The Pleasure Was All Mine

*Warning: This post contains spoilers for CBS’s Elementary Episode 3.14 “The Female of the Species.”*

Ever since last week’s episode I have been fangirling over Sherlock’s progression this past year. Elementary has become one of the very few shows I can still rely on to give me solid episodes. This week Sherlock had a new companion to help with his mystery solving, Marcus Bell. It was an utter delight to see the two of them working together. It also made me realize Sherlock indeed cannot work a case on his own anymore. He needs a sound board, and with Joan out of commision this week he seeks Bell’s company while he is on mandatory vacation. This is one similarity the two of them have. They can not sit still and relax. Bell was forced to take vacation, and Sherlock has never been known to stay still for long. He is always doing something even if only it appears to be is sitting. Sherlock knows Bell is probably restless, and so he enlists in his help to find two zeh-bras (zebras).

Bell and Sherlock have worked together before, but they have never worked together alone before. It is interesting to see how Sherlock treats Bell at the beginning of the episode with calling Bell “Detective Bell” and having him get his lunch without ordering for two compared to the end of the episode. At the end of the episode, Sherlock lets Bell sleep in while he does all the work dealing with the police to catch the zebra-napper and orders Bell breakfast before he even arrives at the diner. The most beautiful thing about this partnership was when Bell tells Sherlock it was a pleasure, Sherlock replies, “No, the pleasure was mine and mine alone, Marcus.” This sentence holds so much significance. There was one a time Sherlock probably would have replied he sure it was Bell’s pleasure. Sherlock has become somewhat humble over the past couple of years. He still has his quirks, but you can also see a part of humanity in him. He finally addresses Bell as Marcus. Bell wanted Sherlock to call him that at the beginning of the episode, but Sherlock kept being proper by calling him Detective Bell. There is now more of a sense of familiarity between the two of them at the end of the episode.

Bell also helps Sherlock where Joan is concerned. He tells Sherlock he needs to be with Joan and help her get through this time, and Sherlock does follow Bell’s advice. He visits Joan throughout the episode, cooks for her, gets her mail, and actually waits for her to let him into her apartment. While the episode showed a new closeness between Bell and Sherlock the closest relationship of the episode is still Sherlock’s and Joan’s. Sherlock is there for Joan in her time of need. It is no longer the take relationship it was at the beginning of season one. Sherlock has now learned how to give as well.

One of my disappointments with the episode is Elana March is now dead. I was hoping Joan’s nemesis would last a bit longer, but Jamie Moriarty had other plans. I had a feeling Moriarty would somehow get involved because Joan bested her in season one. Moriarty has this appreciation for Joan, and now considers her a great adversary in the chess game she and Sherlock are playing. Moriarty saw Elana as a threat, and therefore Moriarty had to get rid of her.

My greatest disappointment is with Joan’s speech to Sherlock at the end of the episode. In some ways I’m glad she is moving back in with Sherlock because it will lead to shenanigans. However, her speech left me unsettled. A part of me thought she was giving up some of her humanity with it. Only time will tell, and I hope this unsettling feeling is nothing.

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“In the event I failed, it would not be right in front of you.”

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.01 of Elementary, “Enough Nemesis to Go Around.”**

Happy Halloween!

Elementary returned for season 3 last night, and let me tell you, I had no idea how much I missed this show until it was on my TV screen. Even if things aren’t hunky dory in Holmesland, at least we have reliable and creative storytelling to get us through the rift between Sherlock and Joan.

The case was technically pulled from Holmes canon, and it’s one that BBC’s Sherlock also covered: The Adventure of the Sealed Room. It’s not from the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but it was written based on a comment Watson made in a previous ACD story. Whether it’s part of the “official” canon or not, the premise is something inherently Holmesian in nature. The BBC version referred to it as “the invisible man” in the episode “The Sign of Three” (and that particular case starred one Alfred Enoch, who is now kicking it opposite Elementary on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder) while our Americanized CBS Sherlock refers to the case as a “locked room” mystery. A person or people, seemingly alone, are murdered by an invisible suspect.

