It’s as if we sit through these past episodes of Elementary simply waiting for something to happen. Sometimes an emotional moment will pull us or a character insight will allow us to see new motives guiding Sherlock and Joan, or there’s the rare instance where a case will surprise us but, it seems like we’re simply waiting for it. I watch the show, I’m entertained and I still adore these versions of the characters and all of the subtleties they’re given, but I’m not enamored with them—not like I was during the first season. There’s always the possibility of the sophomore slump and most television fans have come to expect it but with the rare TV show beating the odds, fans cannot help but hold up hope that the creative well hasn’t run dry. Sixteen episodes into season two and the cases have become monotonous and the character moments harder to come by. The two highlights of this week’s episode came from a cock fight and a ringtone.
That is, the episode begins with, first and foremost, a bang. Literally. We’re shown a dinner party that’s abruptly ends when a bomb goes off.
We transition to the brownstone where Sherlock has decided his new hobby of the week is to break two roosters from their fighting habits. Joan just tells him that she won’t be feeding them.
I don’t mind a lack of subtlety as long as the results make me laugh as much as Elementary did. Could the cock fight allegory have used a little more tact? Likely, but I got a decent chuckle from it.
It does set up the testosterone-fueled tension between Sherlock and an old friend for the episode quite well.
Firstly, they’re called onto the scene of the explosion where they run into Gareth Lestrade, Sherlock’s old co-worker from the Scotland Yard who has recently moved to New York to work for his new boss. He’s going to be working on the case as well much to Sherlock’s displeasure. Lestrade has recently picked up a new attitude and notoriety and due to his past of taking credit for Sherlock’s work it rubs him the wrong way.
Their first stop is to visit some of the victims who were injured in the blast. First, is a woman named Ms. Forrester who was sitting at the end of the table due to a preexisting seating arrangement—one that ordered by rank in the company. If she seems suspicious that’s because she is SPOILER the one who planted the bomb and the entire search for the bomber seems arbitrary once we realize that it was her, a walk-on character who had a few lines in the first ten minutes of the episode. The case isn’t really about finding her anyway but about finding out what Lestrade is up to.
After watching Lestrade display his ego for a few moments more, Sherlock leaves to go and find his next bit of evidence which is a waiter at the restaurant, John, who left ten minutes before the bomb went off and had radical beliefs. They think they’ve found their lead when Captain Gregson calls. He’s got a note that likens itself to a past bomber, Aurelius, who would send out notes to publishers about his crimes. He was never caught. This has added a second lead.
Both of these would have made more sense than Forrester. If she’s going to be the culprit they could have at least given her some more screentime.
Joan points out to Sherlock while they’re working on the case that he shouldn’t allow Lestrade to interfere with his work. She says that he assumed that he would crash and burn without his help and the fact that he’s thriving on what Sherlock does for a living and using it as a charade is annoying him. He admits to Joan that she’s right but he isn’t’ investigating their two leads because he doesn’t believe either made the bomb.
He studied the table layout and believes a man named Laurence Ivoh was the intended target and needs to go and speak to his boss, Balsille, who is also Lestrade’s boss-a notice that worries him. Before Sherlock has gotten a change to interrogate, Lestrade has run interference.
This, plus Balsille’s obvious lies, makes Joan and Sherlock suspicious and Lestrade runs them out of the office before they can question anything further.
Lestrade stops by later that night to apologize for monopolizing the case and Sherlock and Joan shake him off with ease but not before Joan lifts his phone from him so that they can get some background information on what exactly he’s been up to.
As Sherlock is working on that they rule out Aurelius as the bomber after finding him dead and Sherlock sends Joan in his stead for an interrogation of the waiter John with Lestrade as Sherlock digs further into Lestrade’s activities.
The questioning of John allows them to learn that while he has radical tendencies he doesn’t seem like a killer, which is discouraging to Lestrade. His day only gets worse when he finds Sherlock sitting in his office with evidence that greatly incriminates Lestrade. He says that he has surveillance footage of him blacking out a security camera as well as giving a false name in the same place where the bomb detonated. He needs Lestrade to come up with a worthy explanation before he brings it to the police.
Lestrade is surprised that Sherlock could ever think of him as a murderer, no matter their weird animosity. Sherlock says he can’t make any type of assumption about him anymore because the Lestrade he knew isn’t the one sitting before him now.
Lestrade tells the truth, hesitantly, due to its delicate content. He says that his boss has a tendency to sleep around and since he’s a CEO, needs to keep it secret. What he is doing isn’t illegal, he isn’t picking up prostitutes, but he’s finding women, the odd man, to sleep with him by offering those favors and ways up in their social or economic standing. Lestrade was the middle man—he was acting as a pimp for a rich man’s call girl system. It was embarrassing and he hadn’t wanted Sherlock to know anything about it.
Sherlock leaves him with new insight into what could have caused this.
Only some time goes by before Lestrade is calling him. Sherlock ignores him at first (this is my other favorite part since it shows that Sherlock has changed his ringtone to the song “Bad Day” and the gag just worked). Finally after four missed calls, Lestrade turns up on his doorstep and alerts him and Joan to the fact that Basille is being blackmailed which means that someone else must know about the transgressions. This clues Sherlock in to his final suspect.
Forrester—the lady with three lines tops but who fits well into the far more interesting Lestrade storyline.
Forrester had been one of Basille’s call girls and developed a grudge against him. She allowed the bomb to detonate and injure her, knowing that her injuries wouldn’t be as substantial due to where she was placed at the table. It would also act as her cover up.
This means that Basille’s activities will be forced to be made public and will cause Lestrade to lose his job, sending him back to the bottom.
Now back to the roosters from the beginning. After naming them, developing a bit of a bond, Sherlock needs to see if his theory has worked and if he’s cured them of their fighting instinct. As he’s doing this Lestrade walks in, looking for a place to stay and Sherlock says he can just as they see the roosters coexisting harmoniously.
Oh, symbolism—so heavy-handed sometimes.
I enjoyed the episode. I laughed a lot, which I enjoyed immensely. I’ve always respected the fact that Elementary isn’t afraid of being silly or going for the big laugh such as with the ringtone gag. Jonny Lee Miller has well-timed comedic delivery and Lucy Liu’s deadpan is admirable. The re-introduction of Lestrade was well executed and well acted by Sean Pertwee, allowing for the world they inhabit to continue to grow. I enjoyed it but it was forgettable and the case was a snooze-fest with a “twist” that is irritating due to how the pieces were put together.
This is the period of the season where some pieces should ideally be sliding into place for an exciting end of the season storyline. Last season we got the set up for Moriarty and this year we’re still middling about in detective work that becomes less and less interesting each week. We know that Mycroft must be coming back after the cliffhanger that he left on, but in what manner? The show needs a jump start to get the blood flowing again but it seems yet to be determined what that fuse will be.
I’m not bored of the show—not yet, not even close—but the love of the characters can only keep people watching for so long. We need a pull. It could be more Joan exposition, a return of a familiar face or a serialized narrative. Whatever it is, I hope it arrives soon so that the highlight of the episode isn’t a well-timed Daniel Powter song.