Matt Smith reviews the seventh episode of Elementary season 2…
Relationships with fictional characters are certainly very strange. In some cases, they pop into your house once a week, most welcome, and show you their lives without once ever acknowledging you’re even there (unless it’s Malcolm in the Middle, in which case you’re now more interested in his dad’s secret life). I see some fictional characters more than I see certain real people. And this may sound strange, but a relationship is built up. We stand around the water cooler (which is a tired phrase and has almost been replaced by ‘internet forum’) and talk about them, what they could do, what they should do, almost as if we’re gossiping about real people who actually exist.
To make them seem real takes a lot. Good writing; good acting; good direction to name the high profile. The characters start having relationships of their own, evolving into complex creatures that, once again, we in the real world spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about.
Sherlock Holmes is not good at relationships. That much is certain, and that’s why his relationships are unavoidably stilted or awkward. People from his part come back to haunt him this week as his brother Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) and former sister-in-law Nigella (Olivia d’Abo) come over to the States just to make his life a misery. Sibling rivalry rears it’s ugly head once again as the two brothers, seemingly completely different (Mycroft, charming and accepting, Sherlock, stubborn and short), butt heads over what should be done with Nigella. The woman who so cruelly destroyed a marriage and who is so irritating I thought for sure she’d turn out to be a nice person and this would teach Sherlock a lesson.
But this episode is more concerned with the idea of revenge in relationships. It may just be a coincidence, but it’s fitting that the antagonist of the day is missing his ring finger in an episode concerning cheating within romantic relationships and the making of old wounds.
It’s also fitting he suspects an imposter when it comes to the breeding of a horse, in a case that largely seems to be about fitting around Sherlock’s social life. Nigella is linked to a case concerning drug related murders, a dangerous hitman and a thoroughbred. With all the Mafioso and assassins around I’m surprised and perplexed as to why no one’s ever tried to hunt Sherlock Holmes down.
But again, this week sees a playful tone amidst a horrible situation. A multiple-murderer is about and it’s up to Sherlock Holmes to save the day, as the police have tried and failed for years to track the killer down. This time, however, the tonal shifts are handled well. Last week the balance when it came to shifting to other stories, with their own background and emotion, wasn’t quite right. This week the producers have managed it, though only through giving the actual case the bare minimum treatment.
Sherlock Holmes has always been about the puzzle, and though he is one in himself we haven’t been able to quite see the entire picture. The producers seem to be doing well in their bid to show us their version of the character, as if he’s a unique version of a character written about over a hundred years ago. To make him seem real to us, as we welcome him onto our screens.
The only thing really lacking this week, amongst the multiple storylines playing out, was the literal puzzle. Hopefully they don’t forget that and stick with the metaphorical one, because Holmes is first and foremost a detective. One of the aspects that keeps the show from becoming too downbeat and depressing sometimes is the case itself. This week we saw a Holmes who takes ten minutes to solve a case then argues with all around him. And I wouldn’t want to welcome someone like that into my house.
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