Elementary has rarely been so overt with their canonical links, so when I saw this week’s episode was entitled “The Hound of the Cancer Cells” a play on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most popular Sherlock Holmes story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” I was curious as to how it was going to play out.
Unsurprisingly, there is no monstrous dog in the dark of night. Instead there’s possibly the most undignified death that the show has had so far as it opens with a man taking a shower and being gassed with helium—calling out while naked and high pitched for help—and then having it be framed as a suicide.
Sherlock, Joan and Gregson arrive on the scene and the latter immediately tells the other two that he has his doubts about it being a suicide—something that Sherlock agrees with once he takes stock of the evidence. A quick glance around the room brings him to the door of the bathrooms where he notices a residue under the door frame, indicating that it has been taped closed. He figures out that a small hose could have fit in and deduces that the man, Mr. Granger, was murdered.
This makes his suicide note all the more ominous, with it saying that the accusations were true. They’re told that the accusations concern the project that Granger had been working on and an anonymous email that accused him of being a fraud.
They seek out the financer of the project; a man named Hank, and ask him about his involvement in the project and his whereabouts at the time of Granger’s murder. He says that the project was supposed to be a huge hit in the medical field. The prototype—named The Hound—was a Breathalyzer that could detect cancer.
However, with the anonymous email calling Granger and the plan fraudulent, people were less apt to invest, ruining the long-term efforts. Hank’s alibi is that he was with his girlfriend but doesn’t want it widespread knowledge because he’s still in the middle of a divorce.
This week’s A-plot is better at weaving between its suspects than prior episodes but it still hasn’t mastered an effortless transition between them which is hindered even more when the B-plots, such as this week’s, takes on an emotional core.
Bell has called for Joan’s help on checking in a would-be witness for a drug/murder case who bailed after realizing her life was in danger. Joan travels to visit the woman, Nicole, at a Manny Rose’s house, a teacher who’s always been seen as a beacon of hope by his students. Nicole is hiding there for the time being and she tells Joan that she has withdrawn her testimony not only because of her own safety but because she’s recently learned she’s with child and can’t endanger their life.
Joan says she understands and she and Bell won’t press her for anything but Rose has a different perspective. We spend much of the episode’s side plot learning about the man Rose and how he teaches in a rough neighborhood and does his all to improve the living situations of students but often doesn’t see immediate results. He goes to Bell and tells him he can testify in Nicole’s place but Bell tells him that would be illegal. Rose is angry that Nicole had to see someone murdered right in front of her and she’s the one who has to carry the burden, not the killer. Bell says that Rose has already done so much but he doesn’t see it that way.
Speaking of Bell, the other tighter and effective narrative stems from his as well. At the start of the episode he invited Joan to a welcome back party of sorts being thrown for him and told her to bring Sherlock as well. However, when she brought it up to her partner she was met with resistance. He first tells her it’s because it’s being held in a bar and there will be too many triggering items surrounding him to feel comfortable. He then says it’s because he feels like there are some aspects of his job, such as personal gatherings, where he should stay on the sidelines.
He ends up further on in the episode telling Joan that he may have reconsidered but is having trouble rectifying what he wants to do with what he should do.
The personal moments are, as always, the highlights of the episode.
Back in plot A, Sherlock and Joan have tracked down the anonymous person who had emailed not only Granger but a number of other medical startups and discover that, barring his own attack, it was a partnership between Granger himself and an old boss.
This leaves Joan and Sherlock grasping at straws for who the attacker could be and their next point of reference is to look and see if the company Granger was working for had any competition that would be looking out for him.
Before they can look too deep a scandal hits when Hank’s ex-wife is found murdered with all of the evidence pointing at Hank himself. Hank says he’s being framed and has an alibi, with his girlfriend yet again, to prove that it wasn’t him.
This, however, is all a part of a larger scheme which Sherlock realizes after visiting Granger’s competition. He’s told that their means of besting Granger’s company was simply to buy them out.
Sherlock puts the pieces together and they all lead back to Hank. Hank didn’t want any money going to his ex-wife from the business deal he struck so he killed her after getting Granger out of the way and had his girlfriend find people who looked like him to construct a believable alibi. After hearing the trouble she could get into though the girlfriend confessed to everything, leading to Hank’s incarceration.
It was a bit of a convoluted ending to a case but at the very least more exciting than others and none that involved ears being grown on a woman’s back.
Bell receives a call right before the end of the episode and he learns that Manny Rose has been killed. He goes to the morgue to identify the body and learns that Rose had gone after the drug dealer on his own—trying to confront the problem head on and make the difference he promised he would. He killed the dealer in question, but was then shot by the man’s men.
It’s a sad way for a legend to go, in Bell’s eyes, and it’s more affecting than I would have believed a B-plot character’s death could be. Here was a man who was simply trying to make things better for the people in his neighborhood, who lived a long life doing the best he could while following the rules and finally was too tired to put up with it any longer.
It deeply affects Bell as well as he says that he must have only known the legend after all, not the man who would go to such drastic measures.
We see him next standing outside the bar where his party awaits, looking in at the cheer and carefree nature of his friends and co-workers, unable to join just yet.
Sherlock walks up to him and catches the mood and tries to lighten his spirits but to no immediate avail. Bell asks Holmes if he’s ever just had one those nights to which Holmes replies, “my fair share.” Bell says that he should be ready to go inside and join the people who care for him and want to celebrate with him, but he’s not. He’s expected to be happy and doesn’t know just how well he can put on a façade at this time. So Sherlock asks, what’s the hurry? He says there’s a coffee shop nearby that they can stop in first and then after make their way back to the bar where he’s sure his friends will still be waiting.
Bell takes up the unlikely invitation and the two of them walk the streets of New York, searching for their destination, in no rush at all.
Bell and Sherlock have had a bit of a tumultuous relationship this season ever since Bell was shot due to Sherlock’s short-sightedness. As Bell began to recover, it seemed that their friendship also was immediately put on the mend but this episode clinched it. Sherlock made mention earlier in the episode of how misanthropy was easy—the ability to look at the world with a cynical edge. It’s being able to contain compassion that is troublesome to him and him reaching out to Bell like a friend who simply wants to get the other man to cheer up is a big step in Sherlock’s evolution. He spent much of the episode worrying about whether or not he should actually attend Bell’s party but the moment he arrives and sees that he’s needed—albeit in a manner he’s not used to—he immediately slips into the version of himself that wants to help.
The ending scene, like so many of the show’s episodes, is indicative of what the show and its creators are capable of. It’s just about time the entirety of the episodes met the quality of the last five minutes.