An Elementary Community
Monday 10:00 PM on CBS
Long time no read.

It has been nearly a year since I wrote the last review. Welcome back to all the people who have been here before and welcome to the new folks, which I hope are numerous because this show deserves a much wider audience than it had over the last Season.

Usually TV Shows get less interesting the longer they run. Elementary is an exception to that, at least in my opinion because it still has the capacity to move and surprise me.
I will not say much about the case that was solved in this episode. It was good, especially how Sherlock finally found the culprit but let's be honest the subplot was much more intriguing.

This brings me to the subject of


The scene where he talks about his fears that he might not be able to work anymore as a detective and that that could result in a relapse was phenomenal. He more than deserves to be recognised for his performance.

In the episode Sherlock complains to Bethany Marshall that she should come to the point (great acting by Summer Sveinson). I guess he would have told me the same by now, so I better move on to what I really want to talk about.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed at first when I read in an article that Sherlock's health problems are caused by a brain injury.
I thought that the writers wasted an opportunity to address the important topic of mental illness and the consequences for the people affected and also for their relatives and friends.

After reading an interview with Robert Doherty ( link in the feed) and after watching the episode this has changed.
Let me tell you why by asking you to do a thought experiment

Imagine Sherlock would have been diagnosed with, let's say, schizophrenia.
What would your reaction have been?

Done? Ok.

Now let me tell you this. There is not much difference between the symptoms Sherlock is experiencing and those of a psychosis. In fact current research suggests that people who show psychotic symptoms after a Traumatic Brain Injury (about 9% of the patients) have either pre - existing psychological conditions or a family history of such.

So why is our reaction so different?

It has to do with how mental illness is perceived in society. We use adjectives like "crazy" or "mad" or "mental" as insults.
Suffering from a mental illness is a stigma.

When Sherlock said that between the two options of having brain cancer or a condition that would permanently hinder his cognitive ability he would have hoped for a quick death I was reminded of an article I recently read. It was written by ELeanor Longden, a psychologist who has got schizophrenia.
One paragraph in particular stuck with me:

"In the interim my diagnoses had become a brand, a kind of social stigmata, that marked me out as disturbed and different- and vulnerable....The life I'd expected to have seemed effectively over. "Eleanor", my psychiatrist told me one day, "you'd be better off with cancer because cancer is easier to cure than schizophrenia.""
(Listening to Voices in: Scientific American Mind 9/10 2013 p.37)

She also writes that when she told a friend about hearing voices, this friend turned away from her. Society prejudges people with mental illness.
This is detrimental to their recovery.

Sherlock is afraid of telling Watson about his condition at the precinct. He fears that if the colleagues there found out about it they would exclude him. In an ideal world Sherlock could have put himself in the middle of the room and tell everybody about his problems and all the people present would have reacted to it with empathy and understanding like Watson does when she tells him to stand up and then embracing him ignoring his remark because she knows it's what he needs in that moment.

Unfortunately the world is not like that.

When you read the comments under the interview with Robert Doherty there are several people who say that they watch TV for entertainment and that they don't want to see main characters suffering from illnesses.
We tend to suppress things that we consider unpleasant and what we don't see doesn't preoccupy us.

But closing our eyes to something doesn't change that it exists.

TV Shows that reach millions of people can make a difference in how we perceive things.
I consider it important that creators, writers and TV stations dare to confront viewers with a main character that is suffering from a psychological condition. because it can help to raise awareness and thus reduce stigma. Additionally, what might even be more important, it gives people with a mental illness the feeling that they are valued.

Thank you Elementary Writers that you have got the courage to do that.

Additional Thoughts:

Everybody raise their finger whose first thought on seeing Michael digging that hole was: KILLER!

Well, I have to say that I had that thought too, but then I started to think that this was maybe exactly what was intended and reconsidered my first impression.

Actually we don't know if Michael is a murderer. The only thing we know is that he dug a hole for a corpse that was lying on the ground beside him.
It makes clear that what he does is illegal as you are not allowed to bury someone in the woods. But it does not imply that he has killed the woman.

There could be several other reasons why he does what he does. Here are three I came up with:

1. He is an undertaker who disposes off bodies for other people

2. He has created a website that helps people who want to commit suicide
(what would explain why he addressed Sherlock who is clearly in a depressive state at the moment)

3. He buries people who died from an overdose because he thinks it is easier for the relatives to cope with thinking they have vanished than knowing that they are dead.
See what I mean?


Comments (4)
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6 hours ago
Interesting ideas, especially in the field of entertainment, I think TV shows where characters struggle and find conflict and sometimes best them or even succumb to them can absorbing if done right. Mental Illness no doubt causes some knee jerk reactions but the right show like Sherlock could explore it as it has the ever present struggles and resulting fallout/feelings of addiction.
May 08, 2018
Thank you, thank you for being back !

May 04, 2018
Long time no read, sorry that seems to be no longer putting up their community posts onto the front page. If you continue to write these, I will of course show up to read them and comment, as like you, I find this to be one of the best shows on tv.

I didn't read the article you mentioned about the show, but I want to comment on what you said about the comments below. There are plenty of things that I watch for entertainment and very few of them are dramas for me, but this show can bring the drama, the mystery and the dimensions that few shows attempt and I am still highly entertained. I have recently made a lot of comments on other sites about people failing to understand that entertainment, like everything, is purely a personal view and subjective. Now I find it interesting that people commented on not wanting to see mental illnesses on even shows like this because this show has approached many subjects, especially addiction, in ways that most shows do not. Good television presents stuff like this in a way that most people do not experience and I am glad the writers are keeping this going even after all these years.

Sherlock's reaction when speaking to Watson about possibly losing his ability to work really struck hard and you are right, it showed how great an actor Miller is. Having watched these characters for all this time it really was something to see and something you have rarely seen from Sherlock and how far and much this current problem has affected him.

Writing this maybe 15-20 minutes after having finished the episode, since I was delayed in watching it for several days, I didn't put much thought into that final scene, except like your first thought, killer. But it is interesting that you have some theories of other possibilities and the writers of this show have in the past thrown some interesting ideas and curve balls into characters. It is something to look forward too in how it progresses as the season continues.

Keep up the good work as I enjoy your articles and views on the show. And I hope others find there way here with this website having so many issues keeping the community articles on the front page.
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