This one is solved more elegantly, I think, than the one on Sherlock, because I’m more willing to believe that an electromagnet was stolen from Rutgers to ricochet bullets around an elevator than I am to believe that soldiers were unknowingly stabbing themselves with their belts. It stumped Joan and Bell for two solid months before Sherlock came back to propose his wacky theory, but hey, remember that case with the ears on someone’s back last season? That’s way wackier.

The bigger takeaway is that Joan was an intended target on the elevator. Crime scene investigators assumed one of the bullets had missed its target, but in reality, it was meant to kill Joan. She chose to stay behind and go to the courthouse with Marcus (thank goodness for Marcus!) leaving the client alone on the elevator with the bodyguard.

And why was Joan a target? Why, it’s because she made good use of her time away from Sherlock to get herself her very own nemesis! And not just any nemesis — she got Gina freaking Gershon. If you ever thought “Wow, how will they ever top Natalie Dormer as a frightening and powerful nemesis?” well you never considered Gina Gershon. She killed it in her role as Elana March. I mean that literally — she killed a bunch of people, off-screen of course, and she also has an amazing house with stables and an awesome wardrobe. Basically, this show is really making me consider becoming a kickass Lady Villain.

Elana is arrested and taken into custody at the end of the episode, but I have a feeling we’re going to see more of her throughout this season. Joan gets her moment of triumph, and that’s all that matters.

 

Sherlock returns to New York just before the second commercial break, sporting a creepy 1920’s “isolation helmet” as he sits in the dark on the garden level of his unpowered brownstone. He tries multiple times to apologize to Joan, but Joan’s not having any of it — she’s clearly hurt and is striving to move forward, but Sherlock is and always will be an anchor who will either keep her in one place or drag her down. It’s just his nature.

He later tells Gregson (whose entire dialogue in this episode is just sassy one-liners, have I mentioned how much I missed this show?) that he was fired from MI-6 and that he intends to come back and work for the NYPD. Gregson awesomely says he can come back only if it’s okay with Joan, and Sherlock looks properly apprehensive about that.

The problem is, he didn’t come back alone. He brought along his new protegee, an upstart young woman by the name of Kitty Winter. If you recognize the name, it’s because she’s from canon too! The Illustrious Client. Kitty is clearly jealous of Joan, calling her “the original model” and treating her with half-hearted scorn, but really, she’s mostly intimidated by Joan. She has a bit of baggage herself, as evidenced in her closing conversation with Joan when she reveals that she’s “moving toward something” as well.

 

Joan pretends not to be fazed by Kitty, but I have to think it hurts a little bit when Sherlock goes on and on about basically replacing her with a new person. A lot of the dynamic from the first two seasons was this balance of power because while Sherlock was this brilliant but impossible man, the only person in the world that he held in esteem was Joan Watson. He even held her above Moriarty. Now that Joan is being told that she’s pretty much replaceable, Sherlock probably doesn’t realize the imbalance he’s creating there, or the fact that he’s inadvertently creating antagonism between Kitty and Joan.

As for me, the viewer, I was apprehensive about this Kitty storyline, and while I’m still not sold on it, I think it has potential. The heart of the show (and the canon) will always be Sherlock and Watson, so really, Kitty is destined to be temporary as a protegee or partner. It’d be fascinating to see her go on an apprentice-turned-nemesis arc, especially if we get to see it all play out up close with Sherlock not reading the signs, but I doubt this show will go that way. I guess it really depends on Kitty’s backstory and what she’s running from… or what she’s running toward.

If it means a few more episodes of Bell and Joan being a dynamic duo, I’ll take it. It warms my cold, dead heart-space to think of them working in tandem for eight whole months!

