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

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.


QUESTIONS:

... 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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OK 1st off pretty alright review just saying but lets get to why I'm writing, obviously to complain a little, I think maybe it will help you. If not then whatever either way I'm not coming back to check lmao. I'm not a pro at this, I'm just replying so my grammar, eh not important so please lets just not argue, at least u took the time to review.

I honestly only came here to see if YOU knew about what the tats said. it popped up in my Google search, thanks for mentioning it ever so slightly but not enough to matter, and might i add; in the frigging middle so i had to read it all and still found out nothing.

Did you proof read? Some of the sentences only make sense if I assume what you are trying to say. Slow down and don't combine sentences half way through. And read it before posting please, I can almost hear the “like aha totally like ummm” jumping off the page at me. That's not what makes you a note worthy reviewer. Being a diehard fan doesn't make you worth reading, we get it you prolly are in love and think the actors are “tots hawttt” but its SO ANNOYING.

No one cares about shipping unless they are 12 please keep it out of reviews unless its in the show, it makes everyone think of the whole "team" thing that annoyed us for years. I know I am being rude but i so badly WANT to take you seriously. Plus your crush on the girl playing Irene also killed it. (he dabbled in drugs when she was alive but lost it when she died c'mon “handing him” drugs???? have you watched any of these!)

They have a Bromance its always been that way, Elementary just threw a girl in as Watson, still, a bromance. Holmes doesn’t date! have you noticed, his last gf was drained of ALL HER BLOOD all of it, girl is dead DEAD if they bring her back omg its a miracle, so you are right prolly not going to happen for Watson and Holmes.

fat guy is lucky to get that part will you forget his face? no he will be the fat villain in everything now, and I'm sure he wasn’t dismembered he was drowned and left in water, which will dissolve your body into a messy gunk/sludge all filled up into the tub. Btw they aren't managers they are Agents, actors have agents. Seeing what looks like my uncle mostly naked more than halfway thru a review... ohhh yeah that's what everyone wants to see right? Wtf I feel like I was raped in my eyes, with little to no warning.


his dad OWNS his building and several more, they don’t rent. Holmes doesn't get paid for helping the Police, I only remember one instance where he actually talked about accepting money and it was from a company. His dad is filthy stinking rich. Heels? Have you ever heard of drag queens? Get over the stupid rabbit hole its pretentious and worn out im a woman sick of hearing women talk about women like we are still being put down. men and women are different and i give my man shit too.

This is ep 20... but you say that THIS is the return after 72 years i mean c'mon, the others had some topical "trendy" story lines and This is a remake of Brits Sherlock. “I’d really wave my finger about the show using this topic at all...” omg wtf Law and Order SVU...tell me why that is the most popular LaO? because people like seeing scumbag rapists and creeps put away no matter how they “spin it” PEOPLE GET RAPPED all topics should ALWAYS be used and shown the light so people know and think ignorance is not bliss ignorance gets people hurt! Stop trying to be politically correct and just say what you think. I do like how that sentence ended just sayin didn't hate it. “...They handled it well and managed to de-sexualize a plot about rape footage pretty quickly...”

Last and least as I have bored myself picking apart YOUR review when I could have just written one myself, man, or I could have been halfway thru another ep. Anyways SHERLOCK is usually the one to whip out his phone and get all the details about the case n stuff while everyone else is scrambling to put pieces together, some how producers forgot hes not stupid.
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"The rabbit hole of gender inequality is literally bottomless." Preach.
Love, love, LOVE this review. In hindsight this was probably my favorite episode of the season. I too, quite enjoy the thinking.

