Elementary is back this week and Holmes and Watson are taking on a cold case built on a rare fossil.
In all honesty, I found the basic premise of the episode to be mildly ridiculous. It chose to linger on the absurdity of the case with too much gravitas. If they had told the story in a tongue and cheek manner, as a slight nod to some of the original, more outlandish tales, it likely would have played out better.
There are two major plot points that intersected throughout the duration of the episode. One is, obviously, the crime, while the other, more substantial, story is about Sherlock and his sponsorship of the young man Randy from a few episodes ago.
The case begins with Joan this week—a nice change—as she’s been digging around in Sherlock’s old cold cases that he gave her and has come across something suspect. She’s called upon a geology expert to consult as the questionable evidence was a discovered rock in the photo that had been previously covered by an ink smudge. With the help of her own personal consultant they’ve deduced that there was marine limestone on the rock—an irregularity.
The case was opened when a man, Doug Newbery, was murdered and they discovered the mysterious rock on their way back in.
Joan asks Sherlock if he’s okay with her opening a case that took place while he was fighting with his addiction and he tells her it’s a little unsettling, but otherwise fine. He says that while in the throes of his addiction there were cases that were greatly aided by his drug use—Doug’s murder was no such instance and he felt that he let him down. Maybe with Joan’s fresher eyes on the case, new developments will be made.
They go and visit a museum to speak to a fossil curator to ask about the rock in question and the results are more bizarre than they could have imagined. Inside the rock is the fossil of a nanotyrannus—think of a mini T-Rex—and it’s worth a lot of money. They realize it must have been smuggled into the country through the black market and for a high price.
Joan finds a tie to the case when she discovers a string of ice cream trucks still being used in the dead of winter. She’s thinks it’s curious and they go and stake one out with Captain Gregson’s aid. They see someone acting on Joan’s theory and rush in and find that the man had at the very least been importing illegal cigars.
They take him to the station to interrogate him and while he does admit to the smuggling he says he never would have killed Doug who had been a friend. He admits that he had left the fossil with Doug for safe keeping and says that yes, it could have led to his death if they were being tracked.
They let him go with no substantial evidence on their side.
Right after their most recent let down they learn that the fossil has been stolen from right under their noses, just picked up at the station, setting their progress back a few steps.
Forensics is now on the case and Sherlock notes just how much effort the person behind the smuggling is putting into this case. They have followed every single one of their moves so that they could remove the evidence.
Sherlock decides it’s time to get more facts and arranges a meeting with a woman he refers to as “C.” They have a correspondence that consists of dirty letters and have never met in person. From what he’s been able to gather from their letters, she’s an auctioneer and may have knowledge of anyone bidding for such a rare item such as a dinosaur fossil.
She knows a man who fits the description, a man under the name of Magpie. To find him they need to have something rare that would catch his eye.
Sherlock and Joan fake an item and go on the Internet to try and get his attention and succeed. However, when they go to investigate him they find him dead. Another setback in the progress they’ve made.
Their next step is organizing a group of individuals who all would have investment in the case. The fossil is tied to a case called “Dead Clade Walking” which investigates a missing component. It includes scientists and archeologists from all over the city and they’re all asked to give a DNA sample so that the police can try and narrow down the search.
There’s a match with one man named Andrew, but Gregson has a hard time wrapping his head around it. He’s right; Andrew’s lawyer says that her client has been framed and that Andrew has an alibi for the murder of Magpie, with pictures of him at a benefit all over the internet. There’s still no match for the original murder.
Sherlock is stumped and trying to jumpstart his brain waves and figures out a solution for the case which is becoming more and more frustrating. Of course he does, since there’s never been an episode of the show where he doesn’t come up with a solution to the case.
Just once, I’d really love to see that and I’m going to keep asking for it until it happens.
The next day, he and Joan go back to the museum, having cracked the case. The murder was caused by the curator at the museum from the beginning of the episode. He had faked a discovery of a dinosaur skeleton and then bought all of the remaining bits from the black market. The discovery of “Dead Clade Walking” could have possibly incriminated him so he took action.
The ending of the episode shows Sherlock thanking Joan for her involvement and saying that it very likely never would have been solved without her.
But before we get to the real ending, let’s rewind a bit.
The Heart of the Episode:
While the case is all well and good if not a bit hokey for my taste, the real meat of the episode and the real heart comes from the tenderly played moments between Sherlock and the man he’s sponsoring, Randy. We met him a few episodes back when Sherlock decided to take him on and now he’s back and needs some help.
He goes to Sherlock and tells him that he knows that it’s supposed to be a business-oriented relationship and that Sherlock is his sponsor, nothing more, but he needs advice. He tells Sherlock that his ex-girlfriend is back in town and when they were together they encouraged each other’s bad habits. They had both been drug addicts and when he tried to get clean she left town. She’s called him and asked if she could stay with him while she tried to get clean herself and he doesn’t know what to do.
Sherlock’s advice is that his sobriety is the main task at hand and anything that could possibly interfere should be cut out of his life.
This opens up a correspondence between the two that hadn’t been present before which has Randy messaging Sherlock throughout the case about his situation and Sherlock, beyond his understanding, feels the need to respond and help out.
In a one-sided conversation, Sherlock uses Joan to bounce ideas off of as he tries to come to terms about why he feels this desire to help and listen to Randy. He wonders if it’s simply due to the sponsorship, if he feels some obligation or loyalty, if maybe he feels that Randy’s sobriety is tied to his own and if he fails Randy he has also failed himself.
Joan offers up the idea of compassion which Sherlock dismisses, needing to find the logical explanation to all of it and seemingly finding it at the end of the discussion.
After another text from Randy, Sherlock goes to meet him and offer him up his real advice. Eve had asked Randy to loan her some money, just until she got better and Sherlock sees that as a last straw. He tells him that to get better, to stay sober and live a healthy and stable life his needs to cut Eve out of the equation entirely, telling him that nothing good will come of it.
For a second, we think he has listened to Sherlock, only to find out that he left their meeting spot without telling him.
Sherlock spends the remainder of the episode worrying about Randy but trying to play it off as nothing other than worry for his own stakes in it—but the reasoning shines through. He cares; he has grown into the type of person who would care about someone’s health beyond his own gain.
The episode’s running gag was Sherlock being interrupted each time he was preparing to perform an experiment on drilling a hole into a skull. The imagery works because each time he’s interrupted he’s allowing more of his thoughts to pour out, whether it be his intelligence for a case, his logic he uses in life, or the compassion he shows towards Randy’s plight at the end of the episode when he shows up at the doorstep of the brownstone, dejected.
Life isn’t easy, particularly for a struggling addict. He tells Sherlock that he got high the night before and doesn’t expect anything from him but felt that he needed to get it out in the open, and that he doesn’t know where it leaves them now. He tells Sherlock that he kicked his ex out and is back on the track of getting his life together.
Sherlock simply asks him if he wants to go to a meeting. He does, so they do.
The case was a bit of a mess, silly and only really noteworthy for Joan getting to do so much of the investigative legwork. It’s the Randy and Sherlock stuff that provided the heartbeat of the episode and kept us all watching.