**This episode contains spoilers from episode 2.15 of Elementary, “Corpse de Ballet”**
Last night’s Elementary featured a bisected ballerina, so… they’re fans of alliteration and gore! Really, there were so many shots of the victim that it was almost gratuitous.
The primary suspect is a woman named Iris Lanzer, a master ballerina who is the star of the ballet where the victim, Nell, was killed. Through a series of wild goose chases and lies, Sherlock figures out that Iris is being framed by her lawyer, who was motivated to murder and frame her for it in order to make a name for himself. It was a slightly predictable case (Scott Cohen, of Gilmore girls and The 10th Kingdom fame, was a bit of a giveaway, even if his motive was a nice twist) and it lacked some polish (the lawyer stole and hid the security tapes himself, to be submitted into the court case to exonerate Iris, but how would he be able to do that if the police record showed the tapes were missing?) but it was still entertaining.
It was a case devoid of gunplay or foot pursuits, so it was a perfect time for Detective Bell to return! Joan was thrilled to see him, and Bell seems to hold no lingering hostility toward Sherlock. He’s still not allowed to fly solo, since he still hasn’t been reissued his handgun, but it’s a start!
For an episode that was billed as being ballet-centric, it was surprising when Joan peeled off early on to go help out a client for the homeless charity that she works for. His name is Morris Gilroy, and he’s a schizophrenic who is off of his meds. When Joan asks what he was screaming and violent about, the beat cops call him “a nutbar,” which makes Joan bristle. Morris is ranting that one of his friends, Freebo, had been taken, and Joan promises him that she will work to find him.
She enlists Bell’s assistance in tracking Freebo down, but her lack of involvement in the central ballet case confuses Sherlock. He remarks more than once on her peculiar focus on the rantings of a homeless man, but Joan continues to deflect him. It’s not hard to do: Sherlock is engrossed in his own case.
She follows a lead to Queens, where she talks to a woman claiming to be Freebo’s sister. Freebo is an Army veteran who was diagnosed with severe PTSD, and his sister expresses her gratitude that Joan is looking for him. Sherlock later complains about the smell of cigarettes on Joan’s clothing, and makes another allusion to his “monographs” about tobacco as he easily identifies the brand.
It’s not until Joan’s preparing to go to the homeless shelter to talk to Morris that Sherlock presses her for more information. He backs off immediately, apologizing for intruding, but Joan says, “It shouldn’t be a secret, especially from you.” Joan reveals that her father, her biological father, is schizophrenic, and that he is also homeless.
I thought it was interesting that Sherlock hadn’t figured out that Joan was raised by her stepdad, I think it really humanizes him: Even Sherlock Holmes misses things sometimes. He also shows a great ability to sympathize with her, only asking the pertinent questions (“When was the last time you saw him?”) and grimacing at her in understanding. Watching this version of Sherlock continue to put himself in someone else’s shoes (usually Joan’s) and view the world as an outside observer to his own, that’s really something.
Through her own investigating (and deducing) Joan figures out that the woman claiming to be Freebo’s sister is actually holding him captive in her home, in order to cash his Veterans Benefits checks. In fact, the woman and her husband have three homeless men chained in their basement. Her understanding of schizophrenia (that Morris’ ramblings were not just drunken nonsense, they just had to be deciphered) and her determination to do the right thing resulted in her rescuing three men that no one else would’ve thought to look for. She’s a hero.
At the end of the episode, Sherlock appears with a stack of blankets he intends to give out to homeless people at the park. Joan’s touched, and Sherlock smiles at her sweetly as he waits for her to get her coat. Awwww.
Another interesting tidbit: Joan notes early in the episode that Sherlock’s been more sexually active in recent weeks. He claims it is for exercise and nothing more, but Joan’s casual observation turns to judgment when Sherlock sleeps with Iris, the lead suspect in his investigation. Could this be a result of his interaction with Moriarty a few episodes ago?