Elementary "Flight Risk" Review: The Plot Thickens
One of the things that puzzles me about Elementary is whether it's technically an origin story or not. Sherlock and Watson met for the first time in the pilot, and yet the series frequently alludes to Sherlock's epic, Brideshead Revisited-cum-Trainspotting past, keeping it carefully shoulder-cloaked in mystery. I absolutely detest it when Watson and Sherlock butt heads, so the fact that they had another platonic lover's quarrel last night didn't sit well with me, but I have to say that otherwise, this episode addressed almost all of my problems with the series. If memory serves (it may not serve; my brain is not a professional volleyball player, it's the cackling Mrs. Poole guarding the attic rooms of Thornfield Hall), this was by far the most successful weekly mystery, and while I hated that Sherlock and Watson were at odds (just be bros! You are supposed to be the most solid bros, not fighting like me and my two BFs in middle school!), the bombshell at the end more than made up for the unsettling conflict between our two favorite fictional New Yorkers during the episode.
My one critism of the episode was Watson having a wig-out over Sherlock not opening up about his personal life, because it seems a little non-bros to me. And also a little nonsensical: Sherlock was opening up by laying out a fundamental dynamic for her, his relationship with his parents. Daddems was neglectful, even an adversary of sorts to young Sherlock. So neglectful and adversarial that little Holmes once set his own bones (although IRL no he didn't, physical shock is a bitch and kids don't know how to set bones) to avoid having to admit to his father that he'd made a mistake. Generally I don't lose much sleep over rich kids angry at their parents for only giving them mind-boggling privileges, financial security, and trust funds (there are plenty of neglectful parents who instead throw poverty and physical abuse into the bargain) but if I were perhaps Sherlock's sober companion, I'd read between the lines and consider it a sign of intimacy that he was willing to prank me with the help of a trusted actor friend and confess his deepest insecurities about his father, albeit couched in peevish complaints.
I do hope one day we get a trip to the "estate." So many busts and topiaries and portraits of JLM in blue velvet pantaloons with stiff lace collars! I'm imagining Belvoir castle, basically. Despite the many eye-rolls that flexed and stretched my ocular muscles over Watson being such a needy girlfriend about Sherlock's personal life, I absolutely loved Roger Rees as the salty old actor sent in his father's stead. I loved that Daddems didn't show (what credibility would Sherlock have if he couldn't deduce his own dad's actions?). And I thought this week's mystery was of a whole other caliber than any of the others we've seen thus far.
Bloodless plane crashes being completely ridiculous aside (thank you, network TV, thank you for sparing us the trauma), the idea of a closed-room murder scene dashed to pieces like a literal puzzle was very intriguing. The show didn't ultimately follow through on that concept, but just teasing it out at first got me more engaged in the crime. And the ultimate solution got unraveled with a heretofore unprecedented amount of technical detail. However, the thoughtful blueprint that was this week's crime wasn't really mired in any kind of emotional stakes (fake sugar! Lawyers! Coke smuggling! Who cares!) so it wasn't the perfect crime exactly—but credit where credit's due, someone really took their time piecing this together and knocking it all apart so Sherlock could impress us in a way that didn't involve wild guesses or correcting disgustingly negligent police work. So: Well done, mystery!
I also wish Sherlock would apply his eye for detail to Watson a little more often, maybe sweep that analytical gaze around her room and figure out she'd probably be a lot easier to live with if she wasn't sleeping in a crack den. Can you believe Watson's room? A naked mattress on a box spring, a dirty sheet, and ten thousand spiders! If Daddems is paying her so luxuriously you'd think at the very least she'd have a couple bean bag chairs in there or I don't know, a blanket?
I know Watson figuring out Holmes is her way of groping toward a solid friendship, but I honestly wish they'd just get there and be Watson and Holmes, and I don't know if the bombshell she dropped on him at the end of the episode is really going to help. Watson and Holmes are supposed to be peanut butter and jelly, and the actors are well capable of that chemistry. The writers just seem to think conflict is the best way to showcase Holmes' crazy past, and I don't know if I'm really as interested in what made Holmes Holmes as much as I just want to see Holmes be Holmes—alongside Watson, and not the angry junior detective he was palling around with. Watson sat out this episode, basically! Not okay. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited about eventually meeting Irene Adler, but I hope Watson and Holmes are solid buddies first.
But perhaps that was the point of the charming grifter/bookstore worker (although how are they going to top this guy for Sherlock's real dad? Jeremy Irons?) who told Watson to lay off Sherlock and not make her expectations of him the same as she would have for another, normal, lesser individual. Revise your definition of friendship! I don't know if I like that definition of Watson and Holmes; Watson seemed loyal and devoted and not at all unfulfilled by their relationship, but I can appreciate it if managing expectations is step one in our version of Watson becoming that kind of friend. Or maybe Watson will eventually be the one friend who actually breaks through.
Or, you know, gets her sober buddy contract broken bringing up Irene Adler. That was quite a turn at the end, Watson just throwing that out there. I was like, "DAAAYUUUMN!!!!"
So, net sum: complicated awesome mystery + annoying bickering + a bombshell so wow that am I excited about next week all of a sudden = well done. Just very well done.
And how excited are we to meet Irene Adler? Will she be:
1. A devious raver?
2. A catsuit-wearing horse junkie?
3. A prim and proper Steampunk cosplay fanatic involved with the mob?
4. A London bit of alright?
5. A mercenary British explorer who's not afraid to inject a syringe of heroin straight into a deductive brain to accomplish her schemes?
I was certain the name would be Moriarty; now that Irene Adler is coming to town, I couldn't be more excited.
1. Who should play Sherlock's real dad?
2. Who should play Irene Adler?
3. Do fights with friends make friendships stronger?
4. Did you think the mystery this week was vastly superior to previous cases?
5. Why is Watson living like a teen runaway?
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