Matt Smith reviews the tenth episode of Elementary season 2…
With a mid-season break, a concept devoid of all logical definition as a break between series could be called a mid-season break, now officially over you may think Sherlock Holmes of all characters might have put the time to good use. And it seems he has, bringing along a flashback episode that’s been used by numerous series to give a little twist to a story that might otherwise be a routine. It’s a format that fits detective shows and the genre as a whole quite well.
As if to get over the break, the series throws us back in at the deep end with the excitement of a shotgun-wielding schizophrenic in a police station. But before we can see the conclusion, the producers decide to almost break the fourth wall and present Sherlock Holmes as their own surrogate in a courtroom. He even completes the classic conventions of an episode like this by filling in his own details to compliment himself.
While my use of the word ‘classic’ might be a replacement for ‘cliché’, the opening does still work despite the fact it’s a format everyone who watches television regularly has seen before at least once. Holmes, giving his testimony, is like the producers of the show. Intentionally keeping the secret of the finale away from the courtroom/viewer, he even provides his own edits (‘skip to the good bit’).
Another thing we’ve all seen before are the funny lines and interchanges between characters in this show, which make a welcome return. Amongst all the gruesome crime shows on TV at the moment, it’s nice to see a classic mystery with minimal violence played out on screen, complete with a sense of humour. One of the highlights being the explanation used to get around the tricky business of breaking into multiple peoples’ homes.
But like the positioning of himself above the law, Sherlock Holmes in one iteration or another has always seen himself as higher or at the very least separate from everyone else. His references to ‘your’ state-sanctioned practices show he still observes everyone as if they’re a case study. A series of slides under a microscope.
But it’s not as if he has no one to fight against his practices. This episode is all about whether the means justify the ends, and it almost helps Holmes’ case that he has someone like Joan Watson to keep an eye and rally against him when needed. Is a man who acts above the law acceptable if he’s supervised, or insists his moral compass keeps him within reason? As an audience, it’s easy to side with Holmes but in real life a person acting like this would probably be thrown out of the police station quicker than he’s ever invited. While Holmes talks about the greys of life making the law or a handbook useless, we cut to Watson wearing black and white giving her side of the story in the courtroom.
The villain of the case, perhaps the entire case itself, is like the lawyer says. Inconsequential. This episode feels more like a welcome back, if not for the obvious changes made to a certain character’s life. This episode is perhaps also about consequences, the sudden finality of such things when they don’t go your way.
The dramatic ending in the courtroom was a fantastic way to end it, with Holmes losing the most important thing in his life. So it’s a shame they carried on and made the verdict a mere recommendation and tied Holmes’ career up in a sitcom-like bow where almost everything was back to normal.
The case is a little forgettable in the grand scheme of things. But the feeling something in the shape of Moriarty or Mycroft is lurking in the background can’t be shaken off. Hopefully now Holmes is back to bring logic to his world, he can crack the big case that’s coming and grip us as an audience.
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