Sometimes you have to suspend your level of disbelief just enough in order to enjoy an episode of television. It’s something I have a deft skill set for as I spend much of my movie going hours watching stories about super-powered men and women in garish costumes saving the world from over the top, flamboyant baddies.
I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them.
But oh boy has Elementary been testing my abilities with a few of their more recent episodes. The first that made me nearly roll my eyes into the back of my head was when they caught a killer who grew a pair of ears on their back. Also, I was just repulsed.
The second is in this week’s episode where the primary clue was dentures modeled on the teeth of the week’s killer. It’s absurdity, it’s madness! It’s the primary plot of this week’s episode so we all just have to roll with it.
Luckily, Joan Watson and her plights more than pick up the slack and we’re finally given an episode that is Watson-heavy, allowing her plot to shine and her character moments to be the ones that take precedence over everything else.
Admittedly, I was almost instantaneously apprehensive of the episode considering that one of the opening shots is a dead body.
No hyperbole here, it’s about two seconds of an establishing shot and then BOOM death.
A man has been shot and killed with a thief on the loose and one of the dead bodies found has bite marks on their necks reminiscent of a serial killer’s trademark, Andrew Colville, who died years ago.
The thief is found and the old case of the biting killer is reopened with Joan at the helm. Joan wants to see the files from the Colville case because she believes she may have had a brief encounter with the man years prior.
We see a flashback to 2005 when Joan was still a surgeon and working with a Doctor Flemming who was the main surgeon on as Colville was wheeled into the operating room in dire condition after being attacked. Joan wasn’t in a position of power and watched Flemming take in the information that Colville was an organ donor, as Colville whispered something into Flemming’s ear and then did what Joan believed to be a subpar job of saving his life.
Joan goes back to the hospital where it happened to speak with Flemming about it directly. He won’t speak about it at all at first but Joan tells him that Colville may have been innocent—he thinks it’s a copycat murderer on the loose. She isn’t convinced and asks him what Colville said to him and he says it was gibberish. He made a call which is what surgeons do.
She’s beckoned home by Sherlock who has, in his mind, exciting news as the two of them have been invited to look for an abandoned ship. She isn’t as enthused as she is preoccupied with Flemming and Sherlock quickly realizes this as he notes that going alone wouldn’t be fun, only in the right company would it be an enjoyable experience for him.
Joan tells him what’s wrong and his demeanor shifts right into work mode and he begins to look over the case with her. A nice reminder of how he’s there for her just as much as she’s there for them. There’s a developing codependency between the two of them. Despite him helping her out he is not supporting of the guilt she’s feeling over a case that was well out of her control. His way of setting her straight is putting them on the task force of finding the murderer who’s out on the streets now.
To start out they need to go back and ask their friendly anonymous hacker group for help and a couple hours later along with a sore arm they’ve gotten their first lead with a file full of dental records.
Joan stays up all night and finds who she believes to be the lead suspect, Alan Taylor. They’re proven wrong when the man is brought in and shows that his teeth aren’t his own but a set of dentures that were given to him while he was in prison. He says there’s likely a handful of men out in New York currently that have the same pair.
This means that Coleville was the model for the dentures, making the case all the more tricky to narrow down and a little silly.
They visit the attending dentist at the prison where Andrew was held and learn that the dentist who came up with the denture plan passed away a few years ago but that his assistant still worked there. They get records of anyone who received a pair and narrow it down to four men and bring them in for interrogations. None of them fit the bill though and are sent away.
Captain Gregson warns their little team that things are about to get messy with the case re-opening. It will cause a stir in the media and will likely upset Andrew’s family and drive them into looking for a lawsuit. Which leads Joan into more self-inflicted guilt as well as looking further into Doctor Flemming who she can’t help but feel some doubt for after his comment about “making calls.”
She tells Sherlock all of this later as he finds the boxes of Flemming’s files. Sherlock tries to dig at Joan’s current psyche and asks her what she was feeling on that night. She says that sure she thought the world might be a better place without Colville but she would never do anything to get in the way of saving a man’s life. Sherlock tells her that he believes this is all about Joan needing to forgive herself. She was is no place in 2005 to make a call that would have caused any sort of change and if she had reported Flemming she could have received backlash. Some of the best scenes in this week’s episode—and many of the shoes episode’s—are the quiet moments between the two characters. Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller’s rapport shines when they’re allowed moments of nuance. He doesn’t have to be overtly affectionate and she doesn’t need to be overtly reciprocal of what he’s saying, but we understand the warmth he’s offering and the appreciation she feels.
Their next revelation is the assistant at the prison, Stan, who was suspicious when being asked about files they had kept. They soon learn that he had been convicted of sexual assault and had been in prison when he started working as a dentist’s assistant and had simply continued when his sentence was finished. He had realized they’d be on to him and had left his apartment. The duo track him down and when they find him are less than impressed. He has been taking a doctored chemical solution to self- castrate himself and had stopped taking it months before. His body was left damaged and they realize in his weakened state he couldn’t be the killer.
Flemming calls Joan and tells her to back off. He tells her that he holds all of the cards and tells her that Andrew had whispered to him that he had killed the two women he was convicted for—believing that Flemming was a priest there to give him his last rights. That’s all he has to offer Joan and asks her to leave.
Later that night, as Joan is watching the news, Colville’s mother appears on the news damming the people who falsely convicted her son, she comes to her last lead. Colville’s mother was talking about the lawsuit and if she won would be receiving a large sum of money. On top of that bit of information it was known that Colville’s household was never a happy one.
They get a warrant for her house and Sherlock snoops a bit as Joan distracts her and he finds a pair of the dentures Andrew had made, incriminating the mother. Turns out she had orchestrated all of the recent murders to mirror her son’s all for the money.
Later we watch as Joan burns her files on Flemming and Sherlock walks in. She says that nine years ago as she watched Andrew die she was thinking about they why’s and the how’s. About what his death would mean and that’s not what surgeons are supposed to do. They don’t think about who the person was or what they’d done, they simply act and hopefully save a life.
No, Sherlock agrees. He says that sounds like a consulting detective.
Again the last moment of the episode leaves us on a high note as we learn along with Joan that maybe she’s always had this skillset lying beneath the outer surface. That even before she lost her patient she was always suited for something different.
It’s a fine episode that verges into campiness every once and a while but it still feels by the books. Nothing big happens; nothing piques my interest for the remaining episodes. It’s as if with each passing episode I keep expecting some big turning point to come and it doesn’t. The promo for next week’s episode looked at the very least more action-driven so if anything, maybe that will be the episode to rejuvenate the last few episodes of season two.