Matt Smith reviews episode 20 of Elementary season 2…
Sometimes people just can’t help themselves. Old habits, dying hard, can often lead people to do things that considering the situation seem insane. And the only people who understand why they do these things, are the people themselves.
For example, Sherlock Holmes can’t help himself. Whether it’s in social situations that create destruction (as seen in Detective Bell’s getting shot a few episodes ago) or in his drug habits that developed before the series started. Holmes has a talent for self-destruction of any sort that is only rivalled by his deductive skills. A big part of the character is whether he can hold it all together to solve the case.
It’s a struggle that’s been played out in several iterations of the character, and to fit in with the egocentric nature of the character, Sherlock Holmes’ greatest enemy is often himself.
This week, Sherlock Holmes must solve the case of an appearance of anthrax, which then disappears amidst the introduction of a terrorist organisation. With many people involved, it seems like the typical case found in Elementary. A baffling collection of facts all smash into each other that’d confound any ordinary person, except this is a case with even higher stakes.
And just like the main character, Elementary sometimes doesn’t help itself. Along with the high stakes case, Holmes’ friend Alistair (last seen in season one) dies from an apparent heart attack. The show has a habit of introducing characters and dispensing with them seemingly without thought. Like Sherlock Holmes, these ‘friends’ only come back when and if they’re needed. And like Sherlock Holmes, it’s as if the show treats these characters in a way that suits the plot. While it’s a great blow to Holmes, Alistair’s death is a little hard for us to get connected with. The character as a whole is hard to connect with, as he is, in both ways, a man who is only seen in passing.
The rest of the episode works well though, even with the cliché idea of Holmes seeing a vision of a deceased loved one. The ending to the case is interesting, especially in the way such a huge threat to the city is suddenly diffused with a revelation. It seems like typical Holmesian storytelling, with the big reveal at the end being explained to us piece by piece. As strange as it may be to perform these scenes for the actors, these expositional finales have become a staple of the genre, and of this character in particular. We’d need someone as clever as Sherlock Holmes, otherwise we wouldn’t know what’s going on.
Overall, some of the choices Elementary makes don’t seem to make sense. They have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to minor characters, but at the same time the show doesn’t juggle them very well. Even Holmes’ brother disappeared a few episodes ago and it’s like the show completely forgets about these characters until they’re useful to the show. If they were treated better by the show and the character, it could bring a whole new vibe to the show to go along with the typical Holmesian case.
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