Guess what Elementary did this week? Guess what they managed to slip in right before the already strong episode ended? They allowed hints of a serial narrative to be shown! Vindication! As someone who has tirelessly argued the merits of this show—often to no avail—to see the show actively fix some of the drawbacks is a personal win. That is something that this show needs to catapult itself from its title of “strong-for-a-procedural” to a strong show in its own right. It’s what made the storylines in “M.” and the entire episodes with Moriarty/Irene so fantastic and such obvious highlights in the series: the actions had consequences in later episodes. It gave the show a running storyline to latch onto that wasn’t the obvious draw of the Sherlock and Joan relationship. If they continue this potential storyline with Mycroft, if we’re allowed to see what exactly he’s up to scattered around the season, there’s a lot of potential to behold.
This week’s episode “Blood is Thicker” begins on the rooftop of the Brownstone at sunrise as the Holmes brothers take part in single stick fighting and this is as good of a time as any to give note to some of the beautiful work the crew catches: the scene is a wonderful one with the Holmes silhouetted against a city that’s only just waking up. Mycroft is using this time not only to try and best his brother but to also tell him that he would like it if he would visit his restaurant before he leaves. Sherlock missed the opening night do to a case he was working on and Mycroft, being quite proud of his new establishment, thinks it’s natural to want his brother to see it. For now Sherlock agrees.
We switch over to the setup of a case where a father and son, unbeknownst to them, drive away in a van that has a woman with an abdominal stab wound dead on the roof. Sherlock and co. are quickly called to the scene—or the scene that the truck drove to—and Sherlock deduces that the woman was stabbed from an apartment higher up and fell onto the truck’s roof afterwards. Paint chips that had fallen in the truck help Sherlock discover how they can find the exact location of where the woman fell. At that location it’s Joan’s turn and based on balcony floral decorations she picks out what window the woman must have fallen through and when they get to said apartment room they find out she was right, noting the knocked over plant and blood stains. They discover the name of the victim, Hayley Tyler, and that she was 26 and was visiting New York.
The owner of the apartment is a man named Ian Gale who is a head honcho CEO of a phone company of sorts and the initial response is to think that Hayley must have been some secret hidden lover. A lawyer quickly jumps onto this assumption and tells Sherlock that Gale was out of the country when this happened and even has footage of it as evidence. Too bad he’s dealing with a man all about details and Sherlock quickly informs him that the man in the footage is not Gale, it’s a stand in and he better get his story straight and quick.
Sherlock presses on with it and finds out that Gale has been using a stand in for quite a while now, so not just for alibi purposes. They believe that the company helped with the murder of Hayley and that they are now covering it up. They visit the hotel where Gale last was and are met with security who bring them to a room where Gale resides to prove that he couldn’t have been the one who murdered Hayley because he’s bed-ridden, deathly ill and waiting for a heart transplant. His wife, Natalie stands beside him as he tells Sherlock and Joan that Hayley wasn’t his lover but his long lost daughter from a one night stand decades ago. He says he’ll do everything in his ability to help try and find the killer.
Meanwhile, Joan tells Sherlock to go and have dinner with his brother, saying that the perks of having a partner in her now is having the chance to take some time off and let her handle the details like morgue visits. Sherlock reluctantly agrees. In the morgue, Joan, after realizing the surgical nature of Hayley’s stab wound, has an encounter with her mother who has come to say farewell to her daughter. It’s there that she tells Joan that she hadn’t wanted her daughter to come to New York, not because she didn’t want Ian to be helped but because she was nervous something bad would happen. She then tells them of an ex-boyfriend of Hayley’s who could be possibly connected but first, Joan wants a word with Natalie, Ian’s wife. Joan believes that Natalie could have been behind Hayley’s murder with her history as a doctor and the fact that Ian’s revised will had 20% of his earnings going to Hayley. Natalie tells her she is wrong and that if any of those suspicions go public she will be bringing them a lawsuit. She says that she was the one who brought Hayley into his life, who suggested the change in the will. The Gales proceed to refuse to help with any more of the investigation.
