Elementary has always been an interesting procedural because so much of the series is propelled by character motivation rather than procedural tropes. Sherlock is an addict, and to stay sober he constantly throws himself into his work of solving crimes, giving us a mystery a week for our viewing pleasure. It is a character based motivation that keeps the procedural tropes churning, but allows the show to achieve a higher form of drama and emotional payoff than most procedurals I’ve seen.
However, the show has occasionally forced some character jumps and plot contrivances to keep the show running at a status quo. I fear Sherlock turning himself into the FBI at the end of the episode here is one of these moments, though obviously we will have to wait until next week to find out.
These moments particularly irk me because of how affecting scenes like Sherlock forgiving the comatose Gregson are. Their relationship has developed over years and culminated in a dismantling of their friendship that believably separated them. Watching Sherlock attempt to mend the fractured relationship is also a reminder of how far he has come as a person. Last season he learned the value of forgiveness, and now we are provided a payoff to that lesson.
But the case itself doesn’t matter in this moment. The only bearing it has on the conversation is that it is the catalyst that gets Sherlock back to the States. I wish the episode had a stronger connection between the mystery and the emotional drama. As soon as the case moves away from the idea that this was a personal attack against Gregson, the beats become incredibly familiar. Sherlock and Joan just ask the usual suspects with their usual flair. It is by no means boring, as Elementary cases tend to have so many twists and turns that they keep you engaged, but with the Captain’s life in danger the case should feel more personal. There needs to be more fire under Watson and Sherlock’s routine. This is the final season. We have seen how far Sherlock and Watson will go for each other, now is the perfect time to see how far they will go for their Captain. The procedural elements felt far too separate from the emotional resonance in this episode, and considering how well the series has been able to combine the two at times in its history, that’s a bit of a disappointment. But hopefully, since the case is left mostly unresolved, the personal stakes come back into play further down the line. I would wager that they will.
- Marcus and Joan are so professional. A quick hug and then right into business.
- Lucy Liu has done a great job delivering her expositional lines over the series. I notice them every episode, but less because of their interference and more because I wonder just how much of her dialogue over seven years has been catching the viewers up on things.
- How did they find that bullet casing in the baseball field grass?!?!
- The scene where they brought in Patrick was surprisingly tense. I thought for a moment he was going to come out holding a gun to his family’s head, so pretty nice scene direction there.
Elementary – Red Light, Green Light (7×04)
Elementary – The Price of Admission (7×03)
I spent most of this episode preparing to criticize the deus ex machina of Sherlock getting off the FBI’s wanted list. Last review I mentioned how tough situations are sometimes hand waved over to keep the status quo, and I feared Sherlock turning himself in would be another one of these situations – and it sort of is. But it also redeems itself because by the end of the episode it is revealed that Sherlock’s decision has consequences.
Before that reveal, however, I was going to mention that Morland’s presence is felt throughout the episode, which goes a long way to smoothing over the convenience of his connection to FBI Agent Egan. Having Sherlock contact his father for information and using his father’s building for the sting at the end were organic ways to keep Morland’s reach present, and the feel of that presence was crucial to making Sherlock’s exoneration at least a little believable.
But now that’s just dressing on an otherwise healthy cake (what a disgusting metaphor). Consequences!!!!! Not only did Sherlock get a man killed because Egan pins the murder of Michael on someone else, but Egan threatened to frame Joan as the truer killer. Convenient freedom or not, this puts the tension right back with our main characters, where it undoubtedly should be. Season six ended with Sherlock keeping Joan away from prison and now his decisions have put her freedom right back at risk. The friction this storyline may create between Sherlock and Joan is exciting, as is the absolute resentment Sherlock now has of Egan for endangering Joan. Will Sherlock blame himself or blame Egan? Maybe a bit of both, but no matter where the blame lies, he will have to face the consequences of his rash decision making and of his attempt to cheese his way out of a prison sentence by blackmailing someone. That’s a much more interesting story to follow than if they were to spend several episodes exonerating Sherlock in a more diplomatic way, so I’m glad the priorities are straight here. I don’t care if a storyline is convenient for the plot, so long as it isn’t convenient for the characters.
The case of the week doesn’t directly tie to Sherlock’s personal troubles this time around, but it nicely parallels the serial storyline. While it is always interesting to have cases that directly tie in with or effect the serial story, it isn’t always practical and can in fact damage the world of the show, similarly to how the world of Spider-Man gets a little too convenient if you think about how many of the villains have a direct personal relationship with Peter. Keeping cases totally separate from the serialized storyline feels a bit more realistic, with a work life and a home life, just as we all have.
Yet the ability to thematically connect or run parallel to the serial line is never a negative, and when done subtly enough like it is here it enhances the overall message or story. In this case both plot lines are about blackmailers, and in both situations Sherlock fails to account for the extra amount of depravity within people’s souls. And despite investigating the murder of a blackmailer, it never occurs to him that his own blackmailing could come back to bite him.
The case itself is another filled with twists and turns. It was a bit too easy to pick out the criminal, just from the amount of screen time he received. Still, it’s always fun to watch Sherlock sting a criminal. Florenti’s face when Sherlock said he gave the assassin all the info of his life is exactly the kind of face I want to see all people like him make.
I’m excited to see where the storyline with Egan goes and how Joan reacts when she finds out what Sherlock has gotten her into. Looks like their cross seas partnership may not be as easy to execute as Sherlock hopes.
- I know it probably wouldn’t be as fun for most viewers, but I’d love it if just one time all the suspects were just telling the truth, and it turned out the criminal was a completely different person we hadn’t seen at all the entire episode.
- Of course Bell knew Sherlock was in New York. I like that he acted the part for Joan. And he gave him a hug!
- Sherlock always puts the work in. Digging through hours of footage, staying up all night, etc. Yes he is a super genius but it is nice that this version of Sherlock shows that it isn’t a super power, it’s a gift, and one that needs proper cultivation.
- I liked Captain Dwyer. I suppose he’ll do.
- If I had to predict an ending to the series, I’d predict Sherlock goes back to London and Watson stays in New York. The story started with their partnership and it’d be fitting to see it end with the completion of it. They will be on good terms, of course.
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