he relapsed after he went into hiding. I was curious as to whether or not Sherlock’s addiction would come up tonight, and I’m glad it did. The fact of the matter is that Sherlock will never not be an addict, and his fear of staying with Watson and having her son find him dead with a needle in his arm is a real fear that understandably would keep Sherlock away. As awful a scene as that would be, I’m glad they gave us an image of it. Addiction isn’t something to brush aside and I feel that if they didn’t give this moment this sort of heft it would have felt glossed over. Of course, Gregson responds by telling Sherlock about Joan’s diagnosis.

I have in my notes, “Not Watson’s grave.” You can’t fool me, Elementary. They tried that twice this year! Twice! What is it with the writers and these fake deathssssss oh man what if they were purposeful foreshadowing of Sherlock’s fake death??? I just thought of that while writing this but I’m leaving it in as is because that would be really clever if that was what was intended. Anyway, back to the Watson fake out.

I have in my notes, “Not Watson’s grave.” I didn’t believe that Elementary would tear its duo apart so cruelly, as it would also have gone against Gregson’s message about choice. Who we spend time with is a choice. What we are willing to put up with from those people is a choice. And what we do in life, be it adopt a child or fighting super crime in Europe, is a choice.

Over and over again throughout Elementary we have seen Sherlock and Watson make decisions. For Watson, she first chose to stay with Sherlock after her companionship ended. In season three Watson chose to move back in with Sherlock, and in season four it was Watson’s decision to stick with Sherlock after his NYPD suspension. Sherlock’s choices, however, often pushed him away from Watson. He chose to work for MI6 at the end of season two, and fled to London at the end of season six (with Watson once again keeping the partnership alive but following). Tonight it was Sherlock’s turn to choose to stay, and of course he stayed. I believe that was the first time Sherlock initiated a hug since Irene. It’s a powerful embrace not just due to the scarcity but the genuine emotion that is outwardly flowing through Sherlock. And Watson, who is as stone cold as they come, is actually scared, and for once she’s the one in need of comfort. Sherlock chooses to provide that for her.

The more meaningful choice in our story, though, is the one at the episode’s close. The decision for Sherlock to stay during Watson’s trials is one of support, but at the close, Sherlock denies McNally’s offering of an NSA position and goes back to Watson, who is now fully healthy. For the first time in the series, both characters are in a place of individual happiness and yet they choose to be together anyway. That is a true partnership. They may have been brought together through circumstance, and stayed together through tragedy, but they ended up together because they wanted to.

Sherlock Holmes made a bond. He created a family unit. He worked hard to become a better person and works hard to stay sober. He deserves some happiness now, and I’m glad he’s choosing to have it. His early days of punishing himself by not playing the violin are over. It’s time to embrace what he has earned in his life.

As an ending to the plot, there really wasn’t one. Sherlock and Watson will continue solving crimes as consulting detectives in New York. Bell will be the captain, and they’ll go have tea with Gregson sometimes. I wish we could watch that.

As an ending to our story, I really liked this. For the first time there is an air of peace floating around these characters, and if our story was about these two people coming together, this closes that story. They made their final choice here. In the end, they created a partnership that will last a lifetime.

But for us, that means we no longer get to see them work together. Elementary’s version of these characters was unique. Watson was more intelligent and able than I’ve ever seen, and Sherlock was more human, and dare I say more complex, than ever. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson will be back in some form of adaptation some day. They will solve mysteries. Sherlock will be a brilliant detective and Watson will be his sturdy hand, but it will be a while before we see another partnership as deep as the one we witnessed flourish the last seven years.

Elementary is over, but I’m pretty sure Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson will live forever.

