Elementary comes back from the holidays with an ambitious episode (and subtitles!) that appears to shatter the tired formula of episodes past. Is this something we can look forward to in the New Year?
Let’s bitch it out.
I have to say that ‘Dirty Laundry’ is one of most enjoyable episodes of Elementary I’ve seen since the pilot, finally veering away from the predictable chain of events we’ve seen time and time again. Even so, we still had some remnants of episodes past, namely the continually underdeveloped Dt. Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn), and the introduction of the killer early in the episode. This time, however, rigmarole in catching the killer is not nearly as tedious.
There’s much more exposition courtesy of Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) this time around and to Miller’s credit, he makes sure it remains fresh and interesting. It’s not necessarily that Holmes is wrong as he pieces together the mystery; it’s more that the case requires more of his deductive processing, which I think is a definite step in the right direction for the show to take. Finally Holmes isn’t simply presented as a kind of crazy enigma! Instead we’re actually let in on his process.
It helps that the case is more ambitious than most of the others we’ve seen, veering from a traditional murder mystery to a very ambitious espionage plot consisting of Russian sleeper agents (Looks like the show is anxiously awaiting FX’s The Americans…) When the Russian spy plot is first revealed in the “taking out the garbage” confrontation of Oliver Purcell (Mad Men’s Mark Moses), it seems almost preposterous, but all parties involved make it believable. Miller is in top form as he walks us through a potentially convoluted narrative turn, ensuring that the audience doesn’t get completely lost, while simultaneously avoiding too much expository spoon-feeding. True, there’s a lot of “telling,” not “showing” in this episode, but I felt much more like a participant in this case rather than a spectator.
Truly, Elementary is a success primarily due to Miller’s talent, and this episode is a strong showcase of that.
Furthermore, I am quite pleased with the progression of Watson (Lucy Liu). Finally, she stops being Holmes’ lackey (for this episode at least) and does some investigating of her own rather than just standing idly by while Holmes takes the spotlight. Although her treatment of Carly (Lost‘s Melissa Farman) stems from her experience as a compassionate companion, she flexes her deductive muscles and ends up being an integral part of the case’s resolution.
I particularly enjoy the plethora of eye rolls we get from her following Holmes’ pitches that she become his temporary housekeeper in exchange for the pleasure of being his apprentice. It’s borderline misogynistic (which she calls him out later on). Bravo Watson – it looks like you’re finally becoming a smart and developed character. Let’s hope that whatever narrative ploy the show throws at us to keep Watson and Holmes together won’t be at the cost of her character progression.
- Miller is on fire with the one-liners this episode. I will gladly incorporate ‘whore-fishing” into my vocabulary.
- Additional props to Holmes as he interrogates whether Geoffrey (Jake Weber) was boinking the victim.
- I didn’t care for the ending as it was a bit too “tied up in a neat little bow” for my liking. I particularly enjoyed Holmes’ line to Watson as she lamented about being unable to save Carly: “The only promise a puzzle makes is an answer. Liking the answer doesn’t factor in.” It would have been lovely to have the episode end there. Instead we get the convenient revelation that Geoffrey is the culprit, as the show slips back into the formulaic Holmes-shames-the-real-killer-in-front-of-Gregson ploy.
What did you think viewers? Did you see a difference from this episode from the others? How do you think Watson will end up staying with Holmes? Think Dt. Bell will ever be showcased in his own episode? Sound off in our comments section below.
Elementary airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CBS