Elementary "The Red Team" Review: Enough With the Spies Already

Elementary S01E13: "The Red Team"

Spies and counterintelligence must be tracking well on the giant algorithm machine that tells studio executives what to make shows about, because for the second time Elementary set a story in the little-known, high-stakes world of international espionage with an episode centered on “The Red Team,” a phrase which brought me back to my college days where lots of fellow students wore the T-shirt “BE THE REDS!” which I think is grammatically incorrect yet totally charming. Needless to say, the episode was not about a beloved Korean sports team that the secondary characters were members of, but an elite National Secret Service squad that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Here’s the thing: The pitch of “Sherlock, but in New York City!” CUTS GLASS because of how unique NYC is. And New York has the weirdest crimes IRL. Like, just last year alone a sushi restaurant burned down because one of the chefs hoarded gasoline in soy sauce buckets, a father walked into a public school swinging a chain around his head and demanding to fight some 14-year-olds because someone was bullying his daughter, and a building superintendent broke into a tenant's apartment to sex up their dog. (Well, the dog thing happened in New Rochelle, but you see what I mean.) NYC has literal layers of people from every culture in the world who have grown set in their New York City-specific ways and are thrust together in this pressurized atmosphere, and that means the crimes that happen there are like, you know, interesting but instead we’re getting mixed up in these big international spy dramas. I mean the climax of last night’s episode happened in a seedy motel that looked like it was in Burbank. I know it's roughly $500 million a second to film in New York but Elementary doesn’t even TRY to get anything about the city across except for like, hailing taxis. You know they have at least the same money Louie did in Season 1, but that rarely comes through in the cases. Sherlock living in NYC mostly translates to his house looking vaguely like a set from the film version of Rent. And more and more the crimes seem to happen in isolated, non-New York bubble locales, or in largely theoretical worlds like that of secret national service groups, Russian spies, international assassins, etc.

But far be it from me to argue with the computer that runs Hollywood. It’s the size of a refrigerator and voice activated and draws on both science AND magic for its computations, and I don’t. Maybe I am not smart enough for last night’s storyline? I honestly had a lot of trouble following the bouncing ball all the way through. A conspiracy theorist was killed, he had been bugged by Yossarian who said he was a marketing exec and not a spy with a Catch-22 reference code name but this hot team of super spies was being killed off BY OUR GOVERNMENT but they didn’t want to talk about it to a Brit/the NYPD because they were proud to die for their country and also the last one alive would have this super valuable information to sell to Page Six and then one of the guys who had a wife in a wheelchair (and was either carrying a boombox or a big purse) decided to everybody else off to save her life and… I’m sorry I suffered this breakdown of understanding where my brain got just straight-up too bored to function and I just started mentally fixating on the shiny parts of the show that caught my magpie’s eye. Like Lucy Liu’s wet look!

And her boots! This episode was a foot fetishists’ fant-ta-ta-saaaay. She was wearing some HOT BOOTS. Sherlock, also, I realized a lot of this show functions as a primer for the freshest in men’s sweaters. He had so many holier-than-thou sweaters this week. And he kept doing like little muppet expressions. NOT A COMPLAINT!

It was exasperating how awful the NYPD were. We’ve seen Sherlock solve the last 11 cases singlehandedly and vindicate Gregson from framing a terrible murderer, and yet they were still icing him out at the station and getting angry at him for helping them out.

Then they horribly accepted his help and let him solve the case after rightfully admitting they were too stupid to sort out a box of Legos let alone a spy ring and then Gregson PUNCHED SHERLOCK IN THE GUT at the end for his troubles. How awful. What a bunch of just terrible stupid thugs. Hopefully the real police department is not as horrible but ever since that one cop tried to meet women online for the express purpose of cooking them I’ve given up hope on the 5-0. And also one time the LAPD pulled me over under suspicion of being a hooker!

Yes, it’s true. I had a 5am shift at a hostel in Hollywood where I worked the front desk and made the hooker mistake of putting on chapstick before hopping out of my vehicle. A car pulled up and did that little “YOPYOP” sound and they pulled me over and wanted to know, “Where are you going, what are you doing, oh you have a job around here? Or really, at this hour? What kind of job? Well go over there and walk in the front door then, if that’s the case. Who does that car belong to? Where’s your daddy?” and all that kind of commentary. Let me tell you right now, I was NOT dressed the part of a streetwalker I had a giant navy blue crewneck sweatshirt on top of huge baggy jeans and sneakers and wet hair in a pony tail and chapstick. They wrote down my license number and everything! I slumped around feeling like Fantine for the rest of the day. So no, I’m not going to sit here and sing you a lullaby about how IRL as a whole the police are looking after us all day every day because each police department is but a tapestry of individuals and some of those threads are BROKEN.

Loved the bit with the turtle.

ALSO BEES. BEES. Okay, so from last episode, technically the first commenter to call out how I was wrong about the Sherlock’s pet hive from the pilot never coming back again was THEOPRATT. I owe you a coke! DM me via this site with an address to send you your prize!


1. What’s your personal experience with police?

2. Does Elementary need some more of that “real authentic New York pizza” sort of tone or should it just keep doing its thing?

3. Is Gregson being totally ungrateful for that time Sherlock did his job for free and also that time he let it slide that he had framed a criminal with false evidence?

4. Are you getting tired of all these high-falutin’ spy game type plots or are they exciting?

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