Other Deductions:

  • I didn’t even mention Moriarty in this review because she was sort of a side note here. I was pretty pumped when her name was mentioned, and then kind of bummed when she was a misdirect, but then when Gregson pointed out Sherlock’s love for Watson, it felt ok to me. Moriarty is in Sherlock’s past, and he doesn’t treat her as the singular mind he used to, so why should the show? Watson is much more important to Sherlock now, and I’m not sad that Moriarty didn’t reappear or pose a threat one last time.
  • Sherlock was peeved over Watson’s book on him and she knew he would be. What a beautiful relationship.
  • Watson fixed up the brownstone so nice and it just made me think how much thought she definitely put into these changes over seven years of living there. I doubt Sherlock was gone for more than a month before she put some carpet in.
  • Watson got softer in Sherlock’s absence and his manners took a dive. They absolutely influence each other and make each other stronger individuals, but I like that neither fell apart without the other (Sherlock’s relapse and near death is of course an exception, but after this he had what is assumed to be four years of sobriety and seemed well).
  • McNally. I don’t know what to think of him. He was decently likable until he was working with Reichenbach, and he felt like his old likable self here. His offer would have felt more genuine if he didn’t lose my trust this year. Still a pretty cool offer, though.
  • Sherlock meeting Arthur and saying it is truly an honor. Sherlock loves this kid because he is Watson’s child.
  • “As long as we’re together, what does it matter?” I put a condition on this, Sherlock! It doesn’t matter how Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are together if they are treated with care and painted as full people, as they were in Elementary. Be they gender swapped, given different backgrounds, or even if they are fish (Sharklock Holmes and Dr. Watsfin!), Elementary proved that it didn’t matter, a great partnership, and great Sherlock adaption, can be made in many ways.

I find it difficult to recap television finales in the immediate moments after they air because finales wrap up not just a season, but the entire series, and a reflection on a show that aired for seven years deserves more reflection than possible at the current moment. Though my particular opinions on the finale may change over the coming days or weeks, I know that I will continue to see Elementary and its lead duo as a great success amongst Sherlock Holmes adaptations, and I will truly miss it.

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Elementary

Elementary – Reichenbach Falls (7×12)

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“I’m the only Holmes left now.”

This line uttered by Sherlock in the back half of the penultimate hour of Elementary may have been the first time he ever showed any sentiment towards his family’s name. He was never close with his father or brother, and while his relationship with his mother was better, I don’t feel he considered her a “Holmes” in the same way as his brother and father. Sherlock considers what it means to be the last member of his bloodline here, and I sensed almost a responsibility in his voice.

What will the Holmes name mean moving forward? Sherlock alone gets to decide this. And he chooses to abandon it, because as he knows, a person’s actions are more important than their name. He sacrifices his identity to stop a mass murderer. At the close of “Reichenbach Falls” the Holmes name is dead.

The name of Reichenbach, however, will be dragged through the mud, as Gregson promised. Reichenbach never feared the Holmes’. He arrogantly continued his operations immediately after the investigation into him hit a dead end. He was too powerful and too careful. There was no evidence that could bring him down.

I really enjoyed that the first two-thirds of this episode stuck to the mystery format. Elementary is a mystery series and I feared the show would abandon its premise to focus on the overarching story, and while that is obviously the focus here, we still get to see Sherlock, Watson, Bell, and Gregson do some good old fashioned police work.

Gregson’s first meeting with Reichenbach was a great example of Reichenbach’s dismissal of the law. He openly disrespected the police captain, and despite Gregson’s anger and tone, wasn’t afraid of him at all. At no point did Reichenbach feel he could actually be touched by the law. He was above it.

It was heartwarming to see the captain stand up for Sherlock, but we knew that already. That isn’t a complaint – I want to see these bonds be proven again before the end of the series. Gregson and Sherlock don’t share a perfect past, but Gregson trusts Sherlock completely, and that trust, that bond, is what makes Gregson a part of Sherlock’s family. Not in name, but in choice. Sherlock knows he can let his name die precisely because he knows the bonds he made with people like Gregson and Bell will keep this investigation moving and ensure his plan to ensnare Reichenbach will work.

