An Elementary Community
Thursday 10:00 PM on CBS

Elementary: "No Lack of Void" (S02E20)

About the time Sherlock ended up covered in "anthrax," I was largely prepared to write the episode off as yet another instance of the small slump that the show has found itself in. Thankfully, the show zagged where others would zig, and Sherlock did not spend the episode potentially having anthrax and solving the case inside a quarantine bubble. Because, really, the show's better than that. It's not prone to those overly heightened moments that are hollow of all meaning since we know that Sherlock (or Bones or Castle or Benson) aren't going to die by the episode's end.

So while the case still suffered from that "Hey! It's that guy!"-itis, wherein you know whodunit because you recognize the name from the credits or the face once (s)he appear on screen -- in this case it was Garret Dillahunt (who needs to find himself a new show and stat since Raising Hope is over) -- but the end result, intending to kill the cows to collect the livestock insurance money, was novel enough that I didn't really mind that it was another "to collect/hoard/keep the money" motive. It could've used a little more color than Joe Bey and his anti-government rantings, but after you're coming off the search for a killer with dentures identical to eight other people or a woman growing an ear on her back, you have to up the color game a smidge.

Thankfully, the "personal demons" subplot of the week was better than last week's "Joan is randomly guilty about this thing that happened 5 years ago that she's never mentioned before now." The basis for this week's story was the death of Alistair, a character we haven't seen since SUPER EARLY in Season 1, in episode 6 to be precise, "Flight Risk." Sadly, it's an episode I barely recall, and I didn't even remember that Alistair and Sherlock knew each other, having firmly locked in Roger Rees as the guy who posed as Sherlock's dad and nothing else. For whatever reason, I had forgotten all the other stuff about the character, including his own drug use and his nursing of Sherlock when he was higher than even a paper kite.

In any case, at least there was some foundation laid for Sherlock's actions and arc within the episode, even if it was a long time ago for us as an audience, and as such as a teensy bit out of left field. This helped to give it all a bit more meaning, and returned us to the notions of Sherlock developing empathy -- he admitted to his imaginary Alistair that he loved him very much, and will miss him -- and his addiction struggle. As a result, Sherlock's way of dealing with Alistair death was to figure out what drove a man 30 years drug-free to suddenly relapse and return to the needle.

As is often the case with the show's handling this aspect of Sherlock and its narrative, it handled it well and maturely. Sherlock's actions had repercussions that in turn led to Sherlock explain himself (and funny plate breaking), namely giving voice to ever-present fear of an addict of relapsing. What sets it off? What causes it? Sherlock's only been clean for almost two years now. That's nothing compared to 30. It's a real concern, and one I'm always glad to see the show visit, especially with as solid acting as Miller and Liu delivered in that scene.

It does make worry that we could face the real possibility of Sherlock using again before the season is out, however...thoughts on that, and anything else in the episode that struck you?


Elementary is off next week, so it'll be back with "The Man With the Twisted Lip" on April 24. Oh, and will you look at that: Mycroft's back then, too! I guess we're settling in for a run of episodes to bring us to the conclusion of whatever it is that Mycroft started scheming waaaaaaaaaaaay back in November.

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AIRS ON 2/11/2016

Season 4 : Episode 12

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