Elementary offers up its most mind numbing case of the week yet, so it’s a good thing that the series also introduces its first principle piece of Sherlock Holmes mythology.
Let’s bitch it out…First off, I’ll be completely upfront: I think that TVAngie has been far too generous with Elementary. Since its debut the show has relied upon audience goodwill for Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Holmes and his frustratingly underdeveloped relationship with Lucy Liu’s Watson. And the supporting characters are barely peripherable (I completely agree with TVAngie that Aidan Quinn’s Captain Gregson and, to a lesser extent, Jon Michael Hill’s Detective Marcus Bell deserve larger roles and actual backstories).
Unfortunately the show is doing well enough with its cases of the week and slower-than-slow-roll-out of significant character development that it doesn’t have a imperative to do anything differently. I have no doubt that the show will eventually go beyond its formulaic procedural format, but in the meantime we’re stuck with crazy interesting* cases about ho-hum murders that simply prove Sherlock is smarter than everyone else in the room (*please note sarcasm).
Which brings us to ‘Flight Risk,’ a pretty dry episode that would prove completely unmemorable were it not for the introduction of a character from Sherlock’s past: his actor friend Allistair (Roger Rees). In the midst of trying to forge a deeper relationship with Sherlock, Watson stumbles upon Allistair, a confidant of the eccentric genius who could be called “Exposition” were he not played so charmingly by Rees. And it is in conversation with Allistairs that Watson – and we, the audience – finally hear one of the classic Sherlock Holmes’ characters name-dropped: Irene (as in Adler).
Were we hoping for Moriarty? Oh sure. But considering that these first six episodes have been steeped in Watson’s attempts to discern the reason behind Sherlock’s drug addiction, Irene makes much more sense (plus she should provide all sorts of interesting conflict now that Watson is female because Holmes will have two intelligent women in his life to contend with). At the rate that the show is going, Irene likely won’t appear until mid-to-late in the first season, but at least now we have something more than “the secretary did it” or “the janitor did it”-type cases to look forward to.
- All utterances of “Irene” aside, the tension between Watson and Holmes is well played here. After Holmes asks Allistair to impersonate Holmes’ father (and Watson’s employer) at dinner, she is understandably peeved. Her statement that they’ve been “glued to the hip for weeks now” and they’re “basically still strangers” could also refer to our relationship with these characters. They remain less than two dimensional despite the best efforts of Elementary‘s talented cast. It’s this point that makes Allistair’s statement about effectively putting up with Sherlock’s social ineptitude or else she’ll be the lesser for it. So basically: put up or shut up. Well, that certainly won’t do for her or us…so hopefully Elementary a) allows these relationships to move forward and b) gives Watson more to do.
- Speaking of Liu, the weather must be getting colder in New York (where the show shoots) because Watson wore pants throughout the entire episode. Not a single pair of jeggings in sight, folks! Hurray for small miracles
- If you’re some kind of masochist and you’re watching the show for the case of the week (as opposed to playing the drinking game in which a shot is taken every time Sherlock proves an inferior being wrong), try this one on for size: how many times will the killer be the first or second person met or interviewed? So far it’s happened in nearly every case so far.
- It only took five episodes before the show did away with its creatively stunning opening credits in favour of a simplistic (re: dull) title card. Le boo
That’s my take. What are your thoughts? Are you enjoying the case of the week or were you, like me, psyched to finally dig into the Holmes lore with the mention of Irene? Are you hoping to see more of Allistair? And what about Reiko Aylesworth’s Agent Miranda Molinari (continuing the trend of excellent guest actors used poorly) – do you want to see more of her? Hit the comments below
Elementary airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CBS