Reichenbach’s meeting with Sherlock is of a different pace. Unlike Gregson, Sherlock doesn’t represent the law. To Reichenbach, Sherlock represents his mirror – an equal in intellect who can see the big picture the same way, despite being on different sides. As Reichenbach states, they are the same.

Except they aren’t, because what Reichenbach has failed to deduce over this past season is that at the end of the day, Sherlock is smarter than him.

It doesn’t matter how well his tracks are covered, who he has in his pocket, or how much information he controls. Sherlock Holmes is smarter than Reichenbach, and if Sherlock Holmes wants you convicted badly enough, he will find a way to convict you.

Ironically, Reichenbach speaks about Sherlock not being able to let go of the past and being unable to look forward, when it’s that exact type of thinking that allowed Sherlock to pull this off. Reichenbach was unable to see a future where his past deeds came back to haunt him. He never needed to live with his past. Sherlock, on the other hand, has had to do nothing but live with his past. It’s been the goal of his entire character arc, and his verbal realization of the idea that living with your past is what creates justice is the perfect final sentiment for him.

And so Sherlock frames Reichenbach for murder, which will dig up all of his skeletons even if this particular murder doesn’t stick. Reichenbach will have to live with his past, just as Sherlock has learned to do over the course of the series.

It’s a great message for a mystery series about putting killers behind bars. Sherlock and Watson have served justice in New York for seven years by forcing murderers to face the consequences of their actions. I never quite realized what an apt theme this is for a crime procedural and how well it is reflected in Sherlock’s journey. This is one of those statements that retroactively strengthens the entirety of the series – as Sherlock serves justice to criminals, he must also learn to atone for his own past mistakes.

Some may say that Sherlock escaping and taking a false name will allow him to forget and operate outside his past, but this isn’t the case (and never will be the case) for Sherlock. He’s a drug addict, and that will never leave him. He will carry that with him forever, no matter what his name or where he is. But he has learned to live with and accept the consequences of his behavior, allowing him to grow and become someone able to stand on his own.

Because we had seen this growth well before the climactic scene on the bridge, there was never tension for me personally as to whether or not Sherlock would shoot Reichenbach. Sherlock has grown past the need for revenge and the desire for murder, so instead the tension lied in how Sherlock was going to pull this off.

To that, we still don’t know! We have one episode left to find out. It’s finally time to say goodbye to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Joan Watson.

Other Deductions:

  • Sherlock wasn’t close with his father but they had turned a corner over the last year. It was sad when Sherlock asked if Morland suffered. Sherlock may not have liked his father much but he did care for him, and knew that his father cared for his son.
  • Gregson grabbing Reichenbach as he tried to walk away is a good piece of emotional storytelling but also solid foreshadowing for Reichenbach’s future inability to just walk away from what he’s done.
  • Of course the climax had to take place on a bridge and of course he had to fall off of it. Can you even call yourself a Sherlock Holmes adaptation if you don’t have a scene calling back to The Final Problem?
  • Bell and Gregson better learn that Sherlock is still alive.
  • Watson and Sherlock better have the greatest Watson and Sherlock episode of all time next week. No matter how much of her there is I still will not think there was enough of her this season, but a proper display for her in the finale will go a long way in making me chill out about that a bit.
  • Season 7 has been a suitable sendoff and I’m grateful we got to spend another year with these characters. I definitely feel this season was necessary, for Sherlock reached a better ending point for his character arc.

 

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Elementary

Elementary – Unfriended (7×11)

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Elementary-Unfriended

Whether the Sherlock Holmes of Elementary would ever admit to it or not doesn’t matter – from the start of the first episode he has always been, for lack of a better term, a daddy’s boy. He was pushed into rehab by his father, his living space is his father’s, the sober companion hired to assist him in recovery was hired by his father, and a large amount of – if not all of – Sherlock’s day to day was provided to him by his father’s money.

