Elementary episode 15 review: A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs

Review Frances Roberts
8 Feb 2013 - 18:38

Sherlock's past returns to haunt him in this week's addiction-probing episode of Elementary...

This review contains spoilers.

1.15 A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs

Non-Superbowl watching non-Sherlocks like myself may have missed the fact that Elementary ran an extra episode this week, The Deductionist. A serial killer case featuring an FBI Profiler with whom Holmes had a past sexual dalliance, the episode was one of the show's most mainstream crime TV instalments yet. Underneath all the CSI stuff though, was a fascinating thread of character development for our Holmes, a man revealed to be frustrated with his predictable slide into addiction and filled with dread at the prospect of a potential relapse.

It was pleasantly in keeping then, that A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs also swung the spotlight onto Holmes’ drug history by putting the character in a position of extreme temptation.

John Hannah guested this week as Holmes’ ex-dealer Rhys, a Scot on the run from the Dominican drug cartel he’d relieved of a couple of million dollars not two years hence. The kidnapping of Rhys’ daughter led him to Sherlock’s brownstone, where he did all he could to push Sherlock off the wagon short of sprinkling smack on his cornflakes.

The girl (minus a finger) was saved of course, but not before Sherlock swallowed his pride to go cap-in-hand to his father for the ransom money. It wasn’t for Rhys’ benefit, he explained, but insurance against future narcotic temptation from his former pal. 

John Hannah's an old hand, and like Flight Risk's Roger Rees, capable of matching Miller scene for scene (unlike a certain ex-footballer), so much so it's a shame Holmes eventually sent him packing.

The kidnapping, the cartel, the undercover DEA operative, the whole case in fact, was mere diversion, a by-the-by excuse for Elementary to clock some narrative time dealing with Sherlock’s drug history. Elementary’s choice to focus on Sherlock’s addiction almost as much as his deductive skills – something I’ll admit to dismissing as sensationalist when it was first announced – has proved a sage one, and very ‘canon’, as this episode demonstrated.

In the Conan Doyle stories, Watson views Holmes’ occasional cocaine use as deeply regrettable, a chink in an otherwise brilliant mind. To the original Holmes, stimulant abuse wasn’t just a way of whiling away the hours when no meaty murders were around to occupy his brain, it was also a mind-sharpening tool. The seven-per-cent solution, as he told it, made him a better detective. That was the very dilemma posed to Elementary’s Holmes in A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs, an episode peppered with accounts of cases solved during his using days.

Rhys - the devil on Sherlock’s shoulder - attempted to convince him that his sobriety came at the cost of his creative genius. He might believe in Sherlock Holmes (a meme trampled into banality by overuse during the episode), but not in his recovery.

Watson, as ever, showed herself the loyal stalwart, and judging by the talking down she gave Rhys in the bathroom, not somebody you want to upset. She declared herself Holmes’ friend in the last episode and proved it in this one. Her reward was Miller’s character inching closer towards accepting her version of rehabilitation, and finally using his ‘shares’ (wherefore the English language?) to actually, you know, share.

In other news, the episode gave us a mongoose, a stunning woolly tea-cosy, the joyous reappearance of Angus, and a fat tick in the Conan Doyle reference box with that terse exchange over Holmes’ cigarette ash monographs. Worryingly for the ASPCA though, there’s been no sign of Clyde the turtle for a fortnight...

Read Frances’ review of episode thirteen, The Red Team, here.

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