Elementary has been airing for seven years now, which is quite remarkable when you think back to the original musings around the series and the negative approach that many took to towards the CBS Sherlock Holmes adaptation, as some only mentioned it with groans as a “Sherlock ripoff with a female Watson.”
Many series grow tiresome or redundant after so many years, running out of places for their characters to go. In a way this is a bit odd, since our real lives provide us with ever unique challenges as we age, so why is it that television tends to grow dull after such time? I suspect part of the reason the repetitiveness sets in is because series try to find new situations that their protagonists can fit in, instead of allowing the protagonists to grow into new situations.
All of this is a very long way of saying that this episode of Elementary could not have happened in the early or mid-stages of the series. Whether Sherlock Holmes is really “Cassie’s” father is irrelevant, because the true revelation of the episode is that Sherlock has grown to be a man that could be an affective father to someone. That sort of growth only comes with the years of experience we have been able to witness. Of all the episodes so far this season, this one is the piece that has made me most grateful for the final season renewal.
I really enjoyed Cassie’s previous appearance and am glad to see her return tonight. While the mystery itself was pretty standard Elementary, having the episode change up the way the mystery comes about is a nice way to mix it up. Cassie just chose a random unsolved case that best suited her needs, but the episode followed through on it and solved it anyway. Baby formula is a huge market that apparently requires fixers, murder, and inside men to investigate. I had no idea, but I’m afraid if I look it up online Sherlock Holmes will check out my browsing history and then investigate me.
The real meat of the episode lies with Sherlock’s relationship to Cassie, though, and her reappearance gives up the perfect look into the original Sherlock and the new age Watsonified version. His refusal to believe anything Cassie says on any level is classic Sherlock. He knows a liar when he sees one and therefore takes all the proper precautions. He has no qualms about throwing a young girl right back into a prison like setting so he can keep tabs on her. He also still admires, to a possible fault, those singular minds.
And yet the change in Sherlock over the seven years we’ve known him allows him to also spot someone looking for a connection and see a deeper meaning behind the lies and deception. He doesn’t just care for Cassie’s mind, but for who she is and what desires she has. Watson was able to catch Moriarty at the end of season one because she could see into her heart, and Watson makes a similar observation in this episode when Cassie is watching the interrogation. At first, I thought the show was using Watson as the emotional detective again, but Sherlock figures the same thing out on his own. In fact, Watson wasn’t much more than a steady support to Sherlock from the outside.
My complaints about the lack of Watson this season have to be sidelined this episode because, if anything, this episode proves to us that Sherlock doesn’t need Watson in the same way anymore. He has learned enough from her to navigate humans and desire on his own. Watson made a fine detective without Sherlock by season three but chose to stay with him, and since then Sherlock’s investment in the partnership has outweighed hers. Watson didn’t need Sherlock the way he still needed her, but now he may finally be able to stand on his own. Watson’s dialogue supports this idea when she tells Sherlock he and Cassie make a great team (not that she’s jealous) and is genuinely happy with the connection he has made. Watson’s support and love will never leave Sherlock, but for the first time in the series, I feel he could be successful – and happy – outside of their partnership.
Sherlock’s support of Cassie mirrors the sort of support Watson has shown him throughout the years. His speech to her about finding her own place in the world is poignant because we witnessed that journey from him. Sitting down to help her choose who she will be is affective because Watson helped Sherlock choose who he wanted to be. He mentions his gratitude to the unit of Watson, Gregson, and Bell and all they have done for him, and it’s time for Sherlock to give back a little and help someone else become a better person.
In regards to Reichenbach preventing crime, Sherlock put it perfectly when he told Watson that this is a different type of prevention. Yes Sherlock, understanding, caring for, and supporting other people can make a difference and prevent us from becoming the worst of ourselves. He didn’t know this seven years ago. We watched him slowly transform into a better, more caring version of himself, but he wasn’t ready to put this side of him into action (outside of Watson and that core group) until now. Sherlock Holmes has grown as a character, and that growth has allowed him to gracefully approach this new situation.
