Matt Smith reviews the fourteenth episode of Elementary season 2…
In reading the synopsis for this week’s Elementary, it sounded like things were going to take a welcome turn to the fun and perhaps kooky. Watson investigates the case of re-discovered dinosaur bones while Holmes tries his hand at interacting with another human as a sponsor. What’s not to like about a role reversal every once in a while?
While it wasn’t as light hearted as all that, this week is a lovely transgression away from prior events without fully forgetting the effect those events have had on major characters. Complete with Bell back as resident detective for the NYPD and this week has set a precedent for going back in time.
As Sherlock Holmes, Jonny Lee Miller gets to stretch his wings out a little further this week. Sherlock Holmes is sent a little back in time as he struggles to communicate with another human being, approaching a fellow addict’s sobriety as just another case. But this time, he has to deal with real human feelings, his own compassion for one, as well as cold logic. He must simultaneously juggle that case, with the actual case of dinosaur bones being found, lost, then found again but in pieces. You can see the effort it takes, both practically in terms of time, and in terms of figuring out what to do about social problems, etched onto Miller’s face and in every gesture. His performance really is pitch perfect.
Some say that interest in fiction comes with collision or conflict, and Elementary takes that tack with this episode. Is it really a good idea to give Holmes the responsibility of sponsorship? No, and I doubt he would’ve been given the responsibility, but it makes for good TV and the producers get a pass because they make it dramatically justifiable. Some of the best fiction has glaring holes like this one, and the enjoyment comes not from examining and taking things too literally but from sitting back and watching what happens when this conflict somehow comes about. Almost like Holmes, the results of the setup are what’s important, not how the setup came about.
While I may have misread the synopsis of an episode before watching, it didn’t stop my enjoyment of another week, another couple of cases. Elementary, whether down in the depths of Holmes’ despair (see Moriarty or his addiction) or just coming up with a case to solve, can keep to its tones and its themes remarkably well. As a whole, the series could make it up as it went along, individual case after case along with the odd arc involving a greater threat. But the evolution of Holmes as a character is so intertwined with that of the cases from week to week that you get the feeling there’s a lot more underneath. It’s difficult not to get wrapped up and enjoy the ride. And wonder where it’s going to take the characters.
Holmes’ interrupted drilling into a skull represents his want of understanding the human mind and how it works in its own illogical way. He never gets to finish it, but carries on and tries anyway. To wonder what’s going to be inside, under the next layer of mystery, is why Elementary is still going strong well into its second season.
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