Other notes:

— Lucy Liu was amazing in this scene:

 

— Joan has a boyfriend now! He has a bearded dragon, and his garlic-loving brother lives on Joan’s floor. I’m hoping there’s a vampire story in there somewhere.

— Joan has taken ownership of Clyde, and so far, it doesn’t look like he’s involved in any dioramas. He looks happy, though.

— Her new apartment looks nice, but I have always been partial to the dilapidated brownstone, myself. Sherlock brought her wire hangers as a housewarming gift, because “There’s little open at this hour.”

— Sherlock was tight-lipped about why his work with MI-6 ended, but he did admit to Watson that he came back to New York because he feels he belongs there.

Next week: Double the detectives! Double the fun! Or double the dead bodies.

“Your feelings are trivial because we have a murderer to catch.”

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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!

“You ever have one of those nights?”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.18 of Elementary, “The Hound of the Cancer Cells.”**

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After a rather mundane night of TV on Thursday night, the clouds parted and the angels sang, because Elementary opened with Joan perched on Bell’s desk as he showed off a gift from his buddies. I feel like it was written just for me, which is absurd because those writers don’t know me, but it’s also great because really good television makes you feel like they know exactly what you want.

Bell is celebrating his return to full duty — gun and all! — and his friends gave him a paint mixer because… why not? Joan’s happy for him too, and he says, “Prove it. A bunch of us are getting together after work Friday, you should come. Your partner, too.” I won’t scream “Date!” but I will point out that Marcus is one of the few people who, when he sees Holmes and Watson, often makes Holmes the afterthought. I wonder if he realizes that.

That’s not why he asked her down here, though. He’s trying to track down a girl named Nicole Watkins, who was a witness to a murder a few months back. This morning, she recanted and asked the D.A.’s office to stop calling her, so Bell wants Joan and Sherlock to track her down and try to talk to her.

Thus begins an episode where Joan and Sherlock are technically on two different cases, in an episode that ends up being more linear than circular as far as storytelling. I say they were “technically” on different cases because Joan assists Sherlock with the A-plot case, which is the titular “Hound of the Cancer Cells” case (a riff of “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” but the case itself has little to do with the one from ACD canon — that leaves me optimistic that the original story might still get interpreted!) involving a man who has appeared to commit suicide over a case of fraud. We actually saw the man, Dr. Granger, hilariously murdered via helium in an unventilated room while he was showering, and someone dragged him out and set him up to make it look like a suicide.

The Hound is a breathalyzer that can detect cancer cells in patients. Dr. Granger was conducting blind studies to prove that The Hound works, but an anonymous tipster claimed that Dr. Granger had falsified the results, so people don’t believe it works anymore. Sherlock decides to dive into uncovering the identity of the tipster, but a lead from Gregson takes them to a travel agency that turns out to be a front for Mossad agents. One of them gives Sherlock information to find Dr. Granger’s killer, because she cared for him. And that’s it. That’s the end of the Mossad thread. Hopefully that gets picked up in a later episode — Shiri Appleby and Jonny Lee Miller were compelling together, and I think it means something that Sherlock knows a Mossad agent now.

Sherlock returns to his search for the anonymous tipster, named Adam Peer (“A Peer,” get it?) and we get to see Joan put her medical experience to good use once again as she recalls a case where pain pill studies were falsified a few years ago. This leads them to Ms. Buckner, who sends them on a wild goose chase after a man who was killed in Mexico in 2012, but Sherlock suspects Ms. Buckner herself had a crisis of conscience back in 2008. She created the Adam Peer persona to be a whistleblower, but Ms. Buckner tells them that she’s only half of Adam Peer — the other half was Dr. Granger. This effectively ends the tipster lead, and Sherlock finds himself back at square one.

