Elementary season 2 episode 15 review: Corpse De Ballet

Review Frances Roberts 7 Feb 2014 - 17:55

Elementary goes a bit Black Swan in this week's episode. Here's Frances' review of Corpse De Ballet...

This review contains spoilers.

2.15 Corpse De Ballet

It follows that a show about murder investigation would have more reason to see the glass-half-empty side of humanity than say, one about adorable puppies working in an ice-cream factory, but golly, Elementary is a cynical so-and-so. Especially when it comes to wealthy white collar careerists.

How many of Elementary’s murderers have been moneyed professionals who kill to protect their careers? We’ve seen mathematicians, palaeontologists, investment bankers, chief surgeons, PR bosses, academics, barristers, even the manager of a Holocaust Survivors’ reparation fund, all turn to murder to protect their name and further their professional interests. It makes for a refreshing change from detective TV’s gang members and thuggish ex-cons, and tips the scales of criminality slightly further in the direction of the one percent.

Miller’s Holmes is a man who doesn’t care about money (easy for him as he has access to a shed load of it). Watson too, since losing her medical license, has made altruistic career choices unlikely to make her rich. It’s part of a noticeable liberal perspective in Elementary, a show where the ultra-loaded are often portrayed as dodgy and self-seeking, and society’s less fortunate are treated with real compassion. This week’s homelessness B-plot, of which more later, was a case in point.

Elementary’s criminals are rarely found on the streets, instead they’re sat around walnut board room tables and in beautifully upholstered apartments, surrounded by personal chefs and expensive object d’art. (Seriously, if it’s interior design tips you’re after, Elementary is your guy. On any given week, it’ll show you some of the chicest crime scenes on television). It was a particularly precious bit of top-of-the-range office kit that did for the killer in this week’s case, as Holmes was able to identify the crooked barrister thanks to the sound of his remote-controlled door closer.

The rest of the case, with its cardboard cut-out prima ballerina (played by Boardwalk Empire’s Aleksa Palladino, hooray for having her back on our screens) and her lesbian affair, was Black Swan-lite and mostly forgettable. Of more interest character-wise was Holmes’ sexual transgression with murder suspect and diva Iris, and the parade of butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers who preceded her in his bedroom - or more properly, pastors, morticians and magicians.

Elementary’s Holmes isn’t wrong when he reminded Watson that he’d always been upfront about his attitude to sex. The pair’s first meeting had him topless and restrained as one of his bed buddies skipped down the Brownstone’s stairs, and since then there’ve been liaisons aplenty. For any normal detective, sleeping with a suspect would be grounds for dismissal of course, but then Sherlock Holmes is not just any normal detective. His confidence in his powers of deduction took the ballerina out of the suspect-running as he saw it, and he was able to confirm those deductions in flagrante. As in Tremors, which put Holmes on the stand for the many legal transgressions in the course of his investigations, Corpse de Ballet reminded us that Sherlock Holmes, as he has always done, stands for justice, but not necessarily the rule of law.

Onto Joan Watson, whose confession that she was raised by a step-dad as her biological father was schizophrenic and homeless tumbled out of her apropos of not much. Watson’s motivations for investigating the disappearance of homeless vet Frebeaux were explained by her lurid and unexpected personal revelation, and it will be interesting to see what plot developments the news will precurse. Are we going to meet Watson’s biological dad in a future episode? Will Holmes’ natural curiosity send him in search of the man? It's an affecting development, yes, but difficult not to think that along with its central spine of addiction, Elementary might end up piling one too many social themes on its plate with this one.

All in all, it was a middling instalment of Elementary, if one with an admirable social conscience. It lacked the silliness of last week’s dinosaur fun and the weighty relationship stuff of Moriarty’s turn a few episodes ago. Speaking of which, as parent-revelations seem to be becoming something of a trend in the show, could they be paving the way for us to finally meet the elusive Holmes Sr.? Until next time.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Dead Clade Walking, here.

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