After another short break Elementary returns with a primarily straightforward case-of-the-week episode. But does the introduction of a character from the Sherlock Holmes canon elevate this episode from the other standalones we’ve seen this season?
Let’s bitch it out.
I shouldn’t consistently rag on Elementary for staying true to its procedural roots, but I can’t help it. I find it difficult to review the show when I have little to no investment in the case-of-the-week format. This week Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) investigate the murder of a security guard during a robbery for blueprints. Are you yawning yet? Granted, the way in which the case unfolds is slightly interesting in that it eventually turns into a heist involving counterfeit money, a stolen ambulance and a corrupt FEMA official, but at the end of the day, it’s just the revelation of one preposterous plot point after another in order to keep the case interesting.
Setting the case amidst the snowstorm of the season in New York City has shades of interest, but really, it just seems incidental and doesn’t particularly add anything in the grand scheme of things. Even though the blizzard allows the special FX team to flex their CGI snow muscles, it doesn’t exactly make for compelling television. Ultimately ‘Snow Angels’ just feels like a filler episode.
That being said there are a couple of noteworthy things that pop up. First, it was surprising to see that Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) actually does some real detective work without Holmes berating him into it. Bravo Bell. Let’s hope you keep it up and continue to earn you place. Bell hasn’t exactly formed into a three-dimensional character yet, but in this episode he emerges from his human scenery archetype and that’s a significant step up for me.
We also see Watson continue to be pushed by Holmes to make deductions during the crime scene visit, reminding us that she’s actively in apprentice mode. Again, this isn’t a particularly interesting development, but the fact that Elementary is pushing through some elements of seriality while still strongly adhering to its episodic format, it’s a point worth mentioning. Does Watson show any progression in the deduction department? The jury’s still out on that, but the whining and nagging she exhibited in the first part of the series are almost all but gone.
But the most significant aspect of ‘Snow Angels’ comes with the introduction of the iconic Sherlock Holmes character Mrs. Hudson, or in this case Miss Hudson, played by transgendered actress Candis Cayne. With all the attempts at a revisionist Holmes series, casting Cayne in this role borders on meta territory and makes me wonder if Elementary is smarter and more self-aware than I initially thought. Unfortunately Miss Hudson isn’t given much to do this episode, which I suppose is staying true to her character. She departs at episode’s end, but we can only assume she’ll return to tidy up and re-organize at a later date. Despite not doing an awful lot, I was still pleased to see Miss Hudson make an appearance, and the added interest of the ‘nature’ of her character provides an additional layer of intrigue. Anything that reminds us that Elementary is indeed a Sherlock Holmes adaptation works in its favour as I desperately cling to any aspect that makes it more than just your run-of-the-mill procedural.
- Pam (Becky Ann Baker) the snow-plower is a delightful character, despite having little to no screen time. I like how we’re continually introduced to potential allies to Holmes and Watson that will hopefully pop up again in future episodes.
- Note to all unsuspecting victims: Whenever you see a woman wearing a cheap blonde wig, STAY AWAY.
What did you think viewers? Were you compelled by this episode? Do you think Miss Hudson or Pam will return? Do you think Det. Bell will continue to prove his worthiness or will he fade back into the background? Sound off in the comments section below.
Elementary airs at 10pm EST, Thursdays on CBS.