Elementary "Dead Man's Switch" Review: Risky Business (Blackmail, That Is)

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Elementary S01E20: "Dead Man's Switch"

So after approximately a 72-year hiatus, Elementary returned with a #relevant and #topical crime, several juicy speeches for JLM (fun for him, fun for us), and for those of you shipping Sherlock and Watson (you really should stop, p.s.) a scene of Sherlock inappropriately staring at Watson as she slept. 

No Natalie Dormer, though. I’m sure we all heard she’ll be doing a three-episode run as IRENE ADLER?! You have to give it up for Natalie Dormer, who not only killed it in The Tudors playing Anne Boleyn and has transformed Joffrey into mere putty in her hands as Margery (Maergary? Maergeeray? Whatevs) on GoT, but will simply not wipe the world’s most delightfully sassy smirk off her face.

The smirkiest. I live for it. I cannot wait for her to smirk on over to a smack-addicted Sherlock in an upcoming flashback and hand him a syringe or something. Counting down the days, Natalie. Unfortunately, she didn’t show up this week and every minute I was hoping for a tasteful segue away from the topical crime and into the Irene (*smirk*) Adler.

I say the crime was topical  because it seems as though a week can’t go by without hearing how some rape survivor has been bullied at school thanks to the social media spreading of pics/videos of a sexual assault. Unfortunately, in real life, this frequently ends with the survivor taking her own life, and we all need to take some hard and fast lessons about how we’re treating young men and women to socialize and value themselves. I’d really wave my finger about the show using this topic at all, but they handled it well and managed to de-sexualize a plot about rape footage pretty quickly, so kudos CBS! "You do unspeakable crimes quite tastefully." —L. Sparks

So pretty quickly the ghoulish plot about young girls getting raped on camera and their parents getting blackmailed turned into a sort of larger moral question buried in a mountain of logistics. The larger moral question being, is murder ever justified? This was never explicitly stated, but Sherlock said blackmailers are more detestable to him than murderers, then flirted with the idea of not even reporting the crime when he saw a blackmailer killed by, he assumed, one of his victims. I actually really liked this sort of bigger idea being bandied about, but ultimately it was undermined because the suspect who killed the blackmailer had decided he wanted in on the sweet blackmailing money and thus it wasn’t vigilante justice but risky, illegal business. Still, thoughts crossed my mind and for that I was grateful. 

There was also a lot of logistical leg work in tracking down the failsafe, a guy who made a living posting "nuisance lawsuits" to businesses who had chairs/services too small for his 400-pound body. When Watson started flashing photos of him around I got quite excited, only because I’ve never seen a 400-pound actor and wondered where they found him. (And what a gig to audition for or even advertise for in Backstage! "Character description: bit part non-recurring, obese blackmailer who assists rapist. Major network, great visibility." If your manager submits you for that, drop him.) But as Henry VIII had been stomped on in the bathtub and dismembered, I was cheated of seeing a massive man and instead the role was played by a much slimmer dude who was possibly wearing a prosthetic tummy. Feel quite bamboozled about it. Here’s a little tummy for those of you who, like me, felt we missed out.

Ah, much better. 

Side-by-side with Sherlock doing arguably his best detective work of the season and pulling out all the stops by being honorable and considerate toward his clients was his focus on his one year of sobriety, and how it actually began a day later than his sponsor, which was a big damn deal to him. Sherlock had relapsed a day into rehab after he got hit by the "shakes," "donkey kicks," or "jake leg," or whatever the kids are calling it now, and that was very hard for him because he is the sort of man who's so in control of himself that he tattoos his own ink onto his body with both hands and one does not simply say, "You’re going to quit heroin and then take 24 hours to make it official" if one is Sherlock Holmes. JLM again did a great job with the speech and Watson gave him a framed quote my Aunt Francis has up in her house. (Am I missing something? Was there any greater significance to this quote within the text of the show other than 'keep not doing drugs!'?!) 

It's probably best Sherlock is sober, he’s been able to invest all that unspent drug money into a wacky T-shirt collection and he’ll also need to professionally buff the hardwood floors to get their deposit back if Watson keeps wearing those platform heels around the house. (Some landlords won’t even RENT to women if their space has hardwood floors because heels are so bad. The rabbit hole of gender inequality is literally bottomless.)

All considered, a solid episode with some nice emotional speeches for the featured extras, a great moment for JLM, and another nice little vignette where he tried to get his sponsor to climb into the back of the car as an ersatz sensory deprivation chamber but instead Watson just called up a picture of the suspect on her phone like a normal person. I worry sometimes the show gets too wacky with Sherlock’s modus operandi and this moment sort of acknowledged it in a cute way. Kudos all around! Now bring me my smirks.


... Will Irene Adler be still alive or exist only in flashbacks?

... Henry VIII, the British monarch: one of history’s worst villains?

... Topical crime in procedurals: an attempt to be edgy or necessary social catharsis?

... Do you love it when JLM sort of tears up?

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