Matt Smith reviews the latest episode of Elementary…
As with any new interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, you eventually come across the new interpretation of Moriarty. The ads promised either an exercise in stupidity or inspired casting with the introduction of… Vinnie Jones, from The Mean Machine and that X-Men threequel in which his character paid tribute to an infinitely moronic Internet meme.
What actually happens is better than both. Like his name in this episode, M is only part of Moriarty, only part of the big picture.
Moriarty has always been portrayed as Holmes’ equal (if not his better), but with a more evil streak. He’s such a prime baddie that, like Irene Adler, the memory of the character lasts despite appearing in a disproportionate amount of Holmes stories. A genius, the Napoleon of crime, the reason Holmes gets up in the morning. In fact, in this iteration he’s the reason Holmes keeps a selection of nasty tools around the house. Not for protection, mind. Turns out Moriarty murdered the only woman Holmes ever loved so now he wants to torture the enigma responsible for his drug problems. If I hadn’t seen the ad, I’d never have seen it coming.
There’s a whole new dimension this new puzzle brings to Holmes, showing off the perhaps inhuman aspects of the character (though, paradoxically, the torture comes about because of very human emotions). Watching Holmes turn his wit against someone with violent intent is highly entertaining in a dark kind of way, while also showing the yin and yang of the Holmes character in Elementary. You can’t have the openness required for love without the risk of pain. Good without evil. Holmes without Moriarty.
His respect for M in this iteration is lacking, though he does give out the list of ‘accomplishments’ to the police in a seemingly respectful way. M’s confidence is such that he even bothers watching Arsenal thinking they’ll win ha ha ha take that all you Arsenal fans, I just told a joke about your team over the Internet.
So yes, so far not a stretch for Jones. Playing the football loving hard man is his niche, and it suits the story quite well (‘Arsenal fan. As if I didn’t have enough reason to despise you.’) But how do you make Holmes’ big bad different enough to make… well, a difference? They do it fantastically, but as with all Holmes stories I can’t really explain why it’s so good without spoiling it. So go watch it now. Or, at the end of the review. I get paid per word that you read, y’see.
The Holmes we’ve been shown the past couple of weeks has been given depth, so hopefully the Moriarty we get shown in the next few weeks gets given the same treatment. A devious plan afoot I’m sure, as Holmes’ life is starting to unravel at even the mention of Moriarty’s name. We’ve seen it so far with only the smallest of efforts on Moriarty’s part. If the series itself can run a creative parallel, we should be in for a real treat.