Elementary 3×03, ‘Just a Regular Irregular’: “We’re just here for the math.”

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I never did like math, much.  I wasn’t great at it in school even at a young age, unless I had a calculator.  Later developmental specialists would tell me I had something called “dyscalculia,” which is basically math dyslexia.  As long as I could input numbers into a calculator that would do the actual formulations for me, I was gold; I came thiiiis close to acing the math section of the SAT.  But ask me to subtract seventeen from forty-three in my head?  I’ll just give you the same look a dog does when it hears a funny sound.  I tell you all this to say, I would have never been at risk for being a victim of this week’s murderous murdering murder, because he killed people . . . . . . with math.  Or, “maths,” if you’re British.

source: CBS

source: CBS

To recall last week’s article, you’ll remember me griping about the lack of an emerging throughline for this season; it seems that we may have made some progress on that front, though that term is arguable, as “progress” may not be as precise a term as “focused diversion,” and of course I’m talking about whatever the mess is going on with Kitty this season.  I simply do not understand what impetus is driving the show this season, as everything seems to be fairly random and arbitrary.  Joan and Sherlock are yet again working together on another case, this time prompted by police request due to their dual familiarity with a connected witness, and Joan is bringing her private cases to Kitty for help.  So yes, it seems we are all back to square one, save now including the tedium of having to show expository scenes reminding us that Joan doesn’t live at the brownstone anymore.  At some point I suppose I’m just going to have to get on board with this show pretending like the entire last quarter of the prior season didn’t happen.  *sigh*

So yes, Kitty.  That’s our focus now.  Sherlock has roped Joan into co-mentoring his protegé, and both detectives badger the poor woman incessantly about joining a rape-survivor support group, which is just how I like to spend time with my boss: constantly being guilted and reminded about the worst thing that ever happened to me.  I’m still having trouble with the question of why this character even exist, though.  When the season ended last spring, we were essentially promised the tale of Joan Watson, P.I., as we saw her sally on and make her name as talented individual detective working on her own, but when Sherlock made the really gross analogy about he and Joan playing mummy and daddy to Kitty’s baby detective, he wasn’t exactly wrong, and that so far has been the uniting recurrent arc for this season.  Joan of course rejected the terminology (which, yeah, because ew ew ew), but she’s complying with the proposal nonetheless, which makes her complicit in this weird non-breakup and non-reconciliation that she’s been engaging with her former partner in for the last few weeks.  Maybe this is all going somewhere.  Maybe I need to give the show a chance.  It was so good last year, it’s earn the benefit of the doubt, right?

source: CBS

source: CBS

Except . . . . the show seems to keep undoing stuff.  Like, how suddenly this season Sherlock has become a churlish jerk who denigrates his underlings and treats friends and colleagues like crap?  And how he keeps making weird choices and bad judgment calls, and acting demanding all the time?  Didn’t we already do all this in the last few seasons?  Why are we rehashing old ground?  Why are we ignoring all the personal growth he’s made since the start of the program?  This week sees Sherlock treat Kitty like a secretary on Mad Men (fitting, given the guest star this week), continuing to enact impositions upon Joan in both a professional and personal context, and blowing off a frequent collaborator for being “needy” because he had he audacity to want to be friends with him.  This is not really a Sherlock I’m familiar with, and not one I’m particularly fond of, and if all of these personality alterations are due to some event happening in the eight-month span in which he was back in England, well, it would be nice for the show to even merely hint at that.  Because that is what the show should be focusing on: what Sherlock did in England, the circumstances around his leaving MI6, and why he came back to New York.  Not this weird reset of everything that came before (feat. Kitty), where we’re hammering the show back into the same shape it was before last season sent it off in dazzling new directions.  We haven’t even referenced anything about the major focuses of Season 2 yet!  No mention of Mycroft’s whereabouts, or what’s going on with Jamie, or how Marcus Bell is doing now that he’s back on regular duty.  We haven’t even established if Sherlock retained the services of Ms. Hudson since his return to NYC.  Nope, it’s just back to rote procedural.  And it stinks (even if the central stories are pretty good, which they generally are).

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source: CBS

Hopefully this ship rights itself soon, and while I doubt Kitty is going anywhere with haste, I can only hope that her character is developed to become more necessary and engaging, as while I think the actress portraying her is quite good, the character itself is fairly inert yet to provide more to the goings-on than a flimsy pretext to get Joan and Shirley back in the same room over and again.  Guest stars like this week’s don’t hurt, like returning player Rich Sommer as Sherlock’s math genius irregular, though the less we see of pie-faced Phil Simms, the better.  That was just . . . . .*shudder*

 

Next week features Sherlock and Joan (again, somehow) fiddling with an evil robot baby doll.  That is a sentence I just wrote.

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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