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Elementary: "The Hound of the Cancer Cells" (S02E19)

Murders are, as we're often told by police in both fiction and non-fictional programming, committed for the dullest of reasons. Even if committed in an act of passion or rage, whatever drove the person to that emotional intensity was built up on something mundane like jealousy or money. It's the lengths people will go to cover it up or make it appear convoluted that end up on docu-dramas on TruTV that make it seem all the more dramatic.

"The Hound of the Cancer Cells" is just such a case. A slightly complicated set of misdirections and lies intended to keep large sums of money away from someone else. That's generally fairly odious, if boring. That Hank Prince was doing this by sabotaging his own revolutionary medical device -- a breathalyzer that detects cancer (Hannibal Lecter would be proud) -- and thus delay/deny people access to life-saving medical treatment makes it just very terrible.

It's why "The Hound of the Cancer Cells" felt a little manipulative. It was as if the writers went, "Hm. Killing people to prevent his estranged wife from getting money is pretty run of the mill...WHAT IF HE HAS SOME NEAT LIFE-SAVING DEVICE THAT WILL MAKE HIM LOOK HORRIBLE?" And so the episode was off and running on that front. It may have been intended to give the episode a little something extra, but it just felt unnecessary to me. I get that without the medical journals and Adam Peer and academic/corporation corruption (a very real issue) were necessary to give the episode some urgency, and maybe that alone would've been enough without the cancer angle?



So what did you all think about the Bell subplot? It, for me, felt sort of muddled. It seemed like there might've been attempt to draw parallels between Rose's sense of sacrifice and an unending battle to save his neighborhood in the sacrifices that Bell has made to continue on in this homicide division, but never quite got anywhere (or I'm just looking for something that wasn't there at all).

In addition, Bell and Sherlock have officially made up! So, hurrah on that! I feel like it happened rather quickly given Bell and Sherlock's limited interactions since Bell returned to homicide, but the speed at which he recovered his ability to fire his sidearm mirrored his ability to be cool with Sherlock. Bell's character development was, instead, short-changed so that we could see more of Sherlock getting over his old ways of being -- "Misanthropy was so easy, Watson. Elegant. I miss it sometimes." -- and being a better person, concluded best with his willingness to talk to Bell at the end of the episode. Sherlock was likely going to get all the character development out of Bell's injury anyway, but it ended up feeling rushed, and without a clear impact on Bell.

Not the show's best work overall. Or maybe I'm just being grumpy?

***

You all sort of disappeared last week! Going to chalk it up to you all just really wanting to watch Scandal instead. Elementary is off for the next two weeks (which is good timing for me, honestly), so maybe we'll get back together on April 3 to discuss "The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville"? Mm-hm?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 4/24/2016

Season 4 : Episode 22

Next Episode

AIRS ON 5/1/2016

Season 4 : Episode 23

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Sorry, this is off topic, Does anyone else think that the actors on the show are not speaking loud enough? I don't think I'm losing my hearing. This is the only show that I have to rely on closed caption and to turn up the volume in order to hear what they are saying. There are times where both Holmes and Watson are pretty much whispering. I don't recall having this problem last season.
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They are talking very quietly.
I think Jonny Lee Miller uses it to express Sherlock's severe state of depression and Lucy Liu as Watson talks to Sherlock with a quiet voice to comfort and calm him. Like a mother talks to her upset child.
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Could be, but it has been like this all season and not just certain scenes ...., The others on the show I can hear fine.
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I'm not sure why someone willing to deny someone millions of dollars, and stooping to kill a collegue in order to prevent him from finding out, would be any less willing to sabotage the positive effects of his machine, potentially harming millions of people. Any person capable of kiling one person is capable of killing 100 people, since the moral framework or rationalization is basically the same in either case (the well-being of others vs. the selfish needs of oneself.) One of the differences between most murderers and serial killers is that the serial killer understands that they will kill others while the murderer oftentimes rationalizes that this person alone will suffice. However, given the same moral dilemna, they will be more than happy to kill again. Therefore, it isn't that far a leap from one idea to another. And you can't compare their behavior to the average human being (since the average human being isn't willing to kill in the first place.) You have to compare it to the average killer's behavior, which gives a greater context to their actions.

