The second season of Elementary draws to a close with the culmination of the over-arching plot involving Mycroft and MI6, as Sherlock and Joan explore the unravelling of their partnership in efforts to discover the identity of the double-agent within British Intelligence framing the elder Holmes for treason and murder. It’s an episode full of twists and turns and stunning revelations, leaving one to feverishly wonder, “Where is this going next?” Well, I don’t know, man. That’s, like, the future. I can’t see the future. That’s not my job here. That costs extra, and I’m already working pro bono, yo. Ease up.
To be truthful, the ultimate reveal of the episode — that Mycroft’s handler, Sharrington, was the turncoat working with the Iranians, was a bit of an unsurprising discovery. The list of potential suspects was pretty thin, and we didn’t really get that much development out of any of the other peripheral players. Likewise, I’m not sure if the motivation for Sharrington’s betrayal of Queen and Country was nearly as fleshed out as it could have been for maximum narrative impact; having spent some time in England myself, I understand the much more apparent class divisions and social dynamics at play there that don’t really exist in the US in the same fashion, but the villain’s resentment of hitting the class ceiling due to age-old hierarchical biases causing him to throw in with a government as nefarious as Iran’s currently is seems a bit discordant, especially considering how little Sherrington seemed to care who he sold the British government out to. I mean, I guess he figured go big or go home, but jeez, guy. A revelation that Sharrington was protesting the Western treatment of Palestinians or the plight of post-9/11 Afghanistan would have painted him a more believable and sympathetic heavy, but as it stands he just ends up being a petty jerk who didn’t like the fact that some people were born rich. Join the club, duder, but don’t go and blow the club up in the wake of your tantrum. To the end, though, Elementary sticks to its thesis: dig deep enough, the crook is always a rich white dude.
Johnny Lee Miller sets a new high watermark for his work on this show in multiple scenes throughout this episode, and it may be some of the best work he’s done anywhere. A pivotal scene for the future of his relationship with Joan finds him sitting on the floor of a crime scene, all but begging Joan to stay in the brownstone with him for the sake of their partnership (with heavy subtext on the sake of his sobriety), and the need in his voice is palpable. You feel so much fragility and weakness in his eyes and body language, and the shot’s blocking — with the standing Joan dominating the space over the supplicating and crouched figure of Sherlock — emphasizes with surety. Likewise, the scene where Sherlock confronts his brother in the safehouse is a powerhouse, but this time driven by the chemistry between Miller and Ifans and the plot that has brought them together over the season. Mycroft and Sherlock haven’t enjoyed each other’s company, but the history the program has developed between them comes to its crescendo in this scene as the reasons for their chilly relationship are laid out on the table, and Sherlock sees how wrong he’s been about his brother. The devastation and guilt and righteousness Miller sells in this scene is phenomenal, and Ifans gives just as well in the hurt he shows for duplicitously forcing his brother away from him in the name of protection. When it’s revealed at the hour’s end what Mycroft has now had to give up to save his brother and Joan, Sherlock’s rage could power the whole of the Empire State, and every bit of it emanates from the screen like searing waves of flame. He had just come to forgiving himself and his brother for years of friction, and now to lose him possibly forever? Ugh. It killed me. I died. I’m writing from the great beyond, y’all. Such good work there.
Honestly, I don’t expect Mycroft’s covert walkabout to last forever; he’s too valuable to too many parties, both good and bad, to stay in the shadows for too long a tenure. I do expect, however, that it may be a long stretch before we see him again, possibly an entire season or more, and for that I give Rhys Ifans the slow clap for a great performance in this year. Take a bow, good sir, you’ve earned it. But hey, what a potential shake-up for Season 3, eh? We’ve got Sherlock and Joan fracturing their dynamic as Joan seeks to find a life without the gravitation pull of her partner (at least in the context of her personal life), and is Sherlock really joining MI6? That would be such a welcome paradigm shift if he did, and it would be a great dovetailing of the plot from this season that saw factions of the NYPD tiring of how reliant Gregson’s precinct had become on the freelance consultants. However, I predict a more insidious and selfish nature for Sherlock’s joining the intelligence agency: ensuring Mycroft’s safe return to public life. This would mean that our boy would be taking after the mobsters of Le Milieu, the same group of angry frogmen that kidnapped Joan two weeks back, which might mean that he involve himself internationally from time to time. Okay, okay, I need to stop thinking about hypotheticals now before I get ahead of myself, because my future head-canon already has Shirley teaming up with Jamie as a duo of jet-setting, crime-fighting braniacs . . . and the sexual tension is already killing me here and it’s not even a thing that exists so oh my god Atomika just stop it already. Unf.
Okay, so, hopes for Season 3:
– more Jamie
– more Ms. Hudson (obviously)
– better storylines for Joan
– teenage mutant ninja Clyde
– no relapses into addiction
Alright, Elementarians, have a good summer! Go watch Fargo! It’s good!