Elementary 3×11, ‘The Illustrious Client’: You get further with a smile and a nightstick than just a smile alone

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This week finds us with the first half of a rare two-part tale on Elementary, and I’m sorry to say that it’s a big stinking pile of disappointment.  This is obviously the crescendo Kitty’s narrative progression has been building to, and . . . . the story just kinda fumbles it away.  It’s a dang shame, too, as this episode does something I love and that this program only does two or three times a year: having a case where the mystery wholly involves the personal lives of our main characters.  This ain’t no “Shirley and Joan wax procedural in the A-plot while everyone exchanges meaningful glances about their personal lives in the B-plot,” this is “Hey, the bad guy is all up in your business, so you probably should take care of this before he kills you.”  However, a late-breaking plot twist (practically in the denouement) ups the ante in a way that can only be described as “ridiculously improbable,” and perhaps completely invalidates everything that occurred in the first 44 minutes of a 45 minute program.

 

"Get me my agent.  We gotta talk." Source: CBS

Source: CBS

I’ll eschew my typical foray into the subtext of this week’s episode, mostly because this week is dreadfully thin on the stuff.  It’s all surface-level interaction here, a narrative with the depth of a water-logged thimble; avenues of characterization regarding Kitty’s emotional disconnect between her drive to bring justice and her personal hatred for the person who abused her, or any guilt or accountability Sherlock may have felt for possibly putting Kitty through this emotional crucible she once thought behind her — any of that would have been gratifying, so it’s a shame when nothing like that happens.  Kitty simply shuts down and becomes a revenge-fueled murderbot while Sherlock waffles between encouraging this visceral ambition and chastising her when it reaches predictable conclusions.  My mention last week about how it really seemed in no way like Kitty was ready for full partnership in the detective consultancy bears the fruit of “I told you so,” culminating in her not only beating the truth out of a suspect, but having the gall to take them in front of Captain Gregson and stink-eye a confession out of them . . . while everyone else in the room is totally hip to her jive.  Sherlock’s dallying to get in front of the situation is yet another baffling development, as ultimately Gregson is the one who takes action by revoking Kitty’s credentials with the police department, all the while Sherlock remains content with merely sneering at the girl while being reluctant to actually take his loose-cannon protege to task over her huge lapse in propriety (and, you know, legality).

source: CBS

source: CBS

The story itself makes all these revelations even more facepalm-enducing, as the shocking twist ending we all knew would happen reveals that not only did this week’s sadistic woman-branding sex trafficker perp not actually kidnap and torture Kitty, the actual master villain pulling all these impossibly interconnected strings is . . . . Joan’s new boss at the insurance company?  Whhaaaa???  I mean . . . . . WHHHHAAAAAAA?!???!  I can’t even imagine how next week is going to tie all of this in together, and if it’s anywhere near as cack-handed as this week’s completely pointless exercise in how to both make a story ridiculously convoluted while at the same time utterly irrelevant, I don’t know if I want to.  Just to sum up everything that’s lead up to where we are now: years ago in London Kitty was kidnapped, raped, and tortured with a branding iron before escaping, then she fell in with Sherlock Holmes and became his protegé (somehow endearing herself to him in the three months he was in England while working full-time for MI6), and then came to New York to start her training as a detective, where she was followed(?) and stalked by the head of a major international insurance company who managed to kidnap and murder another girl while framing the owner of a sex-slave brothel WHO JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE THE BRANDING IRON KITTY WAS TORTURED WITH.  And then somewhere in all that, the insurance guy reaches out to Joan, convinces her to fold up her fledgling detective agency and work for him, breaks about ten major laws to help Joan solve the case about the sex trafficker, . . . so . . . . for what?  So he could get close to Kitty?  Kitty lives in a brownstone in a crummy part of town — why not just break in one day when Sherlock is out?  This level of completely irrational complexity is akin to a Rube Goldberg machine needing a thermonuclear explosion to instigate a mechanical reaction sequence that results in deflating a whoopee cushion.  And yes, I’m alluding to this episode not amounting to much more than a dry farting sound.

source: CBS

source: CBS

Ugh.  Anyway, none of this makes sense, and next week looks to be even weirder, with Joan attending some kind of fancy space cotillion with her evil supervillain boss.  Without a doubt, this episode is the low point of not just this season (which is already the weakest of the three) but very likely the entire series, and I’m extremely hurt by all of it.  The sheer waste of potential this year is galling, so to cap it off with this kind of inanity is just salt in the wound.  At this point, I’m hoping that the premier of Season 4 (if it gets renewed at all, which isn’t a given this year) opens with Sherlock waking from this horrible dream while still in England working for MI6.  This show is practically begging for its Patrick Duffy shower scene.  Or at least I am.

 

 

Okay, friends.  Let’s see this thing through in the next episode.  I’ll see you at the space cotillion.  Wear your fanciest petticoats.

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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