Elementary episode 10 review: The Leviathan

Review Frances Roberts 14 Dec 2012 - 15:40

Sherlock deals with a diamond heist in this manically packed episode of Elementary. Here’s Frances’ review…

This review contains spoilers.

1.10 The Leviathan

This week’s Elementary was the first of the series credited to two writers, Corinne Brinkerhoff and Craig Sweeny, which might go some way to explaining why it felt so crammed with content. Between the diamond heist, Watson’s family visit, Sherlock’s eye-rolling twin ‘research’, Le Chevalier the gentleman thief, the bone marrow donor, and the murders of those jurors-turned-larceners, there were plot threads enough to weave - if not a whole other episode - then at least a slightly longer pair of shorts for Watson to sleep in.

Just because The Leviathan had material to spare didn’t make it any less enjoyable. The erratic plot may have lurched wildly from case to personal life, but it certainly kept us guessing. Though the elliptical editing (we saw the aftermath of Holmes and Watson discovering both Le Chevalier and the blood stain, but not the events themselves) felt momentarily disorientating, it left no time for the audience’s minds to wander.

An unusually long pre-credits sequence led us into the episode, which opened with all the fast cuts and thumping music of a slick heist thriller. A thought-to-be impregnable safe had been breached, and forty million dollars’ worth of diamonds had been snatched. Cue Holmes’ call-to-action, and his unparalleled mind being bested - to begin with at least - by the trickiest lock he’s ever had to pick.

Before all that though, courtesy of the Lynch twins we were witness to the re-emergence of Holmes’ Austin Powers playboy side, a trait introduced in the pilot that’s thankfully lain more or less dormant ever since, aside from Sherlock propositioning that flirtatious bomb-maker a few weeks back.

Splicing James Bond’s sex life with Sherlock Holmes’ brilliance must have seemed a fun mash-up in the writers’ room (and a way to further distinguish Miller’s Holmes from the other iterations extant), but the appearance of those sex-bot twins will have done little to appease anyone who, like me, is starting to feel suspicious of Elementary’s track record with female characters who aren’t Watson.

The Chevalier plot-line felt similarly retrograde, though more charmingly so. A Raffles-alike thief (the latter, incidentally, created by Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law) with a mysterious soubriquet, impeccable taste and a brazen streak? How deliciously camp. What a shame that’s the last we’ll see of our light-fingered knight, even if Sherlock’s pursuit of him was more fish-in-barrel than cat-and-mouse.

A further tip of the hat to Conan Doyle came this week with numerous rehashings of Holmes’ famous “eliminate the impossible” mantra, a line from which the writers really got their money’s worth. Mostly though, the episode was peppered with classical nods, from Van Gogh’s La Pieta to the programming language named after Dante’s eighth circle of hell, to those ancient Greek coins, and not to forget the biblical Leviathan of the title. Not strictly classical (though fast becoming a classic) was what looked to the naked eye to be a wink to Game of Thrones in the name of the Casterly Rock security firm.

The introduction of Watson’s brother Oren (Steve Park) and mother Mary (Freda Foh Shen) served to further plump out Liu’s character, if unexcitedly. Sherlock wasn’t wrong when he described the Watsons as conventional. So far, they’ve done little to excite any interest, though we are yet to meet Joan’s father, who - like Sherlock’s - remains untapped potential. The chief role of Mary Watson, aside from sharing a name with the original Dr Watson’s wife, was in planting the idea that her daughter should chuck in the sober companionship, and take up the life of a consulting detective. Listen to your mother Joanie, she’s always right.

Cockles will have been warmed by Sherlock’s paean to his companion over dinner with her family, a scene that seemed momentarily to pick up where last week’s final shot left off – with Holmes extending Watson a hand of support. His hasty retraction in the cab home fooled no-one, Watson included.

Overall then, The Leviathan was an enjoyable, complex and unpredictable instalment, and a decent note on which to leave the show for its Christmas break. Come January though, let's hope Elementary's New Year's resolutions include more Allistair, more Irene Adler, and that long-awaited appearance from Mr Holmes sr.

Read Frances' review of the previous episode, You Do It To Yourself, here.

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I thought that the incestuous blonde twins were also a reference to Game of Thrones, as it came literally in the middle of the Casterly Rock reference.

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