Elementary "Risk Management" Review: Set Up for a Punch

Elementary S01E22: "Risk Management"

Guys I hilariously mixed up the title of this episode with next week's double episode. I have corrected some of my sass below to reflect, though rest assured my vitriolic outbursts and half-baked deductions make no more sense than usual.

I feel like I should be stomping around a dingily sponge-painted brownstone in a series of quirky T-shirts and rumpled sweaters today, because like our very own sassy protagonist I TOTALLY deduced that Irene Adler had faked her death! Well, I did have help from dozens of you commenters. Still! Let's not such a minor detail take away from my self-absorbed genius. Hurrah!

This week's episode of Elementary gave us only the tiniest glimpse of Natalie Dormer, but referred to her with the famous Irene Adler quote about her being the woman to eclipse her entire sex. Although you have to wonder if that includes Watson, or if at this point she transcends gender-based categorization as women in 2k13 tend to do. Gregson repeatedly warned Watson against staying with Sherlock, and she accused him of being more worried for her sake because she “didn’t have a penis.” (Thank you, CBS, for letting that line slide. The septuagenarians in your audience were probably aghast, but a little adrenaline is good for them.) When Sherlock told her he would protect her no matter what, and then tried to avoid bringing her along to the address where Moriarty said he would find his answerst, Watson reiterated her arguments to Gregson that affirmed her right to live dangerously, have agency, and not be relegated to the role of damsel in distress.

Confusingly, she also said her reasons for wanting Sherlock’s case resolved were personal, drawing another parallel between herself and the case-of-the-week’s murderer, who had arranged for another man to die to give her beloved husband peace of mind. It was a rich stew of gender parity and possible romantic overtures, allowing fans to seize on whichever interpretation they prefer: platonic loyalty! Romantic love a-blossom!

While in the source material Sherlock famously begrudged Watson’s betrothal and fiancée, Watson always seemed pretty cool with Irene Adler (or at least that was the case in the one story she appeared in). The worshipful quote about how Irene was THE woman—I believe it's actually excerpted from Watson’s narration and is his impression of Sherlock’s feelings for Irene. 

Because JLM is JLM, he whispered this summation of Irene Adler the way a chiavalrous knight describes his quest for the holy grail. And in true British Acting form, he had a lip-trembling, gasp-sighing, shaking-hand-pointing moment of realization when he saw the back of her head in the last 30 seconds of the episode. (NO thank you for that, CBS. If that’s considered one episode of Dormer’s three-episode run—with the two-hour finale being the second and third episodes—then shame on you. My poor Dormer-seeking heart can hardly bear it!)

See, this is what I love about British Acting and why I will watch a British film basically sight unseen any day of the week. Raised from the cradle on children’s pantomimes and Shakespeare and the smells of greasepaint, British guy actors fearlessly throw themselves into a role with wild emotional abandon, lips a-quivering and eyes a-watering. American male actors tend to use the Duke and Bruce Willis as emotional touchstones, clenching and unclenching their jaw to react to things like beloved family members being tortured in front of them, but JLM seriously went physically a-flutter in a scene reminiscent of my favoritest Campy Over-the-Top Emotionally Choked Person performance of all time: that of Anthony Hopkins in Legends of the Fall. Bask in it with me If you will (also, can you spot Young Gregson?!):

Yes, obviously I’ve opened myself up for the first comment on this article to be “YOU DO KNOW ANTHONY HOPKINS IS WELSH, DON’T YOU?” Why yes, yes I do. *Dormer Smirk*

The promo makes it look very promising that we can expect just such a heart-wrenching breast-clasping embrace betwixt Irene and Sherlock next week, which will then no doubt be marred by the awkward question “So babe…why did you fake your death? Also, are you squatting here? I'm sort of into that too. Aren't we a pair of dirty birds.”

Also, Irene’s retort “How the hell did you find me? And why?! Can’t you take a hint?”

If nothing else, this episode established Sherlock and Moriarty are greatly intrigued by each other and down for some adversarial shenanigans (something viewers have long been rooting for.) And that Sherlock's side of the bargain will be more complicated as he's vowed to not let their crossfire intercept Watson.

It was an interesting turn to make Moriarty a client, even if his aim in getting Sherlock to solve the case was to stage a rather elaborate example of why revenge is truly awesome. (Yes, I know the man’s revenge ultimately was thwarted, but when he THOUGHT he'd acheived it, it basically saved his life. He lost weight, his skin elasticity improved, he was glowier about the face. Revenge did not send him on an endless cycle to hell, it straightened him out like a spa stay with a juice cleanse. Whatever you say, Elementary!)

So all in all: Slightly interesting case of the week. But I'm excited for next week, and that’s the main point of an episode before a finale, isn’t it?


… Why do you think Irene faked her death? Ballpark: Trying to escape Moriarty, or they're in cahoots?

… Vengeance: Bad or good for mental health?

… Watson: Headed toward an adversarial relationship with Irene, or, in the spirit of not rehashing the female stereotype of “any two women who know the same man are instant enemies,” will the show make them friends/besties/bros/other?

… Exactly how many pairs of killer sky-high ankle boots does Watson have hidden ‘round the old brownstone? 

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