Elementary "Flight Risk" Review: The Plot Thickens

By Lily Sparks

Nov 09, 2012

Elementary S01E06: "Flight Risk"

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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  • ludoTV Nov 12, 2012

    I so agree with your review! Finally the mystery-of-the-week improving... Hope it is a trend... And yeah, Watson pressuring Holmes seems silly and uncalled for... Take a chill pill lady or whatever... Loved Holmes' fake dad... awesome guy... Yep, Jeremy Irons would be suitably intimidating as the real deal... Not that there is a shortage of scary Brits...

  • stockhop Nov 12, 2012

    I thought the mystery this week was by far the best to date. All of the minor details pieced themselves together so well at the end, and like the article said, it played up Sherlock's actual deductive skill rather than the cops lack thereof.

  • ionee24 Nov 12, 2012

    Well put. If I'd rather watch the only smart detective in a room I would be watching Veronica Mars. I seek Elementary to watch Sherlock solve something that actually smart and capable detectives couldn't solve.

  • NeeUyank Nov 12, 2012

    I think the writer is deeply wrong about one thing: it is not a bromance between this watson and this holmes.. they are not bro's and cannot be.. and it would have been weird and synthetic if they tried.. they are not even friends yet, watson's actual role in holmes' life is the exact definition what they are: companions.. so, watson had all the right to complain when holmes played a prank.. but one point is well made: maybe that really was his way of opening up a little.. because he cannot do it by himself, he did it by proxy..

  • safibwana Nov 12, 2012

    "You don't need to be a guy to be somebody's Bro, provided you uphold the moral values contained within this sacred canon. When a women sets a guy up with her busty friend, she's acting as a Bro. And if she sets him up with other hot friends after he slept with the first one and never called her again, then she s officially his Bro."

  • ElisaDiaz Nov 11, 2012

    I dont see why it is said that this is the strongest episode so far - well, if you have to pick one, why not. I find the mysteries are too obvious and I am loosing interest in Sherlock's story. If at least there was more humour somewhere. I'm afraid that only people with an interest in seeing the two main charactes hook up will stay put at the end, and I will not be one of them. I think. Maybe it gets better.

  • TypeB Nov 11, 2012

    I woke up when I saw "Sheriff of Rottingham" / Sherlock's faux papa.

  • ionee24 Nov 11, 2012

    "3. Do fights with friends make friendships stronger?"

    Depends on the friendship. In Watson and Holmes's case, not only I suggest it but totally recommend it

  • Tjsmooth0 Nov 11, 2012

    " 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 Holmesalongside Watson, and not the angry junior detective he was palling around with. "

    That sums up the show perfectly. As for Sherlock's dad, I don't want to meet him. But if he has to show up, it's Alan Dale or it's nobody!

  • PikeBishop Nov 11, 2012

    One thing about this show that kind of bugs me is this: Everyone (Holmes, Gregson etc.) refers to Watson as "Miss Watson" not "Doctor." I believe she still should be addressed as by doctor. Even though she does not practice, she still has earned the degree. It's not like she was disbarred or defrocked.

  • DougStephen Nov 11, 2012

    Watson no longer has a medical licence , so is no longer a doctor

  • PikeBishop Nov 11, 2012

    Her liscence has been suspended, not revoked.

  • safibwana Nov 11, 2012

    Completely unrelated. You're talking about her license to practice as a physician. Doctor is an honorific that comes with graduating with a doctorate, including graduating from a medical school with an M.D or a D.O. The only way she could lose that is if she was found to have been guilty of academic dishonest and her college revoked her degree.

  • safibwana Nov 11, 2012

    I thought she didn't like to advertise it because she was embarrassed.

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 11, 2012

    Cool episode; probably one of the better ones of the series so far. Yes, the case was harder to solve than most (if not all) of the previous cases we've seen, yet it was also a bit too messy for me to care much about it. I too thought the name was going to be Moriarty, but Irene makes just as much sense... I guess.

  • LalaDrake Nov 11, 2012

    I think whoever Irene is, there will be cat fights later on between her and Watson...

    Sherlock and Watson relationship is complicated and any girl in sherlock's life won't simply understand it easily...

    I don't want to see Watson and Irene fight! >_> Odd

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