Matt Smith reviews the latest episode of Elementary….
Sherlock Holmes needs help. Not in the way you’re thinking of. Yes, he is a bit strange and seems unusual in any social context, but what I mean is that Sherlock Holmes needs help solving cases.
As he admitted in last week’s episode of Elementary, Holmes is sharper with Watson around. He’s better, not with the drugs as John Hannah suggested, but with those around him. And not just Watson. Holmes will always need his Watson, but he also needs his Captain Gregsons and his Detective Bells.
In a similar way to House, Elementary runs the format of finding a case (sometimes more than one) and running the gauntlet of theories and facts converging until the puzzle is solved. In this way, we the audience are never inside Holmes head unless he lets us in. He is never our surrogate in the programme. If we are anyone, we are Watson. We have to watch Holmes every week and hope he doesn’t get into too much trouble. But, in a much more outward way than the character of Watson, we love to try and solve the crime with Holmes, knowing full well we’re really just along for the ride.
But throughout the crime solving, it’s only revealed at the end who the culprit is. Before that, Holmes makes mistakes, takes twists and turns and it’s only because of the people working with him that he gets anywhere. What seems like the wrong line of thinking ends up with the unveiling of the facts. Holmes might seem like he can do it all for himself, but without others to bounce off he wouldn’t get anywhere.
And in the same way, Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes will only be as good as those surrounding him. Lucy Liu can always be depended on as Joan Watson. Aidan Quinn is more than able in playing the gruff Gregson (who is no Lestrade), while Jon Michael Hall as Detective Bell provides a character that could be the closest thing to a friend Holmes could get, minus the dependency put upon Watson. They each give support to Jonny Lee Miller, who as Holmes has been pretty much perfect throughout the series.
Holmes, and Lee Miller, being so ably assisted, seems to be just having fun at times, providing the humour this show has used to give proceedings an edge. No one’s as good as him, even if they should be.
But no one is perfect, and like Holmes the show itself has its flaws. Unlike the case as a whole, sometimes the little details can be seen coming. That familiar feeling you get when you just know that someone’s going to end up dead, or disappear, or dead and disappear (that’s the worst one). This week was also the week for some strange camera angles and editing choices. Framing seemed ill designed, for no reason that I can figure out. The moments were sporadic enough not to ruin the episode, but it seemed unusual that a show with such high production values and intelligence behind it had these moments at all.
The mystery I’d like solved, though, is what ever happened to Moriarty? The format of the show is exactly that. A format. I’d love to see what they’ve done with Moriarty to change things up, make it different to every week’s separate mystery. Tying Moriarty in over an arc in the series would be a great way to bring Holmes and Watson under new pressure. They’re very comfortable now, helping each other in their own ways. But Holmes also needs something else. His opposite number. His villain. This show’s Moriarty can reveal himself and complete the puzzle.