Elementary episode 12 review: M.

Review Frances Roberts 11 Jan 2013 - 13:31

Elementary’s M. is the best the show has offered up so far. Here’s Frances’ review…

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 M.

Had Elementary not received the full season order a couple of months ago, M. would presumably have been its final episode, and what a way to go out it would have been. Tense, revealing, poignant and leaping the ‘what happened in London’ arc forward by miles, it’s the best fifty minutes the already-reliable show has offered up so far.

Written by creator Robert Docherty, the episode left us with a name, an enduring image, and a repeated line, all three immensely rewarding viewing. The name? Moriarty. The image? Holmes clearing away the detritus of his former revenge obsession and replacing it with that single name. The repeated line? “I’ll miss this. Not this, but this. Working with you. I think what you do is amazing”.

Last week, I offered some alternatives for what would cause Watson to stay with Holmes - his potential relapse topping the list - but the best and most emotionally satisfying reason didn’t occur to me: that she would simply choose to. The mystery of the man, the draw of his work, and her concern for him proved too strong for her to leave. Watson’s contract with Holmes Sr. not having been renewed, unbeknownst to Sherlock, she chose to stay on pro bono. Attagirl.

Anyone familiar with all that’s right and good in this world and/or the work of Conan Doyle will have known from the get-go that Vinnie Jones is no Moriarty, though for the briefest of moments, I was forced to wonder. Could Elementary really have given us a Bane-like Moriarty with a taste for lager, exsanguination, and “the Arsenal”? Could Jones the Juggernaut be the virtuoso spider at the centre of a vast criminal web? Nah. (Though he must be something of a genius if, during a seventy-two-hour stay in New York, he could find three separate Arsenal matches to watch…)

Jones was of course Col. Sebastian Moran, an ex-army expert sniper in the world of Conan Doyle, and ex-marine throat-slitter in the world of Elementary. All menacing brawn and business, he didn’t do a bad job to begin with (though you’d think the two Brits in the cast would have at least given notes about his Yankee use of “cell-phone” and “apartment”), but pitting his one-note performance against Miller’s intense, layered display in that torture scene did him few favours.

Because Miller, it goes without saying at this point, was fantastic in the episode. Seething underneath but dangerously rational above, running on pure rage, but ultimately, rueful and melancholy, it was a captivating show from him. Doherty putting Watson’s “I’ll miss this” line in his mouth was clever work too, both a smart recall to the TV quote Holmes parroted at their first meeting, and the only way for him to express his admiration of her without breaking character. 

M. was also fun for dropping more Conan Doyle references than any Elementary episode so far. From Moran, to the reappearance of the bees, to the reimagined Baker Street irregulars in the form of Teddy and co., not forgetting Irene Adler and the tantalising introduction to Moriarty, from start to finish it was a canon-fest.

Speaking of Moriarty, a thought occurs… (anyone not wishing to get into speculation territory avert your eyes now). In this parallel universe, could Holmes Sr be Moriarty? It would be a bold move, granted, but considering the evidence at hand, we know that Sherlock’s father is extremely wealthy, well-connected, shadowy, manipulative, and fond of game-playing as we saw from his teasing non-arrival in Flight Risk. It follows doesn’t it, that the DNA whence Sherlock Holmes sprang would be able to match his mental acuity? Might Holmes Sr have been responsible for the death of Irene Adler (if she is indeed dead), and subsequently, his son’s devastation and self-destruction? It would be a meaty twist if so.

Conjecture aside, let’s end with a doff of the cap to Elementary’s makers. If M. was how we’d had to say goodbye to Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes, it would have been a fittingly strong, if frustrating end. Over the course of twelve episodes, the show has shaken off pre-broadcast criticism to attract a steady 10 million-plus US audience and evolve into exactly what CBS promised us: a new take on the Holmes and Watson characters that quickly disposed of tedious ‘will they won’t they?’ clichés to present an easy to invest-in friendship, brought to life by smart writing and an engaging cast. Long may it continue.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Dirty Laundry, here.