As for Bell's subplot, that's simply the show trying to be topical and racially sensitive (or insensitive, as the case may be.) The old man dying in a blaze of glory, fighting to the last breath to save his neighborhood, let's all say it together: "Into the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred." I get that a beat-cop/Detective doesn't have much influence at the local level to deal with the systemic social, political and economic issues at play, and I get the animosity that's slowly thawing between him and Sherlock, but if there is someone who could work out a solution where everyone walks away except the drug dealer, it's Sherlock. Protecting witnesses and catching the bad guys, however boring, is right up his cobbled street. Isn't part the context of the show that one person can't do it alone?

Some may see their thawing as rushing it a bit, and perhaps it is, but I think Bell is smart enough to realise that Sherlock is who he is and that he's not going to change. Also, he did, in his own way, try to mend his relationship with Detective Bell. What people don't understand is how deeply lonely Sherlock is. He knows he's anti-social, he's smart enough to know he drives people away, and that makes it easier to break down clients and other people in lies but its extremely difficult to have friends with that ability. You can't just turn it on or off, it takes alot of practice to maintain that sharp edge. Therefore, when it gets turned on people close to you, it can make them feel like bugs under a microscope instead of human beings. And yet, without that ability, he wouldn't be able to be as effective as he is. I Sherlock is the one who got Det. Bell injured, he's also the one who helped get him better.
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Did anybody else recognise, that the Mossad friend of the victim was frightening Sherlock so much that he was acting like a child who is home alone? He didn't let her in until she asked him to and then he wasn't able to take the USB Stick out of her hand. She had to leave it on a stool. By the way, Sherlock usually doesn't open the door. It's always Watson.

Another curious fact:
In places outside his home he positions himself in the room so that he can see everybody and doesn't stand free in the room. He always "covers" his back by leaning against something.
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"The Hound of the Cancer Cells". I just got it. Slooooooooooow!
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Not their best effort. Felt like they were fluttering around between the the three stories. Not very coherent, like they didn't really know where to go.
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I liked the main case. The side case had potential, but it was too easy to see how it'd play out. I thought the old guy would either kill the gangbanger and then turn himself in or botch the job and get killed himself, so having them both end up dead was a nice touch, but it always seemed headed for one fatal confrontation or another.
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Um, Elementary is missing a main plot arc at all in my opinion. Where last season being the first could get away with case-of-the-week style episodes it has now become dry. The Bell arc is - let's not deny it - BORING. So where last season had a more pressing Moriarty issue, this season doesn't actually appear to be going anywhere, and if they are pretending that the Mycroft plot was interesting - they don't appear to be in favour of building any suspense on the matter. So basically - rev up Elementary, you seem to be running at parking speed.
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Does it need a main arc, though...? It was 8 episodes between "M." and "A Landmark Story" that gave any development on the Moriarty arc in Season 1. Just case-of-the-week after case-of-the-week. While it's been 11 episodes since we last saw Mycroft in "Blood is Thicker," he was also set up in the premiere and in "The Marchioness." So the Mycroft arc, as it were, was just a bit more spread out (so far) than the Moriarty arc really was (which didn't actually kick in until Episode 12 last season).

I don't think the Bell arc has been boring -- sorry to deny it! -- just poorly managed, and not to Bell's benefit. It was to Sherlock's, which, really, if there's been a main arc to this season, it's been about Sherlock coming to grips with having people in his life, being...nicer to those people, more empathetic. It's been more of an emotional arc than a plot one, similar to Joan's steady improvement as a partner for Sherlock this season as well.

Those things perhaps aren't as juicy or sexy as a big bad lurking in the shadows and the hunt for him or her, but still important to the show and its characters.
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I see it the same way. Sherlock is learning , that having people in ones life doesn't always mean getting hurt. But as dealing with people still frightens him it is very difficult.
I think that was expressed in the following words:
"Misanthropy was easy, elegant. I miss it sometimes."
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I am in overall agreement with you. Needing a big Wham Bam Pow arc is not necessary the be all and end all. I watch Elementary for the characters and I think most often thoughtful interplay and therefore growth and development of each person into their next level. Last week was a great example of both Holmes and Watson helping Lestrade find his self worth and self confidence back. And growing themselves. I found it satisfying and interesting. It also helps when you have in most part very good actors doing this work. It is about emotional arc and character arcs. I mark this by being reminded I real did not rate Lucy Lui ever. Elementary changed my mind. She can really act. I don't know what she is like in real life, but I know I can really get and like Watson.

