Elementary Season 1 Finale Review: "Menage a Trois With Moriarty"

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Elementary S01E23 / S01E24: "The Woman" / "Heroine"


Last night’s two-hour Elementary basically served as a standalone movie. While there were skillful references to previous episodes woven in, the appearance of Irene, the unmasking of Moriarty, and Moriarty’s conquer were skillfully incorporated into one contained arc, and I predict fans who are trying to get their friends into this show will recommend that if nothing else they watch the finale.

Irene being Moriarty was predicted by TV.com commenters months ago, so while that wasn’t so shocking, it was almost hilarious how much trouble “Irene” took to stage her own kidnapping. An elaborate backstory about a peony on her pillow every night and the man wearing a mask that looked like this:

Like, that is a ridiculously fanciful idea of captivity. The backstory between Irene and Sherlock was well done, although it slipped into moments of giddy hilarity when Natalie Dormer started S.T.Rugglin’ with that American accent (no worries, we can’t all be Hugh Laurie, and I’m sure we Yanks owe the Brits a few sore ears with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow/Renee Zellweger busting out British accents on the reg). Dormer’s aggressively hard Rs could also be explained by the Moriarty reveal, which included the detail that in addition to being a criminal genius mastermind she was also British, liked ultra-modern jackets, and preferred up-dos. It was all just a lot for Sherlock to take in.

I did think that making Moriarty a woman and collapsing her with Irene, while predicted by many of you guys—and we can’t hold that against them because here at TV.com we are sort of masters of deduction—elegantly grounded the rather bombastic, comic-book aspect of Moriarty vs. Sherlock in relatable human emotions. That Moriarty keeps withholding from outright killing Sherlock because Moriarty admires him as a peer has been the prevailing logic for their adversarial/admiring relationship in previous reboots, to take it a step further and make them sort of a tragic love story only raises the stakes.

I do wish they had gotten the same point across with fewer expository speeches. Irene had several awkward paragraphs of prose about their worldviews and he was a game she’d always win and she had observed him via knocking boots etc. etc… when really the same ideas could have been illustrated with a few more flashbacks. (Just the look on Dormer’s face when she peered into the grotto said more than many of her monologues; if we’d seen more flashbacks after the big reveal in place of Irene’s angry rhetoric, the dramatic irony could have been something quite beautiful.)

As much as I liked the Irene/Moriarty turn, the period before the big Moriarty reveal was actually my favorite part of the finale. Watson and Sherlock taking Irene home to their squatter’s palace, and Irene sitting around staring at TVs while Sherlock peeped at her like “WTF?” was just sort of kind of eerie and imaginative and just weird. I love that Watson offered to go and Sherlock insisted she stay.

I did love that Sherlock relinquished the reins of the investigation to Watson and focused on being with his resurrected lady love, leaving Watson with some ultimate final exam for her apprenticeship and leaving us with scene after scene of Dormer and JLM capital-A ACTING at each other like two students in a black-box theater. SO MANY intense whispers, hissed mere centimeters from each other’s eyeballs. They started with the intensity as soon as they met in that studio, pinching at each other’s cheeks, and from then on they didn’t let up for a moment. I don’t know if they were feeding off each other’s natural proclivity for wrought melodrama, or if a director with a megaphone and bullwhip kept screaming “MORE INTENSE!” and cracking the whip in the air above their heads, but it got very Acty. I mean, I love Dormer and JLM so I was lolling about like a pig on a pillow, but at the same time you rarely see a couple touching foreheads while screaming at each other. Except, of course, in black-box theatre plays, the kind where they perform like, the unabridged dialogue of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, except set in 1975 Taiwan. You know, deep theatre.

I was not so thrilled that once Moriarty was revealed, the two women sank into a catfight over who knows Sherlock better and Moriarty’s accusations that Watson was DTF and Watson calling Moriarty “bitch” and so forth. While I appreciate that Elementary is casting outside gender norms, I sort of feel a responsibility to call out that women in general aren’t very nice to other women on TV. Especially if both of them have positions of power/are the same age. And ALWAYS if they know the same man, there will be blood, oh yes, there will be blood.

That having been said, the fact Watson “solved” Moriarty and convinced Sherlock to let Moriarty feel that she’d win so she’d drop her guard, and the confidence he showed in following her advice (not to mention leaving the Irene Adler case in her hands) has made Elementary’s Watson perhaps the most respected and equitable Watson of any Holmes reboot I’ve ever seen. Lucy Liu’s Watson is not written as a feeble-minded audience proxy who's there to constantly exclaim “My word, Holmes, but how ever did you know!” No, she’s quickly picking up Sherlock’s wisdom and techniques and acting as a trusted and equal partner (and he’s enjoying limitless free first-aid and surgery). It’s perhaps my favorite of all the Sherlock-Watson relationships I’ve ever seen, as of this finale.

Speaking of favorites: THE MUMMY was on TV last night! And he’s so beautifully preserved. And he was fantastic! Sorry, but if there is one movie I can watch any time of the day or night it's The Mummy.

I will be heartbroken if Moriarty is seriously conquered and dunzo (though I was so weirdly touched and semi-fangirling that her whole endgame was to have Sherlock run away with her. Like ultimately all she wanted was a sex break in Bali with Holmes and a billion dollars. She is a manipulative and fanciful murderess, but she is a manipulative and fanciful murderess IN LOVE).

I have a feeling Cap’n Gregson might lose her on the way to the station. While Dormer has her plate notoriously full, it’s just too great of a character dynamic to lose. Hopefully during the series’ well-deserved second season we’ll see sprinkled Moriarty references and maybe even a few Dormer cameos in addition to the insanely perfect dynamic between Sherlock and Watson that is now in place.


QUESTIONS

… Surprised at all about the Moriarty/Watson reveal?

… Moriarty: When/how often will we be seeing her next season?

… What are your other Season 2 predictions?

… How did you like the finale? What about he season overall?

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