Elementary 2×23, ‘Art in the Blood’: A Disarming Personality

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The penultimate episode of the second season explains everything about Mycroft’s clandestine goings on and sets the stage for what’s sure to be a finale full of twists, turns, and at least one explosion, as the brothers Holmes sort out beeves both personal and professional and Joan gets all wishy-washy on her feelings towards Sherlock’s older sibling.  A tense and riveting episode, you’ll be on the edge of your couch the whole time — only to groan in seeing the program end on a cliffhanger.  But fear not!  This tale of lies, spies, and subterfuge is just heating up.

source: CBS

source: CBS

Fallout from last week pervades the entire episode, as Sherlock and Joan appear fairly resolved in their mutual loathing of Mycroft, stemming from how Mycroft tazed Sherlock and got Joan kidnapped by French gangsters before special ops agents perforated the froggy ne’er-do-wells — you know, typical roguish behavior of swarthy Englishmen — forcing the elder Holmes to spill the baked beans on what the dilly actually be.  Said dilly goes as thus: Mycroft works as an asset for the British Ministry of Intelligence, Diogenes is a front he uses to spy on the criminal underground, and the mysterious Briton on the other end of his phone is Sharrington, Mycroft’s liason with MI6.  You see, the plan from the beginning was to have Mycroft get Sherlock out of New York because they were afraid he’d poke his deductive nose into their operations and muck things up, just like he almost did last week, but also with the side offer of bringing his substantial intellect into the fold of the official agency.  Mycroft and Sherlock both bristle at the notion of the younger Holmes working for MI6 (though for obviously different reasons), though Sherlock begrudgingly takes an initial case anyway to repay the Ministry for safely delivering Joan.

What’s been really great about the last few weeks of this show is how they’ve managed to weave the procedural format into the greater arc of exploring the mysteries surrounding Mycroft.  I do very much love Natalie Dormer in the role of Irene/Jamie on this program, but Rhys Ifans role as the unifying character for this season has been exceptionally meaty and satisfying, as both Mycroft and Jamie allow for different facets of Holmes and Watson to be explored; while Jamie’s presence injects contention for Sherlock’s intellectual affections, Mycroft’s nearness has brought the discordant elements of Sherlock and Joan’s relationship to the forefront.  Case in point: this week Joan breaks the news that she’s decided to move out and get her own place, to which Sherlock dismisses as “codswallop,” citing it as nothing more than a kneejerk reaction to being kidnapped by murderous thugs.  Which, I mean, way to minimize your partner’s wishes and traumatic experience there, guy.  Our boy still has some growing to do in the whole tact department.

source: CBS

source: CBS

Back to the point I was making, though; the last few weeks have been an exemplary showcase in carrying narrative momentum between episodes while also maintaining the procedural nature of both this program and the Doyle canon, where the title this week once again comes from, imparting multiple layers of meaning.  From “The Greek Interpreter” tale we get the line, “Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms,”; it’s a reference Sherlock makes to how he feels his deductive skill is innate and not cultured, due to how both he and his brother possess radical intellects despite their many personal differences.  However, considering the case this week concerns a murdered MI6 operative who had tattooed intel data onto his forearms, the entendre multiplies.  Much like how last week’s case was dependent upon the plot with Mycroft and the gangsters, this week sees the stakes raised as all the clues point to Mycroft himself being guilty of the murder of his own colleague.  And that’s where the episode leaves us!  Is Mycroft really a murderer?  Is he being framed?  And by who?  Why?  A mole hunt is afoot in MI6, and Sherlock valiantly leads the charge as his brother and Joan go on the lam.

source: CBS

source: CBS

The best bits of character work this week come whenever one of our male leads is the same room as Joan, which is always great when she can take center focus.  She obviously means very much to both of them, albeit in differing ways, but when an impassioned and relieved Sherlock first sees her safe at home after her abduction, their chemistry crackles and threatens to boil over into the textual, only being restrained under substantial effort; it’s a fleeting thing, and easily understood in the context of the situation, but it shows palpably where the two partners have come to in their time together, and the professional and personal are now inexorably entwined, which makes the reveal of Joan’s desire to leave all that more obviously painful for our boy to consider with any respect.  Similarly, when Mycroft reveals to her the origination of his deception — that he joined MI6 to prevent his addict brother from being incarcerated for unwittingly being involved in a major terror plot — Joan’s earlier seething ire due to being put in the gangsters’ crosshairs subsides as the profoundly altruistic nature of his duplicity comes to light.  The reconciliation occurs at Mycroft’s place (more precisely, his boudoir), until they’re interrupted by a frantic Sherlock ushering them quickly out the door to take shelter for the storm to come.

 

ERRATA:

– Interestingly, the case this week isn’t fully resolved.  We learn why the victim was mutilated, but not by whom or for what purpose, other than the possible framing of Mycroft.  I predict we may learn more next week, in a rare overlapping of cases between episodes.

– Joan’s grey tunic dress was freaking adorable.  So cute.  It killed me.  I’m dead.

– Sherlock seemed to have a bead on who the mole might be, but how?

– No Clyde or Ms. Hudson this week, though the latter gets another shout out.  Fingers crossed for next time.

– Are we really going to end this season without another visit from Jamie Moriarty?  I hold out hope, but I wouldn’t say the odds are in her favor.  She’s probably too busy out in Westeros, being all regal and such.

 

Alright, gang, one last episode until next season!  And there will be a next season, too, as CBS has announced it will pick up Elementary next fall!  Woo!  Hit me up in the comments!

Atomika D.

is a writer and critic of TV and film since 2006, an alumnus of NYFA’s school of celluloid direction and production, and she once ate seven burritos on a dare. It was not pleasant. Read all about it on Tumblr.

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