If this were the final episode of the show, I can’t say I’d be satisfied with how they wrapped up the Reichenbach plot and all the threats on Joan, cause obviously that wasn’t the focus here. But I would be very comfortable with the place that they have left Sherlock. What an admirable arc he has had.
Thankfully, though, we still have five episodes left! So I’ll get to have all of that.
- If there was any previous character I’d have wanted to be related to Sherlock, it’s Cassie. I really enjoyed her first appearance on the show, and I felt she was a great presence tonight as well.
- I will admit I was fooled and thought Cassie blackmailed Leehoven. I never thought she would get away with it, but I did think she would try. Yet it didn’t seem out of character that she didn’t. (Though really she was so hard to read almost nothing would seem out of character for her.)
- Sherlock spending time to help Cassie come up with a name for herself is excellent because I know he will take that task extremely seriously. I hope they never reveal what name she chooses because, frankly, not even the writers of the show will be able to come up with as perfect a name as Sherlock will.
- Seriously though more Joan in the last five episodes!
- Elementary has aired over one hundred episodes. The show and its characters, particularly Sherlock himself, have aged very gracefully, and episodes like “Miss Understood” prove it. I think Elementary is looking very good for any future debates on which adaptations rank at the top of the list.
Elementary – From Russia With Drugs (7×07)
Elementary – Command: Delete (7×06)
Elementary – Into the Woods (7×05)
Elementary has a lot on its mind recently. Not only does this final season have to wrap up Sherlock and Watson’s story, it has to provide an overarching crime story AND continue having cases of the week. With a short order season, this is quite a task. There are a lot of plot lines in the air right now, and I hope none of them get lost, such as the FBI Agent Egan’s threat to blame Joan for Michael’s murder. That’s gone two weeks without a follow up, which is fine, so long as it isn’t totally forgotten about in the long run.
In regards to the cases of the week, I’ve been happy with the cases we’ve been given recently. Tonight’s case was another solid one but the locales in the episode added an extra flair to the mystery. The wine cellar scene was suitably pulse pounding and the gala was suitably elaborate, with plenty of extras and tons of table dressing. On top of the interesting locations, season seven is also upping the tension of many scenes. Creating tension is a great way to keep a viewers interest in a case. The classic “the killer is in the room with us” is an oldie but a goodie, but the bottles being switched without anyone noticing was even better. It was such a simple act but really delivered that extra bit of tension and suspense.
Owen Reichenbach needs to be a large part of next week’s episode. We didn’t even get to see Sherlock and Joan’s reactions to meeting him here, and his presence was mostly just a tease. Since we didn’t know his true motives until the end of the episode, we really just met him in the last moment. I like how this plot tied in with Meers marking Joan as “trouble,” and it makes more sense as to why Reichenbach would donate to the charity specifically to meet Joan. I’m not quite following this terrorist plot with ease (I’ll admit I rewound Reichenbach’s discussion with our duo to watch it twice). I won’t consider this a problem until we are a few episodes in without any more clarity than we have now.
And last, in regards to Joan and Sherlock’s story, I’m still waiting for it to reveal itself. There was a bit of bite to Joan when she called Reichenbach out for Gregon’s almost-murder, so the personal stakes are definitely there, but they aren’t quite as reflective of the journey these two have taken as I would like them to be. Last season was effective largely due to Sherlock’s personal health issues affecting his detecting skills. The mix of the personal with the impersonal kept us and the characters invested. Michael was a good villain because he had a complex relationship with Sherlock, and Sherlock had a personal investment in him.
I’m hoping that next week sheds some light on Reichenbach and provides us with that personal investment.
- Whenever someone says an aspect of a case will be difficult, I know Sherlock is two seconds away from announcing he’s already done it. I am waiting for this to get old but somehow it never seems to.
- The park with the target for Reichenbach’s archery practice was another interesting location. The target could also have been symbolic.
- Watson would love it if she could get 8 hours of sleep a night.
- This season has really made an effort to make scenes interesting. Harris’s questioning in the hospital would have been fine if he could talk, but it was more interesting watching him type and listening to the computer talk for him. (Or maybe CBS just didn’t want to pay for another speaking role. Still more interesting, though).
- “I haven’t decided if we are going to be friends.”
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