Of course, Sherlock has been away from his father and making a life for himself that he calls his own, despite the major influence Morland’s money has had on that life. And in this life, Sherlock has grown. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, I feel Sherlock has grown past the need of Watson by his side, and now Sherlock will finally have to stand on his own two feet without his father’s influence.

In regards to classic storytelling, Morland’s death hits the Do Re Mi of basic story beats. The series started with Morland forcing a new life and a second chance upon his son, and is now ending with a Sherlock who is able to stand alone because of that initial push. Sherlock put in the work on his own, he’s the one who went through rehab, who continues to go to meetings, and who put the effort in to become a better human being through his relationships with Watson, Bell, and Gregson, but all of that positive progress was absolutely started because of his father. Morland may not have been as present or loving as Sherlock would have liked, and he was in no ways a perfect (or necessarily even a good) father, but between Morland’s push to New York and Sherlock’s immense amount of self improvement, they made a Sherlock Holmes who will be able to bring down Reichenbach without his father. Elementary starts with Morland’s influence and ends with the loss of it. Very full circle, gotta love it.

I was right with my thought that Reichenbach may have set up the murder last week! What a jerk. Sherlock has come too far and knows how to approach people, so his confidence in himself was not misplaced. His growth in this sense is once again on display later in the episode. When Sherlock first goes to speak with Annie, the 3rd grade teacher turned asset for Reichenbach, the basement setting, creepy flickering light, and his intense presence reminded me of when he took Sebastian Moran to that empty building in “M” (way back in season one). Sherlock can be a scary individual, and back then he was a man capable of torture and murder. The entrance here was a reminder of that, but his dealings with Annie were not scary. He wasn’t necessarily playing the good cop, but he was, on the whole, non-threatening. He even proved her meal wasn’t poisoned! What a gentleman.

Watson, on the other hand, yelled at her!  She was basically the bad cop between the two of them, and I never thought I’d see that day. They really have influenced each other.

And that influence has led to more time spent apart while investigating cases. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, asides from us seeing less of them. It speaks to the partnership and their abilities that they can split up and be entirely effective. It makes them a better team while also touting their independence of each other. I will not be surprised if the partners go their separate ways in the finale. I can see Morland’s funeral taking place in London and Sherlock deciding to stay without Watson. Tears may be shed, but it would fit.

But for now, Sherlock and Watson have to destroy Reichenbach. I maintain my stance that I wish we would have gotten to spend more time getting to know Reichenbach, but he’s done enough horrible stuff at this point that my dislike of him has reached the necessary levels to make watching him get snuffed out by Sherlock and Watson emotionally satisfying.

Go get him!

Other Deductions:

  • Morland was a constant presence throughout the series, even if he wasn’t onscreen very often. John Noble played him with serious presence and gravitas, and his death feels heavier as a result.
  • That said, having Reichenbach kill Morland is an easy way to set up Reichenbach’s “big bad” status without having to dive into his personality or show us his influence. We are told what his influence is, and it does sound terrifying (he’s the personification of Samaritan from Person of Interest), but I do wish we had more time to see this influence and not just hear about it!
  • And with THAT said, it’s more important to focus on Sherlock and Watson than Reichenbach or any big bad, so yes, let’s see how they react to the fact that the man who brought them together is gone. I like this.
  • Ooh I just realized that Morland’s death also means his security probably won’t be in place for any of Sherlock’s friends.
  • I think it’s interesting that Sherlock is advocating against a computer predicting human behavior. Sherlock came to this knowledge first hand. He strives to be logical and yet his emotions have often gotten the better of him, so he knows logic/computers can’t predict human behavior with absolute certainty.
  • “What will happen to my son?” Morland, please tell me you knew in your heart that your son is going to take Reichenbach down. If not, it is so sad that Morland died believing Sherlock would also be killed. They didn’t exchange Christmas cards, but Morland loved Sherlock.
  • I’m choosing to believe Morland died knowing Sherlock is going to take Reichenbach down.

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