After Hank Prince’s estranged wife is found murdered, Sherlock believes Prince is being framed… but ultimately, it was Prince who committed both murders. Twisty! He murdered Dr. Granger to destabilize the studies surrounding The Hound, and when Sherlock floated the theory that Prince was being framed, Prince took advantage of it and murdered his soon-to-be-ex-wife. He wanted to be able to keep all of his money out of his wife’s hands, so that when the divorce was over, he’d be able to keep all of his money. When the first plan went belly-up, Prince decided to just kill his wife and bank on the idea that the police would assume he was framed for that, too.

Sherlock’s methods for waking up Joan will never get old.

If you think that case was winding and ended up in an odd place (though not as odd as the ears case from last week) then you’ll find Bell and Watson’s case even more meandering. I mean that in a good way — crime dramas often fall victim to circular storytelling. It can be elegant (“The Woman” / “Heroine” were fantastic in that regard) but in the real world, real cases don’t end with perfect bowties and touching narrative arcs that perfectly relate to the protagonist’s personal life. Castle does this a lot, often through personal drama in Castle’s home life (his daughter has problems with school friends, his mother is having a career issue) that somehow ties perfectly to the case of the week. It’s nice when Elementary episodes go gritty in the sense that sometimes these things don’t add up, that life sometimes sucks and the case they’re working on is senseless and awful, but at the end of the day, they’re still fighting the good fight.

In that same vein, Sherlock grapples with his lingering guilt over Bell’s injury throughout the episode. He’s rather jumpy and twitchy the whole time, and he continuously cuts off Joan whenever she brings up Marcus’s party, to the point that she finally stops and asks him why he keeps doing that. He uses the fact that the party is at a bar as an excuse, but Joan suspects that’s not the only reason.

Sherlock: “You know, there are certain milestones — an officer making detective, a retirement, a wake, an injured man returning to full duty — which belong to the police. It’s their night. It’s their chance to raise a glass, surrounded by their brethren. It’s a fraternity to which, my countless contributions notwithstanding, I will always remain an outsider. And given my role in starting Detective Bell down his detour, it seems inappropriate that I be part of celebrating his return.”

Joan relents at that point, effectively letting Sherlock off the hook, but he reconsiders later, after staring at Joan’s gift — she framed the silhouette that Bell shot in order to re-qualify, it’s a very lovely and thoughtful gift — almost obsessively. Almost like he found something wrong with it. Nevertheless, Bell’s injury arc is finally coming to an end, and it should be a happy occasion, but it turns bittersweet for Marcus. I started out the episode assuming Watson would be primary on the Martens case, but her role ended after she found the witness, Nicole, who is hiding because she just discovered she was pregnant. Joan tries to talk to her, but to no avail, so she defers to Bell and he takes over the case. He goes to visit the teacher that Nicole’s been staying with, a man named Manny Rose. Bell’s actually heard of Rose, he’s legendary in the neighborhood for standing up to the criminal element, so he decides to pay Rose a visit himself.

Rose assures Bell that NIcole will come around and eventually testify, but Bell is actually there to let Nicole off the hook. “The D.A.’s office has their guy, and there’s other evidence. They’ll just have to make the best case they can.” Rose is visibly irritated by this: “Martens killed a boy! A good boy. She can explain to a jury exactly what happened.” Nonetheless, Bell is determined to let Nicole off the hook, and he leaves after getting a call about another case.

The next day, Rose visits Bell at the precinct and tells him that Nicole left to stay with family upstate. Bell reiterates that he’s fine with her decision, but Rose proposes testifying in her place. Bell obviously can’t stand for that, as it’s perjury and he worked so hard to get back on the force. A frustrated Rose says, “Kwami Martens shot that boy in cold blood, right in front of Nicole. Didn’t care that he had a family that loved him. Didn’t care what that would do to Nicole. I have poured my life’s blood into this neighborhood. Never did anything but the right thing.”

Marcus tells a story about how he once stood up to bangers, back when he was twelve years old. He presents himself as an example of a man who could’ve joined a gang, but chose not to, because of men like Rose. “Let me worry about Martens. If we don’t get him this time, we will get him the next. You have my word.”

