Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) goes missing on this week’s Elementary. Does this mean the show finally breaks free from its predictable, episodic formula?
Let’s bitch it out.
Unfortunately no. Despite some tweaks, ultimately “Rat Race” follows the same formula that we’ve seen week after week in Elementary‘s short time on air. But rather than dwell about these predictable events (RANT: seriously, I think I could precisely pinpoint exactly when we meet the ‘killer-but-don’t-know-it-yet…I’d say its right around the 15 minute mark? Why can’t we just meet the killer at the end? Why does it always have to be a bait and switch? END RANT) I’d much rather talk about the only reason why I haven’t taken this show off my PVR schedule: Johnny Lee Miller. I’ve said in every review – Miller is just amazing as title character Holmes. I’ve griped numerous times that naming him “Holmes” appears to be a pure marketing ploy, but after the closing scenes in “Rat Race” I honestly don’t even care. It’s just an astounding display of acting.
First he shares a tender moment with Watson (Lucy Liu) after she’s just finished saving his life by flexing her own deduction skills. I love the chemistry between these two because it just feels completely genuine and seamlessly naturalistic. Holmes’ pride about his influence on/mentorship of Watson is apparent, even though he doesn’t overtly reveal this, but we do feel his gratitude that she rescued him amidst his ever-present ego. These two are becoming great friends who are really starting trust each other as they develop their own shorthand, something that every real relationship has. It’s a joy to watch their evolution, which (when allowed to shine) doesn’t feel the least bit forced or contrived.
But it’s the following scene that hits it out of the park for me. Holmes has a heart to heart in Captain Gregson’s (Aidan Quinn) office, where he finally confesses his history as a heroin addict. It’s simply mesmerizing to see Miller go through his monologue, tactfully expressing emotional shame, but doing so with maturity and grace, all the while staying very true to the Sherlock Holmes persona he’s presented to us thus far. We get the subtle inflection of pain that led him to the drugs in the first place, which hints at the intrigue behind what happened exactly. One can’t help but admire the bravery he exhibits by admitting that embarrassment was really what drove it all. It’s a very relateable emotion, ultimately making him a more believable and authentic character, eccentricities and all. I’ve known that Holmes was an interesting and layered character from day one, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but when dwelling on the paint-by-numbers procedural cases from week to week, it was very nice to get a reminder of why I’m still watching an overtly procedural show.
Quinn finally gets to flex some of his talent as well, as he confesses he’s known about Holmes’ addiction/recovery well before Watson revealed it to him. There is a mutual respect and regard between these two that adds to the richness of their interactions and I think this will only grow going forward. Gregson may still be a perfunctory character, serving as the catalyst for introducing the crimes to Holmes, but seeing these two just talk gives new momentum to their relationship. I genuinely hope we don’t revert back to the way things were (even though I’m not optimistic that will actually happen…)
If the Gregson/Holmes conversation wasn’t great enough, the episode’s final minutes subsequently erases all of the boring procedural crap that came before it: Holmes gives a monologue of sorts to Watson, expressing the consequences of constantly seeing people as puzzles to be dissected and analyzed. It’s a short scene, but Miller is just breathtaking at selling the quiet agony behind it all. Again, this is what keeps me coming back for more. I dislike a great deal about the perfunctory elements of Elementary, but Miller and his supporting cast honestly make this show worth watching.
- I’ve only highlighted a few standout moments for Miller this episode, but really, I could name several more. There are so many subtle nuances to Holmes as he investigates the apartment with the heroin within reaching distance – it’s like a frickin’ master class in acting. Like commenter Lucy mentioned last week, let’s get Miller on a cable show and really see how amazing he can be.
- The show has the potential to go much darker than it has, especially this week with the underground prostitution ring and Holmes’ potential regression. Unfortunately we only ever get snippets before things fall right back into a bin o’ predictableness. It’s a shame considering its 10pm timeslot potentially offers the show more leeway to push boundaries.
- I’m not sure what to think of this whole Watson getting setup with ‘dark-circles R’ Us’, Aaron (Luke Kirby). The minute this guy sits down for the “ambush set-up” my eyes were rollin’ right out their sockets. I don’t see why Watson needs to be setup with anyone at all. Just because she’s not a potential love interest for Holmes doesn’t mean she should be mashed together with some random douche off the street. Although I appreciate the effort in giving her something else to do besides be Holmes’ lackey, this isn’t the most effective or compelling alternative.
What did you think viewers? Are you liking the closure we’re getting episode after episode? Are the stellar performances enough to keep you intrigued? Do you think we’ll ever get a “Gregson-centric” episode? Hit up the comments and let us know what you’re thinking.
Elementary airs at 10pm EST, Thursdays on CBS