I find child murder inappropriate for television. I hate to sound like an old killjoy yelling at everybody to get out of her yard, but while I can/have/love to watch murder mystery after horror movie after action film where over-18-year-olds get taken out like mice under a lawn mower, just the sight of a gloved hand gesturing for a child to get in a car is a little too much for me. Elementary tried to find a loophole in the old "Don't use the most heartbreaking crime on earth for entertainment value" rule last night with a twist: The child we saw kidnapped in the opening was actually the mastermind behind all the subsequent child captures and murders. Still, this is just NOT how I like to relax, folks. Aren't there enough compelling ways to kill grown-ups without ratcheting up the stakes to, "Someone has your little girl!"?
To be fair, its not like Elementary was intent on rendering the loss of a child with gritty realism a la The Killing. The parents of the kidnapped little girl were introduced to the audience a few seconds before their televised interview and then got really mad when Sherlock came in and brought the media junket to a screeching halt. Grieving parents need their screentime, okay?! As much as we all loved Sherlock for stopping the interview in the most aggressive way possible (spray paint on the camera lens! Someone tell Lindsay Lohan to carry spray paint in her car and tag paparazzi!):
...but like, why was the family giving interviews so soon? Redonk. And then later they told the police chief he would be the FIRST ONE they'd go after talking to "the press." We got the impression that the second call they made after calling the police was to a PR agency for representation. Simmer, grieving TV parents! Simmer.
As for spotting tiny details and weaving them into a damning narrative, last night's episode was one of the more successful ones we've seen so far. Sherlock's glance at the kitchen led to the discovery of an Anna Nicole-lookalike mistress.
A paint scratch on a parked car told a tale of the kidnapper's van (shudder shudder shudder) and the banter between Sherlock and Watson was simply adorable. "I thought I was just a cavernous expanse between two ears," Watson coyly whispered at one point. After last week effectively drove a wedge between the pair, this week was about Sherlock vocalizing what he likes about Watson and validating her role beyond all the "sobriety twaddle"—she provides a sounding board, she actively assists in supporting him rather than interfering with his process. (Also she's provided several integral clues in the last couple weeks, but that was glossed over.) And how adorable was it when they fell in step doing squats? Lucy Liu gets extra points for doing squats in high heels.
The person in this episode who got a million points was Johnny Simmons, who took a break from the big screen to step into this juicy/thankless role as a child child-murderer, a 19-year-old who was first kidnapped and then used his superior intellect to direct his abductor and commit more and more murders (shudder). He seriously knocked my socks off both as a vulnerable brainwashed abductee whispering sweet nothings across the table from Sherlock and also as a "lettin' the freak flag fly" psychopath with an immunity deal taunting Sherlock in the park. Not to mention that gracefully handled some rather clumsy exposition speeches. I almost felt sad when cops picked him up because having him around a couple more episodes as a small-arc nemesis could have been cool, but hopefully his schedule was too full. Hire him, Hollywood, is what I'm saying! He great!
About the sweet nothings... there was a lot of whispering in this episode. There was a point where they were all watching Adam from behind two-way glass, Aidan Quinn, Watson, and Sherlock, and just whispering up a storm. Two-way glass is soundproof, right? Or was the perp on the other side sitting there thinking, "Is someone swishing around a rain stick on the other side of that mirror? What is going on?"
There was also a full spectrum of topless men last night, the hugely built and fantastically furry JLM bien sûr but also the serial killer appeared topless at a kitchen table in a back brace and it was pretty upsetting. Although, note to casting director/hair person: You did not pick enough of a weirdo for this serial killer. No offense to the actor (in fact, take it as a compliment!) but this is just not the face of a weirdo serial killler:
But you know who WAS weirding it up? Sherlock, who must have been given the direction, "You're not just a tweaker this episode, you're a tweaker on no sleep. Play it BIG!" If you've ever been around someone so exquisitely manic that they haven't slept for four days, you know that the body pulls on weird reserves of energy, making them increasingly jumpy and skittish until it's exhausting to be around them (I know from personal experience, long story, don't ask). In an attempt to capture both this energy and the Sherlock Holmes exactness and precise-itude, JLM was whipping around people and spinning on his heel like a nervous high school kid giving a cheeky presentation he'd worked on for way too long in front of a class. Just pure nerve. Well done, JLM, and also knock it off JLM! You're making me skittish.
Also, as much as I'm warming up to JLM's Sherlock, I fantasize from time to time about the roles of Sherlock and Watson being reversed and Liu playing a cold, icy, Sherlock to JLM's hunky Watson. Sigh! #fantasyseriesreset
So to sum: Aside from the regrettable content of the mystery, the way it was handled and the dynamic between Watson and Sherlock showed real growth and promise. As usual I had almost no patience with the actual B-story mystery going on, but the increasing detail involved in the mysteries and the actors, the characters, and their very cozy flophouse keep me coming back. Also are you THIRSTY GUYS?! Because there were no bees in this episode and don't even tell me tea = honey. Need to see wings and hear buzzing, people. Bet a coke would taste PRETTY GOOD RIGHT NOW but alas, no bees.
1. Child murder: should procedurals steer clear?
2. Johnny Simmons: a young, male Meryl Streep?
3. How tall is JLM ?
4. Would you feel invigorated or collapse with exhaustion if you did 100 squats in a row?
5. Should stars being stalked by paparazzi fight back by spraying paint on the paparazzi's cameras?