So Bell isn’t terribly surprised when he gets the call on Friday evening: Rose has been killed in a gang-related shooting. He walked up to Martens and shot him, point-blank. He was killed when Marten’s friends opened fire, and both were declared dead at the scene. Bell stands over him sadly in the morgue, telling the M.E. that he didn’t know Rose personally, “Just the legend.”

He goes to his party, but stands outside on the street, watching his friends start the celebration without him. This is where Sherlock finds him and cracks a few jokes about how he prefers parties that are solitary in nature, but Bell’s in the mood for some honesty.

Bell: “You ever have one of those nights?”
Sherlock: “My fair share.”
Bell: “I worked my ass off to get back. Really back. Harder than I’ve worked at anything my whole life. And everyone in there is expecting me to be happy tonight, but…”
Sherlock: “With the work we do… there’s often a price.”

The look Bell gives him after that is one of the reasons I like him so much. He’s one of the few people who can recognize compassion in Sherlock, where others would see coldness or aloofness. Not Bell. He’s gratified, and what’s more, this is essentially the same speech Sherlock gave Joan last season, when she was disappointed by a date who kept lying to her. He told her that with what they do, there’s always a price, and Joan gave him the same look then that Bell’s giving him now. Disappointment, sadness, and a bit of gratitude.

 

Bell asks if that’s an invitation, and Sherlock points out that those people will still be there when Bell’s ready. They head off to a coffee shop as the episode fades to black, and my one small complaint is that we didn’t get to see Joan give Bell his gift. I get why they did this, though, and it’s nice to see material still going to Jon Michael Hill even in the periphery of an episode — Bell’s clearly going through an emotional upheaval after the last few months.

Extra:

Sherlock said my favorite quote to date in this episode: “Misanthropy was so easy, Watson. Elegant. I miss it sometimes.”

“You’re the one who gets to be special.”

**This post contains spoilers for 2.17 of Elementary, “Ears to You.”**

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At the end of last week’s episode of Elementary, the Brownstone became home to three more tenants: Romulus and Remus the roosters, and one Gareth Lestrade, former Detective Inspector and current unemployment benefits collector. I went into this episode fully expecting Roommates Shenanigans between the three humans and three animals (don’t forget Clyde the Tortoise!) and in the end, I was not disappointed. Lestrade is not a fan of the roosters, but Romulus seems to be a fan of commandeering remotes and camping out on Lestrade’s bed.

Sherlock spends most of his downtime in this episode deactivating fake bombs (a fitting metaphor for the tensions in the house) and doing his best to avoid Lestrade, who is agonizing over what job to accept next. It’s been nineteen days since Lestrade came to stay with them, and he’s still frozen with indecision. He gets mugged on the first night of Joan and Sherlock’s ear case (literally, it’s a case about ears, I’ll get to it in a minute) and that’s when Joan discovers that Lestrade has a stash of booze in the back of the house. She can’t stand for that (once a sober companion, always a sober companion) and he descends into self-pity about his situation.

Lestrade: “Holmes was right about me! I can’t do this job without him, I can’t be a detective.”
Joan: “You were a detective long before you knew him.”
Lestrade: “What, like back in the day, when I was adequate? When I was competent? Joan, these people, they don’t want adequate, they want special. They want me to be the man I was when I was with him!”
Joan: “I know that you have had your troubles, but you are overthinking this!”
Lestrade: “That’s easy for you to say, of course, isn’t it? You know, because you’re the one that’s with him now? You’re the one who gets to be special. Well, you know, just take it from someone who’s been there: enjoy it while it lasts.”

Joan gives him a deadline the next day, to take an offer and leave the Brownstone before the weekend. Lestrade immediately dives back into wallowing again, and Joan just can’t stand for that.

