“Elementary”- An Unnatural Arrangement (2.06) episode review 0

★★★★☆

The start of the week’s episode shows Sherlock and Joan in the precinct as a means to hone Joan’s ability. They look at the incarcerated individuals and guess what landed them in there. Something I’ve whole heartedly appreciated is the show’s dedication to making it abundantly clear that Joan is having to work at this skill. It isn’t a case where a few episodes go by and she’s a genius, on par with Sherlock’s capabilities. Rather they show her working on it vigorously so when she’s asked by another officer who works a different jurisdiction to check in on a case—on her own due to Sherlock’s inability to handle more than one detective—it feels earned. As an audience you’re excited to see how she does.

That’s only part A of the opening sequence.

If there’s one thing that’s beginning to concern me about Elementary is their body count: they’re really beginning to kill people off with gusto. For a while it didn’t seem like too big of a deal, they weren’t doing it in excess, they weren’t going the Criminal Minds route and making the victim die in the most heinous ways imaginable, there was simply bodies, a body, a murder at the beginning of the episode to jumpstart the plot case of the episode.

Obviously, murder is something that happens and in heavily populated cities it’s probably more common than other areas of the world, however a case doesn’t have to involve one to be interesting and I would actually appreciate a break from it and instead maybe see an entire episode of Joan and Sherlock discovering who is going on a pretzel cart tipping rampage.

So this week I was pleasantly surprised that rather than begin the episode with a victim, we see instead a possible victim gain the upper hand on her attacker and shoot him through a door with precision.

Of course later on we get at least two more murdered offscreen characters, but nevertheless, it was a nicer way to start.

The woman whose home was broken into it turns out to be Captain Gregson’s wife. While this isn’t good news for her it is for us because this clearly means that this week’s episode is going to be Gregson-heavy and I couldn’t be happier to see Aidan Quinn be allowed to stretch himself a little more.

The troupe of detectives, Gregson, Sherlock, Joan and Bell, all arrive after the intruder has left. Gregson’s wife tells them what she saw (a man in a mask) and walks them through what she did. She tells them that the man had been asking about her husband so the natural assumption is that the man was after Gregson and usually vendettas against police officers link back to people who have been previously incarcerated—a good jumping point.

While they’re speaking they learn that Gregson and his wife are currently in the middle of a trial separation so when Sherlock tells Gregson that he’ll have to look at all personal and public files on him to solve the case, he does so delicately.

One of the many highlights of the first season was the always developing relationship between Gregson and Sherlock and while it often took the backseat to Joan and Sherlock’s relationship it was interesting regardless. Gregson has always held an authoritative status to Sherlock, a rare occurrence, and to see Sherlock learn more about him in the episode, things that Gregson didn’t want people to know about, is a development that skews the way Sherlock sees him.

The episode works because of instances like this, not so much the case itself—which is sad because it begins promising. We think it’s going to be a case of someone targeting Gregson but apparently that was simply a red herring for the episode as a whole and instead Gregson and his wife were merely accidental targets due to some poor Google map readings. In reality, the target had been their neighbors. A woman, Beth, and her ex-husband wanted people on their team from Afghanistan dead after they had stolen artifacts from the site they had been on.

How we got from point A to point B is hazy to me. It seemed more like an elaborate ruse to try and trick audiences rather than a comprehensible mystery.

Which is why all of the personal plots are the most fascinating.

We have them split between Sherlock and Joan learning more about how to work together and Gregson trying to search his way through his nearly broken marriage.

The first part is what leads into the second. Joan has had to put her personal case on the sidelines while they investigate Gregson’s but while she was sleeping, Sherlock was bored and took a look at it and solved it, which angers her. She said it wasn’t his case to solve and that he should have let her have it. He tells her that by their very definition of partnership, her cases are his cases, and it shouldn’t matter who got to the end result first.

He tries to remedy it however by giving her back the case files and telling her that she should still solve it but she isn’t interested. She doesn’t want assignments she wants to be helpful. She tells him that he’s been deducing crimes and using his skill set since he was a kid, she’s only recently started and this case, as simple as it seemed to him, would have benefitted her. She needs to study and she wants to learn so she abhors the idea of anything stalling that process.

It’s a nice little insight to Watson to see the dedication that goes into her craft. She doesn’t do anything by half measures but rather wants to earn her status.

Later, in a poignant scene, he gives her a gift of sorts, a piece of furniture that he dug up that he has the utmost hatred for. It’s a trunk full of all of his cold cases, all of the mysteries he was never able to solve.  He wants Watson to have them so whenever she has a moment of down time she can use her skill set on those, and maybe with a fresh pair of eyes and with a different sort of mind she’ll be able to solve the cases he was never able to.

It shows confidence and a enjoyable lack of ego for Sherlock to insist that Watson try and solve the cases he couldn’t and further enhances the idea of a partnership between the two.

Amid all of this chatter the two briefly touched upon marriage and how much Sherlock despises the notion. He believes that it’s an outdated idea that only allows for relationships to grow bitter and stale and that no good can ever come from them.

Which lends itself beautifully to the conversation he has with Gregson. Throughout most of the episode we had seen Sherlock dodge any style of emotional support, having told Gregson that if he ever needs to talk he will make sure that Watson becomes available. We had seen Gregson almost ask Sherlock to track down a supposed friend of his wife to make sure there was nothing suspicious going on. But nothing was touched upon fully.

Until the last bit when Sherlock comes to him and tells him that he looked into the friend against Gregson’s wishes and that there was nothing to be found. He does however drop the nugget of wisdom that perhaps his wife was using this man as a tactic to make Gregson jealous? Gregson seems defeated and doesn’t listen at first. Sherlock tells him that he doesn’t believe in marriage but as of late he has come to greatly appreciate the idea of partnership and that Gregson shouldn’t give in on his so soon, he very well may still have his partner.

And it almost looks like he does at the end when he goes to visit his wife to apologize to her and tell her that she deserves better, but he’s not throwing in the towel just yet. It was, unsurprisingly, a great episode for Quinn who got to dive a little deeper into the character’s gruff exterior and into the home life that makes him who he is.

But what truly drives the episode home is the connotation that Sherlock makes: partnership. Sherlock, in his offhand way, has learned to truly appreciate the dynamic that he and Joan share which is why at the end, he’s happy to see Joan light up upon opening the trunk of cold cases. It’s a dynamic that has been hugely helpful to both parties—Joan in rediscovering herself, Sherlock in finding an anchor and both of them finding a confidant.

It’s exciting to see the characters realize what the audience already has.

Not a favorite of the season, but certainly more interesting that last week’s. Next week marks the return of Mycroft so we’ll see what brotherly hijinks take place.