Elementary episode 21 review: A Landmark Story

Review Frances Roberts 3 May 2013 - 13:00

We rejoin Elementary as it launches into its end-of-season Moriarty arc. Here’s Frances’ review of A Landmark Story…

This review contains spoilers.

1.21 A Landmark Story

These Elementary reviews fell down the back of the TV sofa for a couple of episodes, but we’ve fished them out in time for the season one finale arc, four stories dominated by one name: Moriarty.

A Landmark Story presented us with a Russian doll of potential Moriarties, each one a contender to be the shadowy criminal mastermind (apologies for writing in clichés, they’re tricky to avoid on the subject of mastermind criminals who are, it has to be said, more than a bit shadowy), and each one opening up to reveal another possible candidate for the role. Briefly, there was a property magnate, then a hitman, then an ex-reform school genius, and then… well, have we now reached the smallest doll? Was that cliff-hanger voice on the end of the phone indeed Moriarty?

An early potential was the wonderful F. Murray Abraham, who appeared this week as a Looney Tunes-themed serial killer. ‘The Actuary’ channelled Wile E. Coyote to electric-shock one victim to death, crush another underneath an air-conditioning unit, and install a murderous bee hive near another’s jogging route. His ingenious - if circuitous - routes to expiring those on his Moriarty-supplied hit-list earned him the admiration of Holmes, who saw Abraham’s character as a psychopath after his own heart.

A quick spot of Taser-aided kidnapping, and Holmes was in contact with Moriarty him/her/itself (because we still don’t really know, right?) albeit via intercepted coded text messages. After being played like a fiddle to pass on a threat to our old friend Sebastian Moran (still quite the ruthless Arsenal-loving bastard and now lying in a self-inflicted death-bed for the purposes of this final arc), Holmes exchanged words with Moriarty. The two are due a meeting, it transpires.

Corinne Brinkerhoff’s script this week was shot through with a sense of humour that can only be described as – and believe me, in other hands, this adjective would be a disaster - zany. I don’t just mean the Acme-style murder plots, but the dialogue itself, which included the lines “You can’t arrest me for doing physics”, and an entire exchange about staking out killer bees.

One of Elementary’s chief joys is its marriage of wacky moribund humour (that mortuary break-in was a horrible treat - if Watson wasn’t struck off the surgical register before, she certainly will be now), and convincing emotional growth. Slapstick and ribaldry meet pathos and character development, with neither compromising or eclipsing the other. Such was the case in A Landmark Story, which followed up bickering and weaponised bees with Holmes’ park bench admission to Watson that aside from Irene Adler, she is the only person with whom he has forged a meaningful connection. “The thing that’s different about me, empirically speaking, is you” Holmes told Watson, as part of his assurance that he wasn’t about to repeat history and go vigilante on The Actuary’s ass. (That’s another tick in the ‘well done’ column for this week – Elementary demonstrated satisfyingly that it had a memory, and the events of M hadn’t escaped it).

Elementary’s chief-est joy of course, remains Jonny Lee Miller, a sack of acting brilliance stuffed with Withnailian tics and puppy dog eyes. Whatever the final three episodes bring – wackiness, physical confrontation, emotional pain,– we’re in very safe hands with Miller. As this incarnation of the character, he’s damned good.

Can we say the same about Vinnie Jones as Sebastian Moran? Well, he certainly has the physical presence down, we’ll give him that. It also looks as if Jones is having a such a good time playing the hulking murderer, it’s difficult not to enjoy his performance. Using the ‘if you haven’t anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ mum-lesson, perhaps we’ll leave it diplomatically at that.

This fast-paced episode was more limbering-up for what promises to be quite an end-of-season run than a stunner itself. It pulled the engine cord to get the Irene Adler plot chugging along, and set things up for revelations to come. We know that Natalie Dormer will be playing Adler in the next three episodes, but whether those appearances will all be in flashback, or if the drug-addled (pun intended) Holmes was duped about her demise, remains to be seen. 

Read Frances’ review of episode 18, Déjà-Vu All Over Again, here.

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This was great. Thank you. That was the best hour of television I've seen in a long time.

Irene Adler = Moriarty

It seemed to me that the voice on the phone at the end was artificial. Like someone was typing and a computer was turning it into sounds. It just seemed a little too monotone, with individually recorded words being played together rather than whole sentences having their own cadence. Perhaps when we hear more it will become clear if this is in fact the case.

Adam Godley - the voice

I thought the voice was Malcolm McDowell

Where is the latest review? Fantastic episode with a truly emotional ending... Come on DoG!

Have you stopped reviewing these?

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