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Is that Vinnie Jones?!

JLM was outstanding in this episode ! "M" was the best epi so far ! I can't wait to see the next.

The email at the end was from M. Holmes but my money is on Mycroft...

My favorite episode so far as well.

13 episodes was CBS's initial order, so this would NOT have been the final episode outside of a full-season order. Barring the possibility, of course, that this was episode 13 and CBS showed it out of order, as number 12.

Before Sherlock or the recent Holmes movies came out, I did wonder if Mycroft was Moriarty, not knowing enough about the source material to know that this was never part of the original stories. It just made a lot of sense to me, and maybe this time it will happen, even if Mycroft is the father rather than the smarter older brother.

A great episode, loved the nods to the canon, even Vinnie jones couldn't spoil it. Still wondering if Roger Rees from the ep Flight Risk will end up being Moriarty. Is it too obvious that his father is Moriarty?

Someone put forward a theory that I found intriguing- what if Moriarty isn't just one person. It could be a name for an organisation, which would explain the unconnectedness of Moran's London killings and would also offer potential for Holmes Sr to be both Mycroft and Moriarty, which could make for some interesting plot developments.

I have to say that before the series started I had more than a few derisory thoughts on this show. From JLM as Holmes and Lucy Lui as Watson to moving the action from London to New York as well as the obvious comparisons with the excellent Sherlock.

But as the weeks have gone by I have to say that this has been an excellent series. The writers should be commended for going no where near the "will they, won't they" romance between Holmes and Watson, something I felt they wouldn't be able to help themselves putting into the show.

I was concerned that they were going to position Vinnie Jones as Moriarty, but the idea that he's a hired thug makes so much more sense.

As for Moriarty and Holmes Sr being the same person? Well Jones character says he's never met his employer, just as Watson has never met hers.

CBS has so far done a superb job of making their own show's character unique:

The Arthur Conan Doyle character ignores sex because he sees himself as a fine-tuned thinking machine and doesn't want to be distracted; the CBS Holmes uses female prostitutes, with never an apparent concern about disease or safe sex, to meet the sexual needs he thinks are repulsive but is unable to ignore on his own. ACD Holmes is very neat in his person and clothing; CBS Holmes is sloppy and sniffs his clothes to pick out the least smelly dirty ones to wear. ACD-H is devoted to truth above all else and hates ever being wrong; CBS-H sometimes hates being right. ACD-H is, in fact, almost always right; CBS-H is usually quite wrong multiple times per episode.

ACD-H deeply values friendship and takes pride in calling Watson his friend; CBS-H has pride too, but it's the kind that requires Watson to pretend to be a paid caretaker, not a friend. ACD-H is routinely open and honest about his life (except with those he is currently investigating) because he cares nothing for what others think of him; CBS-H tells lies to Watson, hides his addiction because he's afraid Gregson will think less of him, and is so afraid of others' thinking him "average" that he's willing to stab a man out of no necessity, but just to establish his reputation for unpredictability. ACD-H makes it a point of his own personal honor that any fight he is in is a fair one; CBS-H is willing to beat and stab a helpless person, not even to gain information and even after finding out this isn't the person he wants revenge on. ACD-H was a very independent person and supported himself; CBS-H is financially dependent on his father and emotionally dependent on his rehab center and his caregiver.

Perhaps ACD-H's main attribute, in addition to his intelligence, is his supreme self-control over his emotions; CBS-H is so driven by emotion (with calm just on the outside, a facade) that he can barely control himself at all, wrecking a car in a kind of temper tantrum, being unable to stop his drug use without being locked up in a rehab center, deciding to commit murder, etc, etc.

I would say that CBS is now at the point where their main character diverges sharply from pretty much any other version of Holmes ever done. So, while they may have begun by pulling publicity from other shows, they can now justifiably take credit for all the continued success their show may have.

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