Elementary episode 7 review: One Way To Get Off

Review Frances Roberts 16 Nov 2012 - 13:31

Delving into one of Gregson’s past cases, Elementary delivers possibly its best episode yet…

This review contains spoilers.

1.7 One Way To Get Off

The aftermath of last week’s “I know about Irene” cliffhanger could have gone one of two ways. The first: a teary, broken-down confession of exactly who Irene was and what she meant to Sherlock; and the second: Holmes pushing the reset button on his relationship with Watson and returning to his initial hostile, uncooperative frostiness. Scratch that. Blubbing and sharing not being in Sherlock’s repertoire, the second was the only possible option.

By probing his personal history in Flight Risk, Watson succeeded in making Holmes shut like a trap and revert to his original, suspicious stance. Undeterred, she continued her investigation all the way to Holmes’ five star rehab centre and the pile of Irene’s letters she discovered there.

Watson’s uninvited trespassing in Holmes’ past was neatly mirrored this week by Holmes’ similarly unwelcome trampling over a case from Gregson’s. Both pushed in where they weren’t wanted, and both were – eventually at least – rewarded for their efforts.

One Way To Get Off was a belter of an episode; funny (“I’ve left some urine in your room”), dark (the masked home-invasion homicides), revealing (Gregson’s reputation momentarily wavers but is restored), and with a neatly constructed Russian Doll narrative that opened to reveal new mysteries, and new questions. Little by little the picture of who Sherlock is and how he became that person is assembling, and I’m very much enjoying the process.

Elementary’s sense of humour is a distinguishing feature in the identity parade of TV detective dramas. From the macabre opening gag cutting from the seeping blood of a victim to Watson’s unctuous pink smoothie, to Holmes having cattily personalised Watson’s ring-tone on his cell phone to the shower theme from Psycho, to the pair’s urine exchange, and Holmes assaulting an NYPD perp with a citrus fruit, there’s a nicely batty sense of comedy in the show, and long may it continue.

As ever, the case of the missing high heel was the most generic and least engaging part of the episode, but even so, it was still a workable mystery which gave us a much-appreciated excuse to venture further into one of Elementary’s undersung characters: Captain Gregson.

Because Jonny Lee Miller’s performance as Sherlock is so eye-catching, it’s been easy so far to take for granted the strong support he receives from Aidan Quinn as Gregson, but not this week. One Way To Get Off was a showcase for Quinn’s acting talent, and more proof that even when Elementary’s cases aren’t up to snuff, its cast certainly is.

Hanging a question mark over Gregson’s integrity as ‘good police’ (fittingly as his former partner was played by The Wire’s Mrs McNulty, Callie Thorne) was an engaging move from this week’s writer, CSI New York’s Christopher Silber. The character’s thoroughgoing decency was established in a few spare moves in previous episodes, not least of which is Holmes’ respect for the man. Juddering the foundations of our belief in Gregson’s honour was a rousing reminder of how little we knew about him before this episode, and how much firmer those foundations are now.

We’re coming closer to knowing Sherlock too. Childish, self-centred, and uncooperative he may be, but his rehab counsellor can also add genius, hero, and in pain to that list. Holmes’ heroic credentials not only rest on his ability to solve cases in Elementary, but on his unexpected tenderness and sympathy when confronted with victims. He may lack tact (and throw fruit) during interrogations, but this Holmes is no emotional wasteland, best seen in the episode’s final moments as Miller stared into the fire and uttered his sparingly short but powerful speech: “She died. We were quite close. I did not take her passing well.”

Whether Holmes is telling the truth about Irene’s death (or whether the woman pulled one final bit of wool over his eyes and he’s mistaken), we’ll no doubt find out. Not too quickly I hope though, as following the clues is too delicious a game to be cut short.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Flight Risk, here.

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