Elementary "The Marchioness" Review: Bizarre Love Triangle

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Nov 08, 2013

Elementary S02E07: "The Marchioness"

"Where does that leave us then? What would you like to talk about?"

In the past, we've discussed the nature of Elementary's Sherlock, and how his empathy helps to set him apart from other incarnations of the character, which tend to have a very limited sense of respect for other people, let alone a personal connection or a sense of intimacy. Elementary's Sherlock didn't exhibit empathy right away; it's been a part of his recovery, which figures into his growth as a character. The relationships and the willingness to share have to be earned—both in Sherlock's eyes, as a man who's concerned about being hurt and falling into drugs again, and as an aspect of his identity.

It's why his speech during his addiction meeting at the top of the episode, about whether or not he should have been born in a different time, was so important. He was sharing feelings, and he was doing it in a space that he considers safe, a space that even Joan isn't part of. (However, I don't doubt that he's relayed some version of that speech to Joan at one point or another; he was admitting to a weakness, and that's something that Sherlock knows Joan can understand and accept, such are the levels of their friendship.)

It's why Mycroft's sudden appearance at the meeting was so rattling for Sherlock. He loathes Mycroft on any number of levels, and he certainly doesn't want his estranged brother to know his weaknesses, even though Mycroft would very much like to earn that place in Sherlock's life. So it was fitting, then, that the episode began with a speech and ended with a query of what, exactly, they could discuss.

What was lovely about "The Marchioness" was how it earned that bookend through the case of the week. Having Mycroft show up with a challenge would've been fine enough, I suppose, but adding Mycroft's ex-fiancée, Nigella (Olivia d'Abo, being all d'Abo-y), to the mix gave the situation an extra bit of urgency. I say urgency because Sherlock was all too eager to expose Nigella as a fraud, and thus to prove that Mycroft's renewed faith in her was undeserved. The situation had a personal element to it that isn't always present your run-of-the-mill murder case.

So as Sherlock, Joan, and Mycroft worked the mystery, we got to see Sherlock try to work out his own feelings. Certainly his opinion of Nigella didn't change—he was just downright abusive toward her, and no one really called him on it—but Mycroft and Sherlock spending time with each other offered an opportunity for the pair to get reacquainted. Whether it was through their verbal sparring about clichéd life awakenings through trials and tribulations—"A lot of people may go through the same thing, but it doesn't make it less real. It's like addiction in that sense, I imagine."—or Mycroft's attempt to connect with Sherlock through his profession instead of on and emotional level, we saw Mycroft try just about everything he could think of to bond with his brother, and Sherlock finally had to relent, as even he knew Mycroft's actions were not ill-intended.

Of course, this didn't stop Sherlock from behaving like a complete git for much of the episode; he's still a raging egomaniac, after all. In addition to his contemptible attitude toward Nigella, he was downright childish about Joan and Mycroft having slept together, from his inquiries as to how each of them was in bed to his question of whether their tryst would continue so he could schedule his day around it. It was petty, thinly veiled passive-aggression on his part, but it was also in keeping with Sherlock's need to compartmentalize things. It's why he struggled to put it in a context that made sense. He hates Mycroft, but he likes Joan and sees her as a protégé, ergo Joan should also hate Mycroft. Sherlock is still learning empathy, so little fits like this one—or his solving of Joan's falafel cart case last week—are to be expected.

I'm not crazy about them being coddled, though. I'm all sorts of happy that Joan and Mycroft had sex, because I want her to have the life outside the world of deduction she's striving for. I think I even let out a little cheer as they finally confirmed it—but, sigh, I definitely wasn't thrilled that Joan's response to whether or not they should explore a relationship was to ask if it would complicate things with Sherlock. It was an incredibly selfless thing they both did, and it came from a place of caring about Sherlock and wanting him to rebuild his relationship with Mycroft, but I still shook an angry fist at my screen after seeing them... cave to Sherlock's antics, as it were. Still, I take solace in the fact that the relationship door likely isn't completely shut, and that one day Sherlock's Single Stick (TM) will one day poke Mycroft in Joan's bed.

But it was all in service to get to that last scene, where Sherlock found himself thawing out a bit. Certainly Mycroft lowering the boom on Nigella helped matters, but I also like to think that Sherlock realized that if Joan can like Mycroft, then maybe his brother isn't so horrible after all.


– Oh. Right. The case itself. It was good. I liked the horse-breeding aspect, which gave it a nice spin, but it did sort of cause the episode to sag just a smidgen as Sherlock and Joan sorted out El Mecanico's fingerprints. The episode needed its twist in the case, I guess.

– "I'm in the peerage." Okay so, yeah, maybe Nigella's worth a couple of insults.

– "And I imagine they’re awash in severed hands."

– D'Abo's appearance reminded me of her wonderful turn on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, where her character, Nicole Wallace, has interestingly turned out to be a prototype of Elementary's own blending of Irene Adler and Moriarty.

What'd you think of "The Marchioness"?

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  • alfredwu Nov 15, 2013

    What is the ending song that was played in the background - when Mycroft asked Nigella to leave the restaurant to have a 1-to-1 coffee talk with Sherlock.

    Thanks, it has been bugging me since then.

  • TheCon Dec 15, 2013

    Heal by Tom Odell, available on the extended version of his first, debut, album. Available on I tunes, I had to find it too, an amazing track.

