I’ve never been a fan of procedurals, but they’re tolerable so long as there’s a nugget of character development hidden among the corpses and paperwork. Sadly Elementary‘s ninth episode contains no such elements.
Let’s bitch it out…‘You Do It To Yourself’ is the definition of a procedural episode. In the past we’ve had episodes that mix and match the case and the characters. Some provide a great deal of info about Johnny Lee Miller’s Holmes or Lucy Liu’s Watson and then there are episodes like ‘You Do It To Yourself’ which focus almost exclusively on the case.
The problem with a straight-up procedural is that there’s very little to discuss aside from the case. These cases also focus heavily on guest stars. Sometimes, such as last week when Lisa Edelstein swung by to play a former escort, there’s a delight in seeing a familiar face. Throughout it’s freshman run, TVAngie and I have struggled with Elementary because more often than not it employs these familiar faces (often great character actors) in the most obvious fashion, frequently as the villains.
‘You Do It To Yourself’ doesn’t even have a great guest star. Nor does it have a particularly memorable case to get invested in (which is the only other truly redeeming aspect of a procedural episode).
The case, centering around a man who has himself killed to sadistically punish his adulterous immigrant wife, Jun (Kristy Wu) and the TA, O’Brien (Cameron Scoggins) she’s sleeping with should be interesting. Emphasis on the should. The problem is that it’s not; it’s routine and dull. Sherlock simply needs to look at pictures and lay out his pictures and once again he dances mental circles around Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill).
Particularly frustrating is the scene when Gregson hushes Sherlock because O’Brien is about to confess to the murder, despite Sherlock’s protests of his innocence. How many times does Sherlock have to be proven right before Gregson simply listens to him??? How many times do we have to watch Gregson and/or Hill get surprised when it’s revealed that they have the wrong suspect in the third act? It’s beyond frustrating to watch the characters hit the same beat every week, especially when we’ve seen them advance in other episodes. There’s procedural and then there’s redundant. Unfortunately we’re nearly half through its freshman season and Elementary is falling into the latter increasingly more often.
- The sole thing that prevents O’Brien from going to jail and Jun from being deported is security camera footage. Gosh, how convenient that the sex offender just happens to suspect he’s being entrapped by police and records the encounter with the killer! This reeks of lazy storytelling
- The denouement, when we’re asked to care about Jun and O’Brien having a quickie marriage to keep her in the country, is especially forced. Are we supposed to care whether she stays or goes? We’ll never see her again!
- Also, Kristy Wu’s broken English “accent”? Terrible
- In case you missed it, the episode is brought to you by Microsoft Office. Please use Bing for all your search engine needs, even in the bathroom!
- What’s the point of having Sherlock be sick? It doesn’t dull his capabilities much and it doesn’t affect the outcome of the case. So why bother? This feels like a tedious exercise to round out the running time of the episode
- On a positive note, it’s nice that Bell can occasionally beat Sherlock at his own game, such as when his knowledge of the underground mahjong scene allows them to find the club where the man was killed
- The only memorable aspect of the episode: Watson’s B-story as she works to save an ex-boyfriend Liam (Adam Rothenberg) who’s been wrongly imprisoned. Turns out that she learned how to be an addiction counselor in order to try and help Liam with his addiction. It’s an interesting tidbit of backstory, but it seems unlikely we’ll see Liam or address this again, so chalk it up as a “meh” for now
- Holmes (when Bell asks him to tell him something he doesn’t know): “A pig’s orgasm lasts over forty minutes”
- Holmes (when Watson gives him tea): “No, I am British. This is not tea.”
- O’Brien (as the police question him): “This is Kafka-esque” Ugh…that’s so graduate student
What are your thoughts on this 99% procedural episode? Do you enjoy these cases-of-the-week or are you, like TVAngie and I, itching for some genuine Holmesian developments? At this point, all I want from Elementary for Christmas is to meet Irene Adler. If you could ask for a holiday gift from the show, what would it be?
Elementary airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CBS. Looks like next week Sherlock may get some luvin’? That could be interesting…