Joan: “I don’t find your self-pity amusing. When Detective Bell was out of commission, Sherlock burned through a string of detectives. Seven of them. Good ones, far more than adequate. But none of them good enough for him, or me.”
Lestrade: “Yeah, well, he did the same thing back in London, didn’t he?”
Joan: “Until you. He stuck with you, he chose you.”

She hands him case files (procured by Bell, mind you) on a string of muggings and encourages Lestrade to run down the lead. (For what it’s worth, the very next scene opens with Bell asking Sherlock about Lestrade. Sherlock deflects the question, but I think it’s a nice, subtle reminder that the new Lestrade isn’t Joan — it’s Bell. Joan is a category unto herself, and Bell is the detective Sherlock has chosen to attach himself to at the precinct. The difference now is that Bell is absolutely no Lestrade. Sherlock doesn’t care enough to bridge the gap even for Bell, because it’s just not worth caring about.)

Sherlock heartily disapproves of Joan’s methods, believing that Lestrade needs to “bottom out” in order to find direction. “I imploded. Look at me!” Nonetheless, Lestrade makes the necessary phone calls to track down his mugger and proves himself highly capable of being a good detective. To my eye, he’s still no Bell, because Bell isn’t hampered by insecurity, but he’s on the right track. He breaks into his muggers house and composes limericks as he collects evidence and waits for him to come home. He confronts him and knocks him out, and that’s when he sees it: a single rooster feather on the floor.

This sends Lestrade spiraling into a conspiracy theory involving Sherlock and Joan working together to orchestrate a case to help him get back on his feet. Joan is utterly confused when Lestrade confronts them, and Sherlock’s face betrays nothing. Lestrade arrives at a surprising conclusion: “Thanks to seeing through a plot devised by the great Sherlock Holmes, I’ve decided to give detecting one last chance, so I accepted a job this morning.” He’s going to work as a consultant in Ireland. He challenges Sherlock to deny the conspiracy, but Sherlock simply stands and shakes his hand.

Lestrade: “I wouldn’t feel too bad about him leaving you in the dark, Joan. You have to understand, you are in the infancy of your partnership. When you’ve spent as much time as I did with him, you’ll figure him out as well.”

But Sherlock later denies any involvement (or knowledge) of the case. Lestrade closed it on his own, and the single rooster feather was probably from his own clothing. Joan asks why he let Lestrade believe in the conspiracy, and Sherlock says he thought it would be the most helpful for Lestrade to believe that. The episode ends with Sherlock making tons of hilarious faces over his literal ticking bomb.

The case of the week is actually my favorite of the whole season, as far as standalone cases go. A man, Gordon Cushing, who is believed to have killed his wife in 2010 receives a package containing two severed ears, the DNA of which connect to his ex-wife’s DNA. Gregson and Joan are familiar with the original case, since it had a lot of media coverage at the time, but Sherlock was deep into his addiction and doesn’t recall any details. About a year after his wife had disappeared, Cushing had gotten a phone call from her kidnapper, demanding money. He even spoke to a hysterical Sarah on the phone, but after he dropped off the money, he never heard from the ransomer again. Now, three years later, he’s being ransomed again.

Cushing admits that he fell out of love with his wife long ago, and that he only wants her back so that people stop believing he killed her. The police assist him in setting up the ransom drop in the subway, but when the ransomer disappears down the tunnel, Kushing pursues him. The cops find them a ways down the tunnel, Kushing standing over the man’s dead body with bloody rebar in his hand. He’s brought in for questioning, but doesn’t appear to be placed under arrest. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure he murdered a guy.

 

Sherlock deduces from the dead body that the victim was a recovering alcoholic, and he, Joan, and Bell hit up meetings in search of people who might recognize the man. To their great surprise, they find the victim, Sarah Cushing, unharmed and possessing both of her ears.

Sarah says she did pack up and leave her husband. She made a new life under a new name and married a doctor, but she never came forward for fear of Gordon pursuing her. She claims the DNA matched because the hair they were comparing it to wasn’t actually her hair, because it came from someone else’s brush.