Questions!
1) it would be unfair of me to answer this seeing how we already know, but life is unfair so ALIVE, ALIVE I SAY.
2) I have no response to this. Will ponder another day. (I lie, I refuse to give Henry VIII any of my time.)
3) In this instance, social catharsis. But I have completely given up on Law and Order SVU this season because of all the scarily topical crimes. When watching vintage SVU you can shake your head at how backwards the law was and tut tut into your tea while checking the locks on the windows for the 8th time and setting fire to your fire escape, but when you get cases about "legitimate rape" or a rapist suing for custody of his rape baby, my blood starts to boil and I start to see lightning spark around the edges of the TV and woe to the first man I come across after, woe I say.
4) I love it when JLM does everything. And nothing. I love him.
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Whether intentionally or by coincidence, Jonny Lee Miller's looks & voice so strongly resemble Jude Law's that I had to doublecheck to be sure who was portraying the Sherlock Holmes character in this series.
The voice & appearance are great for the role; unfortunately, I don't think Miller's acting quality is anywhere near as good as Law's. He seems quite jerky, or spasmodic, in the role--something Holmes never was. Nevertheless, I guess he's adequate, and the episode I saw was much more interesting than most of what's on TV nowadays.
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I thought I was imagining the similarity between JLM and Jude Law. It's something in the way they put their lips when they talk, especially when they pronounce words with "F" like "face". In real life they are very close friends, so maybe that's why.
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I just watched this the other day, which is why I am only here now...I kind of feel like a lot of these shows have this exciting bigger plot stories set up to take place over their last three episodes and they didn't account for all the hiatus so these were supposed to be little throwaway episodes of maybe or maybe not some character development. Luckily, JLM sold it and I think I will start to cheer whenever Alfredo is in an episode whether as sponsor or more patient teacher to Watson of the criminal type skills she needs when Holmes can't deal in a similar way to when Zoe appears on POI.

1. Well, this season, I am betting mostly in flashbacks but I am guessing we get a little cliff hanger of her getting on a plane in Heathrow headed to New York.

2. Well....I must confess from my history knowledge, the establishment of a religion and as father to Queen Elizabeth I, and I think there were a couple other things, fine, kind of a megalomaniac, but not worse than others we had seen. Then I watched the Tudors.

3. I think they can be good, but I grew up with Law & Order so there is always some twist I am waiting for which I think takes it out of its usefulness.

4. Yes
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Whoa, seriously. Spoilers on Adler. And if I'm going to have to stare at that face for 43 minutes a week, I'm glad I've jumped ship to Hannibal. This week's episode was absolutely amazing, I think. Case was a little simple, but it's always been about the character development. After a season of doubt, I'm glad I've stuck with the show. They've made me care with this episode.
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I can't see how Irene won't still be alive, seeing how important a character she is. I'm not overly stoked that its Natalie Dormer, but thats only coz I don't like her character in Game of Thrones. Shallow, I know!
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A few things

I loved Sherlock being introspective and I loved Joan listening comfortably in bed. Intimate friends sharing. How sweet.

What's up with Natalie Dormer's smile? It's crazy.

Thank you for the sexy picture of the obese man. It filled a need I did not know needed filling.

I love Holmes and Watson's current relationship. Two adults can have a friendship or occasional sex without it being more than that. I really hope they do not go where most television's lead couple go. That being said I'd love to see Holmes, Watson, Alfredo, AND Bell hook-up. I mean we got the Super Bowl hook-up with Holmes and two lovelies. Turnabout is fair play. Watson deserves to have fun. Right?
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I kind of want her to be alive and toy with him, just because I want to see an episode of a doped up Sherlock trying to solve a case. I guess they could do that in the flashbacks... Okay I don't care if she's alive or not but she is very cute with her smirkiness indeed.
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"... Do you love it when JLM sort of tears up?"

That and the way Sherlock is waiting for Watson to wake up just to have a chat every morning.
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I found it a little bit insulting that the parent who commited the crime was "only" the girls stepfather. There are plenty of terrible parents out there. Why the need to make this guy the stepfather? Only to imply that someone can't love a child equally if he isn't the biological parent? I don't know why this buggs me. I'm not even a stepfather. I just thought of it as insensitive.
The episode was good nonetheless and JLM was great.
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Yay a case that didn't start with a murder, kinda. I like how Sherlock is a private consultant first before a police homicide detective. I thought the case was far from topical since the rape wasn't the focus. Its the first time I've seen "professional blackmailers" in a procedural before. It was actually an interesting twist.

I also thought that the Robert Frost poem that Watson gave to Sherlock was incredibly cheesy, but it did feel like what hipster Lucy Liu would do.
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Can't wait for the Moriarty arc to start next week
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I did like this episode. I totally liked it. My only problem was that the promo made it look more epic then it actually was, which I hate. Promos should not be misleading. It's like giving a crack addict white icing sugar instead of crack. LOL! But no seriously I hate misrepresentation. Also who's looking forward to the return of Sebastian Moran next episode? I know I am. I love that crazy British football thug played by Vinnie Jones. I am eagerly awaiting next episode. But is it on next week? LOL!

Now to answer Lily's review questions.

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

The producers have said that actually Irene is dead so she'll only appear in flashbacks. It could be a red herring, but I don't think so. Also Sherlock's drug problem started after Irene's tragic death, so I'm sorry Lily, but no scenes of Natalie Dormer handing JLM syringes.