This episode possibly wasn't the best. However at the end I was happy I'd spent time watching another episode. I hope it continues.

An example in this episode was Bell finding out his Hero was only a man and flawed quite badly. I found it touching and devastating. And as much as you could tell it did rock Bell just as he had climbed his Everest!

I could be devils advocate and question what is wrong with cerebral? But I won't.
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Also they never cleared up who Mycroft was speaking to on the phone
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They've also got Joan's biological dad to enter the fray, who is something of a mystery. They could do some real fun with him as an 'homeless' guy used by Sherlock multiple times etc. in anonymity for his and/or Joan's sake. Let's hope it's not a wasted touchy feely lone episode tale.
I'd like to see Miss Hudson reappear for a run of a small arc. After all, 'she' has dealings with high fliers and so could introduce anything the writers little hearts desired.
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i really wish they would stop with these 1-2-3 or so week gaps in shows, really is getting tireing, i mean do they want us to lose interest in the show or something?
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Sadly, a common schedule occurrence in March since the want the show to often last into May. And Elementary actually only has 5 episodes left.
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It's feeling like the producers are regretting ever running the Bell curve, so's to speak, and in consequence are using tag-ons. It's clear that Sherlock and Bell keep getting pinned for those 'touching' road back scenes but they feel forced to me. I never liked the story of the shooting and Bell's reaction; as it made a mockery of him as a cop and it's daily risks. Moreover, it's a given of how Sherlock conducts himself both personally and professionally and since then Bell has appeared demoted from the writing; as he now seemingly can't be around Sherlock and Joan's deeds.
The Marty Rose story confused matters more for Bell's regrowth and nigh on set things further into confusion. Instead of keeping Rose as an inspiration they made him into another pit of doom. So, we have Sherlock and Bell outside the bar nodding to each other's realisation that life sucks occasionally. Bell should've been written to go in the bar with Sherlock and very publicly have a 'friendly' beverage; then he, Sherlock and all could move the Hell on back to before.
I'm done with stories of corporate greed and married/men who'd rather kill than share millions with the tax man or their exes. These types of story are far too prominent of late (with new shows about such on the way, yawn). Sherlock works best at the weird and more grass roots for me. The everyday is often the most unbelievably out there. So let's get back there. However, the fact that this has got a 3rd season offers chances for several back stories - Moriarty, Mycroft and no, doubt, more Lestrade.
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Mmm... found it a bit flat. Let's see what Noel says...

-------------------

Well it seems we both agree Noel... See you in two weeks! TTFN!
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I think everyone seems a little grumpy. I'm sure if we had a Bell centric episode (rehab montage as well) everybody would be WTH where's Sherlock etc. can't please everyone I guess. Also I think some of us are getting spoiled by the pace of series which have shorter seasons (like True Dectective, Banshee, Sleepy Hollow etc). So filler episodes like the one last night don't seem to excite as much as the ones that deal with the whole season arc storyline (Mycroft).
For a case of the week episode I really liked both plots. I wasn't surprised by who did it but the why. I found it rather devious of a man to commit murder and ruin his company (for a time being) so he didn't have to pay his ex a boat load of money. Extreme? Yes. Entertaining. Sure. Bell's subplot case, was good as well. Yes, there could have been a bit more but it was sad to see a guy who loved his neighborhood so much and wanted justice that he needed to go Grand Turino. It affected Bell so much that he didn't want to pretend to be happy for his party. Noel I think there wasn't any parallels to be drawn here but maybe what happened could lead into something else for Bell's character later.
I am very much enjoying how when Joan starts to figure out a major detail or lead, Sherlock gets this smiles on his face. Yes a smile! He is becoming proud teacher. As for his feelings about going to Bell's party...I completely understood Sherlock. I also took it as he is starting to consider what people think of him. An awareness of sorts? If you dig deeper into the episode the writers are touching onto some of the season long storyline with Sherlock and relationships. Oh also did anyone catch a little chemistry between Bell and Joan? Not every show has to have a relationship but I could possibly Ship that one.....possibly. :)
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I will always be here for shows that I watched and you reviewed ! Why is this review not on the daily featured news section? Is it because this is a labor of love?