Gordon admits that it might not have been her brush, but that he really did speak to Sarah on the phone a year after she’d disappeared. Knowing that she’s alive and not kidnapped now, Gordon believes that Sarah is part of the conspiracy to ransom money from him. Sherlock and Joan spin their wheels, debating whether Sarah or Gordon is behind this case, but after a close examination of the ears (which turn out to be identical to Sarah’s) Sherlock remembers that Sarah married a plastic surgeon.

The case is twisted and fun to follow, but the best (or worst) part is the actual conclusion: Sarah grew fake ears on her back, courtesy of her plastic surgeon husband. He cut them off a few days ago and mailed them as part of a ransom to Gordon. Unfortunately, we don’t get any resolution about why Sarah and her plastic surgeon husband did what they did (were they hurting for money?) and what happened with Gordon, but still: fun case!

Next week: trouble, trouble, trouble!

“What I do is not an act.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.16 of Elementary, “The One Percent Solution.”**

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Before I get into the nitty gritty of last night’s excellent Elementary, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Superior Lestrade.

We all are, Greg. We all are.

Rupert Graves’ portrayal of Greg Lestrade is my favorite part of BBC’s Sherlock, and I occasionally like to imagine what it would be like if his version of Lestrade was on Elementary. Ultimately, I think he and Gregson are too similar for it to be terribly interesting after an episode or two, so I’m glad that this show has chosen to go in the opposite direction with its Lestrade (this one is named Gareth) and make him an insecure man with skewed moral compass, who is every bit as much of an addict as Sherlock himself.

We last saw Lestrade in the big two-hour season 2 premiere, in which he took credit for Sherlock’s big solve, much to Sherlock’s frustration and disappointment. Lestrade is now working as a Security Tsar for a bank, and a bombing at a restaurant brings him back into Sherlock’s orbit.

Sherlock spends the first half of the episode in frustration over Lestrade’s “ego.” He practically snarls as Lestrade swans around with his private helicopters, coconut water, and blonde assistant, while Lestrade seems incapable of shutting up about how great he’s doing since they last saw him. Sherlock’s so galled by Lestrade stealing his credit and his methods that he fails to recognize Lestrade’s actions for what they are: overcompensation.

That’s kind of the great thing about this Sherlock. His main flaw is that for all of his observations and deductions, he still sees the world through his own lens, and often that leads to him misinterpreting basic social cues simply because they are not cues he would make. He thinks Lestrade is bragging and gloating about having pulled one over on the great Sherlock Holmes, because it would never occur to Sherlock to fake smiles and sunshine just to hide his embarrassment. Joan usually helps in this respect, often just by having another point of view, but her focus is only on Sherlock and how it affects him. She calls him out on his irritation during the first night of the investigation, when Sherlock is irritably watching a conference at which Lestrade had spoken about deductive reasoning.

Joan: “Are you mad that he’s still stealing your act, or annoyed that he managed to pull it off?”
Sherlock: “What I do is not an act.”

It was an uncanny Joan moment, though, and it’s amazing that those are starting to slip by almost unnoticed. That Joan Watson is so advanced in her studies that she accurately reads the great Sherlock Holmes — that she forces him to deflect! — is huge. It’s the sort of thing that would drive Lestrade crazy to watch, because how does she do that?

That’s probably why Lestrade takes such a vested interest in Joan during the course of the episode, to the point that his overeager assistant feels threatened by her.

 

Joan’s not interested in working with Lestrade, it’s funny that he even thought she could be bought, and she even mildly suspects Lestrade is part of the bombing crime somehow.

Sherlock eventually wrestles the truth out of Lestrade: he’s a glorified pimp to his boss. He sets up romantic trysts for the CEO of the bank, and he was too embarrassed to tell Sherlock the truth. This ultimately just frustrates Sherlock, since it means he was working on a dead end for the better part of the episode, but he refocuses on a serial bomber who is claiming credit for the restaurant bombing. His name is Aurelius, a unabomber-type, and Joan flatly asks, “The FBI has had a task force looking for Aurelius for years, you think you’re just gonna look through a bunch of NYPD files and find him just like that?”

