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Elementary

Elementary – Gutshot (7×02)

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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.

Other Deductions:

  • 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.

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Elementary

Elementary – Red Light, Green Light (7×04)

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My wish from last week came true! After all the twists and turns, the villain turns out to be someone we hadn’t seen the entire rest of the episode! It’s nice knowing that (almost) everyone who tries to help during this case actually is trying to help. I particularly enjoyed Sherlock having “Danny” as his inside man. Connections can be the difference between success and failure in real life and in fiction, and Sherlock works to maintain the ones he believes will be useful. It’s convenient for cases but also just good detective work; it’s not all about what you see, but whom you meet.

I was pleasantly surprised that the truck was the target, not the driver; that had fooled me. The driver was so fun and happy during the opening scene, it was nice that he wasn’t the target. Cameron had quite the elaborate plan to slow down his competitor, and considering that was his only goal, he wasn’t an intended murderer. Or at least initially … Sherlock wouldn’t have relished in bringing him down if he hadn’t gone after his own son-in-law so quickly to cover his own tracks. To be honest, this is a case where a little more development may have helped sell this, cause the leap from disrupting traffic lights to putting an indirect hit on someone is quite a jump, but I guess we must assume that Cameron is just a bad dude.

On to the rest! Gregson is alive! That wasn’t much of a fake-out in the opening, and I’m not sure it was meant to be. It was a really odd shift of humor for Elementary with the killer clown, but I didn’t mind for it was a decent chuckle. More importantly, it put us into Sherlock’s mind.

I normally loathe dream sequences. Often times I find them to be a lazy way to convey subconscious thoughts of the heroes. In this case, however, instead of putting us into Sherlock’s subconsciousness the scene gives Sherlock a room to talk to himself. We don’t look into his subconscious but instead get a hint as to how Sherlock himself feels about his own brain. He expresses his disappointment that his mind is so uncreative with its processing of grief.

Sherlock has learned that he isn’t actually all that different from anyone else when it comes to emotions, and his annoyance at this fact is a fun flaw that doesn’t prevent growth. No matter how difficult it can be to be him sometimes, he takes pride in being “special.” While he has grown to know that doesn’t mean “better,” it still disappoints him when he has to admit he’s acting quite normally, even if he only admits it in his dreams.

Of course, Gregson isn’t dead and is instead awake. Their reunion is short, with Sherlock wanting to look forward, and the captain agrees. It’s all the scene we needed since we already saw Gregson express his regret to Bell, and we saw Sherlock express himself to the comatose captain, so it would have been a bit of a reiteration.

In regards to the case he was working, new info comes to light with Gregson’s recovery. Joan goes back to questioning Meers and has a hit put on her for her troubles. I’ve no idea where this storyline is going. I wish it had a stronger connection to our protagonists. Maybe it will still turn out that way, and considering we still have nine episodes left, I’m ok waiting another episode or two for that connection to reveal itself. Unlike my desire for the culprit to come out of nowhere at the end of a case, any larger connection with the Meers case to Sherlock and Watson shouldn’t wait until the eleventh hour. We need the time to go on the journey with them.

Maybe it has no connection with them at all. I’ll leave my thoughts open to that. So long as they put the characters into situations where their histories and relationships are put on display, I can see it working out just fine. I’m looking forward to what that will be.

In theme with the previous episode; choices have consequences. Joan is on a hit list due to her continued investigation. Despite knowing she will be fine, any attack on Joan will lend the case some personal stakes, so I’m excited to see where this string leads.

Other Deductions:

  • Sherlock blackmailed Danny in this episode! Did he learn NOTHING from last week?
  • The Everyone jokes have been consistently wild ever since their introduction.
  • If I remember correctly this is not the first time the show has used a video game as a communication tool for criminals.
  • We very rarely get information outside of what Sherlock and Watson know. Normally we know less than they do, so it is a bit of a shock to know ahead of time that Watson has a hit on her. It lent the scene between Meers and his wife a particularly eerie feel like it really shouldn’t be something we see. This raises tension, though, and should save us an episode of Sherlock and Watson trying to figure out who tried to kill her, which in turn gives us more time with the consequences.

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Elementary

Elementary – The Price of Admission (7×03)

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Elementary - ThePriceOfAdmission

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.

Other Deductions:

  • 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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