Anyway about the episode, I did not like it and felt much worse than last week's episode which I really liked. Elementary is a little inconsistent in that sense.

I do hope the last few episode would involved better villains and have more Sherlock/Watson personal interaction and we have some returning guest star.
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Totally a labor of love (meaning no compensation on my behalf). Episodes just don't always need a full (fee-worthy) write-up due to their procedural-y nature. If an episode does warrant it, it gets the featured treatement. :)
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I am continually amazed by Jonny Lee Miller's physical acting skills - I can feel him vibrating with the importance of the conversations; without changing the tone or volume of his voice he imbues the words with strength of value by his sheer presence and the physicality of his speaking.
Simply amazing performances
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I absolutely agree. He really doesn't need words at all. He has got a presence I have seldom seen before. His performance is extraordinary. And no dialogue is spoken casually,. Every word is important. I have read somewhere that Jonny Lee Miller is a fan of Buster Keaton. That fits.
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it does fit for communicating physically, without words, but JLM vibrates with barely constrained energy - you can see that he is filtering an incredible volume of information to communicate simply and specifically to his sluggish audience.
BK did not have that - he was more manic.
still an interesting comparison
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You are right. I only meant the physical part. As for the rest I think Jonny Lee Miller might be highly gifted himself. Some people I spoke to had the same opinion. That would explain a lot.
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I feel like if he was doing this....10, 15 years ago, he'd be nominated for Emmys every year. It's just so crowded now, and voters tastes have changed that these sort of more broadcast-procedural/straight-and-narrow sort of performance (meaning not an anti-hero of some sort). Sadly.
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Completely agree. Since the tastes seem to go for the subscription cable (HBO/CIN/SHOW etc) where you can have dialogue with swearing, sex with nudity and extreme violence they might need to consider adding a category for the broadcast stations so these performances with boundaries don't get overlooked.
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As I am European I don't care much about nudity ;-) but what I really like is the absence of swearing and violence. I am a great fan of good and elaborate language . It is important to me. Elementary shows that it is possible to be exciting without shootouts, car pursuits and strong language. I really appreciate that, because it has become very rare.
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And they're not always overlooked. James Spader won three times for Boston Legal, and Hugh Laurie was nominated boatloads of times for House. Spader had the benefit of being a minor film star with a flashy as hell role created by a famous TV producer and Laurie had a broadcast-friendly anti-hero.

The only real trend-bucking recently was Kyle Chandler winning for Friday Night Lights, but that was very much a "Hey. Yeah. Sorry about ignoring you for seasons" kind of an award. :-/
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Yes! His performance needs a little Emmy Nomination love. Or Gloden Globe nom.
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Especially since his lines are long and convoluted. It must not be easy to memorize all that .
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They are long, but considering that three years ago in "Frankenstein" at the National Theatre in London he was playing two main characters (Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster) changing roles every evening with Benedict Cumberbatch, than memorizing the lines of "Elementary" must be child's play.
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Thank you for mentioning that, I wish I had the occasion of seeing him then.
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I read that they are still very close friends, and fans of each others' take on Sherlock - would love to sit down and have a beer with those two. The Cumberbombs at the Oscars were hilarious.
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Oh, I'm like 3 episodes late... so I'll be reading all this when I can catch up. I think I have a couple of weeks now...
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I normally pick up on stuff like this, but I blew it. I did NOT suspect Prince and I did NOT think the old man would kill the gang banger. (sigh)

I enjoyed the episode.

I got a kick out of the victim crying for help and "I don't want to die" with helium voice. Quite a juxtaposition.

And, I thought the concept of having the company owner use the email and staged suicide to temporarily tank his company stock was quite clever.

I do agree it was a bit silly. A legitimate (i.e. NOT a psychopath killer) business owner would get in front of the press, defend his device, and announce a new blind study, inviting 3rd Party observers to validate the findings. It's not like this was a 5 year study, right?

