After a short two-week break, Elementary returns with the first of two new episodes this week. How does ‘The Red Team’ do following ‘M.” the series’ strongest offering to date?
Let’s bitch it out.
I suppose I shouldn’t be completely surprised/disappointed that Elementary returns to its procedural roots with its case-of-the-week format in ‘The Red Team’, but thankfully the show is smart enough to give us some follow-up to the events that transpired in ‘M.’ I also can’t say that the serial elements are significantly compelling in this episode, but at the very least, Elementary is showing some promise by carrying over these elements in the first place. Moriarty continues to be a strong presence even if we don’t get much progression on the matter of his identity or whereabouts. The consequences from the last episode, however, are running rampant throughout ‘The Red Team’, even if they do take a backseat to the central case.
Right at the forefront are ramifications of Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) misguided revenge spree in which he kidnapped, tortured and almost killed the fake M (Vinny Jones). Holmes’ relationship with Gregson (Aidan Quinn) is irrecoverably damaged (as it should be) to the extent that the good Captain can no longer trust his brilliant consultant. Holmes doesn’t feel particularly bad about his trip to almost-murderville, stating several times to Watson (Lucy Liu) that he knew the risk and proceeded anyway.
Ultimately Gregson succumbs to Holmes, allowing him to continue serving as an unpaid consultant (honestly, who could say no to such an asset for free when you have such an incompetent police force…), but Gregson makes it clear that the trust between them is all but lost. Even though I am dismayed that Holmes has essentially sweet-talked his way out of his reprehensible actions, I’m glad that Gregson has enough balls to tell Holmes that things will never be the same. Bonus points for following it all up with a rather satisfying punch to the gut. The final moment as Sherlock despondently eats his soup is a further indication that he isn’t as cocky and unaffected as he appears to be.
Watson’s deception of Holmes continues as well, as she continues to serve as his companion despite being given her marching orders by Daddy Holmes and effectively working for free. We get this information by way of a clunky expository visit to her shrink. Still, throughout the episode, there are subtle touches that confirm Watson’s apprehensions about lying to Sherlock, which is a nice carry-over from episodes past.
I’m still not certain what to think of Watson – it’s clear that joining Holmes in the detective work is exhilarating to her, but the whole sober companion mumbo-jumbo detracts from the fun of seeing her truly settle into the “Watson” role. I continue to see her role as more of a maternal nag than anything. Thankfully, she hasn’t completely abandoned her character development as she proves useful during the case-of-the-week (though I did find it curious that she all but disappears during the episode’s climactic standoff at the motel).
I can’t say I love ‘The Red Team’ (it’s a disappointment compared to what we saw in “M.”), but it does show promise that Elementary can break free from its monotonous procedural classification, which is what we’ve been asking for throughout the series’ short run.
- The case-of-the-week is much more intriguing in that it doesn’t whole-heartedly subscribe to the tired formula that we saw in the first half of the season. I do feel that much of it is conveyed to us via straight-up exposition, though and would have liked to have seen events transpire rather than simply have Holmes dictate everything to us.
- It’s an extreme cop-out that the ominous ‘plan’ devised by the red team (and subsequently guessed by Holmes) is never revealed to us. I suppose this is a cheeky wink that Holmes really is “smarter than everyone he’s ever met” – which seemingly includes us, the audience, as well.
What do you think viewers? Has the show changed in your eyes with its move towards serial territory? Do you like the show better when it is a straight-up procedural? Do you think Holmes will suffer additional consequences of his torture/kidnap escapade down the line? Sound off in our comments section below.
Elementary returns with a special episode after the Super Bowl, this Sunday, February 3rd. It airs regularly at 10pm EST, Thursdays on CBS.