Elementary "Art in the Blood" Review: For Your Own Good

By Noel Kirkpatrick

May 09, 2014

Elementary S02E23: "Art in the Blood"

"Art in the Blood" wasted little time in getting right to a version of the point: Mycroft is an asset for MI-6—"a clearinghouse" for the intelligence agency, as he's remarkably good at sorting through and retaining secrets and information. So Mycroft used his restaurants and himself as a way to go undercover and gather intel on global underworld dealings, and he managed to fool Sherlock into thinking he was just a lazy lout. However, as with many things involving Mycroft, that idea was simultaneously true and inaccurate. 

The lazy lout part isn't true, of course; based on everything we've seen so far, Mycroft is hardly lazy. It would take an extreme amount of energy and effort to keep up that kind of charade, to always be choosing your words and actions so carefully. The challenge was even visible in Rhys Ifans's performance during that scene in the kitchen: Suddenly, his Mycroft went from a soft-spoken stammerer to a man with a sharper edge and hints of smugness. He had fooled his arrogant jerk of a brother, and there was some measure of satisfaction to be had in such a feat.

Of course, even that turned out to be a performance. As it turns out, Mycroft left MI-6 some years ago, and only agreed to come back to protect Sherlock from prison time after Sherlock, during his high-as-a-kite period in London, unknowingly helped a terrorist operation by carrying a package to and fro. Mycroft's continued work with MI-6 has all been for Sherlock's sake; he's been paying off his little brother's debt while his little brother is none the wiser.

If there's a real Mycroft Holmes, it very well could be the man who relayed all of this to Joan in his apartment. Here was a guy who'd sacrificed his life for his brother's sake, to protect Sherlock so that Sherlock could continue to do good by solving the unsolvable. No smugness, no regret. Mycroft now lives with the burden of a good deed that went unnoticed and unrewarded, that almost put a woman he apparently cares deeply for in mortal danger. 

If you can believe any of that. 

I'm not saying I don't, as the acrobatics necessary to get us to this point—a redemptive storyline of sorts for Mycroft—ring true for me. Mycroft's fingerprints on the weapon that killed Arthur West, the bipolar former MI-6 analyst who had stumbled onto a potential mole, were a transparent attempt to toss all that sudden honesty into question, and thus could very easily be dismissed as a red herring. That Sherlock saw it as a frame-up is what gives me a bit of hesitation, and has me weighing the possibility that Elementary is playing us in the same way that Mycroft is playing Holmes and Watson.

Consider: You get roped into a role you were apparently finished with in order to protect your brother. You see a way to achieve some degree of revenge and contentment by selling state secrets and manipulating your brother into clearing your name, only to reveal—[insert evil laugh here]—that it was all part of your dastardly plot to get back at him for ruining your life in the first place.

I don't really think that's the angle Elementary will end up going with, but given the twists and turns this particular narrative thread has taken, and our entry into the world of spies and moles, it's all too easy to fall victim to trying to anticipate a twist by over-thinking it. The show has, at the very least, done a good job of laying the groundwork so that it's at least a possibility, should the writers decide to use it in next week's  finale. I don't know how well I'd receive if it they did go this hypothetical route—it'd depend entirely on how it actually played out—but I already feel predisposed against it because I think the last thing the Mycroft story needs is one last twist.

However, would such a twist stop the show from shaking up its status quo a little bit? Joan's declaration that she's ready to move out of the brownstone wasn't a real shock, as the motivations for it don't feel as fully fleshed out as they might've been. This season has made a few small advancements with Joan's personal life, from one-off friends to her attempt to see men from a dating website, but she's never expressed all that much dissatisfaction with the current arrangement prior to Mycroft's return to New York two episodes ago.

At the risk of sounding like I'm hemming and hawing about this, on some level, I'm okay with it not being fully developed. Yes, I think I would've liked to see more frustration from Joan, but hey, she's a grown woman dealing with a man who has very little respect for other people's boundaries. It's a remarkably adult and self-aware thing to say, "I need a room for a life outside of this, us, what we do." That sort of rationalization is something we don't often see from television characters, who often have to contort themselves to justify staying in their prescribed places to keep the narrative chugging along.

