Elementary "Ears to You" Discussion: Who's Got Your Back?

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Mar 07, 2014



Elementary: "Ears to You" (S02E17)

So, last week's post was successful enough for me, engagement-wise, to keep doing these little discussion starters, so let's get to it, shall we?

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Sorry. That was my reaction to a lady growing/cultivating ears on her back.

That mild squicking out aside (and, frankly, it was worth it), the case of the week was probably one of the stronger ones that I can recall in recent memory. It was certainly more exciting a case than last week's, and less easy to predict the outcome than "Corpse de Ballet" (which I still enjoyed overall). The pleasure of the case, as in all good mysteries, was in the misdirection. The episode did a solid job with reasonable red herrings, from Cushing's own ransom dealings a few years earlier to the hair brush bit with the escort. It all piled up nicely without tipping over into absurdity so that by the time the dead end in the case had been reached, you were stuck as much as Sherlock was.

However, also like all good mysteries, the clue and answer we needed was hidden in plain sight for us on that newscast as well as the mention of Sarah/Allison have a touch of work done prior to that. I figured out that her plastic surgeon husband was involved somehow (nice of the show not to allow him to make an appearance; it would've been too much of a tip off) as Sherlock was staring at the files, but before he got the banana reward for his breakthrough. That Sarah/Allison developed the ears on her back, well, that I did not see coming.

Lestrade stuck around which I also didn't expect. I thought him needing a place to stay at the end of last week's episode was just a quick gag to round out that story, but Elementary decided to commit to and give Lestrade a little rehabilitation. Like with last week, this subplot had the benefit for being complementary to the main plot in that it was also buried with bits of misdirection for us as the audience.

Why do I suggest this? Well, the "Previously On..." made use of Sherlock doing an impersonation though there was no reason to do this since Sherlock didn't do an impersonation during the episode. So when Lestrade broke the case of his mugging too simply (I loved the composed a limerick while waiting), Shawn went down like a sack of potatoes, and then Lestrade "found" the feather, we, like Lestrade, were primed to see Sherlock as having a hand in Lestrade's case. Compound it with Sherlock's insistence that Joan not help Lestrade, and it's nicely executed misdirection again.

So, all in all, a solid episode. What'd you all think about it?
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  • current Mar 09, 2014

    Very good ep. I'm sure Sherlock did set up Lestrade . All the clues were there from the opening recap of his faking accents to handing Joan open case files to stacking stolen wallets in the muggers joint - muggers NEVER keep worthless but traceable wallets/purses with pictures, cards etc. The whole set up, for me, relied on not only Lestrade solving the case but figuring out it was Sherlock and then on the latter telling Lestrade how he'd bested him in front of Joan - his Lestrade jnr. if you will and audience. Further, Sherlock Knows all too well the size of Lestrade's insufferable ego and had to fan that particular flame back to life too with the open admission. I don't know if it was the writer's idea, but I couldn't help but think if there was symbolism to the cocks too, what with the way Lestrade turned back into a strutting and preening one.
    No way would Sherlock let such a power play exist between him and Lestrade without his, in act, holding the ace. Finally, I'd imagine he was half hoping to fail with the bomb after all he had to go through with Lestade! Whereas Joan was demonstrating / re upping her belief in Sherlock for both of them by sticking around in the kitchen.

  • nullnull2654 Mar 09, 2014

    Some weeks ago I recognised some things in Sherlocks behaviour and remembered something I learned years ago in a psychology class. If I am not mistaken then Sherlock is suffering from a Personality Disorder called AvPD and these people react very sensitively to criticism and rejection.
    So when Joan followed Sherlock into the kitchen in the end and said "I have faith" she delivered also the message to him that she won't reject him. She saw that Sherlock needed that kind of encouragement. Her character really has an extraordinary emotional intelligence.

  • current Mar 09, 2014

    Yes, it was what I meant in my "Finally" thought.

  • nullnull2654 Mar 10, 2014

    So I am not the only one who notices these things. That's great. Because I already thought I maybe interpreting too much.
    I think Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller are great in expressing these hidden messages .

  • current Mar 10, 2014

    You're not alone there mate, particularly when they tell us a rat is within 6 feet of, well, everyone everywhere!

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 08, 2014

    I liked this episode much more than last week. I liked the case and I liked Lestrade story in this episode. This was one of the stronger episode of Elementary this season. The ears were definitely interesting.

    I am not a fan of procedural so I am glad Elementary has managed to tie a few stories here and there to make things interesting including the continuation of Lestrade in this episode.

  • Grumpyclown Mar 08, 2014

    Keeping an interesting dynamic between the cast is a good way of stopping a procedural stale - which Elementary has managed to do so far.

  • noelrk Mar 08, 2014

    This is very true. I've long maintained that the reason that many people tune in for procedurals aren't the cases but for the characters.

  • nullnull2654 Mar 08, 2014

    Did anybody understand the story of the balance training the same way I did?

    Using feathers on the shoulder to control the breathing to fight against his anxiety and panic attacks?

    Why else should it bother him that Watson knows about it?

  • Grumpyclown Mar 08, 2014

    I thought he was doing it just to scare Lestrade

  • nullnull2654 Mar 11, 2014

    Watched the scene again and after that I am convinced that my first impression was right. Lestrade said he entered "a" room and not his. He said it was pitch black and that Sherlock must have been in there for quite some time. Found out that chickens have a so called vibrationorgan with wich they can feel aproaching dangers in darkness. So with trying to keep the rooster on his shoulder Sherlock was practicing to control his breath in a situation that frightens him.

  • nullnull2654 Mar 08, 2014

    That's another possible explanation. Thank you.