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

I didn't really see Henry the eighth as a villain. Although I really wish he hadn't invented the Church of England. My father bugs me with the fact that he's a NON PRACTICING member of the Church of England, and berates all other religions (knowing that the rest of my family is Greek Orthodox so it rather sucks) That's all I have to say about Henry the Eighth.

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

I think it's good that these things are shown to us on TV sometimes. A lot fo people don't realise that the stupidity that goes on on social networking sights can be considered bullying. That and there are people that use blackmail to take money from vulnerable people, which I fell is wrong. In a way I agree with Sherlock. Blackmail and Murder both affect a number of victims. Murder beacuse you kill someone and all those people who loved the victim become the victims who suffer because they've been left behind after losing that person. Blackmail affects not only the person being blackmailed, but all the people around them. But Blacmail, unlike murder, happens over and over and over again. You kill a person you can't bring them back to life and re-kill them. But you can blackmail the same person as many times as they will pay your ransom demands, and once they can no longer acquiesce to your demands for money (or whatever else blackmailers ask for) they just ruin your life anyways. So I think it's good people are showing us what is going on in the world.

Do you love it when JLM sort of tears up?

God yes. I love JLM period. I got all emotional because he was talking to Watson about it first and I was like "This is why they're the best friends EVER! I want my own Sherlock and Watson team in my house." So yeah, loving the JLM and Lucy Liu scenes because they're epic. (nods)
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... Will Irene Adler be still alive or exist only in flashbacks? I've heard rumors of both. I actually hope she is dead, I think that loss is so great for Sherlock and bringing her back lessens it. I like how it has defined him.
... Henry VIII, the British monarch: one of history’s worst villains? Yep, and a pathetic creep to boot.
... Topical crime in procedurals: an attempt to be edgy or necessary social catharsis? Probably a bit of both.
... Do you love it when JLM sort of tears up? Very, very much!
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At the end Watson said that she is thinking of Holmes. Even though I know she said it just to tell him she cares, at that moment I really hoped that the writers will never take their relationship to the next level. The relationship should stay platonic all the way through without any hints of a romance. They can re-imagine the saga of Holmes any way they want, but do not give us a Hatson or Wolmes.
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But they're already basically doing it with the British version - people can't get enough of Watson and Holmes as a couple when it's two men. Why can't it be a man and woman?
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They are basically doing it Victorian style: Joan and Sherlock remain in this virtuous state of hard work, perseverance and love. It's even more british of them than the british version.
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I really liked this episode even though it was obviously who the killer was and why he was doing it. What makes this Sherlock and Watson work is because there is not actually any UST. That would just ruin the whole show and I really hope they do not head in that direction EVER. Honestly, the case of the week is getting easier and easier to figure out, but it does not really matter because the character development/acting is just so good. It's honestly the little things like.. Holmes taking a bite out of Watson's grilled cheese and then just giving it back... that makes that relationship amazing.

Given how Irene Adler does not die in the books (Im pretty sure, I haven't read them all) Im pretty sure she will probably be still alive in this show. But they can leave that story arc in the air for a while to have something to play around with. Also, Natalie Dormer really does smirk a lot and if you can't have JA she does seem like a pretty good replacement.

I also thought that quote was particularly suited for Holmes.
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What a waste of using the Milverton character. This could have been a much higher stakes story, but instead there were just a bunch of cop outs all around. How convenient that the Milverton's failsafe didn't follow through because it was his killer who happened to also want to use the blackmail material so we could gloss over the whole vigilante justice thing. The fact that they had the liberty to not adapt the story exactly, and could have made it that much more devastating is the reason why I find this exceedingly cheap and too neatly tied up. Yes, I wanted lives shown to be ruined before Milverton died or after, at least I might have felt then that Holmes saved the day. The one thing I would have liked them to adapt right is Holmes choosing to side with the killer of Milverton, as I wanted to see more of what Holmes' personal sense of justice is, and that he's not exactly streamlined with the police and the written law. In this case it was Gregson who seemed to sympathize more, and Holmes never had to choose whether to pursue the killer or not. At this point I'm not sure who's whose flunkey, the police to Holmes or Holmes to the police. I know we're trying to not waste Aidan Quinn here, but I'm losing sense of Holmes individuality every time the police are let in on things right from the start and it becomes a police case helmed by Holmes but still a police case.
I'm going to bet that Irene Adler is alive (or hope anyway), it's such a waste if she only appears in flashbacks, I want her to be around to affect him as he is now, and be all confused because of how her "death" affected him. I'm looking forward to her appearance as that will hopefully up the stakes of the show.
I absolutely hate it when JLM sort of tears up, sorry. I even thought, as he was monologing, and when Watson gave him his present that if he started to actually tear up I was going to stop watching the show. Every time he gets into that I'm having feeeels lip quiver, I get annoyed. They're over milking this whole Watson gets Holmes to open up with feels thing, it seems waaay too easy to trigger a heart to heart emotional type reaction from him these days, and him wanting to make nice with Alfredo, Watson, Gregson, everyone. It diminishes his confidence and makes him seem somewhat needy. It's not that I want Holmes to be purely a heartless bastard, I just want the presence of emotion and sympathy to be a nice surprise, like a awwww he does care! moment, vs Watson is Holmes' in house therapist at the end of the ep sort of thing.
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Okay, you might need to re-watch this episode.
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I thought this was a solid episode overall, though I agree that it would have been better to see some Adler. Anyway, onto the questions:

