The hunt for Moriarty finally continues this week on Elementary, which also means we get the return of Sebastian Moran (played by the superb Vinnie Jones). Does this week’s episode live up to its title?
Let’s bitch it out.
Although the format of this week’s episode stays true to its procedural roots (the way in which the murders and crime-solving play out is essentially no different than we’ve seen in Elementary‘s case-of-the-week episodes), ‘A Landmark Story’ feels like a much stronger offering than its standalone counterparts. Because Holmes’ (Jonny Lee Miller) arch-nemesis is such a huge part of the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the stakes for a Moriarty-focused episode are automatically higher (even more so when the episode ‘M‘, in which Moriarty is first introduced, remains the series’ best by a long shot).
Not much happens in terms of progressing the identity of Moriarty, as we’re thrown yet another red herring by way of John Douglas (Roger Aaron Brown) who gets unceremoniously assassinated after spewing out a measly two sentences of dialogue. Of course Douglas isn’t the infamous Moriarty – that would be far too simple. I’m predicting that the super-villain isn’t even cast yet and won’t be revealed to us until the season two opener at the very earliest. Of course I could be completely wrong, but I sincerely doubt that the voice we hear over the phone in the episode’s final minutes is the actual Moriarty.
The role is simply too juicy that I trust that the producers will want to take their time wooing the perfect actor/actress to take on the role. Whomever gets the coveted role will be some one who has at least the same kind of celebrity as Miller (with the same caliber acting chops) and quite frankly that’s going to take some time (as it should). Considering the stellar roster of guest stars the show has managed to secure this past season, I’m thinking a pretty significant A-lister will end up taking the role. (Side Note: I know it’ll never happen – but how amazing would it be if the BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch ended up taking on the role? Let’s fantasize about that in the comments section shall we?)
In terms of this episode, all we’re told is that Moriarty continues to use minions to carry out killings on his behalf all over New York. This time the focus is on the adequately creepy Gottlieb (played wonderfully by F. Murray Abraham). Holmes gets on the case to find Gottlieb when fan-favourite (or perhaps just my favourite) Sebastian Moran returns to deliver some additional intel to him. Jones is just so damn good in the role, it’s such a shame he (presumably) expires by episode’s end. How great would it have been to have Moran be yet another consultant in Holmes’ web of allies? Unfortunately with Moran’s suicide, it all but quashes my theory that Moran was indeed Moriarty all along.
What makes this episode rise above its procedural counterparts boils down to a simple factor: investment. Because this is Moriarty, whose actions have had such a profound effect on the Holmes we now know and love, Holmes’ pursuit and deductions simply have more urgency and significance. I must tip my hat to the amazing scene in the third act between Miller and Jones when Holmes asks Moran to decode Moriarty’s text message. The actions are simplistic and the dialogue sparing, but the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I also love the incredibly atmospheric lighting, perfectly punctuating the suspense in the scene. The momentum continues in the subsequent scene where Holmes decodes the cipher on his own, which is effectively crosscut with Moran eerily singing in his cell before bashing his head in. Brilliant.
I can’t say that ‘A Landmark Story’ is as effective as ‘M’ was, but it’s a definite close second in terms of the series’ best. As we head into the homestretch toward the season finale, I have a feeling we’ll continue to get some stellar episodes building up to what has to be an epic confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty.
- We continue to get significant progress in the relationship between Holmes and Watson (Lucy Liu). The scene they share on the park bench is touching, and thanks to the talent of the two actors and deft writing, it doesn’t come off as overly-sentimental or cliché. Considering we’ve followed these characters for months now, their relationship has unfolded in the most natural and believable ways, which is quite refreshing especially considering we’re talking about a network show. I also enjoy how the show doesn’t shy away from giving us these little moments. They never feel redundant, which is a feat in and of itself.
- The ‘death by bees’ thing is a little preposterous, but considering that the ‘death by perfectly time air conditioner drop’ actually turns out quite horrifying, perhaps the bee murder would have been equally as effective had it played out.
- I’m a bit dismayed when we’re told that Moriarty has “eyes and ears everywhere’ – I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a catch-all convenient plot device ala ‘the followers’ in The Following
What did you think viewers: will Moriarty be revealed to us by the end of the season? Now that it’s established that Watson is significant to Holmes, do you think this puts her in danger? Do you think Moran succumbed to his wounds, or will he manage to pull through? And how epic would a Cumberbatch-Miller team up be on this show (Danny Boyle’s filmed 2011 stage adaptation of Frankenstein gave us a taste of what that might be like…) Sound off in the comment section below.
Elementary airs at 10pm EST, Thursdays on CBS