Matt Smith reviews the latest episode of Elementary….
Sherlock’s been having a hard time of it lately. First he has the man who murdered the love of his life, Irene Adler, in his grasp. He’s about to turn to the dark side and murder him for what he’s done. Then he realises the man he has isn’t Moriarty, because he’s being played by Vinnie Jones and that would be stupid. He’s suspended by the NYPD and everyone in his life is now aware of this other dimension to Holmes that has been lurking beneath the surface.
Bereft of official work to do, and his trail to Moriarty leading to Napoleon Bonaparte, he’s in need of distraction. And what better distraction than that of a conspiracy theory? A puzzle that provides more theories than facts, perhaps it’s the best way to escape.
Holmes doesn’t need the NYPD anyway, or indeed payment for his services. As we all should know, Holmes is about the puzzle instead of the reward that comes after. Whether that’s the puzzle of Moriarty, or simply meeting with a conspiracy theorist as a distraction, it’s no surprise that he comes across a crime pretty quickly.
So Sherlock comes across the dead conspiracy theorist and shortly after comes across a theory of his that doesn’t sound so immensely lazy or unintelligent. He bounds into the case, despite the NYPD pushing him back. And for all the talk of Holmes wanting to do things for the greater good, it is always about the puzzle for him.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a morality about him, and he does have genuine concern for some things in his life. But what this series shows so well is that Sherlock Holmes is most annoyed when the problem is denied to him, and he’s at his most resurgent when on a case.
One of the highlights of the series has been the scripting and casting (and the performances that come along with said actors). This episode in particular showcases what’s great about the series. Not that they usually have them, but even with a plot that sounds ludicrous (this week a government conspiracy, in previous weeks Russian spies) the characters ground it in a decidedly Holmesian world.
One thing’s for certain though. When there’s a story featuring government conspiracies, you always know who the intelligence agents are. They’re the ones who answer the question ‘And you are?’ with an emotion. ‘Curious’, ‘pissed off’, ‘hungry’, they all apply.
While Jonny Lee Miller plays Holmes fantastically in this series’ take on the legendary detective, Lucy Liu’s Watson is, as is always the case with Watson, the underrated one. The writers find a way to keep Watson around, but it would never work if it weren’t for the underappreciated and underplayed performances of Liu.
Though the script does seem to be treading old ground now everyone else hates Sherlock, but can’t get along without him. They probably can’t help but make it feel familiar, and it’s always a razor’s edge when it comes to characters that have been done dozens of times before in keeping things in the spirit of the character whilst also introducing something new. I feel this series would be given a pass on going in a different direction, however. Holmes as a character has been done near to death, especially in recent times. The news of a new series of the London-set Sherlock, as well as the two Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes movies, have meant everyone is familiar with the story of modern Sherlock Holmes.
I also think any Holmes fan-boys (myself probably included) would be less angry with the idea of a new direction. As long as he’s not a space cowboy (hmm… copyright Matt Smith) I’m sure any new tangents for the character would be most welcome. When Moriarty and Irene Adler are only mentioned in a few of the multitude of stories, why not pick something else to do? Why does Holmes always need a big bad or a love interest? The series is running a fine course though, and the character suits a weekly TV show format like no other.