  • ElisaDiaz Nov 15, 2013

    They have a little problem, those two. For a while, the only sexual relationship that we have known from Sherlock was that friend of Joan. And for Joan, is Sherlock's brother. I wonder what is the show trying to tell us with this?

  • nullnull2654 Nov 10, 2013

    I loved the whole episode but especially the opening sequence. I'm grateful that in Elementary the problems of highly gifted and highly sensitive people are put into focus. The monologue in the opening sequence explains the life and feelings of HSP's very accurately. Usually highly gifted people portraied in TV Shows are nerds or completely arrogant. Jonny Lee Millers Sherlock is really authentic.
    Thank you so much!!!

  • haroven Nov 10, 2013

    I find it interesting that so many find the Joan/Mycroft relationship unlikely when it is a pretty well worn trail humans walk.
    It doesn't mean Joan felt to be Mycroft a proxy Sherlock or that Mycroft wanted to get at Sherlock by slipping it to his best friend, quite the reverse, although belatedly they now know that is exactly the assumption Sherlock made, because like many addicts Sherlock carries a large dollop of self loathing albeit buried beneath his obnoxiously glib intelligence.
    Joan & Mycroft got it on as way of getting to know someone, Sherlock, who features large in both their lives, better. Sherlock of course, doesn't see the coupling for what it was; an attempt to understand him a little more by getting sexually intimate with another who is emotionally intimate with Sherlock.

    Out in the real world people do this stuff all the time and it has exactly the same consequences. Many of us go to great lengths to avoid sexual entanglements with our closest friends, who usually feel exactly the same way unfortunately that tempts an 'end run' - try to get a better grip on our friendship by 'going the bonk' with a friend of your friend.
    Disaster almost always ensues, and it is kinda suprising that Joan didn't have sufficient maturity to understand this. According to her back story she has moved in a circle of what some would describe as NY sophisticates or semi-hipsters for some time.
    Mycroft not getting the consequences is more credible, not because he's a bloke, but because he's an Englander, and in my experience, of englanders, bourgeois english culture's emotional repression puts them a couple of steps behind in the 'great game' right from the get go.
    Of course Joan is also an emotional being and for her to have been able to accurately foresee the outcome of the tryst as far as Sherlock was concerned, would have required her to bring analytical/rational thinking into a section of her life she probably prefers to remain more feelings driven.
    She probably doesn't want to end up like Sherlock who likely goes down at least in part, to ensure the curtains match the rug. Everything Sherlock does seems to be done with full observation and analytical awareness. The one time he didn't allow the antennae to be switched on was the time he let Moriarty into his pit, an ommission he is unlikely to ever repeat.

  • Hutchy_TVSeries Nov 09, 2013

    I must say that I loved Sherlock's attitude in this episode.

    Now unto the writing. I think the writers have made their intentions clear. They've totally screwed up my shipping of Sherlock+Watson. I mean she could have casual sex like Homes, but not with Sherlock's brother. What are they planning on keeping it in the family? LOL

  • mnementh01 Nov 11, 2013

    I wouldn't worry about Holmes/Watson "shippy-ness". The writers simply won't be able to stop themselves, eventually. Trust me, it WILL happen.

  • ionee24 Nov 09, 2013

    Casual sex is only causal until someone gets hurt, and the episode was clear that someone did get hurt. So much so, he can't even talk about it.

    On the bright side, Elementary's brought up a completely original approach to subject, so I can't be mad at the writers.

  • current Nov 09, 2013

    I think many women would find this version of Mycroft attractive, given that he's far from ugly, successful and charming to boot. And what's the old sexist cliché of the way to a man's heart, well apparently, it works for women too! The problem I have with Joan and Mycroft is that she's a little devoid of personality. She's very attractive but that's about it as far as "the spark factor" goes.
    This version of Mycroft resembles the British show; in that he does at least try to get on with Sherlock and worries for him being too isolated. Though the excellent Mark Gatiss' Mycroft is rather more of a shadowy user, revels in picking Sherlock up for "school boy errors" and he's gay in it - will we ever see him hitting on Martin Freeman?! That would be hilarious.

  • AmyTeves Nov 08, 2013

    In the books Mycroft was described as Sherlock's smarter brother. He could easily find the connections and deduce (actually Sherlock used induction not deduction to solve cases) and solve the crimes, even faster than Sherlock, he was just too fat and lazy to go to the trouble. Sherlock seemed to resent Mycroft's natural talent, was jealous, sniped about his brother's laziness, and seemed to be on the defensive trying to prove who was better.
    In the series Mycroft does seem to be reaching out for a relationship with Sherlock. Neither of the brothers seem to have had a close relationship with their mostly absent father but Sherlock thought that daddy liked Mycroft better, and then there was the revelation of the relationship between Mycroft and Joan that made Sherlock so indignant, an extreme case of sibling rivalry.

  • EGO-T Nov 08, 2013

    I watched this episode with a friend and the second we seen Olivia d'Abo we both started laughing. She played Jack Carter's ex-wife on Eureka. We both watched the show like it was a religion. The scene where she got into a verbal altercation with Jack's smart house was priceless. We laughed our asses off when we watched it and her appearance on Elementary brought the funny right back.

  • pa-tan Nov 08, 2013

    I want more Mycroft in this show! Loved how uncomfortable it made Sherlock through the whole episode.
    And yes Joan deserves some none-deduction time. Though I would love seeing her dating random guys and Sherlock pointing out their flaws.

  • Vamps Nov 08, 2013

    I loved this episode and thought it was hilarious. The scene in the car was the best.

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