But Mycroft turning out to be a villain (or getting a killed, which is another possibility, I suppose), would be just the thing to possibly send Sherlock into a drug spiral. And a Sherlock drug spiral would be just the thing to convince Joan to stay in the brownstone, albeit in a Season 1 capacity as a sober companion rather than in her Season 2 role as a partner in crime-solving.


– I kept waiting and waiting for Marion, Arthur's ex-wife, to be revealed as the culprit. Maybe she set up Mycroft. That's the theory I'm going with, if it's not this Juliam Afkhami fellow.

– "I saved your bother's life, too." "I'll let that slide."

What did you think of "Art in the Blood"?

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  • ElisabethMuld May 31, 2014

    Honestly if they keep up this Joan and Mycroft bs up i'm gonna have to stop watching this show cause I simpy can not handle it. I just can not. WHY does she need a love interest, but if she must for the love of god, not Mycroft the Baffoon. I often say I'll stop watching a show and then I don't, but I have skipped through most of these last few episodes because of these two. Proving to me that I'm very close to done with it. Unfortunately because I LOVE Sherlock and Joan together. What a waste.

  • TomWayne May 14, 2014


    "– I kept waiting and waiting for Marion, Arthur's ex-wife, to be revealed as the culprit."

    I thought that, but the moment I saw her hair I was reminded to fall back to the default of Miss M.
    (Although the intro of the MI-6 senior-level boss made me think of Jon Voight in the first Mission: Impossible (Cruise era) film. Which of course I really hope is not the case, because I felt that storyline was so mishandled and weak.)

  • nullnull2654 May 11, 2014

    Yesterday the eurovision song contest took place and when I listened to the Norwegian song I immediately thought of "Elementary". It is a beautiful song and the lyrics fit so well for the character of Sherlock .
    Check out for yourselves.


    Performer: Carl Espen
    Song title: Silent Storm
    Head to toes
    Flesh and bones
    Should feel whole
    But the void
    A silent storm
    I’m here to use my heart and my hands
    Somehow the bruises changed my plans
    And there’s a silent storm inside me
    Looking for a home
    I hope that someone’s gonna find me
    And say that I belong
    I‘ll wait forever and a lifetime
    To find I’m not alone
    There’s a silent storm inside me
    Someday I’ll be calm
    Ask myself
    What comes next
    Will I fly?
    Will I fall?
    My silent storm


  • angryfishcake May 11, 2014

    thanks for sharing! bookmarked

  • petedebono May 10, 2014

    I hope Sherlock doesn't start using drugs in an attempt to entice Joan not to move out... :(

  • angryfishcake May 11, 2014

    he such just kiss her than she'll stay. she just wants a proper partnership ;)

  • karensikie May 10, 2014

    Joan and Mycroft have NO chemistry and his hair is hideous! they are coping out on joan being into him YUCK

  • McCovey May 10, 2014

    As soon as Mycroft started telling Joan his story of going back to MI-6 for Sherlock's sake, I though to myself: more BS. Mycroft acted all humble about it, but there was a note of pride in his voice. I surely think he played Joan. BUT, I could end up being wrong. I do think a happy brother reunion just doesn't seem right for this show, and Mycroft still needs to be bad in some way.

  • MaggieBaird May 10, 2014

    That kiss actually made me like Mycroft, and now I want him to be good and a main character please.

  • mori1bund May 10, 2014

    "it's all too easy to fall victim to trying to anticipate a twist by over-thinking it."
    -& and that's what you're doing right now :-) :
    - why should he want to get at his brother, a recovering drug-addict? It was his own decision to go back at MI6 without rubbing it in to his brother that he's doing it for him. But now he suddenly wants revenge?
    - If Mycroft is really that smart, he wouldn't get caught because of a gun with his fingerprints. That's too amateurish.

  • LexieS17 May 10, 2014

    I definitely kept thinking the ex-wife was in on it and I still do, I just kept waiting for the twist that she was MI-6 too.

  • LauraPortaRoy May 09, 2014

    Ugh, I hate Mycroft and this plot annoys me. I'll stop watching if he keeps appearing.

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