At dinner, Sherlock and Mycroft are having a much different conversation and despite how much I enjoy seeing Joan being a kick-ass detective in her own right, using her medical background to its greatest potential, the talk that that brothers have brings a very different type of riveting drama to the scene. Sherlock gives his compliments to the restaurant before Mycroft changes gears and tells him that he wants to know when Sherlock plans to move back to London. His incentive? The keys to his old residence. Sherlock says he hadn’t planned on returning to London anytime soon, that he was enjoying New York. Mycroft tells him that he’s afraid that their father is soon going to cut Sherlock off, saying that he feels Sherlock has been ungrateful to him after having literally picked him off the street and depositing him into a rehab center. Sherlock is adamant about not giving into his father’s demands that he move and says that he will live out of a box to spite him but Mycroft silences him by saying that it’s different now because whatever his choice is, it affects Joan, too.
There are never any real stakes to this storyline: we know they aren’t going to uproot filming and go to London, we know that the brownstone is a fixed set, so of course we aren’t going to see the duo move, but it ups the emotional stakes and allows Sherlock to lay out what his feelings are on his current situation. He tells Joan about the new development and says they’ll have to start either a. looking for new places to live, b. start taking cases that pay better than the free but insightful work they do at for the NYPD or c. movie to London. She asks him what he wants to do and he says it doesn’t matter but of course it does. In a moving, quiet bit expertly played by Jonny Lee Miller, often the glue of the show, he says that’s grown quite accustomed to the support system he has in New York, Joan, Captain Gregson, even Detective Bell. They’ve all become this makeshift group that he relies on in different ways either out of recovery or companionship and he isn’t ready to give up and he won’t until he deems it appropriate.
Joan says to hell with it, they’ll stay where they are, work a little harder and continue their work. Which consists of finding Hayley’s ex-boyfriend. He has an alibi though and says he was out of the apartment at the time of the murder getting medicine for Hayley who had the flu. This is when pieces begin to fall into place for Joan, just at the time when they receive the news that Ian Gale had died. Joan believes they’ve been going about the case all wrong and that Hayley was simply a pawn in the murder of Gale. The finger is pointed back at Natalie. They say that she must have given Hayley a type of drug, an original poison that would cause her to get flu-like symptoms so that when she gave the blood transfusion to her father, Gale would then contract the virus which would lead to his death. And Natalie in the end would receive a large stipend in his will. She’s taken in and the case is closed.
At the brownstone, Mycroft stops by for a final visit and receives a letter from Sherlock that he wants delivered to his father, an apology of sorts to helps sort out the mess that he and Joan could soon find themselves in. Mycroft acknowledges how difficult it must have been for Sherlock and he likens it to carving words into his own skin. This was, on top of everything else, a very funny episode due to Sherlock’s reactions to anything in regards to his father. They shake hands and in a seemingly sentimental, but worthwhile moment for fans, Mycroft leaves by saying that Sherlock has changed very much. And he has in such a good way that is beneficial to him and you think that it’s Mycroft being proud of his brother but it seems that maybe, at the end, instead it was about how his change may not be as beneficial to Mycroft. At his restaurant, alone, we see Mycroft tear up the letter and make a mysterious phone call where he says that his plan didn’t work, his father didn’t know anything about it and that they’ll have to come up with something different for it to work.
So, what do we think he’s up to? I had believed it would be his father at the end of the line having believed for some time that he would end up being the man behind the curtain for the show, the faceless threat that is revealed down the line of season two but it now seems that the real threat is Mycroft himself. Is he in cohorts with Moriarty? Is he sick again and needed Sherlock’s help but didn’t want to ask? Is he, like the books, somehow connected to the British government? Or is it something entirely separate?
Who knows but regardless it sets the stage for some exciting new plot points to be developed, given the season’s direction and I can’t wait until Rhys Ifans returns to discover more about what those secret plans are and how they’re going to affect our duo. Until next time, what were your thoughts?
Canonical Literature Reference: Mycroft’s restaurant Diogenes is the name of the fictional gentleman’s club that Mycroft was a part of in the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories.