After two agonizing, basketball-filled weeks, Elementary returned to my TV screen in the nick of time. I won’t lie: TV has not been great this week. It was nice to look forward to a solid, well-written, perfectly-acted episode of my favorite crime solving duo, and thank goodness the show actually delivered. It was even heartwarming in the way that Sherlock treated Joan, almost like these writers knew that a lot of their viewership would be feeling bleak after that How I Met Your Mother finale.
It didn’t start out very cheerfully: After Sherlock and Joan solve a case of an accidental death in a morgue, involving bite marks on the victim, Joan chases down the detective who had worked a case similar to that in 2005. It turns out there have been two recent murders that are similar to that one, and Joan asks if it involved someone named Aaron Colville. She asks for copies of the detectives files, which prompts the detective to ask if Joan was involved in the original case.
I assumed Joan had come across this in Sherlock’s cold case box, maybe having caught another detail that a high Sherlock might’ve missed, but she goes to the hospital to visit an old colleague, Dr. Fleming. She was there when Colville died on the operating table from complications from a knife wound; she was assisting Dr. Fleming during surgery, and she asks what really happened the night he died. “I was there. He might not have killed those women. We may have let an innocent man die.”
We see a flashback to 2005, where Lucy Liu is wearing an unfortunate wig and a dying Colville whispers something into Dr. Fleming’s ear. He goes into cardiac arrest, and Dr. Fleming does very little to resuscitate him. Joan tries valiantly to get him to administer epinephrine, but Colville dies.
After Dr. Fleming gives Joan the brush-off in the present, she goes back to the Brownstone, upset and distracted. Sherlock is excited, though, because he and Joan have the opportunity to explore a shipwreck in Australia. When she tells him to go himself, he gets downright adorable:
Her continued distraction makes him ask where she went earlier, and they both sit down to go over the case of Colville. He suggests they start operating under the assumption that Colville did not commit the first two crimes back in 2005, meaning an innocent man died on Joan’s operating table. When she gets upset, he does something amazing: he tries to comfort her.
“Watson, you didn’t stab Colville on Rikers Island, nor did you fail to administer the epinephrine shot in what you judged to be a timely fashion. That was your colleague. Your superior.”
He goes on to say that filing the grievance against Fleming would’ve been futile, and that she shouldn’t be chastising herself over something that happened so long ago when it never would’ve amounted to anything anyway. Joan looks slightly mollified, and Sherlock adds, “Anyway, your feelings are trivial, because we have murderer to catch.”
They decide try to find other matches for the teeth, which leads them to a suspect who pulls out dentures. He got them in prison at Rikers in 2004, so they go to the prison to ask about the dentures. They question a man named Stan, who worked with the now-deceased doctor who had made the dentures, and they learn that there are four possible suspects who might be committing these crimes.
The interrogation scenes are funny (and Bell is involved, yay!) but they yield no results, so Joan pursues the doubt she’s been harboring all along: that Fleming might be involved. She asks a friend at the hospital to send her copies of his records so that she can investigate them, but Sherlock finds them and starts to wonder about Joan’s motivations.
She admits that she had a moment, when Colville was brought in, that she thought the world might benefit from his death. Sherlock gently tells her, “I don’t think that catching Dr. Fleming is at the heart of this particular matter. I think it’s about you forgiving yourself, for a less than noble, if entirely understandable, thought. Which, I remind you, you didn’t act on.”
He wakes up Joan the next morning, shoving some clothes at her, and they’re off to Rikers again, to investigate the files of all of the inmates for any new leads. While there, Sherlock deduces that Stan has a set of the dentures himself.
Sherlock: “His file says he was treated in the infirmary for a savage beating he received in the yard in 2000. According to the report, he lost virtually all of his teeth.”
Joan: “So you think Dr. Nolan replaced all of Stan’s teeth for him?”
Sherlock: “He did it with no official record so that his valued assistant would not have to wait for treatment. I’d do the same for you if you lost all your teeth in a prison fight.”
Awww! Unfortunately, Stan’s already taken off, and the episode takes a fugitive turn as they work to track him down. Joan deduces from photos that he has a dog while Sherlock deduces that he’s chemically castrated himself.
Sherlock reaches out to their friends at Everyone to send him cached copies of Stan’s now-deleted social media accounts, so that he may search for further clues. Why is this relevant, you ask? Because in return, Sherlock has to wear a pretty purple prom dress and sing songs from “something called ‘Frozen!’”
After he wakes Joan with a cozy-clad Clyde, Sherlock tells Joan, “My performance was extraordinary. Everyone concerned seemed to agree that it rivaled, if not surpassed, the original.” If that’s not a DVD bonus feature, then there is no justice in this world.
From the cached images, they track Stan down through his dog, Max. (We get to see Lucy Liu’s chocolate lab, Apple, at the vet!) In the interrogation, Stan is in a lot of pain because his hand got fractured from the handcuffs. It turns out his chemical castration meds have caused him to have osteoporosis, which means he couldn’t have killed the two women who were murdered recently, as he’d still be suffering injuries from those encounters.
Joan gets a call from Fleming, who is outraged that she’s investigating him. He threatens legal action if she doesn’t back off, but in an attempt to get her to back off, he tells her what Colville whispered to him. It was a confession to the murders of the two women. Fleming admits that he doesn’t know if he withheld treatment.
Sherlock decides to believe Fleming’s story, since he has no reason to lie. This leads him to believe that someone committed these murders in order to help them discover the dentures, in order to cast doubt on Colville’s guilt. Who would have motive to do that? Colville’s mother, who has filed a nine-figure lawsuit against the city for the wrongful arrest and death of her son.
They get themselves invited into her home under the guise of offering her a deal, and Sherlock takes the opportunity to search the home. He finds dentures, which incriminates her in the murder of the two women.
Joan ends the episode by shredding Fleming’s files, and Sherlock asks if she feels any differently now.
Joan: “I do know that I was standing over a dying patient, and I was thinking about justice. A doctor is not supposed to do that.”
Sherlock: “It sounds more like a consulting detective.”
Next week: Sherlock is exposed to anthrax!