1. If she ends up being alive, the writers will have a tough job of explaining how on earth her death was faked and not even Sherlock Holmes was able to figure that out. I suppose the fact that he went into a downward spiral and drugged himself up will help explain part of it. But still, there was a body, and I don't recall anyone saying something about the head being disfigured in any way. While I would like to see Irene Adler (and Natalie Dormer for that matter) on this show as much as possible, I think that realistically she can only be relegated to flashbacks. Unless of course one of the crazier theories floating about out there is true, and Irene Adler turns out to be Moriarty, which would be crazy. Regardless, I hope that three episode arc thing is a lie, and that she'll be on a lot more than that.

2. I guess he's up there, but I wouldn't say that Henry VIII is even close to being in the top ten. The reason that he is memorable is that he executed two of his wives, and cast aside two others. He also executed a lot of the people close to him. So he is memorable for being a very personal tyrant, and no doubt all of his court feared for their lives at various times. However, there have been several other rulers throughout history that have killed far more people in far more terrible ways. In terms of big, overreaching acts, Henry VIII split from Catholicism and created his own church, which, though it was a somewhat bloody affair and he really only did it so that he could divorce his current wife, it did lead to the creation of bibles written in English, as well as services spoken in English, instead of Latin. Which meant that the common people had more access to their own religion. And while he did start a few wars that were in hindsight ill-advised, and led to a lot of deaths, and he did mercilessly quash an uprising in the north, these things are fairly petty compared to many of the actions of other rulers. At no time, for instance, did he ever commit genocide, enslave an entire country, or even wipe out all live in a city. So while Henry VIII is memorable, and indeed memorable for doing bad things, he is not one of the worst.

3. I'd like to think that it's an attempt to be edgy, or, to use a term that I think is a bit more fitting, modern, as opposed to the alternative. Because if showcasing topical crimes is an attempt at social catharsis, then they really need to reevaluate things. I highly doubt that anyone actually gets an emotional release, or a relieving of emotional tensions, by watching a case involving rape and blackmail on a TV show. If anything, showcasing these crimes in a tasteful way could be an indication that, as a society, we are ready to deal with the idea of these crimes in a fictional sense, as opposed to keeping them in the bounds of unpleasant realities. It could be a statement that, while these characters are fictional, the world they inhabit is very real, with crimes that we ourselves have been dealing with in the here and now. This might even be the first step towards people being able to see a fictional telling of real events happen on screen, and to be able to process them in a way that isn't unhealthy, and doesn't lead to any kind of a relapse or flashback of societal experience.

However, even if this is the case, it's not like the TV show itself is doing any of the heavy lifting. Realistically, it's not like episodes like this actually accomplish any catharsis of their own. Rather, they merely acknowledge that some sort of catharsis has already been achieved through other means, solely due to the fact that people are able to watch these episodes and not become negatively affected. So while these shows might serve to take societies pulse, as it were, I don't think that they'll be able to deal out a significant amount of catharsis themselves. However, what they can do is use this topical content to be edgy, as well as modern and relevant to what we as a society are thinking and talking about. So while I don't actually know what the writers and producers are going for here, I really hope that it's the former. Because if it's the former, and they're really trying to heal society in some way, then they are really barking up the wrong tree.

4. Yes.
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I love Natalie Dormer on GOT and i'm sure i'll love her on Elementary too
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I can't wait to see her as Irene Adler, she's bound to be the best one ever (Sorry, Rachel McAdams)
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