For an episode that I enjoyed, for many reasons, it sure did go out of its way in making me uncomfortable. It’s a testament to the writers and actors and the depth of their characterizations of Sherlock and Joan that the idea of Joan sleeping with Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, puts me on edge as much as it did Sherlock.
It seems that was the show’s intention from the very beginning though as the very first scene with Mycroft— Rhys Ifans is back and just as wonderful—was making me mad on Sherlock’s behalf.
Sherlock is at an AA meeting and responds to a question asked by the mediator who asks, are there any thoughts that you have that you think are ridiculous so you keep them quiet, even though they mean a lot to you.
In a moment of emotional honesty and emotional vulnerability Sherlock responds. He says he believes that he feels as if her were born in the wrong era. He talks about his astute note of detail and sensory reflexes and how we’re living in an age of constant motion and information and to stimulate himself he fell into his drug addiction. He says maybe, if the world was a little quieter, with some modernist touches, maybe he never would have fallen into the addiction in the first place.
It’s a wonderful moment, for the character and for the actor as Jonny Lee Miller proves once again how well he knows this character, but it’s all soon interrupted when we hear Mycroft speak, from where he’s been listening the entire time.
Sherlock is understandably livid. And so was I: this was such an incredibly open and touching moment for the character whose moments of truth typically occur with Joan, alone or not at all. To witness a portion of his recovery and a part of his self-awareness is a treat for fans of the character as well as a moment of release for Sherlock. So for Mycroft to compromise that sense of safety seems criminal.
I wish Sherlock had gotten a chance to shout at him some more.
However, after an awkward interaction with Joan, Mycroft tells Sherlock that he’s in New York on business and that the two of them have an acquaintance that needs their assistance.
The person in question? Mycroft’s ex-fiancé, the one that Sherlock had sex with numerous times in order to prove a point.
Needless to say it was uncomfortable for him. And then, it proceeds to be uncomfortable for all of them as Sherlock pronounces how much he despises her, along with calling her a trollop and a creature, he tells Mycroft that he should be recognizing the favor that he did for him by sleeping with her.
She tells them that after leaving Mycroft she found another man whom she married and then developed an affection for one of his horses. One night there was an attempted murder and another man died for it. The details are absurd and throughout the explanation she lets slip information of Mycroft’s previous ailment.
Sherlock hadn’t known. Mycroft tells him that he had leukemia, was given a bone marrow transplant and is now all better. Sherlock is sincerely sorry about the trouble he went through but cannot condone the case they have set forth for them and leaves the restaurant.
Later that evening Joan tries to coax Sherlock into admitting any kind of emotion over Mycroft’s secret and tries to determine why Joan is uncomfortable around his brother. Joan tells him that nothing happened between her and Mycroft and Sherlock tells her that his emotion is annoyance—he cannot stand the cliché spiritual rebirth that happened after Mycroft’s illness.
Just in time Mycroft shows up on his doorstep to apologize for not telling him and to say that his ex fiancé had helped him find a bone marrow match and that by helping her it would prove that the brothers had moved past their differences.
The next day they’re at the site of the murder—and the attempted horse crime—and it’s a nice change of pace to not see a body, not see bloodshed and crime, and instead we’re treated simply to the story and Sherlock and Joan working through the facts that they’re given. They find the fingerprints of the murderer and realize one of the fingerprints is missing.
They work on finding out more information on their possible horse assassin. At the station they realize that the attempted murder may have had ties to drug dealers, ones that are currently in the throes of carnage. Sherlock calls Nigella—just as we see an assassin targeting her from a building away—to warn her that she is the murderer’s next target. A shot is fired that narrowly misses her.
She’s taken in to the station where she gives a statement saying that has zero ties to any cartel.
During dinner Sherlock realizes that there may have been a third party in all of the horse shenanigans. Sherlock says that he can’t handle dinner due to how “off” Joan seems and once again Joan plays it off and Mycroft leaves. She says that she is uncomfortable around Mycroft and Sherlock together.
However the rouse doesn’t last for long until she finally admits that yes, she slept with his brother.
Sherlock’s face pretty much says it all.
I am all for Joan getting out in the world and meeting people and having relationships, she should be allowed that because as she says they are consenting adults and are allowed to do as they please but, this is Mycroft and Joan’s relationship with Sherlock is so important that it seems odd to have it compromised.
Or maybe I just think it literally came out of nowhere so any justification of the act seems bizarre.
The next day while investigating some horses Sherlock takes pleasure in antagonizing the two of them while they discover more and more about Nigella’s prized horse.
They meet with Nigella again where she tells them of the hardships that she went through to gain ownership of the horse in her prenuptials. She believes she earned it for the months she gave to her husband’s lie. The first plan of the horse attacker was poisoning the horse and then forcing Nigella into their forces. She is at the mercy of the Holmes brothers.
At the brownstone, Sherlock and Joan come to a head about his brother. He says he can’t contextualize the act because of the intimacy of their partnership—they work well together, they value their friendship yet she did something that could potentially jeopardize their easy relationship, why? Maybe, he says, because she wanted to make it clear that they don’t work on the same wave lengths, that maybe this was her way of separating the two.
Or maybe it was just a spur of the moment attraction. Either way, Sherlock has received the message.
Just in time to end the question, Sherlock reaches another new conclusion. He believes that they have their man.
Until, despite missing a finger just like the suspect, his prints don’t seem to match any of the ones found at the crime scenes.
It doesn’t take Sherlock long to deduce that the man must have worn another person’s fingertips. Another police station in New York helps lend a hand to the uncovering of the murder that ends up pointing back to the missing finger man. He was, as suspected by Sherlock, a hired gunman for the cartel.
As the episode closes, Mycroft asks Joan to join him for the opening of his restaurant and despite Joan’s hesitations in wondering if it will complicate their situation she is soon quieted and instead chooses to be hopeful. So for now, it looks as if Joan and Mycroft’s dalliances aren’t quite over and still, even after watching the episode, I’m not sure if I like it or not. Regardless, Ifans and Lucy Liu have a sweet chemistry, portraying two lone souls who’ve gone too long without romantic affection and to see them as two characters separate of their identities is enjoyable. It’s only when you remember both of their relationships with Sherlock that the pairing sours.
The Holmes brothers end the episode at Mycroft’s restaurant where they’re telling Nigella that they won’t tell anything to the police, but that she is now out of their lives.
It ends on a questioning note: what’s next for the Holmes? Where do they go from this, what do they talk about, will their relationship grow or be stunted?
Who knows but after a strong episode I’m excited to see what develops.
Despite my concerns about romantic plot diversions this was a highlight of this season so far. After writing last week about the amount of dead bodies we see on this show week in and week out it was nice to have a follow-up episode that for the most part strayed away from the usual procedural device of death and blood. This week the murder is spoken of but not shown.
On top of that there was also the expansion of the three characters. We are continuing to learn more about our duo and the outside forces that drive their activity and their motivations. It would be easy to grow bored of a show that is simply one (oftentimes weak) case after the other so the character moments must be strong to hold interest and luckily fans of Elementary are privy to one of the strongest friendships on TV right now.
Mycroft seems to be sticking around for a while longer so let’s see where that takes the relationships next.
This was a much better episode than its follow-up, Blood Is Thicker.