Partnership Implies Equality

**This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Elementary, “An Unnatural Arrangement.”**

Last night, we had the pleasure of meeting Captain Gregson’s wife, Cheryl, under less than favorable circumstances. She got home late one night to find an armed man sitting in her living room, demanding to know the whereabouts of her husband. She handled herself like any respectable cop’s wife: by hitting the alarm on her car to divert his attention, running to the nearest stashed gun in the house, and shooting the bad guy through a closed door.

Unfortunately, the perp got away (this would have been a boring case otherwise) but she managed to shoot him in the shoulder before he took off. She was calm and collected as she called the police, telling the dispatcher, “He said he came for my husband, you have to make sure he’s okay.”

As she recounts the events of the night, she recalls relevant details for the investigation, even adding, “He had a Glock handgun.” It’s easy to imagine Gregson over the years, repeatedly quizzing his wife on what to do in the event of a home invasion, or coaching her on the ways to profile a suspect. (Moff insisted that I point how great it is that Gregson is married to someone who could realistically be his wife. She looks like a mother, she’s pretty without plastic surgery, she has a sensible wardrobe, and her hair is fantastic. I’m not saying I would’ve been disappointed if he’d turned out to be married to a tiny blonde who is twenty years his junior, but… yeah, that would’ve disappointed me.)

The sad part is when Gregson reveals that he’s not currently living at home, and that he hasn’t been for about a month.

 

During the course of the investigation, Gregson finds out that his estranged wife is seeing an old friend of hers, a man that Gregson never trusted. It results in a fight about their separation and how unhappy she has been in their marriage.

“What I want is to be with my wife.”
“Now? After 28 years of missed dinners and weekends at the precinct?”
“Come on. When did I ever tell you I wanted to be anything but a cop?”
“When did I tell you that I was always going to be okay with that?”

I can’t say it’s a common conversation that cops have with their spouses, but I can say that I’ve had similar conversations with my cop husband. Gregson’s lifestyle is different from Sherlock’s, he arrives at work every day with a vow to protect the people of his precinct. At any given time, he is making more enemies than he is friends, but that’s part of the job. It’s worth it to Gregson because of the good that comes out of it. It’s not easy, it’s a lot of missed holidays, family events, and yes, even dinners. I got a little shiver as I watched Gregson and his wife argue; could that be me one day? Will I resent the job as much as Cheryl does?

Sherlock, of course, knew about the separation thanks to good ol’ deductive reasoning: “He’s been arriving earlier in the morning, leaving later, stopped bringing home packed lunches.” He takes a pragmatic view of the situation, and of marriage in general: “Detection is a calling, not a job. Hardly leaves one with time leftover to sustain the elaborate ruse of marriage.” Maybe that’s true, or maybe detective work seems so time-consuming on TV because… it’s a TV show about detective work.

Nevertheless, Sherlock continually offers his support to Gregson, both in the case and in his separation.


 

At the end of the episode, Sherlock reveals that he ran a background check on the man Cheryl’s been seeing, and points out, “Of all the men she could’ve entertained, she chose the one most likely to elicit a reaction from you.”

“You should know, Captain, I usually cheer at the end of any marriage. As an institution, I think its outlasted its usefulness by quite a large margin. And yet, I’ve come to appreciate the prowess of… partnership. It’s far more intricate that I had previously imagined. The very smallest gesture can speak volumes.”

It compels Gregson to give his wife a small gesture of his own (a man-hating dog along with his assurance that he will work on himself) but it also dovetails nicely with the story between Sherlock and Joan this week. After being asked to assist in an investigation solo, Joan was annoyed that Sherlock swooped in and solved the case overnight. When he gives her the file back to solve it “for her training,” she snaps that “I wanted to solve it when it was unsolved!” and adds that even though she’s good at deductive reasoning, she’s still years behind Sherlock in terms of her training.

She’s annoyed with him for most of the episode, to the point that Bell even senses the tension, but Sherlock realizes Joan has a point and decides to present her with a gesture of his own: a trunk full of the cold cases he was unable to solve.

 

Sharing is hard enough for Sherlock; the fact that he shares his space, his life, and his methods with Joan already speaks volumes. Giving her the cases that he couldn’t solve, that’s a completely different level of trust. Not only is he telling her that he thinks she can do it, he’s sacrificing his ego in order to show her he cares. I really hope this trunk was planted so that we can revisit one of Sherlock’s cold cases in the future. That sounds like a good sweeps special to me.

 

Jon Michael Hill maximized his limited screentime in this episode (which reminds me, we’re about due for another Bell-centric episode, aren’t we?) both as Gregson’s right-hand man and as the lead detective on the case. He has some great interactions with Gregson and Sherlock, but the best Bell scene was one in which he wasn’t even present:

 

The case of the week was actually pretty forgettable; once it was determined that the attack on Gregson’s wife was simply a case of mistaken house identity, and that the case had nothing to do with Gregson or his family, I mentally checked out of that plot. It involved a stolen artifact and a man-hating dog, which eventually leads them to the would-be killer.

Next week: Fatty returns! For TWO episodes!

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One thought on “Partnership Implies Equality

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