She wakes the next morning to find that Sherlock has done it. Awestruck, she says, “You found Aurelius!” But later, when Lestrade turns up at their bust, he’s less enthusiastic. “So, you decided to find Aurelius, and here we are.” Sherlock points out that this is supposed to be good news — hooray, we’re about to catch a serial bomber! — but Lestrade is still disgruntled. Sherlock points out that Watson was happy to hear he’d solved the case, and adds, “That’s the difference between you and her. You spend your time resenting my abilities, and she spends her time developing her own.”

And that is a fantastic observation. On the one hand you have Lestrade, riddled with insecurities and bitterness, who cringes and bears down (oh, still too soon) whenever Sherlock has a breakthrough. His solution is to steal, to mimic, to posture and pretend until the world believes that he is great, because his self-worth is so low that he doesn’t believe he can do it just by study and practice. How he must despise Joan, deep down! How he must resent Bell and Gregson, as well! What must it feel like to sit there with the great Sherlock Holmes, the master of deductive reasoning, and wonder what these other people do to earn his respect and admiration?

It’s a great observation of Watson herself, as well, because her uniqueness has long exceeded the thing that seemed like stunt casting at first: the fact that she is a woman. No one talks about that anymore, except perhaps for the “Joanlock” shippers. Instead, people talk about the partnership, the balance, the sharing of confidences, the teacher-student relationship that seems to come so naturally to them. Jude Law’s John Watson seems mostly exasperated and annoyed by his Sherlock’s abilities and antics. Martin Freeman’s John Watson, conversely, is constantly in awe of his Sherlock’s abilities, with no emphasis on learning how to deduce, which means he’s only ever capable of being Sherlock’s assistant, not partner. Lucy Liu’s portrayal is the first time (in recent retellings, mind you) that Holmes and Watson are on even footing. She can learn his version of deductive reasoning because she strikes that precarious balance between Law’s exasperation and Freeman’s hero-worshipping, but she’s still totally in control of her own agency because she doesn’t depend on Sherlock for approval or identity.

This Lestrade could’ve been written as an easy villain, because he’s a desperate man who wants notoriety, and we’ve already seen him thwart Sherlock in the past. Instead, this show has chosen to take a prominent canon character and turn him into a bit of a grey area. He’s no villain, but he’s no hero, either. He’s no Gregson, but he’s also no Moriarty: when the cards were on the table and a moral decision had to be made, Lestrade chose the high ground. Sherlock was clearly gratified when Lestrade chose to ruin his career and let his boss take the fall instead of letting a murderess go free. Lestrade undid some of the damage he caused back in the summer when he doublecrossed Sherlock and took credit for himself.

His appearance at the brownstone at the end of the episode was a bit of comedy. Sherlock, who was trying to tame two roosters who had been bred for cockfighting, is watching as Romulus and Remus meet again after their conditioning. Lestrade is babbling about needing a place to stay just for a short while and Sherlock snaps, “You can stay here, just be quiet!” Long story short, Joan and Sherlock are now the proud owners of Romulus, Remus, and Clyde the Tortoise.

Next week: ears! Aren’t you glad the Olympics are over?

Everyone has a Mind Palace now.

**This post contains spoilers for Series 3 of BBC’s Sherlock.**

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I was very disappointed in the third series of the BBC’s Sherlock.

I’m not angry, I’m not bitter, I’m not upset. I admit that I was all of those things during the first half-hour of 3.03, “His Last Vow,” when it originally aired in the United Kingdom on January 12th: John Watson busts into a run down house to rescue his neighbor, where he encounters Sherlock Holmes… who is high on heroin.

Of all things. Heroin.

But I’ll come back to that, because I want to talk about the season as a whole.

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