  • nullnull2654 Mar 08, 2014

    There were several clues that Sherlock did set the whole thing up.
    First: The envelope with the case files was already open when he handed it to Joan
    Second: The victim on the phone asked if he had worked for Scotland Yard. Lestrade had never mentioned that to him.
    Third: The Banana. Sherlock is eating one and one of the victims said that he saw a bike that looked like a banana.
    What I liked about this episode , too was the discussion about whether to help a friend early or to let him fall first so that he can start from the bottom again.

    I found two short dialogues very moving that showed that Holmes still hasn't recovered completely from his depressive episode.

    Joan: "Are you joking?"
    Sherlock:"Yeah. That's me. A joke-machine."

    And then the one in the morgue about the sobriety chips which I can't recall word by word but he said that they were made out of plastic on purpose because plastic is thin and frail like sobriety itself.

    Great writing!

  • nullnull2654 Mar 10, 2014

    Have to correct the dialogue. Joan said "You are kidding."

  • preferanonymous Mar 08, 2014

    Lestrade's theory that Holmes set up the whole thing was crazy, convoluted, and ridiculously complicated. In other words it fit Sherlock's personality perfectly and so would denying it to Joan afterward, so in my mind Lestrade called it and Sherlock lied to Joan about it afterward.

    The problem with a character like Sherlock is its very hard to portray him as brilliant without portraying the people around him as stupid and incompetent. This show, unlike some other versions of Sherlock Holmes has been very careful to make it clear that Watson is smart and talented in her own right but hasn't managed to do the same for Gregson and Bell. As NYPD detectives they undoubtedly solve hundreds of mundane cases, that Sherlock wouldn't bother with, without Sherlock's help, but we the audience don't get to see that. The only indication we the audience have of their competence is Sherlock's occasional observation that they are "several standard deviations above the norm". Maybe its just in my nature to root for sidekicks, but it was nice to see that Lestrade was perfectly capable of solving an ordinary crime. He wasn't a bad detective, just overly consumed by the fact that he wasn't nearly as great as Holmes.

  • Grumpyclown Mar 08, 2014

    I was surprised when Lestrade popped up again - and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
    He just seemed to fit into the dynamic really well.
    I hope its a trend with guest stars - not including Rhys Ifans and Natalie Dormer in this, as their characters will most probably return a few times - but some other characters, who are introduced for an arc.

    I agree that this was one of the stronger cases of the week - in fact I'd go so far as to say it was one of the stronger episodes of the series.
    It kept me guessing for a while, (until she casually dropped the fact that her husband was a plastic surgeon into the conversation), but my explanation involved her actually having her ears cut off and her husband performing reconstructive surgery on her.

    I also found it interesting that Joan used Bell and Holmes situation to get through to Lestrade.
    It made me think that Joan does see a definite pecking order - with herself at the top and police officers below her.
    While I agree with it, I do wonder if this highlights how much Holmes has changed her.

  • current Mar 09, 2014

    I was getting flashbacks of seeing photos of that creepy ear laden mouse.
    Joan was a surgeon and yet they've kept well away from her ever having a typical alpha ego. Perhaps what we're seeing is her ego reappearing but, also, I thought she used H&B;'s situation to further make Lestrade see them as vulnerable to fault. In another way it annoyed me also, as she never asked either if they'd be ok with Lestrade knowing. Her previous experience with Lestrade should've made her far warier, as he's demonstrated a willingness to lord other's failures over them whilst taking praise too.

  • Kallenprice97 Mar 08, 2014

    I enjoyed the episode, as I do most of them (once I stopped thinking of him as Sherlock Holmes, it became a very nice show!).

    Random musings...

    * I figured the husband plastic surgeon was in on it the moment it was mentioned in the news cast. But, I did NOT think the ears were GROWN. I did not know that was even an option!

    * I actually thought Sherlock DID set up the clues but ALSO purposely put the feather there to make LeStrade THINK he'd gotten one over on him, knowing that just solving the crime would not be enough for him. Clever twist, then, that he simply admitted to it w/o having done it.

    * I would have thought the VERY first thing the cops/Holmes would have done when they found the "dead" wife was to ask for her DNA to compare against. Silly to just trust the hair brush now that they had a live sample.

    * WAY too many cock jokes in this and the previous episode.

    * I don't get why Sherlock felt uncomfortable violating the "Anonymous" part of AA for a dead guy.

    * LeStrade's breakdown and admission that Holmes was right about him was very satisfying.

    * The cops had NO ONE actually on site in the subway during the money exchange? WTH?

    * Interesting side-story (micro-story) of LeStrade trying to get Watson to take another job -- apparently because it pained him to see Holmes with someone else.

    * I never got the impression from the Doyle books that Holmes CHOSE Lestrade. Rather, Lestrade just happened to be the detective he was stuck with time after time. And, IIRC, Sherlock was utterly dismissive of Lestrade in the books.

    * No one thought to check the "dead" wife's finances?

  • nullnull2654 Mar 08, 2014

    I think violating the anonymous part is difficult for you when you are a member of that community yourself. I think it must feel like treason.

  • Grumpyclown Mar 08, 2014

    "The cops had NO ONE actually on site in the subway during the money exchange? WTH?" - I thought the same, but, at that point, it did work to plant a seed in my mind that he was actually guilty (the husband), so it ended up being a nice distraction.

  • current Mar 09, 2014

    Actually, when you think about it - and I do - they didn't need a plant as such, a 'normal' rail cop would've done. Patsy drop guy may've been twitchy about one about but surely used to it. That is instead of the usual someone talking to their sleeve. Why don't cops ever fake a cell phone call - it really bugs me?

  • Kallenprice97 Mar 10, 2014

    Hah! Love it. Great point.

  • Extispex Mar 08, 2014

    This comment has been removed.

  • MollyPoppy Mar 08, 2014

    I truly enjoyed this episode. This show always makes me smile.