Now that Elementary is done pretending that Watson (Lucy Liu) is leaving, the show is free to step-up its game and get her detective-ready.
Let’s bitch it out…Hello everyone! Remember last week when you had to endure my pseudo-psycho babbling, but it was tolerable because I promised that your regular reviewer, TVAngie, would be back this week? Well, I lied. (Psych!)
I promise, however, not to do too much ranting, because I actually really enjoyed ‘Possibility Two.’ It’s not that surprising, since I genuinely do enjoy and look forward to Elementary each week (I just get frustrated that the show coasts on the appeal of its leads and the Sherlock Holmes brand). ‘Possibility Two’ isn’t a break-out episode in the vein of 1×12’s ‘M.’, but it does feel like the show is beginning to strike a better balance between the inter-personal relationships of the characters and the traditional case-of-the-week formula.
It helps that the two are more intertwined than usual. Last week Elementary tried to do this by placing Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) at the core of the case, but this felt inconsequential and lacked depth. This week the case is a standalone, but it’s also more complicated than usual, which makes it interesting to unpack. Do we know that Natasha’s fiance is the killer the moment he is introduced and immediately lays a red herring card? Of course! But we don’t know that her murder is unconnected to the CAA infections, which it difficult to predict how everything will end up, to a certain extent (when Watson and Johnny Lee Miller’s Holmes confirm that the poisoner is a geneticist who works at Watt Helix, how can it be anyone other than the only other employee that we’ve met?!)
Where ‘Possibility Two’ excels is in its use of Liu’s Joan Watson. I’m not afraid to say that I love Lucy Liu, and part of my frustration with the show is that she and Miller are so rarely given material that allows them to do much more than squat over a body. It’s nice to spend more time with Watson as she begins to undergo unofficial deduction training. The fact that said deductive training includes constantly being put on the spot by Holmes at crime scenes and having hilariously awkward interactions with the money laundering employees of Main Moon dry cleaners makes it even more enjoyable. Watson has been stuck between two roles so far in the series: the audience stand-in for interactions with Holmes, and his lackey. ‘Possibility Two’ doesn’t do too much to shake up those roles, but it does give Liu more screentime and allows her to do more than constantly look exasperated at Holmes’ strange behaviour. So that’s a nice change of pace.
If Elementary can keep up this emphasis on the characters solving the crimes, and not simply the crime-of-the-week, then my appreciation of the show will only go up as it finishes up its remaining first season episodes.
- As predicted, Bell’s troubles from last week go completely unreferenced. While I appreciate that CBS has a winning format in its crime procedurals – a dash of character development spread thinly across the season – it’s that much harder to care about the backstory when it has no lasting impact. If Elementary wants us to give a damn about Bell, perhaps they should suggest that his brother being shot and nearly being framed for multiple murders has, you know, some kind of impact on him?
- Rooming with Sherlock Holmes apparently involves an equal division of labour: you get the drycleaning and he cleans the fridge. In case you’re wondering, the contents appear to consist entirely of condiments, milk and Chinese food take-out (It’s NY! Why eat in, right?)
- Question – if CAA is so rare that a few cases is tantamount to a pandemic, then how do regular people like Detective Bell automatically know about it? I suppose he might have Google’d it in the squad car on the way to the crime scene, but that seems really unusual
- My favourite moment of the episode occurs when Watson and Holmes both become kleptomaniacs in order to secure DNA from a suspect. Watson is so proud of herself for stealing a chewed-on pen, only to discover that Holmes picked a pocket to secure a comb…and – to top it off – he even carries evidence bags to cart it all away. Their casual one-upmanship is highly amusing and reiterates that these two are the main reason to tune in each week
- The dry cleaning sequences are also very funny. This show could use more moments of levity like this: they demonstrate that Watson is becoming more adept at seeing the clues in the everyday while also introducing an amusing B-plot
- Finally, did anyone else feel that there’s something off about the final scene? I appreciate that Holmes is trying to drive home his experience of the world, but the tight framing of their faces, the music and the abrupt slamming down of the glass to capture the bee all make for a really (unintentionally?) intense scene. I’m not quite certain that this is the tone that they’re aiming for…
- Watson (to Holmes, as the doorbell rings): “You’re going to put the acid away before we answer the door, right?”
What did you think of the new “Holmes and Watson” designation? Are you intrigued by the more complicated case or did you pinpoint the killer(s) early on? Are you happy to see Liu get more screentime? And do you wish the dry cleaners stuck around for more awkward interactions? Comment away below
Elementary airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CBS and will return in a few weeks