Elementary episode 18 review: Deja-Vu All Over Again

Review Frances Roberts 15 Mar 2013 - 11:31

Elementary delivers a generic but diverting Watson-focussed episode. Here's Frances' review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.18 Déjà-Vu All Over Again

Thanks to the arcane rituals by which US TV schedules are constructed (I gather it’s something to do with moss, tides, and how high magpies build their nests), we’ve been Elementary-free for a few weeks, and are now to be again until April. Déjà-Vu All Over Again was a flying visit from the detective show, a quick drop-in to Sherlock and Watson’s Brownstone for an intriguingly intertwined pair of cases, and a Joan Watson origin story.

Now that Watson is a consulting detective-in-training, Elementary lives more than ever up to CBS’ advertising blurb, which describes “a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases”. Save for the violin talk, there was no discernible Conan Doyle influence in this episode, which briefly revisited Watson’s initial appointment as Sherlock’s sober companion to show how much the character has changed over the six months we’ve known her.

As an origin story, Watson’s is no dead-parents-and-bat-trauma, nor were any radioactive spider bites involved. Her path to developing the superpower of deductive reasoning is somewhat more mundane. She left medicine, and to the congratulations of her friends, became a sober companion, met Sherlock, and the rest, as they say, is the 24-episode first season of a modern-day detective series.

This week’s tale was essentially Watson’s coming out story; she stumbled over the words initially, but by the time she’d put a wife-killing subway-pusher behind bars, was finally able to say it: she’s a consulting detective, loud and proud, so much so she even changed her Generic Social Networking Site profile to reflect the fact.

Likeable Liu easily carried the weight of the episode, in which it was demonstrated that in her pre-Sherlock days, the character was granted more facial expressions than “concerned”, “riled”, and “a bit more riled”. Watching Watson laugh out loud in the flash-back – not just a wry grin either, but showing actual teeth – was such a surprise it made you wonder whether her friends may have had a point about her state of mind. Alfredo says that Sherlock is happier now Watson and he are, to return to those words, “a crime-solving duo”, but can the same be said for her? We know from any number of hackneyed US cop shows that the job changes you, and Watson’s increasing social isolation and glum series of serious faces seem to be the price to pay for professional fulfilment.

Story arc fans’ ears will have pricked up at the tantalising mention of Holmes Sr early on, a character from/about whom we’ve been longing to hear more. The excitement was fleeting though, as the case unravelled with no relevance to the shadowy progenitor of our favourite cardigan-wearing Englishman in New York. Sherlock’s assumption that any case his father sends him on will be mired in murkiness and corporate slime was disproved and the investigation took the form of a personal favour to the assistant of his attorney. Maybe next time Mr H?

The lack of Holmesian nods this week made sense for an episode that pushed Sherlock to the side lines and threw the spotlight on his colleague, but like the similarly Watson-focussed Lesser Evils earlier on in the season, left us with a fairly conventional cop show instalment, with little of Holmes’ enjoyable eccentricity on display. No that it was a complete blow-out for Sherlock fans; he did find the time to teach us the correct plural form of ‘anus’ at least.

Like Lesser Evils, Watson was encouraged to once again follow her instincts, a hunch that paid off with that neat Columbo-style interrogation room wrap-up. Holmes and Watson’s parallel cases had converged neatly to point towards a double protagonist, and Watson’s breakthrough gave her bragging rights down at the station in a display of growth, learning, mutual respect… etc. etc. Not a classic episode by any means, but a decent, diverting case that inched Dr Watson closer than ever to being Sherlock Holmes' partner, and not just his assistant.

Elementary returns to CBS on the 4th of April.

Just one more thing: Anyone who’s kept up with their The Wire/Elementary bingo card will have earned a few more crosses this week as both Jim True-Frost (Prez) and Andre Royo (Bubs) tipped up as the stalker/Janitor and busker/pick-pocket.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Possibility Two, here.

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