Elementary 3×02, “The Five Orange Pipz”: The more things change, the more they don’t actually change that much | Gotta Watch It!

Elementary 3×02, “The Five Orange Pipz”: The more things change, the more they don’t actually change that much

Elementary-Season-3-Episode-02-The-Five-Orange-Pipz

This week finds Sherlock and Joan totally still not working together and living completely separate lives while definitely not consulting on the same case at the same time in each other’s company, and they are absolutely not acting like nothing happened last week and totally not pretending that outside of Joan living in her own place their dynamic is basically unchanged.  No sir.  No siree.  Nuh uh.  Okay, I’m lying.  The second episode of the season finds our detectives examining a mysterious double homicide involving the maker of accidentally fatal children’s toys, with Junior Executive Sous Detective Kitty in tow who doesn’t exactly do anything to suggest that she’s still somehow relevant or necessary to Sherlock’s work or this program.  It’s not a great episode, but it is at least better than last week.

source: CBS

source: CBS

When contrasting the first two episodes of this season with the past two seasons, I’m a little confused; both other seasons established early on what the overarc of each season was going to be.  The first season explored Sherlock’s sobriety vis-a-vis his evolving working relationship with Joan, and the second dealt with Sherlock learning accountability for his actions through his relationships with Joan, Marcus Bell, and his brother, Mycroft.  Two episodes in, I’m not sure if I know what direction any of this season is headed in.  In last week’s premier they reneged on any possible major overhaul promised by the prior finale, virtually hitting the “reset” button on the show, and this week they hit the button again, taking away what little development between Holmes and Watson had been newly established.  This episode has all the same beats and scenes as any season previous; after paying cursory lip service to the notion of their newly separate status, our pair go right back to working together on a case, looking over notes at the brownstone, searching crime scenes together, and sitting in on police interrogations.  I mean, I don’t get it.  Why go through all the melodrama of Sherlock and Joan effectively breaking up only to put them right back together again without hardly addressing their prior conflict?

source: CBS

source: CBS

And Kitty.  Oh, Kitty.  Why are you here?  You’re not a very good detective; in fact, you’ve made a lot of really bone-headed moves that have hurt the investigations.  You’re quick to anger, you’re antisocial, you’ve gone against Sherlock’s instruction on multiple occasions, and you have completely inappropriate reactions to normal human interactions.  Oh, and you threatened your best lead this week.  I’m sorry, Kitty, but not only is your presence befuddling and questionable, you’re making Sherlock seem irresponsible for keeping you under his wing.  His judgment now looks suspect in failing to justify your presence on this program, so not only are you not a good character, but you’re also hurting other good characters.  But this is what I mean when I talk about how this new season has really got me dumbfounded as to what it’s trying to do, as it seems like the writers really don’t have a strong idea where to take any of this.  Yes, I know we’re only a tenth of the way through this season, but for now it at least appears that small fraction has been a narrative bust, not bettering this series in any meaningful way.  There are still several loose threads from previous arcs that have meat on their bones: the saga of Sherlock and Irene, Sherlock and Mycroft’s relationship with MI6 and what got Sherlock fired, Sherlock’s tenuous sobriety and his work sponsoring other addicts, . . . to say nothing of the fact that despite the omnipresent spectre of Sherlock’s father on the show, we’ve never actually explored that relationship at all.  Oh, but hey, let’s spend a countless number of episodes spinning our wheels about who’s working with who.

source: CBS

source: CBS

On the positive front, at least all this drama about Sherlock and Joan’s relationship has allowed the show to purposefully focus more on Joan, and I say “purposefully” because last season really began to drift away from exploring what exactly made her crucial to the dynamic of the team, and when it did deign to focus on her it did so with ham-fisted plotlines about her secret hobo dad or whatever.  We’ve had several scenes this season already with Joan on her own or Joan with colleagues not named Sherlock involving actual professional work, and Detective Bell and Captain Gregson really seem to treat her as a valuable resource and member of their crime investigation team, which is something this show has long been lacking, as Joan under Sherlock’s tutelage was treated by both the NYPD team and her mentor as more of a highly-qualified assistant to Holmes’ direction instead of his coequal partner.  However, if this show continues at its current pace of throwing our two leads back into their old routine, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that progress erode.  *sigh*

The actual plot this week was fairly boilerplate for this series, involving several red herrings, honest people being deceptive for narrative purposes, and capped with a highly convoluted and improbable answer to the mystery, though I really found it hard to suspend my disbelief when the culprit of years-in-the-planning double murder and drug smuggling scheme was found to be an FBI agent who just waltzed into a government warehouse and picked up eight tons of drugs/evidence without any fanfare or clearance.  But hey, plausible scenarios have never been this program’s imperative, I don’t think you could argue, so whatever.  In a bit of Doyle trivia, this week’s case and episode title was taken from a Holmes short story published in 1891 called, “The Five Orange Pips,” in which Sherlock Holmes investigated the mysterious deaths of several family members, eventually finding it to be the work of the Ku Klux Klan, of all damn things.  I know, weird, right?  Doyle would later say that this tale was one of his favorite Holmes stories.  Go fig.

 

Next week: more focus on Kitty!  Yay!  I’m not being sarcastic at all!

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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