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Elementary S02E01: "Step Nine"


One of Elementary's many, many charms is its proclivity for reworking and extending the Sherlock Holmes mythology. The show played with both Irene Adler and Moriarty to effective and profound results last season, paying respect to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original creations while still putting a fresh and invigorating spin on them. The show earns additional good will for having never presented itself as "Sherlock Holmes BUT IN THE UNITED STATES!" Instead, it's "Sherlock Holmes comes to the United States"—which means his departure affected those he left behind in London. Elementary has never shied away from this element of its premise, whether it be the Irene-and-Moriarty plot, or Rhys arriving in "A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs." Indeed, as "Step Nine" so very nicely demonstrated, it's always going to be a core aspect of the show. 

In keeping with that concept, the Season 2 premiere introduced Elementary's interpretation of two of Holmes' iconic supporting characters, Inspector Lestrade and Holmes' brother Mycroft, and in doing so, continued to build a show that acknowledges the wider Holmesian universe wile still making it its own.

Let's look at Lestrade first, since he was also involved in the case of the week, which involved the question of whether or not the media mogul Lawrence Pendry killed his wife. Well, it wasn't really a question of "if" so much as it was a question of "how," since the episode never really served up an alternative, but that's hardly a strike against the mystery since it was plotted well-enough. In any case, Lestrade, just as he was in the Doyle stories, was an inspector for Scotland Yard, and the one who took credit for all of Holmes' solves—though Doyle's Lestrade was already a fairly accomplished detective by the time Holmes started consulting, albeit more because of sheer determination than actual competency.


Rather delightfully, "Step Nine" pushed through on a rather intriguing "what if" scenario with regard to Lestrade: "What if, after helping Lestrade solve so many cases, Holmes wasn't there to help him? And what if he became addicted to the spotlight that accompanied so many brilliant collars?" So here we had a couple of Elementary's established beats coming to bear: the ramifications of Holmes leaving London and a new a way to illustrate and further comment on Holmes' own struggle with addiction, but through another character, as has become the norm for the series. 

So hopped up on his own positive press, and on the right track but with no way to confirm it, Lestrade latched onto Pendry as having murdered his own wife. But he lacked the wherewithal to prove what he knew to be true, and the delicate house of cards that was both his apparent ego (if the end of the episode was any indication) and his standing within the Yard collapsed. Lestrade's failure in the Pendry case landed him in a place that was no doubt similar to Sherlock's after the latter's spiral into drugs and addiction. The difference, however, was Lestrade's lack of a support system; Holmes, however much he may not've wanted it, had his father's money and, eventually, Joan. Lestrade didn't have anyone. So seeing Lestrade relapse, as it were, by claiming credit for the Pendry solve—it helped to reinforce Holmes' own sense of himself as a recovering addict. 

As far as the case itself went, I think the show stayed within its normal rhythms of giving us just enough information that if, like Holmes, you have a wide-ranging knowledge of various subjects, you'd be able to figure everything out using the clues provided. Elementary has steadily gotten better about building cases where the audience can piece things together, even if the show sometimes veers into Doyle's style of "Aha! It was this obscure pipe tobacco that helped me to solve the case, Watson!" as if everyone has a deep knowledge of different brands of pipe tobacco. That was the case here, as 3-D printers are probably still a relatively new technology to many people, but at least all the dots were there for us to connect. By the way, I'd be willing to bet that this television season sees a plethora of 3-D printer-related plots since they're very news-y at the moment.


Then there's Mycroft. I admit to being something of a Mycroft fan. In Doyle's stories, Holmes' brother was just like Elementary's Holmes described him to Joan: fat and lazy. However, Doyle's Mycroft was also even smarter than Holmes, able to solves cases without even leaving his comfy chair at the Diogenes Club. He just lacked the energy and drive to really do anything about it, once or twice referring cases that he'd already technically solved to Holmes, so that Holmes could do all the actual work. The two brothers were hardly as icy as presented here, but given Mycroft's overall inertia, they never did see much of one another.

Elementary did a nice job interpreting these aspects of Mycroft. I rather liked the series' slimmed-down and stylish version of the character, played very finely by Rhys Ifans. Initially, I saw his appearance as another example of how Holmes' departure for the States rattled those around him; I took his claims of exercise and healthy living as a reaction to his brother's addiction, a wake-up call of sorts. That Mycroft's lifestyle was instead related to illness, however, gave him a deeper motivation to want to "become Sherlock Holmes' friend." While blowing up his brother's possessions may not have seemed like the best way to go about that, it did clean the slate between them, and I'm hoping Mycroft appears a few more times.

So, all in all, a very good premiere. What did you all think?



OTHER CLUES

– I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooved Joan's tee-shirt in this episode. Though, really, both Joan and Sherlock have the best clothes.

– "He intends to bed you!" I really liked how, at first, Joan ignored Sherlock's jabs about Mycroft's intentions and Joan's supposed transference of sexual desire. She's just so mature and confident that it felt realistic for her to take some more prodding before getting into a lightweight argument about it with Sherlock.


– Langdale Pike is a character from the stories. He was something of a gossipmonger, so being a CCTV observer actually makes a lot of sense.

– I thoroughly enjoyed how calmly Sherlock and Mycroft were, sitting on that bench as the storage space exploded.

– I really hope someone was looking after Clyde and the bees while Sherlock and Joan were away.

– Music choice while writing the review: Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with Janine Jansen on the violin.

– I am obviously not Lily. Apologies to those of you who were expecting her particular brilliance and having to settle for me. Also, we're still undecided on whether Elementary will be receiving weekly reviews this season. If you'd like them to continue, please let us know in the comments, and get your friends and neighbors to read and comment as well! Regardless, be sure to join the Elementary community if you haven't already!

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/15/2014

Season 2 : Episode 24

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