This week wraps up the back half of a two-hander, where our intrepid detectives continue the search for the criminal mastermind/kidnapper/rapist/torturer/sexual deviant/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist/all-around evil rich white guy. That guy’s LinkedIn profile must be amazing. Anyway, last week was really crap and kinda pointless, as we learned the case about the Albanian sex dungeon (and jeez, what’s with Albanians and their sex dungeons? That was the plot of Taken! If any of my readers are Albanian, shoot me a message and tell me the story of your culture’s rich history in involuntary conjugal dungeonry) was really just a shell game to keep Sherlock & Co. off the trail of the real baddie, making most of the episode kinda moot, but hey, I think we should take no small amount of solace in the fact that our team saved, like, twenty women from the brutality of routine sexual assault. I’d consider that one hell of a silver lining. However, now is the time on Elementary where the stuff gets real — so pop some popcorn, fire up your branding irons, make a dozen Yorkshire puddings (then promptly throw them away), and gather ’round your television’s warm glowing warming glow: it’s payback time.
The cold open this week does our catching up for us: Kitty was sexually abused and scarred whilst in London some time ago, Sherlock was holding on to an old stash of heroin for reasons, Joan quickly abandoned her fledgling detective agency for a raucous career in the high-stakes world of insurance claim auditing, the trio solved the mystery of the sex dungeon when Kitty beat the confession out of a suspect, Kitty then got suspended from the force
and had to turn in her badge and gun, and then somehow everyone decided that the real architect of all this horror show was Joan’s new boss. First of all, that was a terribly stupid plot contrivance: Adelbert “Del” Gruner is one of those brilliant crazy people who really only exist in fiction, because real-life people with his kind of murderous compulsions don’t generally possess the higher-order critical thinking skills it takes to pull off schemes so convoluted, and it usually requires an appalling amount of wealth to maintain their advantage over the law. Thankfully, there’s a biological check against people becoming like our villain this week, and being a total whackjob with a sex dungeon tends to keep you out of typical white collar social circles, likely due to a crippling lack of social decorum and knowledge of Harvard’s storied debate club rivalries. You don’t have a lot of time for charm school finishing when you’re crafting branding irons to use on human torsos and burning their remains before dumping the bodies in shallow graves; it’s like my dad always said, “focus on being successful at one thing.” Helen Gurley Brown was wrong.
The best part of this episode (which continues last week’s tradition of “no plot but A-plot”) is the flashbacks detailing the origins of Sherlock’s pairing with Kitty in London, where we see Kitty was already on her way to becoming a detective in her own right before being taken in by Holmes. At this point, our boy had already been fired from MI6 (his time there being something this show has so far refused to unpack) and was freelancing with Scotland Yard again, though living not at his swanky 221b Baker St. residence, instead hiding himself away at what appeared to be a shed in someone’s garden without any explanation. I’m happy to have these sequences, as this missing time in his history formed the impetus of this entire season, so examining that time seems critical in a narrative context — and it turns out it totally was. Sherlock suddenly found himself without a partner, without a job, without a strong purpose, . . . and holding on to a not-insubstantial amount of heroin. Going back to these flashbacks sequentially we can see the toll the temptation is taking on him, pallor taking his color, his temper shorter and his chastisement more brusque. We see why he sought out Kitty as form of diversionary therapy, which is why Sherlock felt so bound to her education: she kept him sober.
It’s a sign of personal growth on Sherlock’s part to be able to admit to himself that left to his own devices in solitary melancholy, he’s a liability to his own existence. As much as having Kitty under his wing abetted his ego, shepherding her into the world of crime investigation provided him the need for focus and for structure, things he could not provide if sober, and things he used to rely on Joan to provide. So in this we finally understand Kitty’s role in his life: she was his sober companion, whether she realized this or not. Now, though, she’s exhausted her narrative usefulness, found closure for her own troubled past, and is off to parts unknown to make a fresh start. Is it a satisfying end to her character? I would argue so, and I have to admit I’m a little sad to see her go, as I enjoyed her headstrong energy in the mix with Joan’s staid straight-woman and Shirley’s acerbic fussiness. Still, however, I don’t find any of this to soothe the burn I still feel from the promise of last season’s finale being flushed away by this narrative detour we took instead of seeing Sherlock working for one of the world’s more foremost intelligence agencies. The status quo, meanwhile, seems returned to, though future episodes will detail in which form and to what depth Holmes & Watson return to their relationships both professional and platonic. I’ve got my fingers crossed for good things.
Didja check out Joan’s 4th Dr. Who “giant hat-and-scarf” ensemble? That was . . . a choice. o_o
Until next time!