Elementary bounces back from its dud of a Super Bowl episode this week, primarily due to presence superb guest star John Hannah as Rhys. Does this mean better things to come for the series?
Let’s take a close look after the jump…
Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) substance abuse back-story has always been ever-present, but I’ve always regarded it as kind of a clunky justification to have Watson (Lucy Liu) around (and a go-to excuse to explain away any of Holmes’ eccentricities). In “A Giant Gun…” however, it finally emerges as plot point that feels genuinely necessary. Rhys is introduced as Holmes’ former dealer, seeking Sherlock’s help because some money he stole from the Dominican drug cartel has come back to haunt him. His daughter has been kidnapped and the money (which Rhys has since gambled all away) is demanded as ransom.
But the strength of this episode doesn’t lie in the procedural case of the kidnapping, but rather it’s the scenes which deal with the problematic nature of Rhys’ presence that are most compelling. I think my previous issue with the addict plotline was Holmes’ rather flippant attitude toward it, contrasted with Watson’s nagging insistence that he deal with it. This episode marks the first instance where Holmes actually feels as if he’s confronting the seriousness of his past addiction, and why it matters to us as the audience.
The short arc that Rhys goes through in the episode is quite impressive, initially introduced comedically and almost cheerfully, but slowly descending into the depths of desperation. Holmes reassures Watson that Rhys has since gone clean like him, which, unsurprisingly, turns out not to be true. Rhys’ return to drugs is a wonderful catalyst to show us Holmes’ own struggles (which he’s thus far concealed) in a way that finally makes sense.
First, we have Watson confronting Rhys in the bathroom, played very well by Liu who manages to be stern and forthright in scolding Rhys, but doesn’t come off shrill or motherly. This leads to the confrontation between Rhys and Holmes in which he offers Sherlock drugs in order to ramp up Holmes’ deduction skills. Holmes has long since maintained that he’s smarter than everyone he meets, but do the drugs serve as a performance enhancer? The way the episode plays out shows us that no, it’s not, but thanks to Miller’s fabulous performance during the confrontation scene, it finally became understandable why Holmes became an addict in the first place and why it continues to be a struggle.
I also appreciated how Rhys isn’t so narrowly conveyed as the villain in this piece. He’s at once Holmes’ friend but also (potentially) his worst enemy. Finally something that helps evolve the show out of its borderline tired ways.
There are no serial elements in this episode as it primarily sticks to a case-of-the-week format, but it excels over many of its previous episodes because it provides us with some substantial back-story and character development that comes about organically, building off what came before instead of being present only because it’s convenient. It appears that slowly, Elementary is finding its legs. Let’s hope that it continues down this path.
- Holmes finally gets in touch with his father in order to get the ransom money. He shoots a glance toward Watson, which to me suggest that he knows she’s no longer a paid sober companion, but staying simply for Holmes’ benefit (and possibly her own). He doesn’t admit to knowing she’s lied to him in this episode, but it likely will be a big issue going forward.
- Holmes’ diatribe about Twitter is absolutely hilarious. Although Elementary has its share of flaws, the comedic touches are on pointe.
What did you think viewers? Did you think this episode stood apart from the straightforward procedural episodes we’ve seen in the past? Do you think Daddy Holmes told Sherlock about Watson? Do you think Rhys will ever return in subsequent episodes? Sound off below!
Elementary airs 10pm EST, Thursdays on CBS.