SO, given how easy that would be, you'd think the cops or Holmes would simply ask him why he didn't do that. And, the fact that he didn't would arouse suspicion.
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I did lose sight of the helium voice in my grumpiness. Solid, if morbid, chuckles. :)
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I agree with the others, the moment I saw Prince I knew he was the killer and the moment I met the old men, I knew he would shoot that boy. It took away almost all the fun of the episode as I was only dreading that I would be right. The story of the 'why' of the first murder seemed far-fetched as stock will not drop that much based on a anonymous e-mail. The way competitor Charles Hammond handled it (will buy if interesting) is far more believable.

Overall, the story had no Sherlock Holmes feel at all. Hope they will imporve next week.
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Yep, I agree that the main case-of-the-week was pretty bad. Not only did I suspect he was the killer as soon as I saw him, the way he ended up being revealed as the killer felt like the writers trying too hard to make the case intricate for Sherlock.

I liked everything else though. I suppose Bell's recovery (with his job re-training and with Sherlock) seemed quick because we haven't seen much of him lately, but I can accept the idea that plenty of stuff happened off screen. Bell himself mentioned that he worked harder at his overall recovery more than anything else he'd ever done.
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Thinking about it some more, I've decided that I'm still irked about the Bell stuff happening off-screen since we had a solid two-episode arc about Lestrade getting his mojo back but Bell gets (essentially) the same two (at the most three?)-episode treatment, but spread out to the point of fuzziness. I just think that given Bell's prominence it should've received a more...consistent treatment, if that makes sense.
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yup - feel kinda cheated. The whole Bell story arc was critical to the season. Sherlock realized his narcissism (pedantic problem with "misanthropy" which equals hatred and SH is more disdain) caused the shooter to go off and shoot Bell; and with that realization came a better understanding of and respect for (during the Hearing) of his work mates - can't call them peers though - and the danger they face every day; and the growing respect for Joan's skills and actively helping her grow as an investigator. We seldom see a cop going through physical rehab for wounds - usually an arm sling at the end of an ep - and Bell's physical and psych rehab were important for me to see; and I feel short-changed; because Bell's journey was similar to Sherlock's self-realizations/revelations.
Sweet Stutterin Jeebus - could you possibly write two more convoluted sentences?!?
going back to work now.
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If you read any FTW/WTF that feels like a massive run-on sentence, it's totally mine, so, yes, I can write all the convoluted sentences. :)
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Sometimes, when you're on a rant, one just can't find the time for periods. :-)
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Yeah, I agree. Even in this one, I wish Bell's case was the A-plot while the other one was just done on the side. Not just because it felt a bit more interesting overall, but also because based on # of appearances and time on screen, he seems to be the third main character (does more than Gregson). So that when he has that moment at the end there, it'd have felt much better overall had we seen a more significant build up to it lately.
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Maybe there will be a dvd extra of Bell working hard to recover - set to some cheesy 80's music -

But with Bell instead of puppets...maybe
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Bell's gonna need a montage... montaaaage
Oh, it takes a montage... montaaaage.


Coincidentally, I've often thought Bell (J.M. Hill) kinda had the face of a puppet... not sure why... feels like something to do with his jaw. Hmmm...
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or the strings Sherlock pulls, hmmmm....
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Haha, zing! *Slow clap*
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I have some mixed feelings about this episode.
I liked Bell's story this week and would have actually preferred more time was dedicated to it rather than the main story - it had more heart.
The main story had a few problems for me.
The victim being the Adam Peer, (with cohort), felt a little weak/lazy and the fact that the murderer actually used the Adam Peer pseudonym to lower the value of his company added to this feeling.
And the fact that the first person Sherlock talked to ended up being the killer AGAIN is a worrying pattern.
I did like the ending with Sherlock and Bell - it fitted the way their relationship has developed, a friendship based on mutual respect.
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If only I had mixed feelings, or any feelings whatsoever about this episode. I completely forgot I just watched this episode until I read the review; which does not bode well. Oh well, for all of the stories Elementary has given me, I can let a dud or two slip by.
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Some of the stand alone episodes do just blur into each other at times
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Hey thanks for emailing me the link!
I will watch the show in a few hours and come back with comments!
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moi aussi - merci
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no prob
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