At first I thought last night’s episode of Elementary was going to go a little off-book and center on a chubby business man’s unorthodox workouts as overseen by his stern physical trainer, but it turned out the show was about to slap us with the most intense episode of the series so far, at last dropping on us Sherlock’s beloved arch-nemesis Moriarty, if only by proxy.
Moriarty in Doyle’s series—notice I do not say Sir Doyle, because I live in mothaf*ckin’ America where we don’t let our rich folks call themselves fancy titles like their own private 24-7 Ren Faire, I won’t be bobbing a curtsey to any of that shit, ladies, princesses, whatever, unless y’all willing to address me by my Dungeons and Dragons character name, Majesto—Moriarty was a criminal mastermind staying above reproach while orchestrating a “vast and subtle” criminal ring. So at first I thought, okay, here’s a nice little twist, they went entirely Lock Stock N’ Two Smokin’ Barrels An’ All That on Moriarty. Of course, we would find—once he was strung up on some scaffolding like a leather-clad passion play—that the big charismatic brawler was merely a pawn, with Moriarty as a big bad boss we haven’t met yet. Wise decision! Actually suspenseful long-form arc that has nothing to do with sobriety, at long last!
And Jonny Lee Miller was so fantastic this episode. His voice was a little rough in the opening scenes (cold perhaps?), but his acting in the torture sequence and throughout a very demanding script was frankly masterful. So much sensitivity in his portrayal of an inner moral debate that wasn’t necessarily on the page, and he also brought so much heart to talking about Irene—a sort of trite justification for revenge, but I’ll buy it when JLM’s selling.
Lucy Liu matched him in her own restrained way: Watson, as usual, out-sleuthed Sherlock, coming up with small details and sussing out Sherlock’s security system and abbreviated crime spree. Her emotional moment when she admitted she loved the work, and his reply, gave me chills. Finally our two acting greats are being given a thorough obstacle course to display their skills! (Although obviously it annoyed me to no end that she was sent packing on a therapist appointment early on... but they explained he had to get her out of the way to avoid her connecting Irene with ‘M’ satisfactorily, so I’ll give it a pass.)
Here’s my theory: I am hoping Irene Adler’s death was faked so Moriarty could use her criminal wiles in some larger scheme. I just can’t believe they would kill off what could be such a useful character, and making her death responsible for his dependency would put her directly across Watson as a foil and opponent if she came back to life/the States.
Also it did occur to me that for an American take on Sherlock it's funny how all the major events have already happened in London and all the major characters are based in London. Not a complaint, I was basking in the different sorts of English accent last night, but it's funny how it seemingly never crossed the creator’s minds to do an American counterpart of Sherlock. No, he just got on a plane and came here, his whole mythos is entirely British. It works and all, but I do think it’s very telling of how we identify heroes in the States.
I also was sort of appalled that Sherlock stabbed him. I know it was a non-fatal situation and it was good TV but A) I don’t buy that the brawler would almost instantly forgive him and conspire to cover up his assault on the promise that he would go after Moriarty and B) Sherlock is a thinker, not a gut-popper! Because JLM is JLM he made it work, and the wound being non-fatal kept it consistent with character, but still, let’s try and shy away from any more Robert Downey Jr.-esque “deduction in the throes of physical contest” = superpowers.
In sum, this episode was genuinely engrossing, laid down a promising foundation for the rest of the series, and at long last proved to us that Watson wants to be here. I am genuinely excited about the next episode! How did you feel about it?
1. Who claims the Coca-Cola?
2. Do you think it's realistic that the brawler would ‘forgive’ Sherlock for stabbing him?
3. How long until Sherlock finds out Watson is volunteering her services?
4. Irene Adler: What are the odds she’s alive?